Last Updated on January 2, 2024 by April Verge
Looking to visit the best French Riviera cities for the first time? I got your covered!
The French Riviera truly is what it purports to be. The epitome of gorgeous vacation destinations is abundant in the global hub of luxury travel, but you might be shocked by how welcoming the locales are (no offense to the residents). And fortunately, you don’t need to be extremely affluent to have a good time in paradise. You don’t need to pay a single cent to enjoy the sun on a stunning beach. Even though you could be tempted by the ice cream…
Take in the expansive views from the mountaintop town of Èze while navigating the winding, occasionally treacherous alleys. Alternately, match your clothing to the lively and colorful structures of Menton’s historic old town as you stroll along the breathtaking shoreline. Just picture the pictures you’ll receive for social media. Accept the life of luxury, even if it’s just for a day, and go home with enough to fantasize about. There really are post-holiday blues.
How to visit the French Riviera
When traveling to the French Riviera, it’s important to consider your transportation options in order to make the most out of your trip. While renting a car may seem like an obvious choice, keep in mind that parking can be difficult and expensive in some areas. If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly option, consider taking public transportation or biking.
If you prefer public transport options, trains run frequently between many towns on the coast making it a convenient way to get around. For shorter distances buses are also a good option and often cheaper than taking a taxi.
For those looking for something more unique, sailing along the coastline is an unforgettable experience where you can admire breathtaking views from a different perspective. Boat tours are a popular choice and provide stunning views of the coastline from a different perspective. For those who want an adrenaline rush, jet skis can be rented in several towns along the coast.
Lastly, there’s always the option of driving yourself – either renting a car or hiring a private driver – which allows for maximum flexibility and convenience while exploring the French Riviera. Whatever mode of transportation you choose, be sure not to miss out on everything this beautiful region has to offer!
Cities in the French Riviera Map
As you explore this stunning area using my cities in the French Riviera Map, you will discover lots of hidden gems that even seasoned visitors to the French Riviera might not know about. From Cannes’ glamorous promenade to Antibes’ atmospheric Old Town, there is plenty to see and do here for everyone.
Nestled along the sparkling blue waters of the French Riviera, Antibes is an enchanting town that effortlessly combines old-world charm with vibrant modernity. Its picturesque cobblestone streets wind through a maze of colorful buildings, each one exuding a sense of history and character.
But it is Antibes’ crown jewel, its ancient fortified waterfront, that truly steals your breath away. The imposing ramparts stand tall against crashing waves, revealing stunning panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see. As twilight descends upon this coastal gem, watch as hues of pink and gold dance across the sky like an artist’s brush stroke masterpiece.
History buffs will revel in exploring the Musée Picasso located within Château Grimaldi; where once stood a medieval fortress now resides an exquisite collection showcasing Picasso’s lesser-known works inspired by his time spent in Antibes.For those seeking relaxation and sun-soaked shores, look no further than Plage de la Gravette or Plage de Salis – two idyllic beaches where azure waters gently lap against golden sands. In Antibes, life unfolds at its own unhur.
Top Attraction To Visit – Musée Picasso, the first museum in the world to be dedicated to the artist.
Best Month To Visit – September to November
🥘 RESTAURANT – Restaurant L’Arazur, has elevated set menus featuring seasonal fare, served in a vaulted stone cellar or on a terrace.
🏠Where to stay – Hôtel Sainte Valérie, a 4 stars small luxury hotel with friendly welcome, modern comfort, garden, pool, near the beaches and the city centre of Antibes.
Nestled atop a picturesque hill in the enchanting French Riviera, Saint-Paul-de-Vence exudes an irresistible charm that has captivated artists and travelers alike for centuries. This medieval gem effortlessly combines narrow cobblestone streets with beautiful stone houses adorned with vibrant bougainvillea, creating a fairytale-like ambiance that will transport you back in time.
As you wander through this walled village, it’s impossible not to feel inspired by its artistic legacy. Renowned painters such as Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse sought solace within these very walls, leaving behind an indelible mark on the town’s creative spirit. Today, their legacies live on through numerous art galleries and studios that continue to attract a new generation of talent.
Best Month To Visit – April to September
Top Attraction To Visit – Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs, This 17th century chapel of the White Penitents houses the ultimate work of Jean-Michel Folon.
🥘 RESTAURANT – La Colombe d’Or restaurant is a famous old French restaurant that has welcomed a whole host of famous diners during its 95 year history.
