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8 Best Places in the French Riviera

Updated: Apr 1

Exploring the unforgettable Cote d'Azur


About the Author: Stefanie Lambert - I have spent years traveling around Europe and now I want to share my first hand knowledge and expertise to help others fall in love with it as well.

Eze, France, French Riviera

The French Riviera, also known as the Côte d'Azur, is a glamorous stretch of coastline along the Mediterranean Sea that has captivated travelers for centuries. From the glitzy casinos of Monaco to the charming seaside villages, the French Riviera offers a diverse range of experiences that cater to every taste. Gorgeous coastlines, sunny beaches, intriguing museums, picturesque villages and vibrant markets are all available for the traveler to enjoy. If you like adventure, hiking and biking trails are abundant, along with water sports of all kinds. Here are some of, what I consider, the best places in the French Riviera to travel along with some helpful tips.

8 best places in the French Riviera: (In no particular order)

  1. Nice

  2. Villefranche-sur-Mer

  3. Monaco

  4. Eze

  5. The Corniche

  6. Menton

  7. St. Paul de Vence

  8. Tourrettes sur Loup


When to visit the French Riviera: This area (like most of Europe) can be extremely crowded and hot in the summer. If you can, I would suggest traveling in the early spring or late fall. Winter would even be lovely. Although it can be overcast and a little rainy, the average temperature in December is 56 degrees for the high and 48 for the low. If you are coming from a colder spot in North America those temperatures seem pretty alluring.


Nice, France, French Riviera

Home base and transportation: For the purpose of this blog post I am considering the French Riviera to be the area from Menton to Cannes. From one end to the other only takes about an hour and a half to drive (trains and buses are a bit longer) so really anywhere can be a great home base. Nice sits almost directly in the center, has the airport and is well connected by train and bus, so logistically I believe it makes an ideal home base. If you prefer a smaller town or village though, that will absolutely work because of the short distances between the towns.


We always rent a car when in Europe. We love the freedom it provides allowing us to go anywhere we want on our own schedule. That being said, it comes with some negatives including finding/paying for parking, getting lost and busy city driving. If it makes you nervous to rent a car, you can easily get around the Cote d'Azur with trains and buses.


Nice


Nice, France, French Riviera

Nice, the capital of the French Riviera offers a charming blend of the elegance of its Belle Époque architecture with the vibrant energy of its markets and cafes. You will need at least a full day to explore all it has to offer. Begin your exploration of Nice with a leisurely stroll along the iconic Promenade des Anglais. This palm-lined promenade stretches along the Baie des Anges and is the perfect place to soak in the breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea. Enjoy the refreshing sea breeze as you walk, cycle, or simply relax on the pebbly beaches that line the promenade. We rented some electric scooters and enjoyed riding along the promenade, taking pictures and people watching. The hotel Negresco is a famous landmark along the promenade. Take pictures of the pink and white Belle-epoque exterior but if you wander in without being a guest you will be kindly asked to leave (don't ask me how I found that out.) Take some pictures at the large "Nice" sign overlooking the city and the water.


Old town Nice, France, French Riviera

After the promenade, step back in time by wandering through the charming Old Town of Nice. Narrow winding streets, colorful buildings, and bustling markets characterize this historic district. Explore the Cours Saleya Market, where you'll find a vibrant array of flowers, fresh produce, and local specialties. Don't forget to visit the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate. Construction of this Baroque church was started in 1650. It contains 10 chapels and 3 organs. Wander into the bustling Place Rossetti, the square just outside the cathedral and buy an ice cream at the famous Fenocchio ice cream parlor. The church of Saint Rita is also worth a look. Relatively plain on the outside, it has a gorgeous baroque interior. Another building to explore is the opera house. We attended the symphony there. Built in 1885 this is a wonderful venue to enjoy some beautiful music.


For panoramic views of Nice and its surroundings, make your way to Castle Hill. While the castle itself no longer stands, the park at the top offers stunning vistas, lush greenery, and a waterfall. You can reach the summit by climbing the stairs or take the convenient elevator. It's an ideal spot for a picnic or simply to unwind while taking in the beauty of the French Riviera.


Nice, France, French Riviera

Nice boasts an array of museums and art galleries that showcase its rich cultural heritage. Visit the Marc Chagall National Museum, dedicated to the works of the renowned artist, or explore the Musée Matisse, housing an impressive collection of Henri Matisse's masterpieces. The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC) is another must-visit for art enthusiasts.


Villefranche-sur-Mer


Villefranche-sur-Mer, French riviera, France, Rothchild villa

Just east of Nice is Villefranche-sur-Mer, a charming seaside town with pastel-colored houses cascading down the hillsides. Spend your day lounging on the sandy beaches or wander through the historic Old Town. Don't forget to explore the medieval Citadel, offering breathtaking views of the azure waters below. The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is definitely worth a stop. Built in 1907 by the French Baroness Beatrice Rothchild, this sea-side villa has antique furniture and master paintings. Its garden, with its nine themed gardens was classified as one of the remarkable gardens of France.


Monaco


Monte Carlo casino, Monaco

Experience the glitz and glamour of Monaco, a tiny principality synonymous with luxury and opulence. I am going to be totally honest here and say that while Monaco is iconic, I found it a touch overrated. If you are pressed for time, make the other destinations on this list a priority over Monaco. If you do go, however, be sure to visit the famous Casino de Monte-Carlo. You can enter its foyer for free but there is a cover charge to enter the casino itself. Explore the grand Prince's Palace, and stroll through the immaculate gardens of the Jardin Exotique de Monaco. You can also visit the prince's car collection. If you enjoy cars you will love wandering through this gallery which includes cars from companies such as Rolls Royce, Maserati, Ferrari and Lamborghini. Then wander around the marina to admire all the gorgeous yachts.


