Best Things to Do in the French Rivera

There's no shortage of things to do in the French Riviera, from whale watching to cooking lessons and water sports. Here are Scott Dunn’s favourite things to do in Provence Alpes / Cote d'Azur and around.

Activities

The Côte d'Azur is one of Europe's most glamorous summer holiday destinations. Hugging the French coastline, it includes exquisite towns such as glitzy St Tropez and Cannes and the more low-key Saint-Paul de Vence and Eze. For years, visitors have been drawn to this delightful part of France, for lazy days and sun-kissed lunches. But there’s more to explore on the French Riviera than just its chic hangouts. Whether you’re planning a family holiday or want a week packed with culture and adventure, there’s something for everyone.

Top Things to Do in the French Riviera

Sometimes all you want from a holiday is to move from beach to pool to restaurant, other times you want to immerse yourself in local culture or unearth rare experiences. The French Riviera caters to both, in abundance. There are the tempting and stylish markets, waterfront Michelin-star restaurants and endless beaches to mooch between. But there are also the kinds of experiences that show off a different side to this part of France. So, whatever you have in mind for your precious time off, you’ll find inspiration in our carefully curated list of things to do in the French Riviera.

Cooking in Henry Matisse’s Former Workshop
Cooking in Henry Matisse’s Former Workshop

In the heart of a quaint old town on the French Riviera, enjoy a colourful Provencial market raid with a professional chef, before getting stuck into a private cooking lesson with a sea view, just as Henri Matisse did when he lived here. This is just one of the many unique things to do in French Riviera that Scott Dunn can organise for you.

Port-Cros Island
Diving Around Port-Cros Island

Located just off the Riviera, Port-Cros is a privately owned, enchantingly quiet, and beautiful island, which has been turned into a national park. Travel there by boat and enjoy a classic French breakfast onboard, before diving into the turquoise waters for an underwater adventure. End the day at Port-Cros's tiny village, for a seaside lunch.

Perfume making in Grasse
Make a Perfume

Grasse is the perfume capital of France, where many well-known names have been creating their scents for hundreds of years. Join factory tours to get an insider's glimpse into the art of perfume-making and take part in a workshop with a master perfumer to blend a signature scent that's bespoke to you.

E-bike Vineyard Tour
E-bike Vineyard Tour

For wine lovers, this is one of the top things to do in the French Riviera. Hop on an e-bike, riding along small, quiet roads towards one of the oldest vineyards in the Cote d’Azur. Learn about the organic wine-making process straight from the vintners and taste their delicious varieties.

Woman on a sailboat at sunset
An Evening Fishing Trip

Take a sunset cruise on a traditional fishing boat for unbeatable views of St Tropez and a chance to catch your dinner. Whether or not fishing is your thing, this is one of the best things to do in the French Riviera to see a different side of the area. While you wait for the fish to bite, enjoy drinks and a cheese platter, and soak up the scenery.

Shopping in the French Riviera
Private Shopper

Discover the most discerning addresses in the French Riviera with a personal shopper who will take you to the boutiques of luxury brands, and lesser-known fashion designers. Following a questionnaire about your tastes and style, the tour will be planned to suit you personally and ensure you won’t be carrying any shopping bags yourself.

Driving the Grande Corniche
Driving Tour

Take in the epic panoramas that adorn the French Riviera from Nice to Monaco on a chauffeur-driven route in a luxury car. Stop at charming Eze, stroll around Monaco’s old town to see its main attractions, including the Prince’s Palace, and even enjoy the thrill of a lap on the Formula 1 track.

Things to Do in French Riviera with Kids

Happy, sunny beach days and fun ways to explore in the area, the French Riviera has plenty to keep the kids entertained too.

Whale watching in Port-Cros
Whale Watching

Children and adults alike will adore spotting whales and dolphins off the coast of the Cote d’Azur. On the top of our list of the best things to do with kids in the French Riviera is an eco-friendly boat ride to get up close to these majestic marine creatures. Join a well-informed, eco-certified guide and sail among the blue learning about the secrets and habits of the Mediterranean species.

Cycling in Port-Cros National Park
Port Cros and Porquerolles Boat Trip

Set sail to the island of Porquerolles to discover the coast and its remarkable landscapes. First stop is a wild cove for a delicious French breakfast, followed by swimming and snorkelling in the clear water. You’ll then continue sailing to Port Cros, to dock in a small private port for more beach time, before getting off to explore the island by e-bike, e-car or 4x4. For lunch, enjoy a delicious picnic prepared by a local chef or stop at a Port Cros restaurant for lobster and other French specialities.

Water slide at Aquasplash, Antibes
Family Fun in Antibes

If you’re looking for things to do in the French Riviera with kids, particularly around the Cote d’Azur, then this one will get you some serious brownie points. Antibes Land is a theme park just outside Antibes, about a 15-minute drive from Vence, where you’ll find roller coasters and rides a plenty. Nearby is Aquasplash, the largest water park in the Côte d’Azur, which has more than 2,000m of slides, as well as several pools. Then you’ve got Marineland, the biggest animal exhibition park in the world. There are sharks, manta rays, sea lions, polar bears, penguins, pelicans, flamingos, and tropical fish. There are various shows and attractions and chances to meet the animals. It also has three 18-hole miniature golf courses set amongst caves and waterfalls, with landscapes inspired by the novels of Jules Verne.

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FAQs for Things to Do in the French Riviera

  • What is the French Riviera famous for?

    Known for being one of the most glamorous holiday destinations in the Mediterranean, the French Riviera is famous for its beautiful coastline, the super-sized yachts that dock for the summer and Michelin-star restaurants. But it is also known for a more low-key way of life, found in the pretty Mediaeval villages that surround the coast, its unspoilt coves and bays, and its rich historic and artistic culture.

  • What can you do in the French Riviera in 4 days?

    With 4 days in the French Riviera, you are best choosing one area and exploring from there. If you’re looking for beaches and fantastic restaurants, head to St Tropez, meanwhile for adventure and water sports, stay in Marseille, taking day trips to Port-Cros and Porquerolles for sailing, diving, and swimming. To get a taste of classic Riviera life, start in Cannes and take day trips out to Grasse, Saint-Paul de Vence and Monaco. Nice and its surrounding area offers up a mix of charming villages like Eze, and beautiful beaches such as Plage de Passable in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and Paloma Beach. For more inspiration check out our France itineraries.

  • What should you buy in French Riviera?

    The French Riviera is known for its perfumes and soaps made from the nearby lavender fields and in famous Grasse. Markets are heaving with vintage linens, wicker baskets and pretty ceramics, as well as stylish clothes and accessories, while St Tropez’s chic boutiques sell designer beachwear, sandals, and jewellery. Of course, you can also shop for olive oil, cheese, honey, and other delicious French foods to take home too.

  • What to do in French Riviera when it rains?

    There’s plenty of things to do in the French Riviera when it rains, from learning how to make chocolate at a factory to having a cooking lesson or visiting indoor attractions like the Marc Chagall National Museum or Musee Picasso. You could go shopping if it rains in the Riviera, have slow meals in one of the amazing restaurants, or stroll in and out of the beautiful cathedrals.

Lavender fields in the South of France
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