Top activities on Cote d'Azur
The scenic stretch of coastline known as the Cote d’Azur winds its way along France’s south coast from Saint Tropez to Menton, encompassing the chic towns of Cannes, Nice, and Monaco along the way. The area is known as a playground for the rich and famous, and a glamorous holiday destination for those looking to soak up the very best of the French Riviera. When it comes to Cote d’Azur attractions, there are plenty of things to do and places to visit along the coast to keep all character types entertained. Whether you’re exploring Nice’s charming Old Town on a free walking tour, people-watching at Monte Carlo Harbor, or admiring 19th-century art in Cannes, the Cote d’Azur doesn’t disappoint.
With its scenic beachfront location, hot Mediterranean summers, and charming Old Town, Nice is a quintessential French resort town that offers a luxury break by the sea.
Promenade des Anglais
The town’s busiest and most famous street is Promenade des Anglais, a pedestrianized area that runs along the edge of Baie des Anges beach for 4km and is lined with beautiful buildings. The promenade features a designated cycling and walking lane and is a great place to kick-start your self-exploration of Nice.
Also known as Vieux Nice, Nice’s Old Town is a charming area home to cobblestone streets, pastel-colored buildings, and several places of interest. Sightseeing places in the Old Town include the Palace du Palais de Justice, Vieux Nice Port, and Matisse’s House.
If you consider yourself a history buff or culture vulture, pay a visit to the Massena Museum which houses Riviera art and artifacts including Napoleon’s death mask. A visit to this spectacular museum offers the chance to brush up on the history of the region throughout the 19th century and gives you a glimpse into life during the Belle Epoque period.
World-famous for hosting the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix and the official residence of the French Royal Family, Monaco is a glamorous hub of activity. When you’re not yachting watching at the harbor, you’ll likely be gambling at the famous Monte Carlo Casino or exploring the lush gardens of Fontvieille.
Oceanographic Museum of Monaco
Nestled on a cliff 90-meters above sea level is the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco; a museum of marine sciences and the Mediterranean Science Commission. The museum, which took 11 years to build, is a popular tourist attraction home to three aquariums, over 6,000 marine life creatures, and scientific items that date back to Prince Albert’s explorations.
Jardin Exotique de Monaco
The Exotic Gardens of Monaco is a cliffside botanical garden found in the Fontvieille principality of Monaco. The gardens, which sit high on a bluff overlook the Mediterranean Sea, are home to a mix of tropical plants including those native to African and Latin America. There are over 7,000 different species of plants on display!
Home to the famous Monte Carlo Casino and several upscale restaurants, Casino Square is one of the city’s most iconic attractions. The area is one of the wealthiest parts of Monaco and on any day, you’re bound to see a long stream of supercars passing by as millionaires and billionaires float from one casino to the next, breaking temporarily to dine on fine seafood. The square was used in James Bond’s Casino Royale and is instantly recognizable.
Famous for its International Film Festival, soft sand beaches, and upmarket boutique hotels, Cannes is another French Riviera town that packs a real punch. When you’re not marveling at the ruins of Lerins Islands or strolling down Boulevard de la Croisette soaking up the coastal views, you’ll likely be exploring the nearby island of Sainte-Marguerite.
La Croisette is a bustling promenade, and one of the most iconic streets in France, that runs the length of Cannes’ seafront. If you’re looking for somewhere to acquaint yourself with the resort town, begin with a stroll along the promenade past luxury hotels, private beaches, and billion-dollar yachts. Keep your eyes peeled for A-listers and celebrities going about their day.
Another popular tourist destination is the nearby island of Sainte-Marguerite. There are four islands off the coast of Cannes in total, but Sainte-Marguerite is the largest and boasts exquisite sand beaches. If you’d like to escape the hustle and bustle of the main town, catch a ferry over to the island for a day of sunbathing, swimming, and coastal walks. The journey takes just 15-minutes.
If shopping is your vacation vice, take a stroll down Rue d’Antibes; Cannes’ renowned luxury shopping street home to designer brands and boutique stores. If you don’t have the money for a high-end shopping spree, head here anyway to see how the other half live.
Once a quiet fishing village, the town of Saint-Tropez is now a stylish seaside resort known for its fashion boutiques, luxury yachts, and bustling nightlife. Look beneath the glitz and glam and you’ll find the small-town charm of old Saint-Tropez featuring cobblestone streets and modest family-run restaurants.
