South of France by car

With 71 miles of winding corniche roads, numerous quaint Provincial villages to visit, and endless soft sand beaches to stop at and enjoy some sun-soaking, France’s Cote d’Azur is one of Europe’s dreamiest road trip destinations. Rent a car on the French Riviera and the Mediterranean Sea and the charm of southern France is at your fingertips! On your Riviera road trip, you’ll wind your way around a variety of landscapes, soak up a diverse range of cultures, and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding coastline. After all, there’s no better way to navigate the coast than to do so with the comfort and freedom of your own vehicle. ​

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Where to Go

Menton is one of the easternmost towns on the Cote d’Azur and is well known for its beaches, manicured gardens, and hilly medieval old town. Make sure you visit the 17th century Basilique Saint-Michel, Promenade du Soleil beach, and Serre de la Madone gardens. If you’re coming from Nice, the road to Menton consists of steep mountain roads that wind their way down to the sea and you’ll have the choice of taking the high road, the middle road, and the low road which varies in steepness. 

Casino Monte-Carlo, the Exotic Garden of Monaco, and Saint Nicholas Cathedral should all be on your Monaco to-do list along with the Old Town which is completely pedestrianized so leave your vehicle at your hotel! On that note, central Monaco can prove to be tricky to navigate as a tourist and you might find yourself taking unexpected turns due to confusing signage. Opt to use your car in the neighboring towns instead of the city center. Nearby places of interest include La Turbie and the picturesque town of Villefranche-sur-Mer. In Villefranche-sur-Mer, all three corniches (roads that are cut into steep cliffs) that connect Nice to Italy meet. The Basse Corniche roads here are a dream to drive and offer spectacular views out to sea and back to Monaco. 

Nice is one of the most popular places along the coast to kick-start a road trip as car rental at Nice Cote d’Azur Airport is easy to navigate. Spend a few days exploring the glistening resort town and be sure to climb Castle Hill for spectacular views of the surrounding coastline. As with Monaco, driving in Downtown Nice can be quite a chore so it’s best to explore the center on foot and keep your driving for the neighboring towns. 

Cannes is a resort town, famous for its international film festival which draws celebrities from far and wide to its glistening shores. Days in Cannes can be spent shopping in luxury boutiques, dining on Provincial cuisine, and exploring the islands of Lerins just a short ferry ride away. Don’t forget to visit nearby Theoule-Sur-Mer a small town, just a 20-minute drive away, with an attractive harbor. 

Frejus is a small French town with a heck of a lot of monuments. The town, which sits just under an hour’s drive from Nice and a 40-minute drive from Cannes, is well known for its art and history and has several architectural artifacts and Roman relics. Frejus Cathedral, the Museum of Archeology, and the Frejus Aquaduct are all worth a visit. From Frejus, consider driving to Sainte-Maxime and enjoying a day on the beach. 

St Tropez 
The drive to Saint-Tropez from Cannes is quite spectacular and it’s not surprising this part of the world receives over 100,000 visitors a day in the height of summer. If you’re looking to take a road trip from the town center, consider visiting Vidauban (an area known for its rose wine production), La Garde-Freinet (an area with great forest hiking), and Lorgues (a fortified Provencal town).

When to Visit

Autumn and Spring are the best seasons to take a road trip along the Côte d’Azur as the weather still offers fantastic views and the roads aren’t too busy. You’ll also enjoy cheaper rental prices if you travel in the shoulder seasons. Peak summer can be a little crowded, especially in July and August when the schools are out and the tourists are in full swing, and the price for rentals and day trips shoot through the roof. However, the glorious weather in summer is quite possibly worth the price!  

How Long to Stay

The length of your French Riviera road trip depends on how many stops you wish to make, but seven days is just enough time to enjoy a flying visit of Monaco, Nice, Cannes, and St. Tropez. To enjoy the surrounding smaller towns and winding roads that lead you off-the-beaten-path, we’d recommend spending closer to 10-days on the Cote d’Azur. It’s always a good idea to give yourself a day or two without a car at the beginning and end of your trip too, as this gives you more time to familiarize yourself with new surroundings. 

Day Trips vs Road Trip

If you’re not a confident driver, or you’d prefer to spend your French Riviera vacation without navigating the coastlines winding roads, consider booking a car tour from one of the coast’s major cities. Why not explore Cannes in a vintage car, join a limousine tour of Monte-Carlo, or book a Ferrari driving experience in Nice? Alternatively, rent a car with a driver and enjoy being chauffeured along the Cote d’Azur, stopping as and when you please. 

Cote d'Azur by Car - cruise car - private car - ride car - touring cars - travel car - trip car - car rental - FranceRent

Whether you opt for luxury car hire on the Cote d’Azur and spend two weeks cruising the coastline or you take a private car tour of one of the big cities to relax and enjoy the highlights, your south coast road trip will showcase the very best of the French Riviera and leave you asking for more. What’s more, if you’re on a budget when it comes to transport, there’s plenty of Cote d’Azur car rental options to suit every traveler! 

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