Sun seekers and socialites have flocked to the French Riviera in waves since the last century and it’s easy to see why. The sun-soaked coastline features a stunning array of rugged cliff-side vistas, warm sandy beaches, luxurious towns and exudes a glamorous lifestyle that appeals to many travelers looking for an unforgettable getaway in France.
Whether you’re keen to explore the beautiful contrast of the Cote d’Azur’s iconic pastel-colored buildings against the modern skyline of Nice, or eager to escape the city and relax in the numerous quaint beach villages along the Mediterranean coastline, there is so much to see and do in the French Riviera you’re sure to enjoy your time, no matter your interests.
French Riviera Sightseeing Tips
Avoid the Summer. The coastline tends to be extremely busy during the summer months of July and August, so if you’re looking for a peaceful sunshine escape, steer clear of traveling to the French Riviera during the busiest travel months. The best times to visit are in the shoulder months of April and June or September and October, when there are fewer people and the weather is still warm.
The Cote D’Azur Card. This handy tourist card gives you a three or six day option and access to the open top bus tour in Nice, the Oceangraphic Museum in Monaco, and the Ile St-Honorat Boat from Cannes, as well as over 100 other activities across towns such as Cannes, Nice and Antibes and many more.
Rent a Convertible. To really take part in the glamorous lifestyle that the French Riviera is so well known for, rent a convertible, put the top down, and feel the warm coastal breeze in your hair as you cruise along the beachfront promenades.
French Riviera Attractions & Destinations
The historic towns and quaint villages dotted along the coastline of the French Riviera (also known as the Cote d’Azur) were originally off-season destinations where wealthy northern Europeans would spend their winters away from the harsh climates of their homes. By the 1920s, however, the region’s popularity as a summer vacation destination began to build, particularly when Americans, especially famous ones such as F.Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, started to frequent the coast. The glitz and glamour has only been increasing with the establishment of the famous Cannes Film Festival, the Monaco Grand Prix and the Nice Jazz Festival, all of which and more attract yachting billionaires to these shores every summer.
Be sure to check out these must-see sights during your time in the French Riviera:
The eclectic city of Nice is the largest city on the French Riviera coastline and is the place where most visitors begin their journey. History and culture buffs will love the diversity of the city and everything it has to offer, from art museums and galleries to impressive architecture. Those looking to live the Riviera lifestyle can easily find it in Nice, along the stunning sandy beaches and glorious coastline, filled with fine dining restaurants, bars, and luxury hotels.
The seaside resort town of Cannes is most well known for its famous film festival which attracts A-list stars and celebrities to the town every year. Spot the Ferraris and Porsches, among other supercars, driving along the sandy beaches. From here you can explore the islands, the harbor that is lined with superyachts, and the historic old quarter that still retains some of its traditional charm.
The hundreds of superyachts that line the Monte Carlo harbor and its luxurious casinos are just two of the things that have made this region so famous. It’s through these streets that the famous Monaco Grand Prix race takes place every year, taking over the town. In addition to fast cars, Monte Carlo is all about fine dining and exemplary culture, including its majestic opera house and luxury boutiques.
The outrageously glamorous fishing port of St. Tropez is the sunshine capital of the French Riviera. Known for its beautifully tan sunbathing folk, the beaches and high-end cafes are perfect for people watching. Here it’s all about long drawn-out lunches overlooking the beautiful ocean followed by plenty of shopping.
Shopping in the French Riviera
The French Riviera is one of the most distinctive places to shop in the world. From luxury boutiques featuring some of the best known designers in the world to local markets selling quirky wares and historic antiques, the coastline offers some of the most unique shopping experiences in France.
La Croisette Boulevard, Cannes
This incredibly famous street is made up of all of the top designer brands in France and some from further afield. Anyone who is anyone shops at La Croisette Boulevard, where you can find brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Dior.
The Place de Lices Market, St. Tropez
This quirky market is a bustling attraction for those looking for a bargain. Browse through clothing, food, pottery, plants and antiques at this local market and come away with lots of great goods for your money.