🏠Where to stay – The Le Saint Paul, located in the heart of the community, is the epitome of elegance and luxury, and reservations for its restaurant are definitely recommended.
Èze, a picturesque gem nestled high in the hills of the French Riviera, is a town that seems to have been plucked straight from the pages of a fairytale. With its narrow cobblestone streets winding their way through ancient stone buildings, and vibrant bougainvillea spilling over balconies, Èze effortlessly exudes charm and elegance.
Whether it’s exploring charming boutiques filled with local crafts or savoring delectable Provençal cuisine at cozy bistros tucked away on quiet squares, Èze offers a delightful escape from reality. It is an invitation to immerse oneself in timeless beauty while indulging in life’s simple pleasures.
💡 TIP – Visit early in the day to escape the large throngs of day tourists.
Top Attraction To Visit – The Jardin Exotique d’Eze is a wonderful exotic garden in an absolutely stunning location overlooking the Provencal hill village of Eze.
Best Month To Visit – April or May
🥘 RESTAURANT – La Vieille Maison serves traditional cuisine with daily specials, takeaway and delivery. Terrace with a beautiful sea view.
🚗 PARKING – I can’t stress enough how important it is to get there early because there is just one little parking lot.
🏠Where to stay – Locals make reservations weeks in advance for coveted seats at the upscale restaurant because of the fabled La Chèvre d’Or. Additionally, it is a hotel with a stunning view of the Mediterranean and first-rate service.
The fifth-largest city in France and the capital of the French Riviera, Nice, is frequently regarded as the Côte d’Azur’s tourism hub. Elegant Nice is unquestionably the Riviera’s hotspot for nightlife, but it also offers a wealth of other attractions, including some of the most picturesque stretches of boutique- and café-lined sand in the area, sunset views along the Promenade des Anglais, baroque and Belle Époque architecture surrounding the Garibaldi and Massena squares, and world-class Chagall and Matisse museums.
The Old Town (Vieux Nice) takes you back in time with its maze-like streets lined with pastel-colored buildings adorned with traditional shutters and hanging laundry. Lose yourself among vibrant market stalls bursting with fragrant flowers, locally produced cheeses and wines, and freshly baked baguettes.
Best Month To Visit – April to June and September to October
Top Attraction To Visit – Castle Hill (Colline du Château) provides breathtaking views of the Baie des Anges during the day, while at night, the lit-up hill makes a spectacular silhouette against the night sky.
🥘 RESTAURANT – Le Panier, is an elevated fare with seasonal ingredients, plus cocktails, in stylish interiors with an open kitchen.
🏠Where to stay – The Hotel Windsor is a charming property located in the heart of the city, with stylish rooms and a courtyard garden.
Grasse, the birthplace of French perfume, is situated away from the Riviera in the interior, around a 30-minute train trip from Cannes or more than an hour from Nice. Warning: Grasse’s railway station is not at all obvious and is quite a distance from the beautiful old town. However, the bus lines are an excellent way to go around on a budget since they only cost 1.50 euros and stop atop the hill close to the old town.
Three renowned perfumeries—Fragonard, Molinard, and Galimard—are located in the town, and they all provide daily excursions that describe the process of manufacturing perfume. For those who want to learn more about how scents are created and how methods have changed through time, there is also a perfume museum. From the town, it’s not too difficult to go to Molinard or Fragonard, while Galinard is a little more away.
Top Attraction To Visit – Musée International de la Parfumerie
Best Month To Visit – April to October
🥘 RESTAURANT – La Fleur de Lys is a charming restaurant with vaulted ceilings & chandeliers, serving creative fish & meat dishes, plus wine.
🏠Where to stay – The La Bastide Saint-Antoine from the 17th century is situated close to the city. Additionally, Jacques Chibois, a renowned chef with a Michelin star, resides there.
One of the filming sites for Emily in Paris is Villefranche-sur-Mer, which you might be familiar with. The fishing community is located across the bay from Nice on a hillside. Villefranche is a highly well-liked vacation spot for French citizens (and many of European tourists), especially in the summer when Nice’s famed promenade gets crowded. Villefranche is easily accessible by rail. For lovers of art history, a visit to the well-known 1732 Église Saint-Michel de Villefranche-sur-Mer is a must. Jean Cocteau, who frequently visited the Riviera, painted the inside.
As the sun rises, try to cross by going down the main beach. The town will get the sunlight perfectly. On your way home, stop for a mimosa at one of the chic port-side pubs or eateries—Dry Restaurant is a current favorite—before climbing the old Citadelle Saint-Elme, which was constructed in 1554 to fend off the infamous pirate Barbarossa.
