French Riviera, France
The French Riviera, France
The French Riviera, also known as the Côte d’Azur, is one of the most magical destinations renowned for its sensational beauty, endless azure coastline, and an unmistakable sense of joie de vivre.
The entire area is teeming with charm and beauty and has always been known for its alluring glamour that draws you in. Michelin-starred restaurants everywhere, crystal clear waters, beautiful beaches and rosé that flows freely everywhere – your trip to the French Riviera will be all about enjoying the simple things in life.
Imagine sunshine, the taste of rosé, the smell of lavender flowers, the breeze of the Mediterranean, and the good-life spirit of the coastal towns…Despite the fact that the over-the-top luxury is everywhere, you’ll still be able to find the authenticity of Old Town villages and the allure of important attractions.
Today – Now
PLANNING & BOOKING
The dreaded part of any vacation - planning! Every savvy traveler knows that it’s always better to plan and book early in advance to bag those irresistible bargains. Not only do you get to save up to 25% on flight and hotel prices, but you also get to never settle for second-best! Lower flight prices, room deals and early bird discounts are only some of the many benefits of booking your tickets, excursions and accommodation early on. We recommend planning and booking 3 to 6 months in advance – a surefire way to have a worry-free pre-holiday buzz when the time to travel is near!
Unforgettable Moments - French Riviera Highlights
There are so many villages to see and explore in the French Riviera that it’s definitely hard to see them all in one trip. But in one week you can get a good enough gist of the region and cover the most famous spots. You’ll be able to indulge in the region’s food, the old towns, the culture, and the natural beauty all around you. From getting lost in the maze of old-city alleys in Nice, to sampling local food at Antibes to the open air markets of Cannes to enjoying panoramic vistas at St Tropez, there’s a lot to see and do on this one week road trip around the French Riviera.
Day 1: Arrival + Nice
The dazzling capital is the largest city in the French Riviera with a long history, a sunny atmosphere, and an old city vibe that is reminiscent of Italy, with beautiful belle époque and art-noveau architecture everywhere you go.
Apart from its beauty, Nice is the bustling cosmopolitan of the French Riviera and is the perfect place to be based. Instead of packing and unpacking your back everyday, we recommend being based in Nice, renting a car and taking different day-trips each day to explore the surrounding areas.
This makes your trip much more hassle-free than staying at five different hotels, and having to check in and out every single day.
Nice is very well-connected to most of the other towns in the French Riviera, so even if you don’t have a car (although we strongly recommend that you do!), there
You will be arriving at the Nice Cote D’Azure Airport (NCE). The airport is the second busiest in France right after Paris and is not too far from the center. To get to the center, you have a few options:
· The Nice Airport Express Bus – This bus will cost you EUR6 and you buy the tickets there. Bus 98 or Bus 99 will take you to either Nice Bus Station or the main railway station Gare Nice Ville SNCF. The journey will take you around 20/25 minutes.
· Take a taxi. The taxis at the Nice airport have a terrible reputation of using tourists and overcharging them, but make sure you let them know of the fixed EUR32 fare to the center.
· Take an Uber! Uber works perfectly in Nice, and is the most convenient option of the three. It will cost you the same as a taxi. (Less if you have a promocode!)
We recommend taking a flight that arrives as early as possible to Nice so you can have the rest of the day to enjoy the city.
After you’ve checked in and dropped off your bags, it’s time to explore the beauty of Nice. Start your day in Nice by nipping through beautiful alleyways and streets until you reach the Cours Saleya – the beating heart of old Nice, and the place where the daily flower market takes place.
Cours Saleya teems with a sense of Provençal sensuality that makes you want to wander around the old town, get lost in its Mediterranean secrets, and enjoy the vibrant pedestrian streets.
Have breakfast in the terrace of Le Marche, and then walk towards the colorful market square. This is where everybody comes for the freshest fruits, flowers, olives, cheese, bread and much more! There is also an antique and flea market every Monday, so try and plan your trip around it!
After breakfast, head over to the Chapelle de la Misericorde, that boasts glorious baroque decorations that date back to the 17th century. The chapel enjoys a privileged location in the Old Town and is renowned for its rich architecture.
Pass by Oliviera and learn about how olive oil is made, get inside knowledge from the staff and sample some of their best produce. After you walk north from Oliviera, you will stumble upon Fenocchio, an ice-cream parlor. But that’s not just any ice-cream parlor, this is where you treat yourself to the best ice-cream in all of Nice. The mind-boggling choices of flavors are enough to keep you wanting more.
Walk a little further north until you reach Palais Lascaris. The perfect place that reflects the way nobility lived in the 15th and 16th century. Sumptuous tapestries, gorgeous frescoes, majestic staircases and musical instruments that date back to years ago are all just a few of the things you can see there. It’s also free for all!
