Best Place To Visit In French Riviera – Sun, Mediterranean and the smell of olive trees: this is the picture that comes to mind when picturing your visit to theFrench Riviera. This destination is full of treasures to discover during a stay of at least two weeks.
Of course, you have to visit the iconic cities of Nice, Cannes, Antibes, and Saint-Tropez and its glamorous aura. Enjoy the seaside bathing in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, St. Raphael, Mandelieu-la-Napoule or Sainte-Maxime.
Do not settle for the coast: venturing into the land is just as exciting. Mougins, Le Lavandou, Grasse, and Vallauris are beautiful gateways to the Nice hinterland and the Var department. To take a little height, the perched villages of Eze, Vence, Saint-Paul-de-Vence and Ramatuelle are unavoidable.
Finally, you will enjoy the change of scenery that provides a trip to the islands of Lérins or Hyères … So, get ready to discover the French Riviera…
Best Place To Visit In French Riviera
An influential longing to get away from crowds? Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is still preserved from hordes of summer visitors and offers magnificent panoramas immersed in serenity.
In a one hour walk, you will make the complete tour of the peninsula and will discover all the beauty of the shaded littoral of pines and paving stones. Small creeks open intermittently, revealing pebble beaches where crystal clear water sparkles in the sun.
Then go up to the chapel Saint-Hospice overlooking the peninsula. This bronze Virgin, 1 meter 40 high, forces respect. Also, consider taking a look at the Museum of Seashells which includes a collection of more than 4000 collector’s items, sometimes colorful and sometimes in extraordinary shapes.
Cannes, a jet-setters destination? Although the city shines once a year on the occasion of the famous Cannes Film Festival and its parade of movie stars, it has many other assets to offer.
The boulevard de la Croisette along the seaside is a must for bringing in the atmosphere of Cannes. Then go for a walk in the district of Suquet, the oldest part of the city, which includes vestiges dating from the Middle Ages. Built on a hill to protect itself from the attacks of pirates, it deploys its crooked lanes to the Old Port below.
The Musée de la Castre exhibits a beautiful collection of antiques and a climb to the top of the Square Tower will ensure a magnificent panorama of the coast. Do not forget to go for a walk to the Forville market, known for the quality of products and the enthusiasm and good mood of traders.
You may as well leave the coast for a while and go for a refreshing swim at La Croix des Gardes. This forest nature park is located on a hill just one kilometer from the city. Its beautiful mimosa forest is worth a visit.
3- The islands of Hyères (Porquerolles, Port Cros, and the Levant)
The so-called “golden islands” certainly deserve their enchanting reputation … The islands of Hyères are three in number and are located opposite the peninsula of Gien.
Porquerolles is the largest and most visited of the three islands. It is reached by boat in just 10 minutes from the port of Hyères. This little paradise was ranked “Heart of National Park” in 2012 and is perfectly preserved.
As soon as you reach the village, venture into the heart of the town where the trees and plants maintained by the Botanical Conservatory spread a delightful scent.
The south coast offers a breathtaking view of the sea from the cliffs. Finally, the three white sand beaches would almost feel like an island on the other side of the world!
Port-Cros is the most primitive of the three islands, but also the most “natural”. No car or bike here: it can only be discovered on foot, thanks to three hiking trails that allow you to immerse yourself in the heart of nature.
Protected since 1963, the island has hardly been impacted by human activity and has a very exotic authenticity. Small creeks call for swimming and snorkeling.
The island of Levant is probably the least popular for family vacations. This island is, however, a real pleasure for the walkers. Many paths run through the scrubland and the fauna and flora are well preserved.
Go for a walk to the village when arriving at the port: the twenty minutes course is quite steep but reserves a superb panorama.
Be careful to choose your island according to your desires. If Porquerolles is particularly suitable for families and all tourists in general, Port-Cros is more for athletes and Le Levant for those seeking privacy.
