French Riviera Road Trip: Top 10 Places to Visit (Côte d’Azur)

(côte, d’azur), french, places, riviera, road, top, travel, trip, visit - 11 minutes to read

Most people would think of Paris when they consider a vacation in France and though it is a must to see in the country, there is a myriad of other amazing destinations to consider! For instance, one of the top experiences you should try at least once in your life is a French Riviera road trip — just imagine dramatic cliffside views, charming little towns, and sunny beaches among many others…

Needless to say, there are a number of memorable things that you can enjoy in France’s famed “Azure Coast” or Côte d’Azur that is not only rich in natural sights but also in history too.

TRIVIA: In the olden times, this coastline was one of the first modern resort areas that the upper echelon of Britain continuously enjoyed. Once the railway system was deployed, it became even more of a hotspot for a number of wealthy aristocrats across Europe.

The good news is that nowadays, you don’t have to be loaded just to enjoy the French Riviera; which mind you, enjoys about 300 sunshine days a year!

» Where is the French Riviera?

The French Riviera is a southeast coastline that actually has no official boundary but it is considered to start from Saint-Tropez in the west to Menton in the east which is near the Italian border.

Overall, this part of the coast is found within the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France.

» How to go around the French Riviera?

By car. If you ask me, the best way to explore the coast is to do a French Riviera road trip in a car because it will allow you the freedom to see more of the area’s little towns that might not be easily reached by public transportation. It will even save you from going through the trouble of sorting out train and bus schedules; so in case you don’t have your own, renting a car is easy and hassle-free if you do it with Hertz, a highly-recognized and trusted rental company worldwide. I actually had the chance to try them out and it was a joy to explore the coast with their help!

RELATED READ: Hertz Car Rental Experience: France & Italy Road Trip (Review)

By train. A lot of places in the French Riviera are well-connected to major European cities with the help of the extensive Regional Express Train (TER) and High Speed Train (TGV). Tickets can be purchased from the station’s counters or machines — just make sure to stamp your ticket in the yellow validation machines before getting on board to avoid paying a fine. (The SNCF is a nifty app that you can download for purchasing your tickets).

By bus. This is an inexpensive way to go around the French Riviera but they tend to be slower than the rest of the transport options in this list. In fact, they sometimes don’t operate at all especially on low seasons so you have to make sure that you check the schedules ahead of time. (You can check Google Maps or Rome2Rio for bus schedules.)

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Ultimately, I highly recommend doing a French Riviera road trip to make the most of your getaway. There are a number of places that you can visit but if you’re pressed on time, below are the top 10 places that you must see!

French Riviera Road Trip: Top 10 Cities

1. Antibes

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Antibes is home to some of the region’s most luxurious villas, yachts, and establishments — but beneath this glitz and glamor is a charming old town with 16th-century ramparts and cobblestone streets that even caught the eye of personalities like Picasso (he has featured Antibes in his paintings many times and you will find a museum for him in town).

If you’re more for music, the yearly Jazz à Juan is a 9-day affair that’s not to be missed!

– Picasso’s Trail and Museum
– Cap d’Antibes
– Fort Carré
– Jazz Festival
– …and more

••• Best Hotels in Antibes: [click]

2. Cannes

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Since 1946, people have been flocking Cannes to attend its world-renowned springtime film festival that happens every May, the Festival de Cannes. A lot of tourists find it as the perfect time to spot famous celebrities in town — but beyond this, there is still much to love about this resort town!

As a part of your French Riviera road trip, Cannes offers picturesque natural sceneries on its harbor and offshore islands. Don’t miss out as well on the old town, Le Suquet, and its pristine beaches especially during the summer.

– La Croisette
– Le Sequet
– Festival de Cannes
– Marché Forville
– …and more

••• Best Hotels in Cannes: [click]

3. Cassis

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Found east of Marseille, Cassis is a popular tourist destination that is loved for its cliffs (falaises) and narrow inlets framed by dreamy limestone coves (calanques).

It’s common for you to see a lot of hikers in town who are staying after going through the trails that snake through the nearby calanques, one of which is the famous Calanque d’En-Vau. If you’re up for working a sweat, it’s a good activity to do during your visit; otherwise, drive to France’s tallest cliff, the 394-meter Cap Canaille, to get a bird’s eye view of Cassis’ charming fishing village!`

– Plage de la Grande Mer
– Cap Canaille
– Cassis Market
– Calanque de Port-Miou
– …and more

••• Best Hotels in Cassis: [click]

4. Eze

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A commune next to Nice, Eze is a beautiful and rocky hilltop medieval village that has mesmerizing views over the sea. It may be small but you’ll love meandering through its winding cobblestone alleys and stone houses especially through the Nietzsche path (named after the German philosopher who once lived in town).

Don’t forget to visit the medieval fortress as well as the Jardin Exotique cactus garden on top of the village because it’s where you’ll get grand panoramic vista views over Eze!

