Best of the French Riviera: 7 most beautiful cities

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When you think of the French Riviera, you will probably imagine pictures of world-famous cities like Cannes and Nice. However, this dreamy region in the southeast corner of France offers much more than that. Perhaps you will visit it for its beautiful blue waters and striking vistas. Or maybe for its vibrant history and also culture. Whether you want to relax or experience a different culture, there is much to see and do. Here is our list of the best places to visit on the French Riviera.

things to do in French Riviera

The locals call the French Riviera the Côte d’Azur. It translates to Coast of Blue because of the deep azure blue colour of the sea.

 

The French Riviera is one of the most popular getaways for sun-seekers. Maybe you do not know, but this area earned itself a reputation as a winter destination for the British aristocracy at the end of the 18th century. It has become one of the best holiday spots in Europe because of its balmy climate and more than 300 days of sunshine.

 

What is the French Riviera famous for?

The French Riviera is famous for glamorous beaches, crystal-clear waters and luxurious resorts, which are a playground for the wealthy. It is also world-famous for charming cities, romantic villages and also breathtaking views. The French Riviera is known for its art and culture scene, grand casinos and also film festivals.

This beautiful region is also home to numerous museums, galleries and cultural events. The warm climate, stunning scenery and luxurious lifestyle attract thousands of visitors.

things to do in French Riviera: The French Riviera is home to many sleepy towns and villages. Visiting Eze village is one of the best things to do in French Rivera because this centuries-old village has a medieval feel. Eze also has a rich history and numerous ancient buildings and landmarks.

The French Riviera is home to sleepy towns waiting to be explored. Eze village is one of them.


WHERE DOES THE FRENCH RIVIERA START AND END?

The French Riviera stretches from Toulon on the west to Menton near the Italian border. It has no official boundary – the coast is entirely within the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azurs (PACA) region of France. 

 

The best French Riviera cities and towns to visit

If you are planning to visit this region and want to see the best places to visit on the French Riviera, you are in the right place. Let’s have a look together at the best French Rivera cities.

 

1. NICE, the French Riviera

 

One of the best places to visit on the French Riviera is Nice because this city is the region's capital. What's more, Nice is one of the best French Riviera cities because it has an authentic charm - it feels more Italian than French because Nice was ruled by an Italian king in the past.

The best place to start is probably with a place this region is the most famous for. Nice is the region’s capital and the most popular destination for city breaks in France. It is easy to see why this large city, founded by the Greeks, is one of the best French Riviera cities

 

best places to visit on the French Riviera: Nice is one of the best places to visit on the French Riviera because this city is the region's capital and the most popular destination for city breaks in the country. What's more, this large city, founded by the Greeks, is one of the best French Riviera cities.

Nice is the region’s beating heart and attracts millions of visitors per year. But don’t let that put you off – this beautiful city is worth a visit. Nice has authentic charm and feels more Italian than French because it was ruled by an Italian king in the past. Lose yourself in the colourful old town, walk along the Promenade des Anglais and explore its many attractions.

READ MORE ABOUT NICE:

places to visit on the French Riviera Nice town: discover authentic Nice when on the French Riviera

 

2. VILLEFRANCHE-SUR-MER

things to do French Riviera: Exploring Villefranche-sur-Mer is one of the best things to do in the French Riviera because it is one of the most beautiful bays on the Cote d'Azur. Villefranche-sur-Mer is also home to Mediterranean cruise ships because it has deep waters.

Villefranche-sur-Mer

 

Believe it or not, a holiday to this region should not go without a trip to Villefranche-sur-Mer. The sleepy town of Villefranche-sur-Mer is, in fact, one of the most exclusive spots on the French Riviera. It lies between the mountains and a wide bay not far from Nice. 

If you do not know, visiting Villefranche-sur-Mer is one of the best things to do on the French Riviera because it is one of the most beautiful bays on the Cote d’Azur. Villefranche-sur-Mer is also home to Mediterranean cruise ships because it has deep waters.

places to visit on the French Riviera: Villefranche-sur-Mer is one of the best places to visit on the French Riviera because this sleepy town is one of the most exclusive spots on the Cote d'Azur. Moreover, Villefranche-sur-Mer is home to Mediterranean cruise ships and is famous for its picturesque harbour and scenic hillsides.