Since you’re in Nice, you can’t miss out on the Nicoise cuisine (when in Rome, right?). Go back to the old city and stop at Le Voyageur Nissart – a family-run restaurant that oozes with charm and incredible Nicois food. Make sure you try the socca, a crepe made of chickpea flour, olive oil and seasoned with black pepper.
After lunch, walk over to Parc de la Colline de Chateau, one of the top attractions of Nice. This is where the Greek founded the ancient city of Nikaia and the place offers splendid panoramic views of the ocean with the hills as a backdrop. The red-tile rooftops of Old Nice juxtaposed with the beachfront boulevard and the hills will make you fall in love.
For your last stop, head to the Musee d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC) where you’ll find incredible examples of modern and contemporary art focusing specifically on French art. The museum is also free.
For your first day we recommend having an early night to prepare yourself for the rest of the week. If you still have it in you, however, go for a rum-based cocktail at La Havane and enjoy the live music, the lively atmosphere and the hustle and bustle of this bar.
Day Two: Nice
Put on your swimsuit, beach cover up and comfy shoes and get ready to spend a day lazing under the sun and enjoying the Mediterranean wonder of Nice. First, have breakfast at La Voilier Plage – a restaurant right on the beach and then walk towards the Promenade des Anglais.
This is Nice’s most famous boulevard, and the most prominent attraction in the French Riviera. You’ll find stunning tiled domes, playful towers, whimsical architecture and palm trees to the left and right.
Walk down towards the beach and enjoy the wonderful expanse of ocean, sunbathe or participate in any of the multiple water activities there.
Drop into the renowned Hotel Negresco for lunch and enjoy their summer deals. After lunch, head over to Musee Massena. You’ll be walking amid palms, pergolas, and grand edifices that reflect the way the aristocrats of Nice lived back then. It’s a place where the soul of Nice breathes out.
Walk a little more to the front until you reach Musee des Beaux Arts where you’ll get to indulge in the sparkling colors of the Mediterranean painted by Raoul Dufy.
If you want to go out to dance, then High Club is definitely the place to go. It’s one of the best nightclubs in Nice, with a line-up of big name DJs and a chic clientele. If you’d rather enjoy some live music then head over to Shapko Bar where you can enjoy lively jazz performances every night.
Day 3: Antibes
Antibes perfectly contrasts the glamour and luxury of Nice. Instead of exclusive boutiques, casinos and luxury restaurants and yachts, the town exudes a beautiful historic charm.
You’ll find 16th century historic walls, red-roofed buildings, numerous squares along the harbors, cute little cafes, mesmerizing sandy beaches and little plazas that make the whole town a postcard-perfect destination. –It’s no wonder Pablo Picasso spent six months painting masterpieces at the Château with sea views.
There are two ways you can get to Antibes:
· You can take the train from Nice Ville and it will take you about 20/30 minutes and will cost an average of EUR4 per trip.
· You can drive all the way there. The trip will take 30/40 minutes.
Once you arrive to Antibes, head straight to the Old Town. Perched between stone ramparts and laced with a maze of cobbled streets that snake their way through colored buildings – the old town is where you’ll get an authentic feel of Antibes. There’s a plethora of different shops selling artwork, local crafts, glassware, herbs and much more.
Head over have breakfast at Café des Delices then straight to Le Marché Provençal. This is the city’s most famous attraction dotted with dozens of food stalls, crafts, woodwork, paintings and much more. You can’t visit Antibes and miss out on the Socca stand in the market. Make sure to sample this French delicacy at the market.
Walk towards the Château Grimaldi, the place Picasso lived in for six months. There is a huge collection of some of Picasso’s best works including a wonderful collection of ceramics as well that’s worth seeing. There’s also another collection by Nicholas de Stael.
After having your fair share of exploring, head over to Plage de la Gravette for some beach relaxation. The beach is wide, sandy, and perched right in the middle of the medieval rampant of the Old Town. It’s the perfect spot to relax after a long day of exploration. The best thing about it is that it’s not pebbly like the beaches in Nice, and the best beaches are not owned by private resorts so all beautiful beaches are public.
To wrap up your day, head over to La Taille de Guêpe for the ultimate dinner experience. Make sure you book ahead, and order the infamous “flower menu” where you can order high-quality food infused with flowers!
If you want to stay just a little bit more in Antibes, then your next choice should be Le Pimm’s – the perfect place to have a glass of wine amongst locals.
Drive back to Nice, or take the same train back.
Day 4: Day trip to Ventimiglia, Italy!
From Nice, the train to Italy will take you less than an hour so it’s definitely worth taking a day trip to there! You can take the TER Train that costs EUR15.40 round-trip and will take you an hour and drops you off right at the center of town. We don’t recommend taking the car there as parking is almost non-existent.
Try and arrange your trip around being in Ventimiglia on a Friday so you can enjoy the renowned Friday market that takes place every week.
The town has an eclectic vibe with none of the glitz and glamour of the neighboring towns of the French Riviera, and it’s the perfect place to enjoy the authenticity and the small town charm.
