Best of the French Riviera: 7 must-see places

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 On the southeast corner of France, where the Mediterranean Sea gently laps its shores, lies the French Riviera. This dreamy region is famous worldwide for charming towns like Cannes and Nice. However, there is more to the French Rivera than that. A beautiful coastline with charming colourful villages, vibrant lavender fields and, also incredible food is a playground for the wealthy.

As well as being one of the most popular getaways for sun-seekers, the French Riviera has earned itself a reputation as a winter destination for the British aristocracy at the end of the 18th century. With its balmy climate and more than 300 days of sunshine, it is easy to understand why it has become one of the best holiday spots in Europe.

placese to visit in the French Riviera: French Riviera is home to sleepy towns that are just waiting to be explored. One of them is also medieval Eze village.

The French Riviera is home to sleepy towns that are just waiting to be explored

Perhaps you’ll visit the Côte d’Azur for its beautiful blue waters and striking vistas. Or maybe for its vibrant history and culture. Whether you are looking for relax, or you just want to experience a different culture, with so much to see and do, the French Riviera will definitely steal your heart with its several marinas along its “Blue coast.” Sailing in the waters of the Mediterranean is also an enjoyable experience for those wanting to try something different.

French Riviera: The French Riviera stretches from Toulon on the west to Menton near the border with Italy. It has no official boundary.

The French Riviera packed with many stunning historic towns and villages.

WHERE DOES THE FRENCH RIVIERA START AND END?

The French Riviera stretches from Toulon on the west to Menton near the border with Italy. With no official boundary, the coast is entirely within the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region of France.

 

THE BEST TOWNS TO VISIT ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA

1. NICE

best places to visit on the French Riviera: The best place to start is probably what the French Riviera is the most famous for Nice. The capital of the region and one of the most popular destinations for city breaks in France is an essential stop for any trip to the Riviera. The ancient city of Nice, the region`s beating heart, attracts millions of visitors per year.  best places to visit in French RIviera: One of the best places to visit on the French Riviera is certainly Nice, because the city has an authentic charm - it feels more Italian than French because Nice was ruled by an Italian king in the past. Explore the colorful old town, walk along the Promenade des Anglais or explore many attractions the city has to offer.

 

The best place to start is probably what the French Riviera is the most famous for Nice. The capital of the region and one of the most popular destinations for city breaks in France is an essential stop for any trip to the Riviera. The ancient city of Nice, the region’s beating heart, attracts millions of visitors per year, but don’t let that put you off. The city with an authentic charm feels more Italian than French because Nice was ruled by an Italian king in the past. Lose yourself in the bustling, colourful old town, walk along the Promenade des Anglais or explore many attractions the city has to offer.

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

day trip from Nice to Villefranche-sur-mer. Villefranche Sur Mer is hidden secret of the French Riviera

Villefranche-sur-Mer

A holiday to the French Riviera should not go without a trip to Villefranche-sur-Mer. The sleepy town of Villefranche-sur-Mer, nestled between the mountains and a wide bay, is one of the most exclusive spots on the French Riviera. A postcard-perfect fishing village with colourful pastel facades lining the steep cobbled streets of the medieval town filled with cafes and restaurants attracts locals and tourists alike. While exploring Villefranche-sur-Mer, make sure you check out the old town with buildings cascading down the hillside to the waterfront.

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 French Riviera. A postcard-perfect fishing village with coulorful pastel facades lining the steep cobbled streets of the medieval town filled with cafes and restaurants attracts locals and tourists alike.   Villefranche-sur-mer near Nice: Once here, make sure you check out the old town with buildings cascading down the hillside to the waterfront.

An authentic town of Villefranche-sur-Mer with colourful facades and red tile roofs is blessed with sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Enjoy a pleasant stroll along the promenade around the charming fishing harbour where you can experience bustling life in an authentic French town. Thanks to its deep waters, one of the most beautiful bays on the Cote d’Azur, located just a short distance east of Nice, is also home to Mediterranean cruise ships.

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.

Villefranche`s sandy beaches are more favoured than Nice`s beaches with pebble stones. Though still crowded during the summer, the sandy beaches with crystal clear water are perfect for families with children.

 

THINGS TO SEE IN VILLEFRANCHE-SUR-MER

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

 

Free Travel Planner for your next holidays to French Riviera

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

Villefranche-sur-Mer is renowned for its magnificent views. For the best views of the Villefranche, walk up to the corniche road to get views of the picturesque harbour.

 

3. EZE

best places to visit on the French Riviera: Eze is one of must-see places on the French Riviera, because the village of Eze has retained its beauty over the years. Wander around the old town and explore the narrow cobblestones streets lined with small restaurants, shops, and ancient stone buildings.

The medieval village of Eze, French Riviera

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.

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

Located only about 12 km (7.5 miles) away from Nice, the village of Eze has retained its beauty over the years. Wander around the old town and explore the narrow cobblestones streets lined with small restaurants, shops, and ancient stone buildings. Get lost into the maze of the car-free streets with a typical medieval atmosphere.

exploring Eze village, French Riviera.

The medieval village of Eze, France

 

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. An impressive collection of cactus, plants, and other vegetation cascading towards the Mediterranean may be found here.   

The Highest perched seaside village in France with breathtakingly beautiful panoramic views of the red roof tile houses and the sparkling Mediterranean Sea in the background is popular with locals and tourists alike. Stop in Eze village is a must-see when planning a trip to the French Riviera.

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 attractions on the French Riviera beacuse they have breathtakingly beautiful panoramic views of the red roof tile houses and the sparkling Mediterranean Sea in the background. They are situated at the top of the medieval ruins of the castle. An impressive collection of cactus, plants, and other vegetation cascading towards the Mediterranean can be found here.

