The French Riviera, or the Côte d’Azur, is one of the most stunning vacation destinations in Europe. It’s home to beautiful Mediterranean beaches, year-round sunshine, elegant resorts that are frequented by the rich and famous, history, architecture, and quaint towns. AllTheRooms, the world’s first accommodation search engine, has rounded up the best destinations to visit in the French Riviera.
The stunning city of Nice lies on the pebbly shores of the Mediterranean. The city was founded by the Ancient Greeks, and today it’s a picturesque destination, home to impressive architecture and stunning coastal scenery. In the 19th century, Nice became a retreat for the French aristocracy, and since then it’s been attracting around 5 million visitors a year as it’s easily one of the best summer destinations in France.
Nice is home to five-star restaurants, fine art, incredible vacation rentals and elegant hotels. It’s best known as the hometown of French Impressionist Henri Matisse, with a vast collection of his work on display at the Musée Matisse. Other top activities include walking the stunning coastal Promenade des Anglais and visiting the Colline du Château, which is an impressive hill that was once home to the original Chateau de Nice, or Castle of Nice. It’s a great place to base yourself if you want to explore the French Riviera and there are tons of day trips that you can do to immerse yourself in Southern French way of life.
Cannes is best known for its annual film festival that kicks off in May. It draws a fancy crowd and is home to golden sandy beaches, boutique shopping, and fine dining. If you want to visit Cannes in style, spend a day living the life of a celebrity, lounging on a boat or yacht.
If you’re budget doesn’t quite stretch to being able to rent a yacht, you can stroll down the iconic La Croisette, which is an avenue that runs the length of the seafront for a mile, visit the 19th-century Mairie de Cannes town hall to see examples of historic French architecture, and explore the winding, ancient streets of Le Suqey, a former Roman settlement to the north of Cannes.
Like Cannes, Saint Tropez is also a playground for the rich and famous, having arrived on the scene as a top vacation destination in the 1960s after it was used as a filming destination for the iconic Brigitte Bardot who starred in Et Dieu Créa la Femme (And God Created Woman; 1956) in the 1950s on the town’s beaches. In the past, Saint Tropez was a sleepy fishing village, and in the off-peak season visitors can explore its quaint cobblestone streets in the former Fishing Quarter and people watch from a traditional cafe. It also draws international celebrities, and is home to private beaches and high-end hotels, alongside a glistening harbor home to million-dollar yachts. For the mere mortal, there are normal public beaches that you can visit too.
Antibes is a beautiful coastal town best known for its annual Jazz à Juan festival that takes place in July. It’s a great destination if you want to mix beaches with nightlife, plus is known for its seaside bars and excellent restaurants. Antibes is also home to a stunning Old Town where you can see 16th-century architecture, an impressive fort which overlooks the marina and home to The Musée Picasso, formerly the Château Grimaldi at Antibes, which is built upon the foundations of the ancient Greek town of Antipolis.
If you want a change of scenery from the beach, head to the hilltop town of Eze. The incredibly picturesque Medieval village sits perched on a hill looking out to the Mediterranean sea. In Eze you can wander through the town’s narrow cobblestone streets, visit the town’s 12th-century church and explore Eze’s charming galleries and quaint cafes.
Monaco is another fascinating place to visit in the French Riviera. While it’s an independent city-state, it’s still a part of the Côte d’Azur and is an easy day trip from most of the destinations in the French Riviera. Monaco is is probably best known for the Formula 1 Grand Prix racing around the historic streets every May. Of course the Casino de Monte Carlo and the Palais Princier de Monaco [the home of the Grimaldi family] are must visit sites.
It’s a brilliant destination if you want to see how the rich and famous live after substantial time spent lounging on the French Riveria’s beaches.