  While exploring Villefranche-sur-Mer, check out the old town with buildings cascading down the hillside to the waterfront. Enjoy a pleasant stroll along the promenade around the fishing harbour, where you can experience bustling life in an authentic French town. 

While exploring Villefranche-sur-Mer, check out the old town with buildings cascading down the hillside to the waterfront. Enjoy a pleasant stroll along the promenade around the fishing harbour, where you can experience bustling life in an authentic French town. 

A postcard-perfect coastal town attracts locals and tourists alike for its scenic beauty. Villefranche-sur-Mer is famous for its picturesque harbour and scenic hillsides. This authentic resort has colourful pastel facades lining the steep cobbled streets of the medieval town. 

places to visit on the French Riviera: Villefranche-sur-mer is a must-see town when on the French Riviera because it is one of the most beautiful bays in the world. This charming French town has beautiful harbour and crystal clear waters.

Many tourists prefer Villefranche’s sandy beaches because Nice’s beaches have pebble stones and deeper water. Because of that, Villefranche’s sandy beaches with crystal clear water are also better for families with children. There get crowded during the summer months, though.

 

THINGS TO SEE IN VILLEFRANCHE-SUR-MER

  • the 14th-century picture-perfect old town with narrow streets,
  • 130 meters long-hidden medieval fully covered Obscure Street. It is a network of underground passages dating back to the 13th century.
  • the tiny Chapel Saint-Pierre decorated by Jean Cocteau with beautiful frescoes,
  • Saint-Michel Church, built in a Baroque style dating back to the 1750s,
  • Citadel de Villefranche – established to defend a medieval town (now a home to the Town Hall, museums, and also an open-air theatre).

 

Free Travel Planner for your next holidays to French Riviera

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

Many tourists visit Villefranche-sur-Mer for its magnificent views. For the best views of the town, walk up to corniche road to see breathtaking views of the harbour.

 

3. EZE, the French Riviera

French Riviera: Stopping in Eze village is a must when planning a trip to the French Riviera because Eze is one of the highest-perched seaside villages in France. Moreover, this centuries-old village with beautiful panoramic views is famous for its botanical gardens.

The medieval village of Eze, the French Riviera

The French Riviera may be famous for stunning seaside towns and endless beaches, but the southeast coast of France offers much more. If beaches aren’t your thing and you prefer to spend a day exploring a historic place, consider visiting the medieval village of Eze. You can find it about 12 km (7.5 miles) from Nice. 

Eze is one of the best places to visit on the French Riviera because this hilltop village between Nice and Monaco is very picturesque. Eze also has a rich history and numerous ancient buildings and landmarks. This village has retained its beauty over the years.

what to do in Villefranche-sur-mer near Nice in France

 

Wander around the old town and explore the narrow cobblestone streets lined with small restaurants, shops, and also ancient stone buildings. Get lost in the maze of car-free streets with a typical medieval atmosphere.

What to do in Eze France. Wander around Eze village and explore its narrow cobblestone streets, lined with small restaurants, shops, and ancient stone buildings.

Eze, France

 

If you do not know, Eze is one of the highest-perched seaside villages in France. This centuries-old village has breathtakingly beautiful panoramic views of the red roof tile houses and the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. Stopping in Eze village is a must when planning a trip to the French Riviera.

While you are in the village, don’t forget to visit the Exotic Gardens of Eze, situated at the top of the medieval ruins of the castle. This botanical garden features plants and flowers, such as cacti and other exotic plants.

GOOD TO KNOW:

When visiting Eze, be aware of the narrow, steep streets with many steps. Choose the right walking shoes, and remember that some alleys may be challenging for people with mobility problems.

places to visit on the French Riviera: Exotic gardens in Eze are one of the best places to visit on the French Riviera because they have breathtakingly beautiful panoramic views of the houses and the Mediterranean Sea in the background. The Exotic Gardens of Eze have an impressive collection of cacti, plants, and other vegetation cascading towards the Mediterranean.

THINGS TO SEE IN EZE:

  • the Exotic Garden of Eze culminating at 1400 feet,
  • Sainte-Croix’s Chapel – the oldest building in the village,
  • the Neoclassical Church Notre-Dame de l’Assomption built in the 18th century,
  • Nietzsche path – a mountainous path with spectacular scenery linking Eze Sur Mer and Eze village
  • the Fragonard Perfumery, where you can learn about the art of perfumery and create your own signature scents.

