Ah, the Côte d’Azur – that magical place where life can be enjoyed to its fullest. In English it’s the French Riviera and it’s a must see for world travellers. St. Tropez, Antibes, Cannes, Monte Carlo – the southeast coast of France is certainly filled with exciting and picturesque towns and villages. It’s also a place of modern legend where an American actress became a European Princess when Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier of Monaco.
Discover the French Riviera
The sparkling French Riviera is known as a playground for the wealthy where famous pleasure seekers enjoy the good life. Many own a home in the tax haven of Monaco while it is estimated 50 percent of the world’s super yachts visit the coast each year. The stylish jet set are attracted to the Cannes Film Festival, Monaco Grand Prix and the region’s many world class yacht harbours, resorts and nightlife.
However, you don’t need to be one of the world’s rich and famous to enjoy the Riviera. It has been a popular tourist destination since the British arrived for climate therapy in the late 18th century. The region’s 300 days of sunshine each year were a major attraction.
Today visitors continue to enjoy the pleasing climate, magnificent scenery, array of beaches and excellent cuisine.
There’s plenty for visitors to see and do along this spectacular coast. When you aren’t relaxing on a beach beside the Mediterranean, you might want to take in some of these sights.
- Monaco -The principality is home to the Monte Carlo Casino, the Royal Palace and Cathedral, Oceanographic Museum and many beautiful gardens. Views from the Corniche (the roadway along the steep coastline to Nice) are absolutely spectacular.
- Cannes -Many festivals take place here year round including the world famous film festival each May. Excellent beach, shopping, Palm Beach Casino.
- Nice – Promenade des Anglais, the palm lined walkway which curves along the waterfront, has lots of activities, cafes and restaurants. Fine Arts Museum, Matisse Museum, Chagall Museum, Ruhl Casino and Parc des Miniatures, a miniature town which is a good place to take the kids.
- Grasse -The capital of the world’s perfume industry where you can sample the essence, Grasse Cathedral, Art and History of Provence Museum.
- Antibes – 17th-century ramparts, 12th-century castle with a 16th century tower, Archeological Museum, Picasso Museum, beaches, Chateau Grimaldi, Marineland (one of the largest in the world), Church of the Immaculate Conception.
- St Paul de Vence – This walled, medieval village with cobbled roads and quaint buildings is picturesque and peaceful with excellent views of the Mediterranean. The streets are dotted with art galleries, boutiques, small churches and restaurants. Fondation Maeght is a mostly open-air museum of modern art with many pieces of sculpture.
- Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat -The Ephrussi de Rothshild Villa is the most beautiful French Riviera Palazzo complete with nine gardens overlooking the Bay of Villefranche. A must see for its architecture, furnishings and gardens adorned with patios, fountains, ponds, flowered and shaded paths.
Getting There & Getting Around
- Fly – Nice has an international airport or you can fly to Paris and take the TGV fast train to Nice. (5 hr.35 mins)
- Cruise -Cruise ships call at Monte Carlo, Cannes and Villefranche. The views from deck are truly breathtaking.
- Take the train -Use the Côte d’Azur rail service as a convenient way to get from town to town. Scenic trains operating in the summer are the Train des Merveilles from Nice to Tende, and the Train des Pignes which links the coast and the mountains.
- Drive -We can arrange your rental car before you leave home for the best rates and insurance. Pick up when you arrive at Nice airport or rent for day trips during your stay.
- Walk -Wandering the towns and villages or hiking the beautiful landscape is a perfect way to get to know the area and enjoy the spectacular coastal views.
From some of the most lavish, luxury hotels in the world to bed and breakfasts, there’s a wide range of accommodation on the French Riviera. How about a private villa with sweeping sea views or a peaceful apartment with its own swimming pool? There’s plenty to choose from but book ahead for the high season as summertime is busy – best to secure your place early. Note the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix both take place each May.
Historic, landmark hotels are worth a walk through, or stop by for a meal if you aren’t staying there. The Negresco in Nice, the Carlton in Cannes and the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo are three of the best examples of Riviera refinement and grandeur.
The Riviera shares its cuisine with neighbouring Provence so you’ll find the same vegetable and fish dishes along the coast. Olive oil and garlic are widely used with fewer sauces than in Paris. Of course there’s always a fine selection of French wine to enjoy with any meal.
This is a leading centre for culinary vacations. Cooking classes start with a visit to the local market to collect the fresh, local ingredients which are an essential part of the process.
The French Riviera is one of the world’s most magical places with all the elements needed to create an exceptional vacation.
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