The French Riviera, is also known as the Côte d’Azur, is a dreamy French region that extends east along the coast from Menton and Monaco to Théoule sur Mer and up into the Southern Alps.
They contain several cities (Nice and Cannes among them), 14 natural parks, medieval villages, Roman ruins and whale watching just offshore.
They have everything you need for a romantic honeymoon – a great sea views, climate, renowned culinary delights and above all, a love of the high life. The French Riviera has been famous among the famous destinations for more than a century.
Celebrities and statesmen were initially attracted by its beautiful light, access and mild weather to both mountains and beaches. Over the years the area has been built up into a fantasia of casinos,luxury beaches, perfumeries, yachts, and mansions.
- Best weather: June through August are the driest and warmest (and most crowded) months, with average highs in the low 80s. Autumn and Spring see highs around 70° Fahrenheit and fewer tourists.
- Best prices: May - June, September - October
The information you need to know before visiting:
- Flight time (to Nice): 14 hours from LA; 8 hours from New York City
- Language: French
- Requirements: Passport valid for three months post-departure
- Getting around: Car, taxi, bus, train, and helicopter
- Traveling Tips
- 1.If you are planning to stay in just one spot, like Nice or Cannes, don’t worry about renting a car. These towns are pedestrian friendly and so you can walk almost everywhere or easily hop a bus or train to a nearby village.
- 2.Plus, traffic in and out of Monaco and Cannes is notoriously bad and parking spaces are tough to find.
- 3.Uber operates in most of the Côte d’Azur and into Monaco and is a much easier option than calling waiting or a taxi for one at a designated taxi stand.
- 4.Major department grocery and stores shops may be open on Sundays, but most of the smaller boutiques and markets are closed. The same goes for the restaurants, which may also be closed on Mondays. Museums in France are typically closed either Tuesdays or Mondays.
5.Most of the private beaches shut their doors come in October or November, packing up for the season. Thirty beaches in the Côte d’Azur, however, remain open year-round.
Theses include Plage Beau Rivage and, Blue Beach along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice as well as well as L’Écrin and Plage Goëland on the Boulevard de la Croisette in Cannes
6.Travelers planning going for the fair amount of sightseeing can visit 180 attractions on the French Riviera with the Côte d’Azur Card
• 45€ for a 3-day adult pass
• 72€ for a 6-day adult pass
The pass includes entry to museums like Monaco’s Oceanographic .Museum, as well as kayak rentals in Menton and guided cruise tours around the coast.
- Where to Eat & Drink in Cannes
- 1.Cocktails are not what you seek out on the Riviera, but Le Bar l’Amiral at the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez, they have a team of award-winning mixologists who whip up reinvented classics served in proper stemware.
- The hotel also serves as home to Cannes only two-star Michelin restaurant, cinema-inspired La Palme d’Or, with cuisine served in ceramics handcrafted by the chef.
- 2.A spin-off of the original at Nice, La Petite Maison de Nicole in Le Majestic is one of the celeb favorite. Billowy and pop art white curtains drape the restaurant’s interiors and the scene heats up come weekends as musicians serenade tables.
- 3.The flagship of the Bâoli group, it is one of the hotspots to hit up during the annual film festival. Set on the Port Canto at the far end of the Croisette, the Asian-meets-Mediterranean restaurant transforms at midnight to the most vibrant nightclub spots in the city.
- What to Do in Cannes:
- The population of this high-profile city increases in each May, as hoards of celebrities and paparazzi stream for the Cannes Film Festival.
- If you're into star-gazing, book early and join the throngs; apart from that, show up a bit later in the year for more low-key days in the sun.
- • St. Tropez: The nightlife is extravagant and the coasts around are lined with swanky yachts in this Riviera town. The flamboyant and blue waters company make the area popular with stars like Oprah and Jack Nicholson.
• Monaco: The incredible strip of Riviera coast is actually a separate country, currently ruled by Prince Albert II, son of the late actress Grace Kelly. It is the second smallest country in the world and has become known for their Monte-Carlo casinos and rock-and-roll lifestyle.
- Where to Stay in Cannes
- In Cannes, it’s only about the right address. The five-star hotels sitting on the Croisette are more than just favorites during the film festival; the luxe lodgings are an integral part of Cannes’s history.
- 1.Intercontinental Carlton Cannes: This 4,000-square-foot Sean Connery suite the biggest of them all is a personal favorite of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and privates its own private elevator for VIP entrances.
2.Hôtel Majestic Barrière: With their landmark, Carrara marble staircase and pool crafted from Murano mosaics, and the 350-room Art Deco beauty look just as glam today as it did when it looked opened back in 1926.
3.Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez: Their seventh-floor penthouse here is one of the largest on the continent and very much expensive in the world, with two Jacuzzi tubs and a 2,900-square-foot terrace lined with 200-year-old olive trees.
