Summer in the French Riviera sounds like a pretty amazing deal, and oh, was it spectacular! The cute French towns and cities alongside the sparkling blue Mediterranean waters left me in such awe, the sight is jaw-dropping pretty! So I hope to crush your myth if you think that France is all about Paris because South of France has so much to offer! It’s absolutely stunning and of bucketlist material. Hence don’t even think twice before planning your vacation destination as the South of France.
Here’s the list of places to visit in the Côte d’Azur
Located in the South East Coast of France, in the French Riviera, the gorgeous city of Nice is a famous tourist destination, it has to be on your list!
The capital of the Côte d’Azur has multiple pretty spots and there’s a lot one can do. Take a scenic stroll (or bicycle ride) on the Promenade des Anglais which runs parallel to the sparkling blue Mediterranean Sea, explore the narrow streets and ochre, pastel hues of the buildings in Vieille Ville (Old Town). Vieux Nice is also known for it’s vibrant and bustling market area, Cours Selaya where fresh produce, cheese and fine flowers are sold, but turns into an antiques/flea market on Mondays.
Another highlight of this French city is Place Masséna, Nice’s city square which is located in the heart of the city and is always packed with locals as well as tourists; it’s black and white checkered floor, surrounded by red brick buildings, large statues and fountain are noteworthy features of this open space.
And lastly, don’t forget to stop by the various restaurants and cafes for some authentic French delicacies, gelato and of course, macarons!!
- Nice is best explored by foot, but another option is the local tram, segways or bicycles.
- It is ideal to select Nice as your base destination and make one-day trips to the other cities along the French Riviera.
Perched on a hilltop 426 metres above sea level, Eźe is a charming village that will transport you to the medieval times and it offers a spectacular panoramic view of the Mediterranean. The town is perfect for a romantic getaway, away from the hustle and bustle of Nice city or Monaco.
There is not much to do in Eźe Village, but simply the beauty of this town, it’s winding cobblestoned streets along with the medieval stone buildings are some attractive gems of this lovely French village. You cannot help but fall in love with Eźe.
- Eze falls in between Nice and Monaco. If you’re road tripping through the French Riviera, its advisable to take a halt in Eźe Village before heading towards Monaco.
- Catch bus #82 from Nice and bus #112 from Monte Carlo to get to Eźe Village
Yes, although Monaco is another country by itself (the second smallest country after Vatican City), it’s ideal position along the French Riviera is quite desirable for South of France visitors.
In spite of being synonymous with great wealth, high-end casinos and luxurious cars, the well-known Grand Prix motor race and harbours packed with plush yatchs, Monaco can still be explored on a budget.
Are Monaco and Monte Carlo the same?
No! Monaco is a country, which has four traditional quarters, the most largest and prominent one being Monte Carlo. The other three quarters are Monaco-Ville (Monaco’s old town), Fontvieille and lastly, La Condamine.
Built in 1191, the Prince’s Palace (or Palais Princier), situated in Monaco-Ville, is the official residence of the Prince of Monaco. A must-see here is the Changing of the Guard which takes place everyday at 11:55 AM as well as the amazing view due to it’s advantageous location higher than the port.
Another prime tourist attraction of Monaco-Ville is the Saint Nicholas Cathedral which is the resting place of the Grimaldis – the royal family of Monaco – including Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III.
Monte Carlo’s landmarks include the world-famous Monte Carlo Casino, originally built to save the the Grimaldi family from bankruptcy. It has made an appearance in the James Bond film, Golden Eye (1995) and Ocean’s Twelve (2004). Another landmark is Hôtel de Paris, a luxurious hotel situated in the heart of Monaco, which has also been featured in numerous films such as Monte Carlo (2011), Iron Man 2 (2010), Never Say Never Again (1983) and more.
Monaco also hosts the prestigious Formula One Grand Prix motor race each year on the Circuit de Monaco which consists of the streets of Monte Carlo and La Condamine. These streets are known to be the most challenging ones because of elevation changes, tight corners and even a tunnel!
If countrysides are your thing, this village is exactly where you need to be! Away from the city, atop a hill, lies one of the oldest medieval towns of the French Riviera, Saint Paul-de-vence.
This tiny village is a playground for art lovers – both modern and contemporary – owing to the numerous art galleries and museums found here. Back in the day, this town was renowned as an artist’s paradise, thus it attracted various painters such as Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and more!
The entire village is connected by a single narrow alleyway called the Rue Grande, so explore this town by wandering around the winding streets, admiring the stone buildings and the flower-shaped cobblestones, window shopping through some art galleries and the wine cellar, La Petite Cave. Finally end the day with some coffee and crepes in a quaint little café.
Every nook and corner of Saint Paul-de-Vence, right from the striking architecture to a pretty cemetery and random water fountains, is postcard perfect! With nothing much to do here, and photogenic spots all around, it makes for a great photography tour. So you wouldn’t want to leave your cameras behind.
- There are various ways to get to Saint Paul-de-Vence from Nice. By Train : Catch a train from Nice Train station to Cagnes sur Mer, then take a bus #400. By Bus : Catch bus #400 from Nice city center. However, it is faster to travel by train. By Car : A8 motorway.
- Saint Paul-de-Vence falls in between Nice and Cannes. So you can head to Cannes after exploring this town.
Lined with beautiful beaches running along the Boulevard de la Croisette on one side and lavish boutiques and hotels on the other, Cannes is all about the sky-high glamour.
Famous for the annual Cannes Film Festival, this city might just be the spot where you get lucky and spot a celeb, chances being higher in the month of May when the international film festival takes place. To get a glimpse of the film festival location, head to Palais des Festivals. Here you can also take a walk along Cannes’ very own Walk of Fame, which consists of handprints of famous celebrities and directors.
Although Cannes is best explored by foot, a fun alternative is the toy train – Le Petit Train de Cannes. While one train takes you to Le Suquet (Old Cannes), the other drives around the Croisette and the rue d’Antibes. New additions to these trains tours are the Cinema Tour and the Night Tour.
Le Suquet is the calmer and unexplored side of Cannes, very different from Cannes as we know it. Away from the glitzy main city, the old quarter was originally the residential area of the fishermen which today, is dotted with cobbled paths and Gothic architecture. Located on top of the Le Suquet Hill, are two historic buildings – The Musée de la Castre and the Église Notre-Dame d’Espérance – which overlook the picturesque Bay of Cannes along with Le Vieux Port. This panoramic view is even more breathtaking from the top of the bell tower, but it’s a long way to the top. The Old Town is ideal for those who enjoy wandering around little pathways and want to know more about the history of Cannes.
Like I said, France is not just about Paris. Convinced to take a trip to South of France?