The Best of the French Riviera: From Coastal Glamour to Picturesque Mountain Villages
The French Riviera, also known as Côte d’Azur, on the Mediterranean coast of France is known for its white beaches, deep blue waters, stunning vistas, opulent and glamorous belle époque architecture, bustling harbors with million-dollar yachts, vibrant art scene, picturesque mountain villages, and extraordinary food and wine.
As one of the most alluring regions in France, it is the perfect destination for travelers in search of some glamor, joie de vivre, and luxury. Here are some tips and ideas to help you make your travel plans in the French Riviera.
French Riviera Travel Tips
1. Make Nice your home base, rent an apartment on the promenade, and take day trips around the French Riviera. Nice is a great jumping-off point for exploring the rest of the region and renting an apartment gives you an opportunity to enjoy your stay living like a local.
2. Don’t worry about renting a car. The towns are pedestrian friendly, and you can easily get to the nearby villages by train or by bus. Besides, parking spaces are hard to find.
3. With the Ticket Azur, you can hop on buses that link Nice to nearby towns like Saint-Paul de Vence, Eze Village and along the coastline to towns like Villefranche-sur-Mer and Beaulieu. The train ride to Monaco is only 20 minutes, to Cannes half an hour, and to Grasse just over an hour.
7 MUST-SEE PLACES IN THE FRENCH RIVIERA
The elegant palm tree-lined promenade des Anglais, lined with the opulent belle époque buildings, give Nice an air of sophistication. But beyond its flashy side, Nice also boasts an atmospheric old town a vibrant restaurant scene, and great museums.
1. Vieux Nice or Vieille Ville, with its narrow streets adorned with bright flowers and laundry hanging from the windows, its art galleries, boutiques, and al fresco restaurants. The heart of the old town, cours Saleya, has a daily farmers market, except Mondays when it is reserved for an antiques market. Taste some local black olives, Caillette and buy some sunflowers, if in season.
2. The fifth generation family-owned confectionery boutique, Maison Auer, known for its ritzy interior and for the local specialties such as the renowned candied fruit (fruits confits) and chestnuts (marrons glacés).
3. The hilltop park, Parc de la Colline du Château for stunning views over Nice.
5. A drink or dinner at the stately Hôtel Négresco. The hotel has a fabulous art collection and the Baccarat 6,309-crystal chandelier in the Royal Lounge is spectacular. The hotel's restaurants are are one of the best in Nice -- La Rotonde with its magical merry-go-round setting and colorful wooden horses from an 18th-century carousel, and Le Chantecler with its two Michelin stars and a traditional Provençal menu.
6. Have some pissaladieres (onion, anchovy and olive tarts), salade Niçoise, and ratatouille.
Cannes, the "Pearl of the French Riviera," is known for its glitz and glamor, luxury boutiques, Michelin-starred restaurants, and for the world famous annual Cannes International Film Festival.
1. Breakfast on the terrace of the fabulous InterContinental Carlton Cannes, overlooking the elegant Boulevard de la Croisette. The Carlton is famous for hosting movie stars from around the world during the annual Cannes Film Festival and the hotel was a central location for the Alfred Hitchcock film To Catch a Thief starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.
2. A walk along the iconic Boulevard de la Croisette, that stretches nearly two miles along the Bay of Cannes, lined with palms, dozens of top designer boutiques, and grand belle-époque hotels. On one end of the Croisette is Suquet Hill that offers stunning panoramic views over the city and the bay. The hilltop Musée de la Castre displays 19th-century Riviera landscape art and ethnographical items.
3. Walk the streets of Cannes' original settlement, Le Suquet, once a fishing village that oozes character with its medieval buildings and narrow cobbled streets lined with fishermen's cottages, now transformed into cozy restaurants.
4. Take a selfie at the steps of the Cannes Film festival site, Palais des Festivals.
The 9th-century village, Èze, sitting high above the sea, is exceptionally picturesque with its steep cobbled lanes, flower-filled passages, dazzling French Rivera views down the glittering sea below, its deluxe hotels, fine restaurants, and artisans shops.
1. A coffee or a drink on the terrace of the 400-year-old Château Eza for a scenic view. The château is the most stunning luxury hotel with a Michelin-starred restaurant and the view is exceptional.
2. Jardin Exotique d’Èze above the village on top of the mountain. In addition to the spectacular panoramic views, there are countless species of exotic plants as well as beautiful sculptures and statues displayed in harmony of the garden.
ST-PAUL DE VENCE
This picture-postcard hilltop village was once discovered by a group of young impoverished artists, including Modigliani, who stayed at the Colombe d'Or, paying for their accommodations with their paintings. Word spread and soon other artists followed. The village is still an artist community and galleries and studios are lining its narrow cobbled streets.
Have lunch at the fabulous Colombe d'Or which also has one of the finest private modern art collections in France. Reserve a table well in advance.
Cap Ferrat and Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
The most desirable address on the Riviera, the Cap is lined with magnificent villas and scented gardens with Mediterranean cypress, mimosa, rose, and jasmine.
The main tourist attraction here is the lavish rose-pink palace, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild with its immaculate gardens and beautiful sea views.
The cute, fragrance-filled town has been the center of the French perfume industry for over 400 years and still supplies perfumes to the biggest names in the industry, such as Chanel and Dior. At the Musée International de la Parfumerie you can treat your senses and learn how perfumes are made.
Rich, chic and exclusive, Monaco is known as the playground of the wealthy. For visitors, it is a perfect city for a day trip.
1. Lunch at the iconic and celebrated three-Michelin-starred Le Louis XV - Alain Ducasse at the Hôtel de Paris.
2. A drink at the Brasserie du Café de Paris for some people watching and view of the casino and the Hôtel de Paris.
3. Try you luck at the Casino de Monte-Carlo. or go to just admire the opulent interior. Dress to impress since there is a dress code.
4. Fasten your seatbelt and drive around the Formula One circuit. Ask a cab driver to take you around or, better yet, rent a Ferrari and take it for a ride yourself.