Cap 3000, Nice
The largest shopping mall in the French Riviera is located close to the airport in Nice, with over 100 shops, bars and restaurants, Cap 3000 is the place to shop if you want options.
Rue Massena, Nice
For a pleasant shopping experience browsing through designer boutiques and trendy high street brands head to Rue Massena. The street runs along the beach and is perfect for a casual beach and shopping day.
Forville Market, Cannes
The antique flea market, Forville Market, in Cannes is unlike much of the designer shops in the town. Instead the market offers interesting and beguiling antiques, furniture, fruits, vegetables, and books all piled in together.
French Riviera Restaurants
The French Riviera is practically the birthplace of tasty southern French cuisine. Inspired by its fishing roots and coastal waters, the restaurants in the French Riviera are unrivaled and offer everything from fine-dining haute cuisine to local hearty fare.
Click TripAdvisor Rating for Restaurant Reviews
Bistrot d’Antoine, Nice
This historic bistro first opened its doors in 1904 and has been a popular spot ever since. Serving up local fish that is market-fresh in French comfort-food style, this spot is popular among tourists and local bohemians as well as professionals for its unforgettable dishes and cozy atmosphere.
Mirazur Restaurant, Menton
The stunning location of this restaurant truly adds to the culinary experience, located on a hilltop surrounded by a citrus grove, avocado trees and vegetable gardens. The Michelin-starred restaurant offers breathtaking tasting menus to add to the wonderful setting.
Restaurant de Bacon, Antibes
This fish restaurant serves up some of the freshest and tastiest food on the coastline. Selling only fish, the clientele is comprised mostly of glamorous yachties, but it’s definitely all about the fresh food here, especially if you like seafood.
La Vigie, Monte Carlo
Located on Monte-Carlo beach, La Vigie is more of a bar than a restaurant with views across the ocean and an extensive wine list. Enjoy a fresh apretif before dinner with some tasty local bites as the sun sets across the bay.
La Montgolfiere, Monte Carlo
Set in the heart of the old quarter of Monaco, La Montgolfiere is a one-of-a-kind find in this part of town. Small and quaint, the restaurant seats only 20 people and is the perfect place to enjoy well-presented and tasty Mediterranean food in close distance to Monaco’s top tourist destinations, such as the Prince’s Palace.
Hotels in the French Riviera
All along the French Riviera you have so many choices for accommodation. You can choose to stay in glamorous palatial style hotels, quaint historic guest houses, and so many in-between. Here are our top picks for the perfect stay on the Cote d’Azur:
Click Hotel Name for Further Booking Info
Stay in one of the most glamorous locations in Nice along the Promenade des Anglais in this world-renowned palace-style hotel. Within walking distance to all of the major attractions in Nice’s old town and beach, the incredibly impressive interior and exterior décor includes some of the world’s most famous paintings and sculptures, a gourmet restaurant and antique furniture, plus mesmerizing sea views.
Stay in the bustling city center of Monte Carlo at the Columbus Monte Carlo, just 500m from the beach and within walking distance to the popular shopping district of Boulevard des Moulins. Most rooms come with a private balcony or terrace offering stunning views across the coastline.
This family-run hotel is within walking distance from the Issambres Beaches on the Golfe de St Tropez. The hotel is a quaint and perfect guesthouse ideal for guests looking for small and local accommodation. Enjoy a tasty breakfast every morning overlooking the beautiful St. Tropez Bay on the hotel’s open-air terrace.
The pretty Sun Riviera hotel in Cannes is located close to the main shopping street of Cannes, Le Croisette, and is a short walk to the seafront. Enjoy an excellent location with all of the modern amenities you could want.
Just 100 meters from the sea, the Chambord Hotel Menton in the beautiful town of Menton is a modern hotel with all of the comforts of a hotel at great prices. The hotel is in the ideal location to explore Monaco and the rest of the Cote d’Azur.
Want More Cote d’Azur?
Did we miss one of your favorite attractions, restaurants, or hotels on this list? Let us know below in the comments, or connect with us on social media! Auto Europe is also available by phone, 24/7 and toll-free at 1-888-223-5555