Top Places to Visit in Côte d'Azur

Looking for the best places to visit in French Riviera? On this blog post I will guide you throw the top, most popular...

Looking for the best places to visit in French Riviera? On this blog post I will guide you throw the top, most popular places to visit in Cote D'Azur! These places are the most visited for a reason, and you will learn what to expect from each place, as well as the top things to do in each of them

This post is based on current values and circumstances dated in June 2020, and may not be true nor applicable at the time you read it or prepare for your trip. Please read the information on official sites for updated values and conditions. I have linked these as much as possible to help you on your planning :)

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Côte d'Azur, also known as the French Riviera, is the coastal area of France that goes from the popular Saint-Tropez on the west to Menton on the east, right by the border with Italy, and it also includes another country, the Principality of Monaco.
This area is mostly popular for it's beautiful beaches and coastal views, as well as for being a glamorous, wealthy area where celebrities enjoy their luxurious vacations on 5 star hotels, big villas and private yachts. Not only that, Côte d'Azur hosts two extremely popular events every year in May: Cannes Film Festival and Grand Pix.
Weather your budget allows you to have a luxurious holiday or simply a backpacker's experience, French Riviera will always have something for you.
Please note that this is a very popular destination among tourists, and so, during the Summer, it can become quite crowded. If you're staying at a hotel, you might want to book in advance, if you're taking a bus, you might want to get there a bit earlier, and if you don't like crowds, you might consider exploring the less visited areas of the French Riviera.

On this blog post you will find a list of the top places to visit and as usual, I will make sure to write a separate blog post on off the beaten path locations in this area of France as well!

1) Nice
2) Monaco
3) Èze
4) Menton
5) Antibes
6) Cannes
7) Saint-Tropez

Nice promenade
View from the Castle Hill towards Nice's promenade
Nice is a lively town and I would say it is the main place to visit when you come to the French Riviera. It's where most people stay based at and that happens for a reason - the town is beautiful, has great accessibility to other locations and has everything you need: good restaurants, malls, shops, cafes, and plenty to visit.
Some of the top things to do include taking a sunbath at a private or public pebble beach, go for a walk along the popular and long Promenade des Anglais (a promenade that goes from Nice's Airport and it extends for 7km along the coast), admiring the views from the Castle Hill (Parc de la Colline du Château), walking through the colourful streets of Nice's Old Town and the popular Place Masséna, admiring the architecture of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral (Cathédrale Orthodoxe Saint-Nicolas de Nice) and visiting museums such as Marc Chagall Museum and Modern and Contemporary Art Museum (MAMAC).
I will certainly do a comprehensive blog post on Things to do in Nice soon.
Nice is a perfect place for people watching: very family friendly, you will find lots of children playing in the public gardens or at the beach, and gatherings of young people too. You will also find many active people at the promenade: walking, cycling, skating, roller skating, riding a manual or electric scooter, and even the odd guy on a skateboard, paddling the floor with a broom stick - yep, I saw that with my own eyes!

monaco view
Amazing view to the Monaco's harbour from the entrance of the Exotic Gardens
Monaco had to be second on this list because it is such an unique place in Europe: it is the second smallest country in the world (being Vatican the first), it was extremely well designed to fit it's population as best as possible in such a short space, it has one of the world's lowest unemployment rate (2%), 0% poverty, a high percentage of millionaires (over 30%) and even public elevators that take you from one street to the other.
Be ready to be astonished by all of the luxurious cars you will see, as well as the views you can have from every corner of the city. Top places to visit in this country include the Prince's Palace, the Car Collection Museum, the Monte Carlo Casino and Opera House, Oceanographic Museum and the Exotic Gardens.
The road from Nice to Monaco is stunning, so if you're on a bus, try to stay on the right to appreciate the views. During Summer time the buses can be extremely crowded so you might want to get there a bit earlier to find a seat, and if you're lucky, one on the right. Alternatively, you can also take the train from Nice to Monaco.

Where to stay in Monaco
As you can guess, there are no budget friendly accommodations in Monaco, so you will be better off staying in Menton or even Nice if it's more convenient to you.

Èze Exotic Garden
Views over the coast from the Exotic Gardens of Èze
Èze is a hill-top medieval village overlooking the Mediterranean Coast and surrounding towns, and is popular for it's narrow cobblestone streets (full of colourful flowers), stunning views, and perfumes. The village is fairly small, and the highlights of this place are certainly the Exotic Gardens, roaming through it's narrow streets, and visiting the small local shops (art galleries, perfumeries, gift shops, lavender products, etc.).

Where to stay in Èze
I would strongly recommend you to stay in Nice instead as there are way more options and more facilities too. Furthermore, Èze is not a budget friendly location. However, if you still prefer to spend one or more nights here, you won't be disappointed with their luxurious hotels.