Nissa la Bella! The largest and one of the Best Place To Visit In French Riviera. Nice is often the entry point for holidaymakers arriving at its airport (which is also considered the most beautiful view of France during the landing). This beautiful city does not lack attractions to seduce the visitors throughout the year, and not only during the summer season…
The boulevard Jean Médecin, main commercial artery, and Place Masséna constitute the heart of Nice. This is where the famous carnival of Nice, whose huge tanks make fun of politicians every year in February, passes.
Stay away from the city center and go up to explore the garden of the Cimiez Bullring, little known by tourists. Lawns dotted with olive trees are ideal for sunny picnics. The Matisse museum and archaeological ruins are an opportunity to learn a little more. In addition, many traditional events in Nice take place in spring: dances, meals, costume parties …
The pretty medieval village of Mougins is located in the hinterland of the French Riviera. Its narrow streets with which a fountain, a church or an art gallery hides a certain charm.
Picasso, Christian Dior, Catherine Deneuve, Jean Cocteau, Winston Churchill, Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf … Countless celebrities who chose Mougins as a vacation resort. Mougins is also known for being “City and Crafts for Gastronomy”. More than 40 restaurants serve refined food that will delight the taste buds of gourmets (however, it will break the bank …).
Guilty little pleasures: go a little closer to the huge villas that can be seen behind the ornamented portals. Many politicians and personalities have a second home in Mougins.
6- Saint Paul de Vence
The most beautiful village in Provence? We would be tempted to believe it! The lovely hilltop village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence is located just 15 minutes from the sea, but the view from its summit is worth the detour. Always loved by artists, it still hosts many art galleries and artisans.
Strolling along its medieval lanes goes back to the old days when cars and modern civilization did not exist. Take the Rue Grande de la Porte Sud to the Porte Royale to admire the beautiful facades cut stone houses. At the turn of the network of alleys, you will cross the path of an old carved porch, a singing fountain or a group of villagers around a game of petanque …
Climb to the top of the ramparts to enjoy the panorama and do not forget to visit the Maeght Foundation. This museum of modern art exhibits sculptures, paintings, collages and ceramics in the heart of a beautiful park.
Come early in the morning to see the sunrise from the ramparts … and to avoid the heat and the crowd of tourists, a piece of especially valuable information in the time from July to August.
Back in the past with a visit to the hilltop village of Vence. This village has always been governed by painters and sculptors (Matisse, Chagall, Dufy …). Even today, the “Cité des Arts” houses an impressive number of galleries of paintings and sculptures.
Ancient Roman city, Vence preserves many vestiges like ruins, a triumphal arch and partially destroyed castles. Many religious buildings are worth visiting, such as the cathedral which houses a sarcophagus of the fifth century. The Chapelle des Penitents Blancs and its Renaissance bell tower are also worth a visit.
Try to attend some workshops to see the craftsmen at work and discover arts such as silversmithing mosaic, wood carving, santonnerie …
How to evoke Grasse without thinking of its famous perfumeries? The historic Fragonard plant, the Molinard perfumery, and the Galimard museum open their doors for a fascinating immersion in the world of odors. You can discover all the secrets of making perfumes and leave with a carefully selected fragrance.
Grasse is also a city signalized by history: the sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Victoria or the actor Dirk Bogarde have stayed there and have left traces of their journey. The magnificent mansions of the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, which can be seen everywhere around the narrow streets, offer a spectacle full of nostalgia.
Place du Puy and its cathedral are the high point of this walk to the past. Do not leave without having sat at one of the many restaurants in Grasse to honor the local cuisine. The donuts with zucchini flowers, in particular, are the ones to taste!
9- Antibes / Juan Les Pins
Antibes is one of the flagship cities of the French Rivera. Strolling into Old Antibes is a very fascinating experience, between the colorful facades of its houses and its pretty cobbled streets. Numerous shops offer for sale artisanal decorative objects and delicious local specialties.
Then head to Port-Vauban, the largest marina in Europe, to board a boat a few hours or experiment some water sports. You will be overwhelmed by the huge yachts anchoring in the summer season. Finally, the Cap d’Antibes is the walk to seek: the path along the coast will leave you applauding in front of the panorama, but also in front of the castles and villas of the rich Antibes.
