The Cote d'Azur is known for its intoxicating cocktail of glitzy Riveria towns, charming fishing ports, exciting Corniche roads and the scent of the maquis and lavender. The area hums with beautiful people at play. The sophistication of Cannes and St Tropez with its palm lined boulevards and luxury yachts contrasts with the timeless charm of hilltop villages.
Nestled along the Mediterranean coast, the Cote d'Azur, or French Riviera as it's globally recognized, is a tapestry of contrasts. Renowned for its iconic French Riviera beaches, the destination captivates travelers with its azure waters and golden sands. Beyond the shores, there's an air of opulence: yachts, luxury boutiques, and world-class dining. Yet, visitors find pockets of genuine tranquility and untouched beauty amidst this luxury. For those in search of both grandeur and nature's simplicity, here are the top things to do in the French Riviera.
Things to See and Do in Cote D’Azur
Navigating the Cote d'Azur is like leafing through a glossy travel magazine. The glittering French Riviera beaches offer more than just a seaside escape; they are the heartbeat of a vibrant coastline culture. Dive into the gastronomic wonders at some of the best restaurants in Saint Tropez and bask in the charm of cities like Cannes. And for those looking for a touch of rustic, the hilltop villages stand as timeless sentinels to a rich past. As you prepare for your Riviera rendezvous, here's a guide to the must-experience spots.
Visit Saint-Paul de Vence
Saint-Paul de Vence is an absolute treat for anyone who loves digging into delicious French cuisine with a side of iconic art. Picture this: You're dining at La Colombe d'Or with a Picasso hanging just next to your table. Or, spend a morning wandering through the local market where you can sample all things Mediterranean. Not far off, Vence offers a different vibe with its serene chapels and colorful stained-glass windows. But no matter where you wander in these villages, there's a perfect mix of food spots and art nooks to explore. It's like stepping into a live painting where every corner has a story, and every meal is a masterpiece. If art and food are your things, Saint-Paul de Vence is your kind of place.
Check Out Historic Sites
Step into the past with the rich history of Nimes, where Roman echoes come alive, especially during May's gladiator re-enactments. Just a stone's throw away is Orange, home to a majestic amphitheater and the iconic Triumphal Arch. Now, if history leaves you craving some sun-kissed relaxation, Fréjus is your go-to. Not only does it boast fascinating Roman ruins, but it's also a hop away from some pristine French Riviera beaches. Meanwhile, Avignon paints a different historical picture with its remnants of a medieval bridge and the sprawling Palace des Papes. And for a serene escape? The Abbaye de Sénanque, nestled amidst lush lavender fields, is an 11th-century gem waiting to be explored. With such diverse experiences, every day promises a new adventure.
Learn About Perfume Making
If you've ever caught a whiff of lavender and felt a world of memories flood back, this region will resonate with you deeply. It's bathed in fragrances, courtesy of its native flora, making it a hub for the perfume industry. Grasse wears the crown as the perfume mecca, housing legendary names like Fragonard, Galimard, and Molinard. Speaking of Molinard, which has been crafting scents since 1849, their factory tours are an olfactory delight. Beyond the allure of exquisite scents, you get an insider's peek into the art of perfume-making, learning about their compositions and the magic that binds them. The cherry on top? We can set it up so you can join a workshop where you team up with a master perfumer and craft a signature scent that's uniquely yours.
Go to the Beach
The allure of the French Riviera beaches is undeniable, drawing sun-seekers from all corners. In the summer, the coast pulsates with life, and finding a spot on some beaches becomes a mini adventure. Yet, for those in the know, tranquil pockets await. Tucked away from Nice's hustle and bustle is Plage de Passable in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a haven offering delightful views of the Bay of Villefranche and brimming with amenities like eateries and water sports. Not far off, the shingle shores of Paloma Beach beckon, a protected cove where families mingle, celebrities lounge in the private section, and the general public soaks up the sun.
For a throwback to the Riviera's yesteryears, hop on a ferry from Hyères to Porquerolles in the Île d'Hyères. Cycle around the island, discovering pristine beaches reminiscent of a bygone era. And if you're craving some Riviera glamor, La Croisette in Cannes is your beachside runway. Sip on rosé at upscale restaurants but remember to book in advance. A stone's throw away lies Théoule-sur-Mer, with its serene, golden sands offering a contrast to the buzz. For the ultimate people-watching, Pampelonne Beach in St. Tropez is where the action is but be prepared for crowds. Nice, with its unique mix of private and public pebbly beaches, stretches over four miles. While some parts might challenge the little ones due to the steepness, there are gentler sections where families flock.
