the independent traveller: a large
choice of Riviera hotels, from
palaces in Nice or Cannes, to smaller and more affordable hotels away
from the centres, or slightly inland.
for the French
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(east to west)
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in the sun...
no surprise that the French Riviera is a major tourist
attraction. Situated at and to the east of the point where the Alps
meet the Mediteranean, it is an area that enjoys a
mild to warm climate all year round, despite being one of the
on the whole Mediterranean. Through Autumn and Winter,
the Riviera is protected from cold north winds by the Alps in its
hinterland; since frosts and snow are rare, Spring comes early,
bringing the first mimosas into bloom by February; by April the days
are normally sunny and warm, and gardens already filled with flowers.
From May to September or October, the climate is ideal, with plenty of
sunshine and warm to hot days and beautifully warm nights. For much of
this period, resorts and beaches are not overcrowded, since they are
set up to cope for the summer holiday crowds; but July and August are
very busy, and during this period advanced booking for hotels, camping
sites and even bed and breakfast is highly advisable and in many places
down on Monte Carlo
areas and resorts of the
(From the Italian border to Nice) This is the most spectacular part of
the French Riviera, and also the most up market in terms of tourism.
This is where the Alps meet the Mediterranean, and mountains
almost down to the waters' edge. Old towns such as Menton
are crowded in between the water's edge and the
mountains behind. The most famous of these towns is Monte-Carlo
tiny Principality of Monaco, an independent state surrounded
three sides by France, and on the fourth by the Mediterranean, and
ruled by the Grimaldi family since the 13th century.
Monte-Carlo, most famed for its casino, is an
opulent micro-state, with the world's highest per-capita GDP: hemmed in
between the mountains and the sea, it is also one of the most densely
populated states in the world. It is a tax-haven in so far as residents
do not pay any income tax, but it is not a tax-free country, and VAT is
the same as in France. This does not prevent Monaco from abounding in
prestigious luxury shops, and for visitors searching for the most
famous brands in designer clothing, jewellery and other luxury goods,
Monaco offers great shopping opportunities (as does Nice).
The village of Eze, overlooking Cap Ferrat
Some of the most expensive houses in France are clustered
the small peninsula of Saint
Jean Cap Ferrat
, between Eze and Nice.
In the past, Saint Jean was home to actors, princes and rich
businessmen from Paris or Switzerland. The Villa Ephrussi de
Rothschild, a house and gardens now open to the public, is a beauful
vestige of a bygone age; today Saint Jean Cap Ferrat is home to the
international jet set.
Inland, a few twisting mountain
roads take visitors past breathtaking views, and up to old villages
such as Eze
huddled into narrow valleys or clinging resolutely to the sides of
steep slopes. But this part of the Riviera is resolutely turned to the
Nice - beach in frront of the Promenade des Anglais
the French Riviera is largely built up. Nice is France's
sixth city, as
well as being the biggest resort on the French Riviera. Nice is a city
that has masses to offer, including historic quarters, a beautiful long
seafront (from the Promenade des Anglais and westwards), a famous
flower market, some interesting sites and sights, including the Matisse
museum, the Chagall museum, and the famous Russian Orthodox basilica .
It is also very well
endowed in hotels, from five-star palaces such as the Negresco, to
backpacker hotels away from the tourist quarter. And of
it is a city with plenty of nightlife and plenty of opportunities for
shopping, in all seasons. ►
More on Nice
This town has a historic old quarter, as well as a famous racecourse
(for horse racing), and a Renoir museum. Inland from
Cagnes lies the old village of Saint
Paul de Vence
, known as the
artist's village, and famous for its art galleries, most importantly
the Fondation Maeght
with a remarkable collection of 20th century art
A few miles south of Cagnes, Antibes
is one of the classic resorts of the French
Riviera. With its old town, its marina, its 48 beaches and its rocky
headland, Antibes has long been a popular resort. It too has a number
of museums, including the Picasso museum, with one of the best
of Picassos in France.
Just west of Antibes lies Juan les
, another very smart but small Mediterranean resort,
film stars and actors. of course, both Antibes and Juan les Pins offer
plenty of night life, specially in season.
Lying to the west of Antibes, Cannes is the other main
city of the French Riviera: Cannes is of course most famous for its
which after the Hollywood Oscars ceremony is the
biggest annual event in the world of film. Cannes is also a popular
venue for trade fairs, including the annual music industry fair, the
Midem, that takes place in late January. During these events, the town
attracts visitors hoping to get a glimpse of their favourite film-star
or musician; and of course, it is a town with plenty of tourist
accommodation and beaches. Anyone thinking of visiting Cannes at the
time of a major event should book their accommodation months in advance.
A few miles inland from Cannes lies the small
town of Grasse
capital of the French
. The famous Fragonard perfumery offers free
guided factory visits and perfume museum visits.
Esterel coast - la
Napoule - Fréjus
This part of
the coast is less developed, mainly on account of the hills
and forests that come almost to the water's edge. Apart from
the resorts are small, offering a quieter
holiday style. The dry and rocky Esterel
Mediterranean pine forests, are popular with hikers and walkers. The
coastline between Miramar
and Saint Raphaël is full of little coves,
many of them only accessible by foot from the coastal road, the
"Corniche de l'Esterel", a scenic route offering magnificent views of
coastline and out to sea.
San Raphaël is a small resort, with
beaches and a casino; its neighbour, Fréjus, slightly
larger, is a
historic city dating back to before Roman times, most popular these
days on account of its large marina.
of Fréjus - the
South of Fréjus, the coast is
again rocky and forested, and there is little in the way of coastal
plain between the hills and forests of the Massif des Maures
, and the
sea. the main resort in this part of the French riviera is Saint
Tropez, perhaps the most famous of all Riviera resorts. Saint Tropez
an old Mediterranean seaport standing on the south shore of a very
sheltered bay, the Gulf of Saint Tropez, has long been a classically
chic Mediterranean resort, frequented by stars and Parisians. With its
old port and its historic centre, it remains popular to this day with
jet-setters, and offers an idyllic holiday environment with plenty of
shops, hotels, beaches, cafés and restaurants.
The other popular resorts in this part of the
Riviera are the small towns of Sainte
, old towns
with harbours, shops, and markets as well as hotels and
On the capes to the east and the west of le Lavandou, and on the
offshore islands, the Port
Cros national park
is France's only maritime
national park, covering both terrestrial and marine environments. There
are boats from le Lavandou out to the island of Port Cros.
Click for French Riviera hotels
pre-selected by area and category - from budget to luxury hotels
to the French Riviera
The Riviera is well served by flights to Nice airport
one of the
busiest in France. Nice airport lies between Nice and Cagnes
Mer, and is well linked to Riviera resorts by bus and coach services.
It is also linked to Monaco by helicopter services. There are also a
few low-cost flights
serving the airport at Toulon.
The whole of the Riviera coast is well served by
the main Marseilles
- Ventimiglia railway running close to the
shore for much of the way between Toulon and the Italian border.
There are direct TGV services from Paris, Brussels, LIlle,
Strasbourg and other cities. Click here for train
times and tickets