Facing the sea, the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc is renowned for being one of the most beautiful in the world…
Juan Les Pins
Juan-les-Pins is the seaside resort of Antibes. We go there especially at night to enjoy its exciting nightlife. Beaches, bars, and restaurants line the entire coastline. To get away from all this hustle and bustle, go for a walk in the park of the pinewood where the greenery provides a very pleasant shade.
If you’re visiting in July, do not miss the Juan-les-Pins Jazz Festival. It hosts the greatest artists of its kind since 1960 on the open stage “Pinède Goult”.
10- Saint Tropez
It is a true legend and surely it is the most famous village in France: Saint-Tropez does not fail to earn its reputation. Saint-Trop ‘, for the locals, has two very different sides:
- On the one hand, its very “jetset” side attracts all those who want to see and be seen in the bars and upscale restaurants along the seaside. The champagne flows there during social evenings and some of the most luxurious yachts that others line up at the port, posing to eyes and cameras.
- On the other hand, its enclosed streets have kept a certain charm, reinforced by the smell of flowers and the heat of the sun.
After having drunk a glass of pastis and watched the locals play pétanque on the famous place des Lices, climb to the citadel of Saint-Tropez and go around the ruins while raving in front of the view. Very interesting, the modern museum of maritime history gives the opportunity to discover the life of mythical sailors.
Have fun too in front of the famous gendarmerie, immortalized by the movie “The Gendarme of Saint-Tropez” with Louis de Funès. With few tourists, La Maison des Papillons hides in a small alley in the heart of the village. More than 35,000 butterflies are on display, some exceptionally rare.
In the heart of vineyards and hills, Ramatuelle is one of the jewels of the region. At 130 meters altitude, it is a peaceful place far away from the jet-set of the French Riviera. Its originality consists in its “snail” shape: the main road climbs slowly up the village by winding itself.
Small restaurants and local craft shops are located in ancient cellars carved into the rock. Below the village of Ramatuelle, the famous Pampelonne beach stretches over 27 hectares of sand. It is at the origin of the “myth of Saint-Tropez” because many films were filmed there in the ’50s.
The beach of Pampelonne may be iconic, it is very visited by holidaymakers, especially in the summer. It is better to go to Cap Taillat, between Ramatuelle and La Croix-Valmer. Visit the beaches of Escalet and take the trail along the coast to reach the coves and enjoy a magnificent view of the sea.
12- St. Raphael
Saint-Raphaël is both a city and a seaside resort very popular. The old town, called “village district”, houses the beautiful San Raféu church and its archaeological museum. The daily flower and vegetable market is an opportunity to stock up on smells and flavors typical of the southeast.
Once you have explored all the streets, leave the city and go swimming in the bay of Agay, overhung by the red rocks of the Esterel mountains, or Anthéor, under the pillars of its majestic viaduct. You must also take the time to enjoy the Île d’Or, visible from the beach of Dramont. This rock surmounted by a high tower on which we can not disappoint you by its beauty and its mystery.
If you do not have the time to walk the famous Corniche d’Or in its entirety, this 40 km road linking Saint-Raphaël to Mandelieu, go down at least the steps of the Calanque Saint-Barthélemy, an ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling.
At the edge of the Mediterranean and at the foot of the Massif des Maures, the city of Sainte-Maxime is famous for its mild weather. It is a good starting point to explore the Var region and the Nice hinterland.
Its pretty streets are full of stalls, ice cream stores, restaurants and picturesque cafés that delight holidaymakers. Climb the steps of the Square Tower, in front of the church, to admire the view of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez.
Stay away from the main street where most of the restaurants are and have lunch at “Côté Jardin”. This restaurant/tearoom offers fresh, seasonal cuisine and works of art.
A small town on the border of Cannes, Mandelieu-la-Napoule is not devoid of attractions. Its main point of interest is the castle of Napoule, built in the fourteenth century. The park that surrounds it is classified as “remarkable garden” and many contemporary art sculptures adorn its foothills.