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 a spectacular scenery  linking Eze Sur Mer and Eze village
  •  

HOW TO GET TO EZE

To get to Eze from Nice, take bus No 112 or No 82. A cheap and convenient ride (€1.50 per person) will get you to the village in about 40 minutes (only the No 82 runs in a limited schedule on Sundays and holidays).

When travelling by train, bear in mind that the nearest train station Èze-sur-Mer is located over 400 meters lower, and you will need to hike up to the village of Eze.

 

4. MONACO

best places to visit on the French Riviera. Monaco is another famous place to see on the French Riviera, because it is famous for its stylish casinos, luxury superyachts, boutiques and prestigious Grand Prix motor race. Monaco, a microstate with a rich history,  has a lot of attractions to offer to visitors.

Monaco

After exploring the streets of the medieval village of Eze, head to world-famous Monaco. Smaller than New York’s Central Park, a tiny kingdom, is surrounded on three sides by France and on the fourth by the sparkling Mediterranean, draws the rich and famous.

Famed for its stylish casinos, luxury superyachts, boutiques and prestigious Grand Prix motor race, a microstate with a rich history has a lot of attractions to offer to visitors.

 

READ MORE ABOUT MONACO:

Monaco, place to visit on the French Riviera

 

5. MENTON

best placest to visit on the French RIviera: To truly experience Cote d`Azur how it used to be, head to a charming town of Menton. Sandwiched between the mountains and the Mediterranean, the last city on the French Riviera before the Italian border is one of the most enchanting towns on the entire coast. A cascade of pastel-colored buildings and its maze of narrow streets give Menton its unique appeal.

Menton, a hidden gem of the French Riviera

To truly experience Cote d’Azur how it used to be, head to a charming town of Menton. Sandwiched between the mountains and the Mediterranean, the last city on the French Riviera before the Italian border is one of the most enchanting towns on the entire coast. A cascade of pastel-coloured buildings and its maze of narrow streets give Menton its unique appeal. Less glamour and fame Menton with a historic centre and a seafront promenade may not be best known as a summer destination, but it is part of its charm.

Menton, France  best places on the French Rivera: While on the French Rivera, make sure you visit Menton because this sleepy little town was established in the 13th century. Menton belonged to the princess of Monaco for many centuries. The seaside city with an exceptional climate became the only region in France, allowing cultivating lemons. Nowadays, the warmest town on the French Riviera is well known for the Lemon Festival celebrating every February.

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

A sleepy little town of Menton, established in the 13th century, belonged to the princess of Monaco for many centuries. The seaside city with an exceptional climate became the only region in France, allowing cultivating lemons. Nowadays, the warmest town on the French Riviera is well known for the Lemon Festival celebrating every February.

FUN FACT:

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

With its tempting combination of varied restaurants, history, and coastal scenery, Menton on the southern shores of France is more than worth visiting. Quiet cobblestone streets of the old town bordered with the ochre facades with marked Italian influence are just waiting to be explored. The pearl of France may be explored in a couple of hours, but it is best to take all day to discover Menton`s treasures.

why you need to visit Menton in France

THINGS TO SEE IN MENTON, FRANCE:

  • Menton Old Town,
  • Menton Beaches,
  • Basilique Saint-Michel-Archange: Baroque Roman Catholic basilica features artefacts & 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, indulge yourself on the best ice cream that Menton has to offer. If you want more than a scoop, though, seek out Glacier Sofia, which has an incredible selection of gelatos.

 

HOW TO GET FROM NICE TO MENTON:

Like for many cities located on the French Riviera, Nice is the main airport serving the 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 the quickest way to get from Nice to Menton.

The cheapest way to reach Menton is by bus. The bus No 100 from Nice to Menton costs €1.50 per person and takes anywhere from 1 hour – 1.5 hours, depending on the time of day. The bus ticket may be purchased from the driver.

Good to know:

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

If you are keen on driving in France, consider driving to Menton. A 40-minute scenic drive with a panoramic view over the Med is a bucket list experience.

 

6. SAINT-TROPEZ

Placest to visit on the French Riviera: No trip to French Riviera is complete without visiting the coastal town of Saint Tropez. With its reputation for being a playground for the rich and famous, it is easy to understand why this idyllic French town has become one of the most glamorous tourist destinations in the world.   Saint Tropez harbour French Riviera why to visit this lovely coastal town

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

No trip to French Riviera is complete without visiting the coastal town of Saint Tropez. With its reputation for being a playground for the rich and famous, it is easy to understand why this idyllic French town has become one of the most glamorous tourist destinations in the world. Much loved for quaint old town French style and superyachts moored beside fishing boats at the Old Port, this seaside town is a Riviera’s Must.

 

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

places to visit on the French Riviera: With it’s a postcard-perfect coastline, luxury shops, and fancy cafes, Cannes is a dream destination for everyone visiting the French Riviera. Cannes is the go-to place for everyone looking for some of the world`s most famous celebrities. Once a year, a resort town on the French Riviera becomes packed with film producers and paparazzi. Therefore, it is one of the most famous cities on the French Riviera.

 

With it’s a postcard-perfect coastline, luxury shops, and fancy cafes, Cannes is a dream destination. Located to the west of Antibes, Cannes is the go-to place for everyone looking for some of the world`s most famous celebrities. Once a year, a resort town on the French Riviera becomes packed with film producers and paparazzi.

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

But this Côte d’Azur`s glitz and glamour town 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 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 why not to visit this charming town.

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

Free Travel Planner for your next holidays to French Riviera

 

Have you been to the French Riviera? We would love to hear about your popular places. If you like this post, don`t forget to pin it!

 

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5 thoughts on “Best of the French Riviera: 7 must-see places”

  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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