💡 TIP – While the main street might get very crowded, it’s advisable to go off into the smaller alleys where there will be many less people.
Top Attraction To Visit – Rue Obscure
Best Month To Visit – May to September
🥘 RESTAURANT – Le Trastevere, which is a great choice for price/quality, is where we had dinner. You may reserve a table by the water during the day.
🏠Where to stay – The Welcome Hotel boasts gorgeous views and a prime location—it frequently appears in pictures gazing out over the city.
How could I have overlooked Monte Carlo, the most opulent city in the tiny principality of Monaco, located on the Cote d’Azur between Menton and Italy? This little, tiny nation is a powerhouse of glitz and elegance, with wealth and grandeur as its defining characteristics.
Of course, no day trip to Monaco would be complete without taking a look inside the renowned Casino Monte-Carlo, whose lobby is accessible to the general public. Gamers who love to play may also visit the casino for 17 euros and try their luck there.
The Palais Princier, where the Royal Family resides, marks the location of Monte-Carlo’s ancient town atop the Rock of Monaco. Although Monaco’s reigning dynasty has changed over the years, the Grimaldi family has been in power since at least 1297. The ancient town where the palace is located provides lovely views of the Monaco harbor as well as enjoyable strolls through the winding lanes.
Best Month To Visit – April or October
Top Attraction To Visit – The Monte Carlo Casino
🥘 RESTAURANT – La Table d’Antonio Salvatore au Rampoldi
🏠Where to stay – The Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort is a great choice for families, with its own private beach and kids club.
One of the most well-known cities on the French Riviera is Saint-Tropez, which is situated in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur area in Southern France. Why so many tourists come here each summer is obvious: the area’s azure seas, white sand beaches, and cobblestone walkways contrast well.
💡TIP – Take a stroll down La Ponche to see Saint Tropez’s more peaceful side.
Best Month To Visit – July and August
Top Attraction To Visit – Citadel of Saint-Tropez
🥘 RESTAURANT – La Ramade is the ideal place to have dinner with your special someone.
🏠Where to stay – Hotel Sube, a stylish boutique hotel located in the center of Saint Tropez, just a short walk from the beach.
Menton is just beautiful with its pastel-hued flats, vintage terra-cotta roofs, and accents of coordinating turquoise-green shutters. It was originally a favorite of Queen Victoria, whose visit in 1882 solidified its place on travelers’ itineraries for the British. Although Menton has high tourist traffic in the late summer, spring is the ideal season to go since it is peaceful and the lemon flowers are just starting to bloom.
The town shares a border with Italy and receives a considerable amount of Italian tourists. The majority of menus include pasta and gelato, and the air is constantly perfumed with citrus, for which Menton is famed due to its consistently sunny sky and mild temperature. Explore the old town on foot to discover secret shops, stop by the ancient market for locally sourced, fresh products, and spend the day at the Plage des Sablettes for the best views of the old town.
💡 TIP – The cliffs at the end of Quai Impératrice Eugénie offer one of the nicest views of Menton.
Top Attraction To Visit – Basilica of Saint Michael Archangel
Best Month To Visit – April to August
🥘 RESTAURANT – Take a slice of pizza from La Belle Escale with you to the harbor so you can watch the sun set over Menton while eating it.
🚗 PARKING – Park your car underground at Parking Old Town – Sablettes.
🏠Where to stay – A beautiful bed-and-breakfast known as La Petite Maison is hidden away within the hamlet. Depending on the weather, breakfast is given in a secluded garden.
Cannes is one of the few locations on the Riviera that best evokes the opulent lifestyles of the famous and wealthy. Despite the ostentation, Cannes, home to the renowned film festival and a port crowded with mega yachts, nonetheless manages to retain a certain old-town charm. From its humble beginnings as a peaceful fishing community, this small town has gone a long way.
Anyone who has ever struggled to go down to the ocean on Nice’s pebbly beach will appreciate Cannes’ reputation as a Riviera town with sandy beaches.
Top Attraction To Visit – Palais des Festivals et des Congrès
Best Month To Visit – March to May
🥘 RESTAURANT – Michelin-starred La Palme d’Or located in the Hotel Martinez features classic French cuisine with a modern twist and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
🏠Where to stay – The Hotel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes is another great option, and it is located right on the Croisette, the city’s most famous boulevard.