The French Riviera beaches aren't just about sun-soaked sands and deep blue waves; they're a dreamy treat for any food lover. Dive into the delicious stories from the soul of Provence, where dishes like the famous Salade Niçoise are more than just meals—they're conversations. Do you go with anchovies or tuna? Green beans or a bit of lettuce? These lively chats reveal just how much people here love their food roots.
And oh, St. Tropez! Beyond its twinkling allure, it's a foodie's dream town. Right at the top of the list is La Vague d'Or, with the genius Chef Arnaud Donckele running the show. As one of the best restaurants in Saint Tropez, it flaunts three Michelin stars and views that'll take your breath away. And dishes like the tourton—a tasty pastry filled with fresh veggies from Provence and juicy Mediterranean crayfish—showcase the essence of the Mediterranean.
Moving along the coast, Cannes has its food wonders. Check out spots like Z’Plage Beach Restaurant or the vintage-cool Palme d’Or. They serve dishes that'll win your heart, proving once again that the French Riviera is a must-visit for anyone who loves to eat.
And if you're itching to get hands-on, we can set you up with local chefs to get a personal cooking class, letting you experience French cooking firsthand. From cozy beachside cafés to lavish dining experiences, the Riviera isn't just about a meal; it's a journey your taste buds and soul will never forget.
When to Go to Cote d’Azur?
While many travelers often associate the Côte d'Azur with summer splendor along the French Riviera beaches, there's more to this Mediterranean jewel than its sun-soaked July and August peaks. Indeed, the region enjoys a mild climate throughout the year, courtesy of the protective hills to the west and the shielding Mercantour Alps to the northwest. This means an impressive nearly 300 sunlit days, albeit with sporadic rains during the transitional months of March, April, October, and November.
For a harmonious blend of favorable weather and fewer crowds, June and September emerge as optimal months. However, the allure of the Côte d'Azur isn't confined to beach escapades. Winter brings its own charm; temperatures are chilly yet seldom reach freezing. Traditional Christmas markets enliven towns, selling regional delicacies and the warming vin chaud.
Moreover, ski enthusiasts can rejoice in the December opening of the area's 15 ski resorts, notably Auron, Isola 2000, and Valberg, a mere two-hour bus journey from Nice. February sees Nice in celebratory spirits with its grand 15-day carnival, while Menton's vibrant three-week La Fête du Citron captivates with floats adorned in over 140 tons of citrus treasures.
Where Is Cote d’Azur?
The Côte d'Azur, better known to many as the French Riviera, is a little slice of paradise in the southeast corner of France. It stretches from the Italian border, winding its way west to the charming towns of Saint-Tropez and Toulon. Cities like Nice and Cannes are the heartbeats of the area, brimming with art, culture, and, of course, the glitz and glam of events like the Cannes Film Festival. But it's not just about the glitz. The Côte d'Azur is peppered with quaint towns, vibrant markets, and ever-inviting Mediterranean warmth, making it a magnet for travelers.
Where to Stay in Cote d’Azur?
Imagine waking up to the sound of waves in the perfect suite or walking out of the lobby into a charming French village. Check out these luxury hotels in the French Riviera we've found for you ranging from boutique properties surrounded by olive groves to architect-designed hotels overlooking the Côte d'Azur. These places aren't just about the glitz; they have that special touch that will make your trip unforgettable.
Carlton Cannes, A Regent Hotel
Cannes, Cote d'Azur, France
Radiating 50s' French Riviera charm, the Carlton Cannes stands proud on the waterfront in the heart of Cannes, overlooking the sparkling Med. Merging high-end style and classic luxury with a modern twist and its very own exclusive beach club and pier.
Hotel Lou Pinet, Saint-Tropez
Cote d'Azur, France
Evoking the spirit and glamour of 1960s Saint-Tropez, Lou Pinet enjoys a secluded location away from the crowds. Full of vintage charm with a fabulous pool, this intimate and achingly chic boutique hotel, radiates a glamorous country house vibe.
Hôtel Martinez Cannes
Cannes, Cote d'Azur, France
Occupying a prime location on the iconic Croisette, the legendary Hôtel Martinez has been a landmark of the Côte d'Azur since 1929. A recent makeover has injected this Art Deco beauty with added contemporary elegance, as well as a new private beach club.
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