– Jardin Exotique d’Èze
– Nietzsche Path
– Fragonard Perfume Factory
– Fort de la Revère
– …and more

••• Best Hotels in Eze: [click]

5. Grasse

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North of Cannes, Grasse is known for its perfume industry that dates back to the 16th century. In fact, there are over 30 perfumeries such as Fragonard, Galimard, and Molinard that offer guided tours in their factories for tourists, as well as the existence of the grand Musée International de la Parfumerie in the town center that will help you learn more about their old traditions.

Visiting around early August? Don’t miss the Fête du Jasmin which is a yearly festival marking the beginning of the jasmine harvest, a fragrant flower that is one of the key raw materials for Grasse’s perfume industry. During this time you’ll get to witness parades, fireworks, dances, flower stalls, ‘Battle of the Flowers’, and more!

– Musée International de la Parfumerie
– Parfumerie Fragonard
– Domaine de la Royrie
– Gorges du Loup
– …and more

••• Best Hotels in Grasse: [click]

6. Menton

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Menton is close to the Italian border and as a seaside town, you’ll love how it is backdropped by the high Alpes-Maritimes mountains. Plus, with its pastel-colored buildings and picturesque old port, it easily becomes one of the most beautiful towns you’ll see when you do a French Riviera road trip.

Moreover, this is where the famed ‘citron de Menton‘ is from which are basically flavorful lemons that the French people love. If you come during February, you will even witness a big lemon-themed party in town called La Fête du Citron!

– Jardin Botanique Val Rahmeh
– Jean Cocteau Museum
– Old Port of Menton
– Old Town
– …and more

••• Best Hotels in Menton: [click]

7. Monaco

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Though it is the world’s 2nd smallest country at 200 hectares (next to the Vatican), it rather boasts a lot of mystifying charm and insane wealth making it a world-famous destination for a lot of high-rollers!

If you visit in May, you can even get to watch the most prestigious of all car races which is the Formula One Grand Prix as it runs through the town’s streets every year. Strictly-speaking though, Monaco is not part of the Riviera as it is a separate country, but given that it is technically “in” the area, it’s definitely a stop that you must do for your French Riviera road trip!

– Saint-Martin Gardens
– Changing of the Guard
– Palais du Prince
– Monte Carlo Casino
– …and more

••• Best Hotels in Monaco: [click]

8. Nice

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Founded by the Greeks and later turned into a famed retreat for the European elite in the 19th century, Nice has long been a favorite destination on the southern coast of Europe — and also one of my favorite towns when doing a French Riviera road trip!

After all, apart from the city’s year-long sunny weather, its mix of scenic urban strips and lush seaside views will charm just about anyone to book a longer stay. And if the beach isn’t much of your scene, you’ll still have lots to enjoy — the rich history, the art museums, the gastronomic food, and the vibrant nightlife among many others! A day trip to Monaco can also be easily done as it is just adjacent to Nice.

– Promenade des Anglais
– Old Town
– Castle Hill of Nice
– Musée Marc Chagall
– …and more

••• Best Hotels in Nice: [click]

9. Saint-Tropez

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Thanks to Brigitte Bardot’s movie, Et Dieu Créa la Femme (And God Created Woman – 1956), Saint-Tropez became a hotspot on the French Riviera.

Nowadays, the coastal town is flocked by a lot of the world’s elite who are drawn by Saint-Tropez’s glitzy Michelin-starred restaurants, shops, nightlife, and beaches — things that everyone else can also equally enjoy!

– Vieux Port (Old Port)
– La Ponche (Old Town)
– Citadelle de Saint-Tropez
– Musée de l’Annonciade
– …and more

••• Best Hotels in Saint Tropez: [click]

10. Villefranche-sur-Mer

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Last but not the least is the quaint and relaxing city of Villefranche-sur-Mer — arguably a nice escape from bustling French Riviera cities such as that of Nice, Saint-Tropez, and others.

This 14th-century old town may be tiny, but it’s a delight to explore especially when you venture out to its harbor as well as its imposing citadel. Truth be told, a lot of films such as the spy film ‘Never Say Never Again’ have been filmed here and for good reason!

– Plage de la Marinière

Old Harbor (La Darse)
Citadelle Saint-Elme
Old Town
– …and more

••• Best Hotels in Villefranche-sur-Mer: [click]

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Essentials for a French Riviera Road Trip

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TIP: It’s a good idea to crosscheck your World Nomads‘ total travel insurance price with that of SafetyWing because the latter is often priced cheaper (especially when it involves travel that spans for several weeks or months — and even years!).
However, take note that SafetyWing’s affordability typically means lesser coverage than World Nomads. So please always ensure that you read the fine print in order to decipher which travel insurance company is the right fit for you and your trip!

Looking for more travel tips for Europe?

Check out my other detailed Europe travel guides!


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There are a lot of other towns that speckle the stretch of this famed coast, but the 10 places above can already make for a fulfilling French Riviera road trip!

I hope this post can be of help to make the most of your getaway.

The post French Riviera Road Trip: Top 10 Places to Visit (Côte d’Azur) appeared first on I am Aileen.

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