The Art Deco-style sea-view rooms provide pearl-white satin accents; bathrooms with Turkish bath showers and saunas; and get lounges on balconies looking out to the Estérel Mountains.
Even if you can’t afford a room here, try and make time for one of the signature oxygen treatments at the L.RAPHAEL Beauty Spa.
Other top-rated hotels including the Croisette include the JW Marriott Cannes, Le Grand Hotel Cannes, and boutique 3.14 CANNES, one block behind the boulevard.
- Things to Do in Nice
- Nice is the city that deserves more credit than travelers give it. Get your bearings by climbing up Castle Hill, home to the former citadel where the town gets its start. A maze of paths winds their way up from both the Old Town and Place Garibaldi.
- 1. Expect to get lost in the 10-minute light hike, but all paths lead to the same viewpoints over the port, Baie des Anges and Old Town.
- 2.A hotbed for the artists, the region features over 100 museums, 12 of which are dedicated to a single artist who lived and worked in the Riviera.
- 3.In Nice, two museums are worth visiting the hilly neighborhood of Cimiez: Musée Marc Chagall
- 8€, closed Tuesdays
- Home to the artist’s 17 Biblical Message paintings
- 4. Musée Matisse
- free entry, closed Tuesdays
- Set in the 17th-century Genoese building near Matisse’s former residence, the Hotel Regina, and the cemetery where he was buried.
- Where to Eat & Drink in and Around Nice
- Many of the restaurants are centered around the Old Town, but the congested streets mean plenty of the tourist traps.
- 1.Book a table at Artichaut & Olive, a small French bistro with an open kitchen concept and market-inspired fare that’s hearty without being too heavy.
- 2.For a grab-and-go option, stick by gourmet Asian street food spot Banh Meï, where you’ll find matcha-infused Korean-style burgers and pastries.
- 3.Evenings in summers are a moving feast that starts (and ends) with Rosé. Locals chase for the sun from terrace to terrace, stopping for a carafe of local Côtes de Provence rosé wine at each spot.
- 4.You can’t go wrong for the house wine, and many bars offer happy hour deals. Take your choices of terraces in the Place Garibaldi square (Campo Caffé is a local favorite), settled in for apéro, or pre-dinner drinks, and regional specialties like pissaldiere (a caramelized onion tart).
- 5.Le Vivier lounge opened here last year in one of the city’s most scenic spots a cliff 20 feet above the sea in a former 19th-century eatery that was the place where Nice’s society set to see and be seen during the Belle Époque.
- 6.The French Riviera contains more than 50 Michelin stars spanning 38 restaurants. Jan is the newest on the list, tucked in a romantic, cave-like setting a few blocks behind the port.
- South African chef Jan Hendrik plays on his native flavors like biltong, and fusing them with Mediterranean market finds like olive oil from fresh herbs and Menton.
- 7. Martinique-born chef Marcel Ravin is also mixing some Mediterranean flavors with touches of the Caribbean at his one-Michelin-star restaurant Blue Bay in Monaco, which shows off the sweeping views from the waterfront terrace at the Monte-Carlo Bay Resort and Hotel.
- 8.La Chèvre d’Or in the medieval village of Eze is worth trekking to the top. Located 1,300 feet above the Mediterranean, this seasonal restaurant (open March through November) is a complete pack in itself with the full French fine-dining experience (cheese trolley included) and floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows.
- During the Grand Prix, this perch makes for the prime celebrity yacht spotting as boats cruise in and out of the bay below.
- Where to Stay in Nice
- 1.The white and pink domed Negresco is Nice’s most famous hotel. Over the past years, rooms have welcomed everyone from the Vanderbilts to the Beatles and feature an impressive private collection of the original artwork by greats like Salvador Dalí and Raymond Moretti.
- 2.When it comes to location and views, the ones from Hôtel la Pérouse can’t be beaten. The 56-room boutique hotel is on the edge of the Promenade des Anglais underneath Castle Hill, putting you within the walking distance of the Old Town and Nice’s pebble-strewn beaches. The rooms aren’t the at the place where the seafront terraces are.
- 3.The more relaxed is Hôtel Windsor that has 57 rooms that go from traditional fresco to pops of modern art, with Artist Rooms featuring different original designs from artists who’ve used the hotel as the studio.
- Most urban garden than the grand hotel, the Windsor is tucked away from the buzzy Old Town, near boutique-lined Rue Massena.
- Bask at a Beach Bar: Skip the town when it comes for the beaches in Nice and Cannes. The ones surrounding these cities are very much better (and less crowded) options.
- Beach bar in Villefranche, a seaside outpost of the restaurant that gives a lunchtime favorite in Nice. In Cap d’Ail, Eden Plage Mala sits on the smaller bay with pedal boat rentals, massage cabanas and an upscale beach bistro that serves fresh catch of the day.