Menton harbour
View towards the center of Menton from it's harbour. Most pictures you will find on Menton will be taken from the beach, but as I mentioned, this town is beautiful from every corner.
I still can't believe that many pages with French Riviera destinations do not include Menton or is at the very bottom of the list, and that many visitors end up missing this town, when in my opinion, Menton is hands down, one of the best places to visit in Cote d'Azur.
Just picture this: a very colourful town, with and Italian touch and it's houses aligned along a hill, with a palm tree promenade, a free beach, a busy harbour facing the colourful town, and plenty of ice cream shops. Doesn't sound like a paradise? It does to me, for sure (and I was sold with "colourful town", "free beach" and "plenty of ice cream shops").
Menton is located in the border with Italy, and apart from all of the wonderful things I mentioned above, Menton is also famous for it's annual Lemon Festival and for it's collection of museums and galleries around Jean Cocteau.

Where to stay in Menton
Menton is a location where you won't find extremely cheap accommodation (comparing to Nice, where you get quite a good range of hostels), but it's also not a place for fancy, 5 star luxurious hotels.
Fancier hotels: Princess Et Richmond, Hotel Napoléon and Best Western Plus Hotel Prince De Galles
More afordable travel hotels/apartments: ibis budget Menton Bord de Mer, Hotel Pavillon Imperial, Hôtel Vacances Bleues Balmoral and Hôtel Riva Art & Spa

Antibes France
Beautiful photo of Antibes by V2F on Unsplash, cropped and edited with my presets
Antibes is another popular destination in Cote d'Azur, and it attracts tourists due to it's charming old centre full of narrow streets and a prominent fort (Fort Carré), overlooking the busy Port Vauban, as well as it's nice beaches (Plage de la Salis is a quite popular free beach in Antibes). Antibes also has lots of art and culture, so if you're into museums, the Picasso, Peynet and Archeological museums might be of your interest.

Where to stay in Antibes
Luxurious hotels: Hotel Imperial Garoupe and Royal Antibes
Budget and more affordable hotels/apartments: Hôtel de l'Étoile, Zenitude Hôtel-Résidences Le Maestria, Le Ponteil and Mas Djoliba
Budget travel hostels: Glamorgan, Crew Lighthouse and Backpackers

cannes france
Beautiful view from the Grande Roue (Ferris Wheel) to the Old Port of Cannes (Vieux Port de Cannes)
Not far from Antibes you will find Cannes, which will obviously have to come next on the list. Cannes is mostly known for it's Film Festival happening every May, so a visit to the Palais des Festivals and it's red carpet is mandatory. But there is more to Cannes than just celebrities and awards: enjoy a wall along the beautiful Croisette promenade and the old town (Le Suquet), experience the local culture at the indoor market Marché Forville and visit the Musée de la Castre located in a medieval fortress.
When we visited, we also enjoyed a lovely ride on the Ferris Wheel (Grande Roue). I've heard that few people said they felt disappointed as they felt it was too quick, but we personally enjoyed it.
Something to keep in mind when visiting Cannes is that many beaches are actually private and exclusive (most of the time to luxurious hotels). That being said, there are also free beaches, and you will be able to distinguish them (for example, in la Croisette most of them will be private, but you will also find a public beach)

Where to stay in Cannes
Cannes is another location that does not have many options for very low budget (hostels), but you can find some affordable hotels (as affordable as Cannes can be) if you're on a tight budget.

View towards Saint-Tropez. Photo by Fabien3X9 from Pixabay, edited with my presets
Saint-Tropez is a quite popular location in Côte d'Azur. With a beautiful harbour and a charming old town, this small town does not have a lot to do, but it attracts many tourists due to it's popularity. Things to see include not only walking and getting lost in it's narrow streets, but also visiting the Citadel and enjoying a nice afternoon in one of it's beaches.

Where to stay in Saint-Tropez
Saint-Tropez is definitely not for backpackers, as even the lowest priced hotels will start at £100/night. If you are looking for a more luxurious experience however, you will have a long list of gorgeous hotels with pool and plenty of facilities to choose from. I will be mentioning both luxurious and affordable (affordable being a bit subjective here).
Affordable hotels/apartments: Hôtel Les Palmiers, Windward, Hôtel Playa and Hotel La Romarine

Tips to use the map above
  • You will find different layers on this map, showing you all points of interest by categories. To see these, click on the tab icon (top left). All layers will be enabled by default. By clicking on the check marks, you can disable/hide a specific label to better understand the info you're looking for.
  • To view more detailed information on any point of interest, click on it's icon over the map.
  • You can save this by clicking on the star on the top of the map (right next to the title). This will be added to your Google Maps, and you will be able to access it from any device (Google Maps - Your Places - Maps)



I hope this list can be helpful when you plan your trip to the French Riviera, and as promised, I will be bringing another list, with less explored places in Côte d'Azur very soon.

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