The Cote d’Azur is truly a majestic region of the world — gorgeous views, beautiful people, and delicious eats.
If you’re thinking about planning a vacation to the French Riviera, it is perhaps best experienced in the summer months. The popular season begins with the official start of summer, June 21, and the region becomes very crowded in July and August as the weather becomes consistently sunny and temperatures rise. If your aim is to experience great weather and festivals, and you are not adverse to crowds, this will be the best time to go.
While other seasons have their charm, travelling in summer will also allow visitors to make the most of the abundant water activities—think kite surfing and deep sea diving—in the region. And while autumn is upon us, it’s never too early to begin planning for next year. So start dreaming, because here are our picks for the must-see spots along the French Riviera.
A comfortable duration of stay in Cannes is 3-5 days; within that time frame, one can explore the beauty of the city at a leisurely pace. Known as the sister city to Beverly Hills, Cannes offers the ultimate upscale shopping experience all along the Rue de Antibes. While strolling down the Boulevard de la Croisette (where the Cannes International Film Festival is held), you can easily find luxury hotels, posh restaurants, and stylish bars. And wherever visitors choose to stop on the boulevard, they are guaranteed beautiful views of the water.
When in Cannes, breakfast at the Armani Café is a must. Besides the good food, the location is in the middle of the Boulevard de la Croisette and perfect for people watching. (Be sure to request a table outside if it is good weather to enjoy the meal!)
In the evening, nothing rivals the ambiance at Baoli. The food here is fresh, healthy, and delicious. Try to secure a reservation through their website for a late dinner, so you can easily enjoy the venue’s nightlife afterwards. For the design lovers among us, Baoli doesn’t disappoint; the decor of the outside seating is comprised of cabanas draped in chiffon, dim lighting, and surrounding palm trees. Inside, one can find modern furniture and a dance floor that is just big enough for dancing until the wee hours. This is a place to see and be seen, so dress to impress.
Located about a 30-minute train ride from Cannes, Nice is quite expansive and offers a little something for everyone; old town charm, beaches, shopping, and delicious restaurants. It’s also a great city in which to set up a home base for several days, as its location makes it the perfect midpoint from which to visit other cities on day trips.
When in Nice, Villefranche Sur Mer is a beach well worth visiting. A ten-minute climb up the beach’s hill offers a gorgeous view of the variance of blues in the ocean, docked boats, and all of the people lounging in the sand below with their colourful umbrellas and bathing suits. On the way down, you may find yourself stopping frequently and admiring the beautiful French-style homes, as well as the Bougainvillea flowers that have blossomed all throughout the pathway.
The Promenade des Anglais is another beach in the region, but one that offers stones instead of stand. There is a walkway here that stretches for almost all of Nice. On any given day, one can see people taking a stroll or jogging whilst enjoying the view. When planning a visit to the Promenade, be sure to stop at a local market and pick up baguettes, cheeses, and wines, as the best way to enjoy this beach is with a luxurious picnic.
Nice’s Old Town is also a must-see. Comprised of the most charming French homes, it is also home to many picturesque alleyways that are filled with markets, restaurants, bars, and shops that use locally sourced materials to produce their items.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
A 30-minute drive beyond Nice will bring you to Monaco, a sovereign city-state that is home to the world’s second smallest monarchy and most densely populated country. Here one will find all the glitz and the glam that Monaco is known for; think high-end fashion, Roll Royces, and the like. It’s great to see and can easily be explored in a day.
A favorite hotspot here is the Monte Carlo Casino. This casino has been featured in many James Bond movies (don’t expect a Vegas-style casino, however — it is small!). The decor resembles Versailles with its gold adorned walls and floral designs — truly the epitome of luxury. There is a fee to enter ($10) and no photographs are to be taken while inside.
Also not to be missed is Jimmy’z. Envision a place where the rich and famous go to enjoy a night out in Monte Carlo and you’ll find yourself here. Music plays until the wee hours of the morning with top DJs playing sets frequently. This is a chic place, so dress in your very best.
If you’re in search of an overnight trip, enjoy some time in Saint-Tropez (about 1.5 hours from Nice.) If your desire when travelling is to feel truly fabulous, Saint-Tropez will make you feel just that! The yachts, shops, and dozens of beaches to choose from make this city a special one.
In the daytime, consider a visit to Plage de Pampelonne, the most popular beach in Saint-Tropez, where one can grab a day bed and soak in the rays while enjoying the view. Next on the day’s itinerary ought to be indulging in ice cream in the Saint-Tropez Harbor area while strolling past the luxurious yachts, after which you can be prepared to do some serious shopping. In the evening, Le Club 55 is a great beach club at which to enjoy some house rosé and upscale ambiance.
Èze & Antibes
If you’re opting for a 2-week vacation, consider venturing a little further and visiting Èze and Antibes. Both come highly recommended by visitors and locals alike as quieter, less populated, and every bit as gorgeous as the rest of Cote d’Azur.