The fragrant pines, golden sands and mellow Mediterranean waters of the French Riviera have proved magnetic for writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and artists like Pablo Picasso for generations.
Known by locals as the Cote d’Azur, this sublime strip stretches from uber-cool St. Tropez in the west to Menton near the Italian border in the east, and continues to trap film stars, culture vultures and traveling thrill seekers.
Although the Riviera is unmistakably French, its modern reputation as a hub for hedonism was founded by figures like the Fitzgeralds and their Jazz Age set in the 1920s — so in some ways, it’s an American invention.
If you’re planning a visit to this idyllic spot to sample la belle vie (the good life) here are four French Riviera travel tips.
- Antibes and Juan-Les-Pins
Antibes and Juan-Les-Pins are two separate towns that form one administrative area around the iconic Cap d’Antibes peninsula.
Visiting to the walled city of Antibes takes you through charming cobbled streets to cool cafes and chic boutiques and bars, then along the ramparts where high-end apartment balconies overlook the crystalline sea below.
Meanwhile, Juan-Les-Pins is a pretty party town that boasts Fitzgerald’s former home, the Hotel Belle Rives, as well as lively clubs, superb beaches and an annual international jazz festival.
Thanks largely to the cultural cachet of its international film festival, Cannes is where the film set gathers to swap notes with yacht-borne billionaires and exiled oligarchs.
But ordinary mortals can still afford to sip a cocktail at the Martinez or Carlton hotels and spot movie stars and super cars swooshing past on main drag La Croisette.
When you’re tired of the glitz, stroll up to Le Suquet — this is the town’s beautiful old district and it’s more laid back and less overtly ostentatious.
Strictly speaking, the tax haven of Monaco is an independent principality rather than a part of France, but it’s become an honorary part of the Riviera nonetheless.
If you want to see how the other half live, it’s well worth taking a day trip to Monaco to chill at the famous Casino de Monte Carlo, soak in the cool curves of the grand prix circuit and drool over the classic car collection of Prince Rainier III.
Monaco is a must-see location, so it’s worth stretching your budget for overpriced sandwiches and soft drinks for one day only.
- Getting there
Nice Cote d’Azur airport serves the entire region and if you’re sojourning from stateside, one stop flights are available from cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Miami and more.
Various carriers fly the route, so it’s best to browse a site like Kayak.com to compare prices and bag a bargain.
And whether you’re leaving from Seattle or Newark Liberty airport, leave your car stowed safely for the duration by finding airport parking at Looking4.com.
Follow our four tips for a French fancy vacation with a certain je ne sais quoi.
Do you have any French Riviera travel tips? Share them in the comments section.