If the magnificent panorama of the top of the Castle is not enough for you, a hike on the hill of San Peyre will make you breathe the untamed smells of the wild scrubland. Then go discover the seven beaches of Mandelieu-la-Napoule. Robinson, Sables d’Or, La Raguette … Their names promise well-deserved sites!
If you have a little more time, rent a bike and ride along the banks of the Siagne to the coast for a variation of the landscape.
15- Lerins Islands
Just in front of the bay of Cannes and the Esterel mountains, the Lérins Islands are a real gem to visit imperatively if you are crossing the French Riviera. You will have to take a boat to the port of Cannes to reach the islands in just 15 minutes.
Île Sainte-Marguerite is the largest, it stretches for 3 kilometers. We go there to enjoy the beach but also to walk around the pond Batéguier. An observatory allows you to admire the many migratory birds that nest nearby.
Former military prison, the Royal Fort houses a fascinating enigma, that of the Iron Mask. This mysterious detainee would have been imprisoned for years without anyone knowing his identity. Lover of the Queen, twin brother of King Louis XIV, Molière himself …? The secret remains till today.
Île Saint-Honorat is smaller (only 1.5 kilometers in size) but just as exciting from a historical point of view. It has been home to the Lérins monks’ abbey for 16 centuries and attracts travelers in search of spirituality or simply calm.
Others can explore the many chapels of the tenth century that scatter on the island or taste wines being produced by the monks since the Middle Ages.
Watch out for the sometimes massive crowd during the summer. To enjoy serenely the Lérins Islands and have time to visit the two islands in one day, take the first boat at 7:30 or the second at 9 am.
A few steps from Antibes, Vallauris is a small town surrounded by hills. It is known to be the world capital of ceramics. Do not miss the Pottery Museum and the Magnelli Ceramics Museum, which have some very interesting collections. “City and Crafts”, Vallauris was popular with the greatest artists and craftsmen, like Picasso and Jean Marais.
It also has other assets such as the beautiful Château Robert, a luxurious residence with oriental aesthetics and its botanical park of 15 hectares.
Golfe-Juan is the seaside resort of Vallauris. The large sandy beaches, those of the Sun and the Promenade du Midi, attract mostly families. They are ideally located opposite the Lérins Islands. Still quite preserved from mass tourism, the coastline is adorned with many mimosas, laurels and palm trees.
Visit the eight charming chapels in Vallauris for a different vision of the city.
The big excitement of heart for the splendid perched village of Eze. Come lose yourself in the steep streets of this medieval-looking hamlet. The ideal is to park at the parking of the place of General de Gaulle, in front of the tourist office, and continue on foot.
Numerous boutiques, perfumeries and art galleries adorn the main road, offering the opportunity to discover local crafts. Once at the top of the village, you can discover the exotic garden and its elegant women’s status. Take a detour to admire the 5-star restaurant-hotel La Chèvre d’Or: its park clinging to the cliff is sublimated by works of art.
Summon your courage and take the path of Nietzsche! Admired by tourists because of its steep slope, it offers a magnificent panorama of the Mediterranean. Once down after 45 minutes of walking, you can enjoy a well-deserved swim … before going back up.
18- Le Lavandou
At the foot of the Massif des Maures, Le Lavandou mixes Provençal sweetness and charm of a seaside resort. The first fishing port of the Var created just a century ago, the “city of dolphins” has kept a certain intimacy.
A path follows all along the seaside and offers a magnificent view of the islands of Levant and Port-Cros. Its 12 kilometers of coastline reveal many beaches haunted by hikers as well as by families with children.
Try the Elephant beach, a small wild creek a little more difficult to reach (you can only reach it by walking on the rocks or on a boat through the sea). You will, however, be rewarded by the tranquility of the place, especially appreciated by quietness seekers…
19- Massive of the Moors
From Saint-Raphaël to Hyères, the Massif des Maures with its scrubland and forests of oaks, chestnuts or pines, you reserve superb views and you will discover beautiful hilltop villages with their narrow streets: Fayence, center of gliding , near Lake Saint-Cassien where you can swim and practice water sports, Collobrières in the middle of cork oak forests, Tourtour, artists’ village, Seillans, Bargeme at 1094 meters above sea level, the highest village of Var. These last three villages being classified among the most beautiful villages of France.