 

HOW TO GET TO EZE

To get to Eze from Nice, take bus No 112 or No 82. A cheap and convenient ride (€2 per person) brings you to the village in about 40 minutes (only the No 82 runs on a limited schedule on Sundays and holidays).

If you want to travel by train, you should know that the nearest train station Èze-sur-Mer lies over 400 metres lower. You will need to hike up to the village of Eze.

 

4. MONACO

French Riviera: Monaco is one of the best places to visit on the French Riviera because this tiny microstate is the second smallest country in the world. Moreover, this city-state is famous for its stylish casinos, luxury superyachts and prestigious Grand Prix motor race.

Monaco

 

After exploring the streets of the medieval village of Eze, head to the world-famous Monaco. Did you know that Monaco is smaller than New York’s Central Park? This tiny kingdom, surrounded on three sides by France and on the fourth by the Mediterranean Sea, draws the rich and famous. 

Monaco is one of the best places to visit on the French Riviera because this tiny microstate is the second smallest country in the world. This city-state is famous for its stylish casinos, luxury superyachts and prestigious Grand Prix motor race. Visit Monaco because it has a rich history, boutiques and many attractions.

READ MORE ABOUT MONACO:

Monaco, place to visit on the French Riviera

 

5. MENTON, the French Riviera

French Riviera: Menton is one of the best places to visit on the French Riviera because this town, with its rich culture and history, is famous for its citrus fruit. Menton also has an exceptional climate and is the warmest town on the Cote d'Azur. In fact, this seaside town became the only region in the country to allow cultivating lemons.

Menton, a hidden gem of the French Riviera

 

If you want to experience the French Riviera how it used to be, head to Menton. Menton is the last city on the French Riviera before the Italian border. This charming town, sandwiched between the mountains and the Mediterranean, is, in fact, one of the most enchanting towns on the entire coast.

Maybe you do not know, but the sleepy Menton, established in the 13th century, belonged to the princess of Monaco for many centuries. Today charming Menton is more affordable than many of its glamorous Côte d'Azur neighbours.

A cascade of pastel-coloured buildings and its maze of narrow streets give Menton its unique appeal. Menton may be less glamorous, but that is part of its charm. Not many people know it as a summer destination. 

Maybe you do not know, but the sleepy Menton, established in the 13th century, belonged to the princess of Monaco for many centuries. Today charming Menton is more affordable than many of its glamorous Côte d'Azur neighbours.

Lovely Menton is more affordable than many of its glamorous Côte d’Azur neighbours.

 

Maybe you do not know, but the sleepy Menton, established in the 13th century, belonged to the princess of Monaco for many centuries. This seaside city has an exceptional climate and is the warmest town on the French Riviera. In fact, Menton became the only region in France to allow cultivating lemons. 

Menton is one of the best places to visit on the French Riviera because this town with rich culture and history is famous for its citrus fruit. What’s more, Menton hosts an annual Lemon festival every February. If you visit it this part of the year, you will see massive sculptures made entirely of lemons in the town.

FUN FACT:

In the past, Monaco maintained a tax imposed on the lemons of Menton. It was the reason why Menton seceded from Monaco. (Menton was proclaimed Ville Libre – a free city for a few years and later became part of France).

 

With its unique combination of history, coastal scenery and unique citrus fruit industry, Menton is more than worth visiting. Quiet cobblestone streets of the old town bordered by ochre facades with marked Italian influence are just some highlights. While you can explore Menton in a couple of hours, the best is to stay a little longer.

why you need to visit Menton

THINGS TO SEE IN MENTON, FRANCE:

 

  • Menton Old Town,
  • Menton Beaches,
  • Basilique Saint-Michel-Archange: Baroque Roman Catholic basilica features artefacts & also a 17th-century organ,
  • the Lemon Festival,
  • the Jean Cocteau Museum with a collection of artworks, mosaics, and ceramics

TIP:

If you have a sweet tooth, stop at Glacier Sofia for the best ice cream in the town. They have an incredible selection of gelatos.

 

HOW TO GET FROM NICE TO MENTON:

As you already know, Nice is the main airport serving this region. From here, the regional train takes you to Menton in about 30 minutes for around €4. Get off at the Menton station, the stop after Monaco. It is certainly the quickest way to get from Nice to Menton.

