Our Favorite French Riviera Tours
The French Riviera in Depth
Get to Know the French Riviera
The glittering French Riviera, or Cote d’Azur, is a Mediterranean paradise. The Riviera marries glamour with old-world charm. Bask in the bright sun and soak yourself with superb turquoise waters. Indulge in Rivera’s flair for luxury. Michelin-star restaurants, yacht rides, legendary nightlife, and Monaco’s Monte Carlo Casino await. This sparkling coastline from Cassis to Menton has long drawn celebrities and the jet-set crowd.
Every year in May, Hollywood elites descend for the famed Cannes Film Festival. Beautiful yachts line the white sandy shore of St.Tropez. Nice is a beguiling destination blessed with natural beauty and heavy with Italian influences. By car or boat, it is easy to take a quick international detour to follow Grace Kelly’s footsteps to the opulent Principality of Monaco. With their dramatic geography and medieval charm, the perched villages like Éze and Saint-Paul-de-Vence are favorite stops for visitors.
Stéphen Liégeard first came up with the phrase Côte d’Azur (French Riviera) in 1887. He defined it as “the strip of coast between Marseille and Italy.” In the 18th century, the English aristocracy began spending winters in the French Riviera. It was regarded as a Garden of Eden with a mild climate and beautiful countryside. Soon, other European elites started following suit, spending the winter months here. During the beginning of the 19th century, health became a focus and people would travel to the French Riviera during the winter as a medical treatment.
The border of the Mediterranean means a lot of sun and fantastic stone fruits, vegetables, and fresh fish. Nice is the only city in France that is famed for its street food, a result of the strong Italian influence. Many of the snacks sold at the Cours Saleya market and in the Old Town’s street food stands would have been eaten by workers to calm mid-morning hunger pangs: a tradition known as la merenda. Try local delicacies like pissaladière, a caramelized onion tart, socca, a chickpea pancake, fougasse, Provençal flatbread, and tourte de blettes, a sweet pie with a surprise ingredient.
When to go: Most of the year is dry and sunny. Spring and Fall are lovely times to visit. The summer is popular, but it can be very hot in July and August. While some hotels along the Côte d’Azur close during the winter months it is possible to visit Nice all year.
By Train: With the TGV high-speed train, the French Riviera has never been more accessible. Nice is just six hours from Paris.
By Plane: Nice Cote d’Azur is France’s busiest international airport after Paris, with over 10 million passengers. It has several direct flights from North America.
What to eat and drink:
Cheese: Southeast France’s climate lends itself better to goat cheeses rather than the cow milk cheeses that are produced in other many regions of France. Brousse de Rove is made with raw goat’s milk and is named after the village where the cheese was first produced.
Wine: The wines of Bellet and of Saint-Jeannet are the heirs of thousands of years of history, and is the second oldest wine appellation in France. The crisp rosés of southern France, in all shades of pink, have conquered even the most skeptical wine lovers.
Experience the French Riviera
The French Riviera is dotted with picturesque hilltop villages perched on the slopes of its hills, offering incredible views of both the sparkling Mediterranean sea and the valleys below. These villages combine all of the elements you would expect to find on a visit to the south of France: timeless beauty, local authenticity, French flavor, breathtaking panoramas, and the opportunity to forget about the modern world. Some of the most beautiful include Èze, Gourdon, Tourrettes-sur-Loup, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, and Cagnes.
The Villas of the Roaring Twenties
During the Roaring Twenties, a whole generation of American writers and artists left the US for Europe. For more than a decade, many of them considered the French Riviera to be their second home. These Americans created the summer season on the Riviera in 1925 and thus, changed the character of the seaside with the development of Juan Les Pins, the construction of numerous villas, and the creation of the largest film festival in Cannes. A highlight is the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a seaside villa with one of the most fabulous gardens on the Côte d’Azur built by Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild.
The Corniche Roads
Corniche means cliff. There are three Corniche Roads between Nice and Menton that offer incredible scenic views of the coast: the Grande Corniche, the Moyenne Corniche, and the Corniche Inférieure. Each road has a distinct charm and points of interest to stop and visit including charming hilltop villages, elegant villas, and lush exotic gardens. For sightseeing in the French Riviera the Corniche Roads are a must-see!
The beaches that line the Côte d’Azur are not to be missed. Visitors will find everything from secluded “secret” beaches and casual places to rent a lounge chair in the sun to vibrant exclusive private beach clubs. One thing is sure, the pure beauty is unparalleled. Enjoy the stunning scenery and soak up the sun before taking a dip in the sparkling turquoise waters.