When you hear “Côte d’Azur,” you probably think about luxury and sunshine. While there is no shortage of either on the beloved southern border of France, the Côte d’Azur is so much more than its stereotypes. We’re here to tell you all about it.
Menton is situated along the French-Italian border and is nicknamed the “Pearl of France.” In February, it hosts its annual Lemon Festival, which follows a different theme each year. In the warmer months, you can enjoy its coastal villages and beaches. With over 316 days of sunshine a year, we see no reason not to explore what this underrated village has to offer.
Antibes is full of literary and artistic history, not to mention picture perfect beaches. F Scott Fitzgerald and his family enjoyed their summers on the Cap d’Antibes at Villa Saint Louis. Luckily, the mansions and villas that once attracted Fitzgerald are still standing. You can also check out old Antibes, including the Provençal food market and the first museum dedicated to Picasso. To add to its historic charm, Picasso’s home and workshop, the Château Grimaldi, is in Antibes.
If you’ve heard of the French Riviera, you have definitely heard of Nice. Once you arrive, climb up to La Colline du Château to enjoy panoramic views off the Baie des Anges, Old Town, the boardwalk, and the city’s architecture. Overlooking the Mediterranean and boasting two beautiful Promenades, Nice is not to be missed.
Today, Cannes is known for its International Film Festival, which draws rich and famous celebrities from all around the world. Way before this, Cannes was a restful seaside town full of culture and people-watching. Visit Le Suquet, the city’s old quarter, to enjoy pastel colored homes and winding staircases. You can also take a ferry to Ile St Honorat or Ile Ste-Marguerite to enjoy two uncrowded beaches.
Èze is a calm, medieval village with a beautiful Mediterranean backdrop. If you like hiking, check out the famous Nietzsche path that connects the town and the 1400-foot high summit. If you make it to the top, you can enjoy the town’s medieval fortress surrounded by an exotic garden, which was featured in a Hitchcock film. Thanks to its year-round warm climate, Èze also has fresh bananas, dates, carob, oranges, and lemons.
Grasse, the world’s perfume capital, is another picturesque medieval village. Its main attractions are the famous perfumeries, like Fragonard, and its endless lavender fields. In August, the town hosts the Jasmine Festival to celebrate one of perfume production’s favorite flowers. Because Grasse is situated between Cannes and Nice, it is easy to stop in for a couple of hours during a road trip.
Monaco is a sovereign city-state and country bordered by France on 3 sides. It is the second smallest country in the world after the Vatican but the most densely-populated sovereign state in the world. While it is usually known as a playground for the ultra-rich, you can also enjoy Monaco on a smaller budget. Check out sights like Prince’s Palace, Fort Antoine, and the Monaco Cathedral. Don’t forget to check out the luxurious yachts on the harbor.
I hope that we’ve convinced you that the Cote d’Azur is full of diverse sea-side villages with rich cultural histories. Next time you go to France, we highly encourage you to check out what its southern border has to offer. If you want help planning your dream trip to the coast, reach out to us here at ParisByM. France is our specialty and our favorite place in the world. We want to share it with you!