The cheapest way to reach Menton is, however, by bus. The bus No 100 from Nice to Menton takes anywhere from 1 hour – 1.5 hours, depending on the time of day. You can buy the bus ticket from the driver in cash.

You should know that the bus number 100 route is currently divided into two (607 and 608). Works at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin should last until April 2024. A bus number 607 runs between Nice and Monaco, and a number 608 goes to Menton. Expect to pay €2.50 for a “Ticket Azur” on route 100 (split into 608 and 607).

GOOD TO KNOW:

If you suffer from motion sickness, consider taking the train instead.

If you do not mind driving, consider arriving in Menton by car. A 40-minute scenic drive with a panoramic view over the Med is a bucket list experience.

 

6. SAINT-TROPEZ

Saint Tropez is one of the best places to visit on the French Riviera because it is one of the most glamorous tourist destinations in the world. This idyllic town is famous for its fashion scene, beautiful beaches, and many galleries and studios. No wonder it is one of the most famous French Riviera cities.

Coastal town Saint-Tropez certainly offers some of the most beautiful views of the French Riviera.

 

No trip to the French Riviera is complete without visiting the coastal town of Saint Tropez. Everyone knows Saint Tropez has a reputation as a playground for the rich and also famous. However, there is more to this French town

  Saint Tropez harbour French Riviera why to visit this lovely coastal town

Saint Tropez is one of the best places to visit on the French Riviera because it is one of the most glamorous tourist destinations in the world. This idyllic town is famous for its fashion scene, beautiful beaches, and many galleries and also studios. No wonder it is one of the most famous French Riviera cities.

 

READ MORE ABOUT SAINT-TROPEZ:

Places to visit on the French Riviera St Tropez is one of the most picturesque coastal towns, make sure you don`t  miss it.

 

7. CANNES, the French Riviera

One of the first French Riviera cities many tourists head to is Cannes, and there is a reason for that. Cannes is one of the top places to visit on the French Riviera for everyone looking for famous celebrities. Not only this beautiful city attracts tourists but also international celebrities and filmmakers. Postcard-perfect coastline, luxury shops and fancy cafes are just some highlights.

The small coastal town of Cannes, located to the west of Antibes, is one of the main cities of the French Riviera. The film festival also takes place here every year.

 

One of the first French Riviera cities many tourists head to is Cannes, and there is a reason for that. Not only this beautiful city attracts tourists but also international celebrities and filmmakers. Postcard-perfect coastline, luxury shops and fancy cafes are just some highlights.

Cannes is one of the top places to visit on the French Riviera for everyone looking for famous celebrities. As you probably know, film producers and paparazzi fill the streets of this town once a year. 

But glitz and glamour Cannes has more to offer than you might think. If walking is more your thing, stroll along La Croisette, one of the most iconic streets in France. The palm-shaded promenade lining exclusive hotels, posh restaurants, designer shops, and the beach may be packed with rich and famous, but it is definitely worth a visit.

The medieval quarter of Le Suquet is easily walkable from the centre of Cannes. The charming old town, filled with winding streets, gives you stunning views over the bay. With so much to see and do, there is no reason not to visit this town.

 

Now you know the best places to visit on the French Riviera!

Have you been to the French Riviera? We would love to hear about your popular places. If you like this post about the best French Riviera cities and also towns, don’t forget to pin it!

How much do you now about the French Riviera? Uncover the best French Riviera cities: from Nice, Eze and Cannes, we have you covered.

 

Pin the best French Riviera cities for later!

 

Free Travel Planner for your next holidays to French Riviera

 

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Last updated 27/03/2023

 

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5 thoughts on “Best of the French Riviera: 7 most beautiful cities”

  1. French Riviera is full of magic and charm and your photos are so beautiful! It’s amazing how many pretty towns and villages are withing the region, from Cannes and Antibes to Èze and Grasse. Thanks for sharing.I hope all is well with you two. Sending you virtual hugs from Ireland. Aiva

    1. Thank you very much for stopping by Aiva. We are both well, hope you guys as well. The French riviera is stunning piece of France with many idyllic places just waiting to be explored. Cannot wait to revistit one day!

  2. Pingback: 12 ways to fuel your wanderlust when you can`t travel | Travel Done Clever

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