The Essential Guide to the French Riviera
Collected by AFAR Editors , AFAR Staff
Glamour takes her holidays on the Côte d’Azur, wearing dark sunglasses and driving a car along the curves and cliffs of the Mediterranean coastline. Through images of Picasso and Bardot and Grace Kelly, photos of celebrities at the Cannes Film Festival, and everything from sunscreen commercials to Fitzgerald and Wharton novels, the French Riviera has emerged in modern culture as the ultimate playground of the rich and famous. The attractions that draw playboys, models, and royalty are not so different from the ones that lured Phoenicians and Romans in ancient times: The climate, culture, olive oil, brilliant lemons, festivals, and glorious beaches are still here.
Port-Cros, Hyères, France
Located where the mountains meet the sea, Port-Cros National Park is only partially visible from the shore, as nearly half of its land is underwater. While this island park offers plenty of hiking, cycling, and beach activities for landlubbers,...
28 Rue Henri Seillon, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France
It would be hard to find a fashionable Parisian woman who doesn’t have a pair of Tropéziennes in her wardrobe. Originally created for the local fishermen, this Greek-style sandal has become the iconic footwear of the French Riviera,...
Plage de Bouillabaisse, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France
Just steps from the sea, on the pine-shaded terrace of the Cheval Blanc St. Tropez (formerly La Résidence de la Pinède hotel), the Vague d’Or celebrates the riches of the sea. Chef Arnaud Dockele’s passion for the region...
9 Boulevard de la Croisette, 06400 Cannes, France
Today luxury hotels, high-end boutiques, and a fine-sand beach compete for visitors’ attention as they stroll the famous coastal walk in Cannes that follows the crescent-shaped border between water and town. Once this glamorous...
Lérins Islands, Cannes, France
Just a 15-minute ferry ride from the glitz and glamour of Cannes, the Lérins Islands look like lipstick marks left by a star’s kiss. Ste-Marguerite is home to just 20 residents, who share their 15 beaches with day-trippers looking for...
3 Chemin des Écoles, 06650 Le Rouret, France
Located in the heart of Le Rouret, about 20 miles inland from Nice and a 15-minute drive from the perfume capital of Grasse, Hôtel du Clos is a charming 11-room country inn spread across two 19th-century stone buildings, one of which...
Boulevard James Wyllie, 06600 Antibes, France
Slip a generous serving of salade niçoise (tuna, olives, chopped onion, and hard-boiled egg) into a country roll with a drizzle of peppery olive oil, et voilà, you have a pan bagnat, the ubiquitous sandwich native to the region. Pan...
16 Rue du Saint-Esprit, 06600 Antibes, France
Down a cobblestone street and through a stone arch, a narrow terrace and lovely fig tree mark the entrance to Le Figuier de Saint-Esprit. Famous both for his magnificent mustache and exceptional cooking, chef Christian Morisset guides...
Place du Général de Gaulle, 06570 Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France
The Riviera was a refuge for many artists during the war, and when the owners of La Colombe d’Or in St-Paul-de-Vence exchanged meals for works of art, they eventually found themselves with a world-class collection. Today, pieces by Fernand...
86 Rue Grande, 06570 Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France
Housed in a refurbished 16th-century residential building, Hôtel Le Saint-Paul is a beautiful old lodging in the heart of St-Paul-de-Vence, a hillside medieval town characterized by winding cobblestone roads and sea views. The 16...
Cours Saleya, 06300 Nice, France
The picture-perfect Provençal market Cours Saleya in Nice is a visual bouquet of regional bounty, with colorful floral displays, golden zucchini blossoms, red tomatoes, and green greens. Camargue sea salt, pressed olive oils, and...
7 Rue Saint-François de Paule, 06300 Nice, France
Candied fruits are a favorite sweet in France, and when you sink your teeth into one, releasing the sticky-sweet goo and biting zest of a preserved clementine, you’ll have a new favorite, too. Henri Auer came to the region in 1820, drawn by...
164 Avenue des Arènes de Cimiez, 06000 Nice, France
Henri Matisse was already a successful artist in 1917 when he left Paris behind to settle in the suburbs of Nice. It was here that in 1941—too infirm to hold a brush steady—Matisse developed his cut-paper artworks. The...
36 Avenue Dr Ménard, 06000 Nice, France
Born in Russia, Marc Chagall lived in Paris and the U.S. before moving to Vence in 1950, where he remained until his death in 1985. Today, his namesake museum in Nice, built to display the biblical series he donated to France in 1977, stands as an...
96 Boulevard de l'Observatoire, 06300 Nice, France
On a pine-covered summit overlooking the sprawling city of Nice, Mont Gros, a 19th-century observatory, is a local icon. Built by Charles Garnier (famous for his Paris Opéra design) in collaboration with Gustave Eiffel (yes, that Eiffel),...
27 Prom. des Anglais, 06000 Nice, France
Located opposite the Promenade des Anglais, Westminster Hotel & Spa has a lot of things going for it. Many of its rooms and suites have great views over the sea and feature high ceilings and opulent silk drapery, plus big marble bathrooms....
1 Avenue Ephrussi de Rothschild, 06230 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France
The exclusive town of St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is home to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a Renaissance-style palace with sumptuous furnishings and one of the most famous gardens in France. Beginning with a traditional French garden, the land is by...
71 Boulevard du Général de Gaulle, 06230 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France
Sitting at the tip of the peninsula of St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, which juts out into the Mediterranean, the iconic Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, is now under the management of the Four Seasons brand. Located halfway between Nice and Monaco in the...
158 Avenue de Verdun, 06360 Èze, France
Regular tours of the Fragonard distillery explain the 400-year history of the French perfume industry and give a unique peek into how luxury fragrances are created today. A small museum also details the longer history of perfume in the world and...
Rue du Barri, 06360 Èze, France
A breathtaking view of dramatic cliffs diving into the sparkling azure seas sets the scene for a spectacular two-Michelin-star meal of seasonal specialties by chef Arnaud Faye that may be perfectly paired with any one of 15,000 bottles of wine at...
Rue de la Pise, 06360 Eze Village, France
Among the most sought-after addresses in Èze, if not the entire French Riviera, Château Eza is a 400-year-old castle with 14 rooms where you’ll feel like royalty. Original exposed stone walls, integrated fireplaces, period oil...
1312 Avenue Raymond Poincaré, 06360 Èze, France
On a tree-studded peninsula between Monaco and Nice, this whitewashed luxury boutique hotel features 28 rooms and suites with a serenely chic vibe (think crisp white linens and richly patterned textiles, contemporary art and modern streamlined...
4 Avenue du Général de Gaulle, 06320 La Turbie, France
A favorite of Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse, the Café de la Fontaine is the little brother of Michelin-starred l’Hostellerie Jérôme. The rustic bistro is the perfect place for a light lunch or afternoon drinks while watching the world go by...
Avenue Saint-Martin, 98000 Monaco
Avenue Princesse Grâce, 98000 Monaco
2 Quai de Monleon, 06500 Menton, France
In the 1950s, the town of Menton invited prodigious artist, poet, author, and filmmaker Jean Cocteau to design a museum for his work. In a town known for its extraordinary gardens, the museum is an ode to the creative genius, beginning with the...
30 Avenue Aristide Briand, 06500 Menton, France
Perched like an eagle’s nest in the lower Alps, just steps from Italy, this 1930s landmark restaurant faces a stunning rainbow of blues in the expansive view of ocean and sky just beyond its vertiginous glass walls. Taking inspiration from...
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