There’s never a bad time to visit the French Riviera. With lots going on all year round, the sun shines more than 300 days a year and there are loads of gorgeous towns to visit. Autumn and Winter are great seasons to take a break with plenty to do and see, fewer crowds and some much-needed sunshine.
Glitz and glamour sum up what Cannes is all about. Fine dining restaurants, luxury fashion boutiques, casinos, and VIP nightclubs for those with cash to splash.
The place to go shopping for the biggest haute-couture brands and walking in the film stars’ footsteps is La Croisette. Even if you’re not out to buy, the windows of glamorous shops like Dior, Chanel and Bottega Veneta are beautiful to see.
Head to Rue d’Antibes for a whole range of far less expensive shops - from small hatters to high street stores, cheese shops, and patissiers. At the Forville Market, you can find local products and a more authentic feel for the town. Get lost in the winding streets of the old town all the way up the hill to the Castre Museum where you’ll have the most beautiful views over the city and the bay of Cannes.
Everyone’s heard of the Cannes Film Festival – it’s one of France’s landmark annual events. Want to see the cinema where everything takes place? Climb the famous steps where the red carpet welcomes the stars and visit the Palais des Festivals on one of the Tourist Office’s guided tours.
Treat yourself to lunch at Cannes’ highest rated restaurant - the two Michelin star Palme d'Or, located in the Hotel Martinez on La Croisette. The talented chef even makes his own crockery to make sure everything complements the ingredients used. The Croisette et Gourmandise lunch menu is pricey but worth it at around €78.
Finally, hop on a catamaran to visit the Lerins Islands which takes just 15 minutes from Cannes. You’ll discover a whole new atmosphere in these outstanding areas of natural beauty on the Ile Sainte Marguerite and Ile Saint Honorat which belongs entirely to the Monks that reside and produce wine there. There’s also the smaller Ilot Saint Ferreol and Ilot de la Tradeliere to enjoy.
Not far from Cannes, between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of the Mercantour National Park, is the colourful and vibrant city of Nice.
The main beach is stony rather than sandy, a place to see and be seen, but drive 20 minutes (or take a bus) around the coast to find sandy beaches perfect for a swim and snorkel in the aquamarine sea.
Place Masséna on the edge of the old town has a beautiful chequered black and white pathway alongside bright terracotta-coloured buildings. As you wander under the azure sky, towards the Promenade with its fresh green palm trees and the unbelievably turquoise sea, the glittering rays of the sun make the colours intense. Walk through the small windy streets of the old town, take a stroll by the harbour with its beautiful yachts or climb the hill to the Chagall Museum.
Explore the daily market of the famous square known as the Cours Saleya. Antiques and flowers plus stands filled with local specialities such as Socca (pancakes and chips made from chickpea – delicious) and Pissaladière an oniony tart, make this a must-see market. You’ll find homemade jams, organic honey, exotic spices, soothing lavender and local arts & crafts – all in the shadow of beautiful lemon and orange coloured buildings.
Nice has its own language, music, and protected traditions and you’ll notice the street signs in both French and Niçois. The sound of local music fills the air and, if you’re lucky, you’ll stumble onto a show by the famous Ciamada Nissarda – Nice’s traditional association in charge of protecting and promoting the town’s rich cultural heritage.
Though there’s something going on year-round, one of the main events is the colourful, vibrant and fabulous Nice Carnival. The whole town takes on a party atmosphere in February to welcome the spring and it's usually warm enough for T-shirts!
Cassis is on the outskirts of the French Riviera. It’s a small town has a lively fishing port overlooked by the amazing Cap Canaille – the highest sea cliff in France. It towers almost 400 metres straight up out of the sea.
It’s the perfect place for a dip and then afterward to enjoy a few drinks in one of the vibrant beachside bars. West of Cassis is the UNESCO listed Massif des Calanques – chiseled white limestone cliffs that are mesmerizingly beautiful. Here, marine valleys have been cut out of the rock, creating miniature fjords and magnificent natural coves. Take a skippered ride or hire a boat to be able to really appreciate the astounding wild beauty of the Calanques from the deep blue waters. Popular for everything from snorkeling to kayaking, to boating and hiking, this park is an incredibly important and beautiful reserve.
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