Citadelle de Saint-Tropez Musee d’Histoire Maritime
The Citadelle de Saint-Tropez is a historic fortress dating back to the early 1600s which has been transformed to house the local Maritime Museum. The museum allows visitors to uncover the seafaring history of Saint-Tropez and its surrounding towns including tales of local fishermen and epic European adventures.
La Ponche Beach
Plage de la Ponche is one of Saint-Tropez’s most talked about beaches, found in the oldest part of the village. This small stretch of sand is the perfect place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the town, and to relax with a good book as the world goes by. The beach is also used as a starting point for the Sentier Littoral coastal hiking trail.
Place des Lices Market
Saint-Tropez’s heart and soul arguably lie in Place des Lices Market, a twice-weekly market that takes place on Boulevard Vasserot every Tuesday and Saturday morning. Here local vendors gather to sell a variety of homemade artisan products ranging from fresh pastries and fruit to antiques and craft items.
Wherever you decide to stop along the Cote d’Azur rest assured that you’ll find plenty of things to do, attractions to enjoy, and museums to visit. Stick with our recommendations above and you’ll enjoy a culture-filled break packed with activities that offer an authentic taste of southern France and the French Riviera.
Shopping on Cote d’Azur
It’s no secret that the South of France is an area well known for its acquired taste in luxury living, and when it comes to shopping this affluent region has a real flair for fashion and a lot to offer for shopaholics. Dare to drag yourself away from the alluring arrondissements of Paris’s fashion district and you’ll be rewarded with a sunsoaked shopping haven on Cote d’Azur and when it comes to shopping, the French Riviera does not disappoint. From upmarket department stores like Galeries Lafayette (whose flagship store you’ll find in Paris) to independent art galleries including the Sheun Gallery in Nice, the array of shopping available on Cote d’Azur covers a variety of tastes and, believe it or not, can be tailored to suit all budgets.
Events and festivals on French Riviera
The Cote d’Azur is abuzz with glitz and glamour all year round but it’s the summer months that really get the party started on France’s sought-after south coast. Events and festivals are held every month and range from theatre performances and music festivals to cinematography celebrations and yacht races. A-listers, millionaires, and outright party people flock to the shores of the Mediterranean for a summer to remember as seaside towns and secluded beaches become the stomping ground for a summer of fun. Below we take a look at some of the best events and festivals on the Côte d’Azur and provide a handy event guide to help you plan your dream trip.
Best restaurants on Cote d'Azur - France
Famous for its designer fashion brands, rolling vineyards, and historic monuments, France is a country with a lot to offer but it’s the nation’s gourmet cuisine that draws millions of visitors year after year. French dishes, which are usually full of flavor, made using simple ingredients, and boasting great finesse, have been replicated around the globe by passionate chefs aiming to try their hand at traditional dishes and haute cuisine. Below we’ve looked at some of the best restaurants in the south of France. Whether you’re looking for fine dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant (France is home to the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world) or hearty French cuisine at an authentic bistro, we’ve covered all dining options to suit every taste in this restaurant guide.
Boat activities on Cote d'Azur - France
The French Riviera, also known as the Cote d'Azur, is found on France's south-east coast and overlooks the glistening Mediterranean Sea. Known for its dazzling sand beaches, upmarket resort towns, and glamorous casinos, the Cote d'Azur has been a popular holiday destination with some of the world's wealthiest travelers since the 18th century. While boutique shops and Michelin-starred restaurants are certainly points of interest on the coast, one of the biggest draws is the array of water-based activities available. From yacht rentals, private boat tours, parasailing excursions, water sport rentals, and jet ski hire, the list of aqua-excursions is endless! Our simple guide to boat rental on the French Riviera takes a look at the different watersports available along the coast and the range of yacht and boat rentals available. After all, no visit to the Cote d'Azur can pass by without a day at sea.
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.
Nightlife on the French Riviera - Cote d'Azur
The French Riviera is renowned for its glitz and glam appeal, hedonistic summers, and over the top attitude to partying, all of which make it a popular destination with those looking for a lively social scene. Jazz cafes, trendy bars, and glamorous night clubs line the sparkling coast and visitors can choose between splashing the cash at an invite-only beach party or rubbing shoulders with A-listers at one of the best clubs in the world. Whatever your entertainment taste may be, the Cote d’Azur has a little something for everyone.