d’Azur as just a summer locale, either. These cities heat up in July when the masses parade down boulevards, beaches, and boulevards. But winter is one Riviera’s best-kept secret with snow falling only two hours north of shore. Here are some tips to make the most out of your South French vacation.
Once you have all your supplies, board a ferry to split your time between the two largest islands. Ile Saint-Honorat is home to Lerins Abbey, an active monastery where the monks also tend to an eight-hectare vineyard by hand. Register for a tour or tasting if you are visiting the farm on the first Friday in each month. Meanwhile, Ile Sainte-Marguerite’s claim to fame is Fort Royal, a 17th-century prison that held the Man in the Iron Mask. You’ll also find the Lake of Bateguier on the western end, where pine and eucalyptus trees will shade you from the sun. Saint-Tropez is a great place to spend the day if you are looking for more glamour. Marseille, however, is a more interesting destination.
- Health tourism in the French Riviera exploded after the completion of the first railway servicing the area in 1864, with 100,000 visitors coming through in 1865.
- You can get up early to Eze, a medieval village perched on a hilltop with well-preserved stones buildings.
- The boutique hotel has 56 rooms and is located on the edge of Castle Hill’s Promenade des Anglais. It is within walking distance to the Old Town and Nice’s pebble-strewn beach.
Winter is not a time for beach weather, but temperatures rarely dip below freezing. Traditional Christmas markets are held in large towns as well as smaller villages, selling local specialties and mulled wines. The region’s 15 ski resorts open for season in December, with the closest a little over two hours away by bus from the Nice train station or airport (1.50EUR for a one-way ticket). Or you could split your time between the French Riviera and Provence on a road trip through both regions.
After a leisurely lunch, you can take a cooking class or a tour of a perfumery in the afternoon. Move onto Cannes in the evening, pausing for an aperitif on Saint Pierre Quay, which dates back to 1838, and enjoy the glow of streetlamps over the water. Wander through the Suquet, the city’s oldest quarter, to admire medieval architecture and have dinner by the waterfront. We flew from New York to Nice overnight and landed in Nice the next morning. Our first stop was lunch and hitting the beach, which is only a few minutes walk away from the town center of Villefranche-Sur-Mer.
It is a land of luxury with yachts lining the shorelines, fancy hotels everywhere, and epic parties that you read about in magazines. If you get your timing right, you may be able to see the Monaco Grand Prix, Tour de France, or Cannes Film Festival. Read about how to see and do it all in our French Riviera and Provence itinerary. Menton is a small, but well-built town. It is a great place to stay. It’s particularly nice to choose from one of the hotels that look out over the sea and wake up to beautiful views! It is also thought to have the highest amount of sunshine with more than 316 days per year.
We chose Villefranche-Sur-Mer as it is close to Nice and quieter. After stepping off the plane, I knew we had made the right choice. Our few days here were wonderful and made for a great home base to explore this part of the French Riviera. Our day trips consisted mainly of visiting nearby cities such as pastel Menton or chic Cannes. Next was Provence, for beautiful lavender fields and wineries amongst hilltop towns like Gordes and Lacoste (separate travel guide coming for Provence! ). If you don’t have the time, you can head straight to Nice and take a stroll around the produce and flower markets, which are open from Tuesday through Sunday, and the antiques market on Monday.
For a different way to cool down in the water, visit Aqualand Frejus, a water park with many large, twisting waterslides and other features. Try to arrive early as it tends to get busy in the afternoon, and look online for their frequent promotional ticket sales. Older children will be excited about trying a new water sport such as diving with Aquabormes or paddleboarding on the Cannes Standup Paddle. Some of the more historic French Riviera attractions will be appreciated by younger visitors. In just a few hours, you can reach the Cote d’Azur and be in the heart of the Italian Riviera.
Is Nice close to Monaco?
The tiny principality of Monaco lies to the north of Nice, with barely 12 miles (20 km) of Mediterranean coastline separating it from the Riviera capital. It takes less than an hour to reach this glamorous enclave thanks to high-speed rail, scenic highways and quick helicopter flights.
To reduce costs, you can also choose to stay in less-visited towns such as Menton or Eze. Nice and Marseille are bigger cities that also offer a much bigger range of accommodation. After lunch, you can head southeast to Eze, a perched village located in the foothills near the coast between Monaco & Nice. The medieval town, perched on a rocky bluff with a view of the sea, is a joy for visitors. Begin by exploring the narrow streets and admiring the stone facades and orange tile roofs.
For a scent-filled addition to your French Riviera holiday, visit Grasse during its annual Fete du Jasmin in August. The region also hosts many music festivals during the summer months, including an internationally renowned jazz festival in Nice. Tete de Chien, which means Dog’s Head, is a 550-meter high rock with a stunning view. It is located near La Turbie. Sunset there was one of our highlights during the French Riviera trip, it blew me away.
Is Cannes worth a visit?
Perhaps most famous for hosting the glitzy Cannes Film Festival, Cannes, on the French Riviera, is a year-round hotspot loved by the rich and famous for its luxury hotels, gourmet dining and beach culture.