Monaco

Eze


Eze, France, French Riviera

Eze is a medieval village perched high on a cliff and a favorite in the Cote d'azur. As you meander through the labyrinthine streets of Eze, you'll find yourself transported to a different time. The village's well-preserved medieval architecture creates a timeless atmosphere, with charming boutiques, art galleries, and artisan workshops lining the cobblestone pathways. The absence of cars adds to the tranquility, allowing visitors to leisurely explore the enchanting nooks and crannies that reveal the village's rich history. The Jardin Exotique, a botanical garden perched on the hilltop, offers a respite from the narrow streets. Here, a collection of succulents and cacti thrives in the Mediterranean sun, providing a serene backdrop to the village below. The garden's elevated location also provides a vantage point for capturing breathtaking views of the coastline and the surrounding landscapes. You can climb up to the ruins of Eze castle exploring the ruins and enjoying the views. You will not stop taking pictures in this quaint and delightful village.


The Corniche Roads


French Riviera

While in the French Riviera take the opportunity to drive the Corniche roads. These roads consist of three routes that begin at the port of Lympia in Nice to the west and arrive at the Franco-Italian border in Menton to the east. "Corniche" means balcony and these cliff side, coastal roads offer some of the most breathtaking views in the world. The Grande Corniche, the Moyenne Corniche and the Corniche Inférieure are the names of the three routes. The Grande Corniche is the highest one, Moyenne is the middle one the Corniche Inferieure is the lowest one, closest to the water. You will see and experience different things on each one and each one has its charms. If views are what you are after though, drive on the Moyenne Corniche from Nice to Eze and then travel on the Grande Corniche and drop down into Monaco.


Menton


Menton, France, French Riviera

Nestled between the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the rugged peaks of the French Alps lies a hidden gem that often escapes the bustling tourist radar. Menton is a charming town that beckons travelers with its pastel-hued buildings. Sitting right next to the Italian border Menton has a distinctively Italian flavor. Participating in its renowned annual Lemon Festival (usually held in February), is a great way to immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture. If you are not visiting during the festival, you can still thoroughly enjoy a day wandering this charming town.


Menton, France, French Riviera

The Old Town, with its narrow winding streets and delightful squares, transports visitors to a bygone era. The Basilica of Saint-Michel-Archange, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, offers a serene retreat for reflection. There is also a section of wall you can walk to get great views looking back on the town. The Jardins Biovès, with its meticulously manicured gardens and vibrant flower displays, offers a tranquil oasis to soak in the beauty of Menton. For those seeking adventure, the nearby hiking trails provide panoramic views of the Mediterranean and the lush greenery of the Alpes-Maritimes. You can embark on a journey to the Col de Fenestre or explore the scenic paths along the Gorbio Valley, each offering a unique perspective of Menton's landscapes.

St. Paul de Vence, and Tourrettes sur Loup


St. Paul de Vence, Tourrettes sur Loup, France, French Riviera

St. Paul de Vence, and Tourrettes sur Loup are both beautiful towns with charming streets lined with galleries, artisan shops and studios. There are not any big sites in either but just enjoy wandering and experience the loveliness they exude.


St. Paul de Vence, France, French Riviera

You can walk the ramparts in St. Paul de Vence making for an enjoyable walk. If you have a car consider making a stop at the waterfalls of Saut du Loup. These cascading waterfalls fun into gorgeous emerald pools. The best time to see them is late fall or early spring. In the summer they can be more sparse but still pretty. These two towns are so pretty I just had to squeeze in a few extra pics.


Tourettes sur de loup, France, French Rivieera



Tourettes sur de Loup, France, French Riviera

Just wander, enjoy your surroundings and take loads and loads of pictures.


Bonus:

One of my favorite experiences in the area was taking a perfume making class. The French Riviera, and Grasse in particular, is known for it production of perfume. There are multiple locations where you can take a class and different levels of perfume making. The one we took was at Galimard and it was 2 hours long. They sat us in front of what is called a perfume organ. It has different levels of many kinds of scents. During the class you are given instruction detailing the process of creating a scent. By the end of the class you have created your own personal scent. You name it and take it home. You can even purchase lotions, soaps, air fresheners etc. in you scent and they keep your formula in case you want to reorder in the future.


Grasse, France, French Riviera


Menton, France, French Riviera

The French Riviera, with its blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and glamorous allure, is undoubtedly a destination that lingers in the heart of every traveler. There is so much to see and do it is hard to narrow it down but this list of best places in the French Riviera will give you a good head start. No doubt you will remember your time there and want to return again and again to explore even more.


Ready to travel to the French Riviera? Contact us at www.eurotravelsbydesign.com and we will help create the perfect custom itinerary for you.

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I always wanted to visit the South of France! love the pictures and recommendations!

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Şu kişiye cevap veriliyor:

It really is beautiful! Hope you get there someday!

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So much I still need to see still on the French Riviera. I always spend too long in Nice, I love that city.

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Şu kişiye cevap veriliyor:

Nice is wonderful but there is so much more. I love the small towns. So picturesque!

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Visited French Riviera back in 2017 and loved it! Especially Eze village! Thanks for great tips and beautiful photos

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Şu kişiye cevap veriliyor:

Eze is amazing! Those views!!

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I have never been to southern France but would love to visit. I'd love to ride an electric scooter along the promenade in Nice. I think that is my new dream :) I love the idea of create your own personal scent too.

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Şu kişiye cevap veriliyor:

The perfume experience was so fun, and unique. Hope you get there soon!!

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The perfume making class sounds amazing! What a cool souvenir to bring home as well! But out of the fabulous towns, Eze looks like my cup of tea- those views are just fabulous!

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Şu kişiye cevap veriliyor:

Eze is absolutely amazing. So beautiful!!

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