For those who like to walk, put on your walking shoes for the GR49 from Saint-Raphaël to Rougon, about 100 km, to discover the Massif des Maures but also the Verdon Regional Nature Park and the Massif de l Esterel with beautiful panoramas on the bay of Cannes and the Lérins Islands.
This enclave of 2 km2 has authenticity and exceptional landscapes with its old city perched on its rock. Nestled in the cliff, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea 60 meters Monaco Palace stone is the headquarters of the oceanographic institute which has a splendid aquarium of 90 basins and a lagoon with sharks.
The exotic garden with its grotto and its immense cacti, blooming in winter, is exquisite; you can also visit the princely apartments. Of course, the port is home to sumptuous yachts, the seafront palaces as the Hermitage with the dome in the glass roof of his winter garden.
Every day at 11:55, you can attend to watch the changing of the guard of the Prince’s Palace.
Between sea and mountain, Menton, city of art and history on the outskirts of Italy, is a city that is toured all year round thanks to the mildness of its climate. In February, discover the famous Lemon Festival and meet the local producers. Take the opportunity to stroll through the old streets of the city with colorful houses and do not miss the Basilica of St. Michael, one of the most beautiful Baroque monuments in the city.
In the spring, Menton is embellished with its most beautiful colors with its fabulous fragrant gardens all in bloom: the Val Rahmeh garden with its exotic plants, the Biovès gardens or the Fontana Rosa Belle Epoque style garden.
In summer, the city has a pleasant seaside and you can swim on a sandy and pebble beach where you will walk on many meters. Facing the sea, the Jean Cocteau museum, a beautiful architectural achievement created by Rudy Ricciotti, exhibits 2,000 works on 2700m².
Just outside Menton, do not miss two of the most beautiful villages in France: Ste Agnès, a vertiginously hung village on the side of a peak overlooking the sea, and Coaraze, a medieval village surrounded by cypress trees. of olive trees, with terraced gardens and a view of the summit of Rocca Sierra.
22- Mercantour National Park
Only 50 km from the sea, the Mercantour National Park has magnificent fir forests and larch forests; we can see gentians, rhododendrons and blueberries. It hosts wolves, ibexes, eagles, marmots. The landscape around the Allos glacier lake at 2228 meters above sea level is beautiful both in summer and winter.
It covers the valley of Vésubie which offers many opportunities for activities including hiking or fishing in summer and winter, ski resorts where you can practice skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and snowshoes: Valberg (1430-2066), Isola 2000 (1810-2603), Greolieres the Snows (1400-1800), Auron, Colmiane…
To see the wolves in their environment, go to the Alpha Animal Park. You can even observe them very closely by becoming a trainer for a few hours. Unforgettable experience!
23- Cap d’Antibes
The Cap d’Antibes is a superb peninsula, with its pines and mimosas, its splendid beach of Salis, and its sumptuous villas. A superb stroll by the sea along the cape offers very beautiful landscapes.
Plan some good and comfy walking footwear for the walk because some places are not easy to access. And do not forget your camera!
The fortified perched village has a lot of charm with its arcades and paved streets. It is known mainly for its glassworks and the Fernand Léger museum with its mosaic and stained glass façade, which displays 400 works by the artist. Labeled as the “City of crafts”, Biot has about fifty producers in different trades.
To stretch your legs, the departmental park of Brague between Biot and Valbonne offers several walking rounds in which you will discover historical remains like old mills.
Ranked among the most beautiful villages in France, Gourdon is a perched village with beautiful medieval houses around a castle which has beautiful gardens designed by Le Nôtre. The view of the Mediterranean and the valley is breathtaking.
After your stroll, indulge yourself in a Mediterranean feast in one of the restaurants with panoramic views of the region.