Start your day at the Old Town of Ventimiglia Alta, a medieval town enclosed by walls that’s perched on top of the hill with gorgeous views of the river. This pedestrianized area is the perfect place to wander, explore and get lost and enjoy the plethora of shops there. You can also check out the Romanesque cathedral there where you can visit both, the crypt and the old baptistery.
* If you’re there on a Friday, visit the Friday Morning Market. You’ll find that the entire town comes alive with hundreds of sellers selling everything from homemade crafts to food to local art.
Walk towards the Roman Archeological Sites that include a Roman theatre, buildings, tombs and much more. If you want to check out the Roman finds that were discovered in the area, then head over to Girolomo Rossi Archeological Museum.
Take a taxi to the Harbury Gardens, Italy’s largest botanical garden, and enjoy the gorgeous views from there. You’ll be walking amid blooming flowers, fountains, and rare plants.
If you’d rather relax by the beach, then head over to La Calandre Beach where you’ll enjoy soft sands and clear waters.
Take the train back to Nice, and enjoy a cocktail at Wayne’s Bar before heading back to your hotel.
Day Five: Cannes
Mention Cannes to anyone and the first thing that will come to mind will be the Cannes International Film Festival – and for good reason. Cannes is the epitome of glitz, glamour and luxury. The whole city radiates a luxurious charm that simply cannot be compared with any of the other French Riviera cities. From lavish restaurants, to casinos, to stylish boutiques and luxury boulevards – Cannes has it all.
You can either take the train from Nice Ville Station which costs EUR15 for a round-trip, or drive up to there for 40 minutes.
When you arrive, start by the seaside, and more particularly the Palais-des-Festivals. This attraction is the main reason Cannes is famous in the first place as it’s the setting for film festival that takes place every year.
You can take a guided tour that will take you through the history of the place, or attend one of the movies in the theater inside. This is the place whose steps were used as a backdrop for every major movie star in history.
Walk towards La Croissete Promenade, where you’ll be surrounded by gorgeous palace hotels, parkland, sandy beaches and upmarket boutiques. You have to grab an espresso at the Armani Café.
Next, head to the Notre-Dame de l’Esperance, a 16th century church and hike up to the clock tower. You’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the city.
Have lunch at Plage l’Ondine for a lunch menu filled with fresh food, and then get ready to walk to the Suquet Hill district. This part is completely different to the rest of Cannes, with more of an Old World Charm thanks to its picturesque hillside backdrops, old pedestrianized quarters, and ancient walls surrounding it.
Weave your up to the top of Suquet Hill until you reach Musée de-la-Castre, one of the most important attractions of Cannes. There is an incredibly beautiful collection of ethnic artwork, historical musical instruments and artifacts that were collected from the town.
For an incredibly luxurious evening, go to Le Bar L’Amiral, one of the best piano bars in France. You’ll be sipping on exquisite drinks, savoring the old-fashioned atmosphere, and enjoying the live piano and singing on the terrace.
Day Six: Monaco & Eze
No trip to Nice is complete without a day trip to the gorgeous Eze. This medieval town is an incredible journey back in time, with cobblestone streets that blend with meandering alleys, incredible views of the Mediterranean, paths that date back to the 12th century and a lot of boutiques and cafes. Most of the town’s architecture remains intact so you’ll be walking amidst buildings that date back 800 years.
Take the 82 or 112 Bus that will take you directly to the Eze Villa. Take the earliest bus to there so you can arrive before the big crowds from Nice and Monaco arrive. You definitely have to start your day at Château Eza. This ultimate breakfast place with unreal panoramic views never fails to leave people speechless. Next, head over to the Exotic Garden and explore the countless species, the statues scattered around, the ruins of the fortress and the backdrop of the beautiful views.
Just below the Exotic Garden, you’ll find the neo-classical church Eglise Notre Dame de L’Assomption.
Spend some more time at the town to explore around, then take the bus to Monaco from the same spot you were dropped off. Monaco is actually considered an entire country – the second smallest in the world! It’s known for its luxury and world-renowned casinos and will be a nice contrast to your morning in Eze.
Walk around the Casino Square and then check out the renowned Hotel de Paris. A visit to the Monaco Port is a must – a place that radiates with luxury and glamour thanks to the expensive yachts parked there. Have a quick coffee and then visit the Prince’s Palace.
Take the bus back to Nice and have a drink at Au Fut Et A Mesure – a bar where you serve yourself beer via a prepaid card!
Day 7: Au revoir Nice!
We recommend taking the evening flight out of Nice so you can get to enjoy a little bit more of what the city has to offer.
If you don’t have time, we recommend waking up early in the morning and enjoying the beach. If you do have time, however, then walk around Cimiez and visit the Gallo-Roman Site so you can check out the ancient Roman remains. You can also check the artifacts at the Musée Archéologique.