Europe Travel

The French Riviera

Six Of The best Towns To visit on the French Riviera

The French Riviera stretches from Menton to Nice, and is a glittering coastline  packed with small towns bursting with history and charm as well as their own distinct personalities and style.

The mediterranean climate, stunning scenery and wealthy lifestyle gives it a strong appeal to global holiday makers.

Artists, celebrities, and the very wealthiest in the world have flocked to this unique part of the world for hundreds of years and will likely continue to do so.

Each town ( and there are more than 6) has its own markets, which again set the flavour and tone, and create a flurry of people, colour, sites and smells.

The whole stretch is one of the world’s premier yachting destinations, and the stunning beaches and blue water make it ideal for sunbathing. Scuba diving is also popular in some months of the year.

There is a train line right along the coast making the towns very accessible (except St Tropez) and a highlight is to catch the train to Italy’s St Remo for lunch, a stunning journey as the train hugs the coastline, with breathtaking views. Plus it’s a real treat to just pop over to Italy for a few hours. 

June, July and August are the best months to visit as the sun is out, the beaches are packed and the whole area has a positive, fresh vibe.

Antibes:

Shows the coastal French twon of Antibes perched on the edge of the ocean.
Antibes is a hidden gem in The Riviera.

Antibes is one of the more relaxed towns on the coastline. It is  a great location to stay as you really do get two towns for the price of one, and they are walking distance from one another.

Juan Les Pins is the other town, and is a touch more upmarket than Antibes with loads of small boutiques and an annual jazz festival each July that has put it on the French Riviera social calendar. Eden Casino there is also a local attraction both for gamblers and socialites.

Antibes is famous for its markets. The Marche Provencal is full of fresh local delicacies  with everything from freshly picked roses to olives, cheese, meats vegetables  and more it is an instagrammers delight. My 11 year old twin children love it.

Antibes’ clothing markets are also famous (check online for the days they are on as they change with the seasons) as well as the unique walled city full of restaurants, coffee shops and shops.

Th kind of location you can easily spend a week with the family.

Cannes:

Cannes in the Riviera is galmorous.

Cannes has become the event capital of the south of France, hosting huge global events most months of the year. The highlight being the annual film festival in May.

There is a huge nightlife, Michelin star food, and the elegant old town which has markets most days of the week, and bars and restaurants.

The croisstte is one of the most famous in the world, and is a stretch of beach with designer beach clubs doted along it. It can come as a shock to non-Europeans as you have to pay for everything from a beach bed to an upright seat to sit in. There are “free” stretches of beach to use, but in Cannes, you are just not going to want to go there.

This is the best place to shop in the French Riviera, and the main shopping street is packed with designer shops full of the very latest stylish French fashion and beauty. Yes, there is also a Zara.

Some of France’s best hotels are here including The Hotel Martinez in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt and Intercontinental Carlton, both of which have hosted some of the world’s greatest film stars.

You can stay here long-term as there is so much to see and the other towns are so accessible.

Cassis:

Boats sitting in the ocean next to different coloured French buildings in France.
Cassis is little known Meditteranean fishing port

This little known Meditteranean fishing port is all about the beach and snorkelling, and there are many who say it trumps St Tropez.

There are air B&B’s to stay in, and a vacation here is all about the natural surrounds and the fresh local food. There is even a Michelin star restaurant too, La Villa Madie.

This is the perfect location to spend a day or two working off the calories accumulated eating the exceptional French cuisine in the area, as there are plenty of beautiful hikes to secret beaches, although kayaking is another option. The Les Calanques, offers narrow inlets framed by gigantic limestone cliffs, perfect for flawless photos and some calm amongst nature.

From the water the rock formations are spectacular.

A stunning place for 3-4 nights.

Monaco:

Aerial image of Monaco, Monte Carlo.
Monaco is a tax haven for the wealthy, and a very glamorous albeit small place to visit.

This super glamorous, opulent location is a must-see once. It is a small town full of the very wealthiest in France and the world due to its status as a tax haven.

The architecture is stunning, and you can do all sorts of touristy things like watch the changing of the guards at The Prince’s Palace, indulge in some of the best spa treatments at Les Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo or visit the fish at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.

The Formula 1 Grand Prix is a major event here each May, attracting the very best from the racing world, but book early and save long. It’s a pricey place to hang out.

The Casino de Monte Carlo was built in 1863 and is a must-see as it was designed by the same architect who designed The Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris. Even if you don’t gamble, you must go inside and have a look at the rich, French interiors.

Monaco is the kind of place where some of the world’s most famous celebrities can be seen on the back tables of small pizza places grabbing a quick bite. But a simple glass of champagne anywhere here is one of life’s great luxuries.

A day trip here is enough for many.

Nice:

Nice, France has plenty to discover.

The main airport to access the French Riviera is here, so the town is very well established. Nice is elegant and simple. Its history dates back to the Roman era, so stunning architecture abounds, and it even has its own mini Notre Dame de Nice.

There are also fabulous art galleries including Musée Matisee with hundreds of works from the famous artist Henri Matisse.

Nice is the largest of the towns here and has an old town which is cobbled, quaint and fun. The Cours Saleya market is held in the old town and fills it with colour and vibrance most days, with flowers and local produce.

Shopping here is easy, as like most large French towns, everything is here you could possibly want.

Nice is a great place to jog or cycle along the Promenade des Anglais (coast) in summer, as it is so picturesque. A road hugs the coastline providing sweeping views across the azure blue sea. But go early as the days get hot.

There are plenty of fabulous restaurants and bars. And there are options for all budgets.

The beach is famously pebbled and like most French beaches you can pay to avoid the pebbles and sit on a beach bed instead with service at the click of a finger.

You can stay here for a few days as there is plenty to do and see.

St Tropez:

Large boats in St Tropez harbour.
St Tropez has spectacular boats in the harbour, making it a beautiful location for a stroll.

St Tropez can surprise, as it is far smaller and more quaint than its global reputation as a glitzy haven for the wealthy. Whilst the very wealthiest do flock there, it is all about the boats in which they arrive and the clubs there in which they party.

The town itself is charming and rather small, old fashioned and simple. Although the Chanel and Christian Dior stores are to die for. Each is located within an entire house, and upon entering a sales person companies each guest through the house talking through the new and old collections.

The port is packed with stunning international sail boats and a row of restaurants hug the water, making it a beautiful spot for lunch or dinner.

Renae Leith-Manos at A La Plage, the beach club of La Reserve Ramatuelle.

In the town there are hotels for every budget but the most opulent places to stay are locate outside the town to capture the natural beauty of the location, such as La Reserve Ramatuelle located in a nature reserve atop a cliff with spectacular views over the ocean.

A strip of beach clubs is where the fun is, with hundreds of people packing the unique strip on Pampelonne beach to party all day and in some cases night to loud music and designer food with waiters who look like models – and eye watering prices.

The Riviera is a wonderful place to travel solo, as a couple or with family. And with so many locations to explore, take your time.

Again if you can afford it, a week here is bliss, stay in the town as well as out.

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