Do you know the way to Saint-Tropez?
The French Riviera has been associated with glamor and beauty since the 1800’s, when wealthy European aristocrats started buying up villas along the shore in spots like Nice and Saint-Tropez. Later, icons like Princess Grace of Monaco and Elizabeth Taylor made the Côte d’Azur their playground, and events like the Cannes Film Festival brought vibrant culture to the region.
Known for stunning coastlines and luxurious lifestyle, the Riviera is the ultimate vacation destination. Here is everything you need to know to plan your next vacation to the French Riviera.
The Best Towns to Visit on the French Riviera
The French Riviera is home to many charming and picturesque towns that are worth visiting. Some of the best towns to visit include Nice, Cannes, Saint-Tropez, Antibes, and Monaco.
Known as the capital of the French Riviera, Nice is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city that is famous for its pebble beaches, clear blue waters and historic old town. When you go, visit the Promenade des Anglais, a famous promenade that stretches along the waterfront and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. French master artist Henri Matisse spent most of his later life in Nice, and the Musée Matisse shows off the artist’s history with the town.
With its luxurious lifestyle, upscale shopping, and beautiful beaches, Cannes is a popular destination for the rich and famous. Visitors can take a stroll along La Croisette, a famous promenade that runs along the waterfront and is lined with high-end shops and restaurants. The old town of Cannes is also worth a visit, with its charming streets, colorful buildings, and historic landmarks.
Best known, of course, for its film festival, Cannes is synonymous with luxury and high culture. Make sure to take note of when the festival is in town, and just know to expect traffic and crowds as stars and dignitaries flying in with their entourages and security teams. It may be fun to stop by a red carpet or festival event, but in a less busy season, Cannes can be quite peaceful and still just as exciting to visit.
Tucked into the hills above Cannes, is Grasse, a picturesque town with beautiful architecture and stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Stroll through the streets, away from the crowds and beaches, admire the colorful buildings, and relax in one of Grasse’s many cafes or restaurants.
Known as the perfume capital of the world, Grasse is famous for its long history of producing high-quality fragrances. Visitors can explore the old town and visit the many perfume shops and factories that line the streets. The International Perfume Museum is also worth a visit, with its extensive collection of perfume-related artifacts and exhibits.
Located on the French Riviera, Saint-Tropez is a chic and fashionable town that is famous for its stunning beaches, trendy boutiques, and lively nightlife. Known for being more trendy than other towns along the Riviera, Saint-Tropez has a long history of attracting artists, writers, and celebrities to its sandy beaches. When you visit, be aware that Saint-Tropez (and other Riviera towns) have clothing-optional beaches, which are considered de rigueur, “the norm,” in the south of France
Antibes is a charming town located between Cannes and Nice, famous for its beautiful old town and stunning marina. Take your time to explore the 16th century ramparts at Fort Carré, and check out the impressive art collection at the Picasso Museum.
When you visit Antibes, be sure to stop at nearby Juan-les-Pins, a chic resort town separated from Antibes by the beautifully forested Cap d’Antibes Peninsula. Juan-les-Pins is known for its vibrant nightlife and for its music festival, Jazz à Juan.
Monaco is an honorable mention, as it’s technically not France, but nothing captures the glamor and jet set lifestyle of the Riviera like Monaco. Everything in Monaco is luxurious, and it is worth a visit to stop by the opulent casinos or catch the Monaco Grand Prix, a Formula One race around the city. Be sure to remember your passport if you want to visit Monaco!
How to Get There
The French Riviera is easily accessible by plane, train, or car. Nice Côte d’Azur Airport (NCE) is the main airport that serves the region, and it’s located just a short distance from the town of Nice.
The train from Paris to the French Riviera is an easy ride, taking about 5-6 hours. Driving will take you longer from Paris, but the scenic drive down the A8 motorway is worth it! It runs along the coast and connects all the towns.
How to Get Around and In Between the Towns
The best way to get around the French Riviera is by car, but you can also take a train or bus. Renting a car is the most convenient way to explore the region, as it gives you the freedom to visit all the different towns and beaches at your own pace. If you prefer to take public transportation, the train and bus networks are efficient and reliable. The train runs along the coast and stops at all the major towns, while the bus connects the smaller towns and villages.
The Best Beaches in the Riviera
The French Riviera is famous for its beautiful beaches, and there are plenty to choose from. Some of the best beaches include Plage de la Garoupe in Antibes, which is a beautiful sandy beach stretching out into crystal-clear waters; Plage de Pampelonne in Saint-Tropez, a long sandy beach with plenty of restaurants and bars; and Plage de la Baie des Anges in Nice, which is a pebble beach with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Classic Gifts from the French Riviera
The French Riviera is known for its shopping, and there are a few iconic local items that you should pick up when you go. The south of France is known for lavender, and local artisans create lavender perfume, soap, skincare and even lavender honey. There are also some of the best wine regions in the country along the Riviera, so check out the local wine. With the perfume capital of the world in the Riviera, you’ll have a great selection of perfumes to bring home as well.
The French Riviera is an amazing place to plan your next vacation. Visit the beautiful, colorful towns and soak in the culture of 1950’s Hollywood glam, old world sophistication and modern high society. Bon Voyage!
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