Côte d'Azur: what to do, what to see...


Côte d'Azur - French Riviera

 Les calanques de Marseille
© mmac72 / Istockphoto - Les calanques de Marseille

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 4 April 2024, updated on 20 April 2024

Culture, art or sport—the Côte d’Azur balances its tranquil art-de-vivre with world-class events and festivals from Cannes to Nice, in hotspots like the Croisette and the Promenade des Anglais. But the typical French Riviera vibe remains the same: the melon-colored villages, ever-present palm trees casting welcome shade and the unique endless blue sea that inspired Matisse, Chagall, and many others.

Visits you cannot miss on the Côte d’Azur

Parmi les sites incontournables de votre séjour sur la Côte d'Azur, Nice et sa mythique Promenade des Anglais.
© John Jason - Unsplash - Parmi les sites incontournables de votre séjour sur la Côte d'Azur, Nice et sa mythique Promenade des Anglais.

• Nice Nissa La Bella, the gateway and the capital of the Côte d'Azur, is multi faceted. It is at times Baroque, Belle Époque and very contemporary. Its famous Promenade des Anglais is an invitation to stroll along the Bay of Angels.

• Cannes Headquarters of the international film festival in May, Cannes has a beautiful role to play all year round. At the foot of the oppidum Suquet, facing the sea and the islands of Lérins, it runs its 2 kilometers of sandy beaches, on the stylish Croisette.

• Saint-Paul-de-Vence In the hinterland of Nice, this medieval perched village has something to seduce lovers of art, with its narrow streets lined with galleries, the Maeght Foundation and its works integrated into nature (Giacometti, Calder, Braque, Matisse , Léger, etc.), its chapel of the Penitents decorated by Folon.

• Port Grimaud It is called the Venice of Provence, as its lake city layout, lined with small houses and boats moored, is reminiscent of the Italian city.

• Marc Chagall Museum in Nice Housed in a sober building surrounded by a Mediterranean garden, the museum displays more than 250 colorful Chagall pieces, the first of which date back to 1903.

• Saint Tropez Made famous by a series of artists (the painter Signac, the novelist Françoise Sagan, the actress Brigitte Bardot, actor Louis de Funès, and many others), this fishing village has kept its Provençal charm, nestled in a gulf with clear waters.

• Grasse and its perfume museum The lands of Grasse exhale scents of lavender, mimosa, orange trees, jasmine and roses. The perfume capital museum traces the history of fragrances since Antiquity and the know-how of perfume artisans.

• Antibes and Juan-les-Pins Celebrated by painters, including Picasso, Antibes is discovered from the old port to the luxurious ships or from the ramparts that surround it. In Juan-les-Pins, you'll love the Art Deco buildings, the beautiful beaches and the international jazz festival.

• The small port of Saint-Raphaël At the foot of the Esterel massif, with its red rocks, St Raphaël has been adored by many painters. They were seduced by the authenticity of the old port, and its "sharp" boats ready to sail for fishing.

• The Shrine of Our Lady of Laghet in Trinidad Between Nice and Monaco, this church perched on a rocky outcrop is known for the miracles lavished by the Virgin Mary since 1652. Today, pilgrims flock there to implore the Madonna of Laghet.

• The island of Porquerolles Facing Hyères, Porquerolles is cycling or walking. Between two beaches of white sand, and two trails in the fragrant pine forest, you will discover the Carmignac Foundation, dedicated to contemporary artists.

• The Lerins Islands In the bay of Cannes, the island of Sainte-Marguerite is covered with forest and dominated by a royal fort. As for the little St. Honorat, it houses a serene monastery and a beautiful abbey.

• Cagnes sur mer Close to Nice, it is both a lively seaside resort, with pebble beaches, and a medieval village in the Hauts de Cagnes, dominated by the Château-Musée Grimaldi.

Essential activities on the Côte d’Azur

Aujourd’hui dédiée à la création contemporaine, la villa Noailles à Hyères séduira les amoureux d'architecture.
© Julien - AdobeStock - Aujourd’hui dédiée à la création contemporaine, la villa Noailles à Hyères séduira les amoureux d'architecture.

• Discover the ultra modern architecture of Villa Noailles in Hyères At the request of a couple of patrons Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, the villa was built in the 1930s by architect Robert Mallet-Stevens. Cubist style, very bright, it hosts a center of contemporary art, dedicated to design, photography, fashion.

• Track the incomparable light in the footsteps of painters This earth bathed in light has inspired so many artists! Bonnard in Cagnes, Matisse in Nice, Picasso in Antibes, Miro in Saint-Paul de Vence, Fernand Léger in Biot ... The painters' route stops in a museum, a foundation, a chapel, a workshop, for a luminous journey High in color.

• Play a game of petanque on the legendary Saint-Paul-de-Vence square In Saint-Paul de Vence, the bowlers provide the show on the Place de Gaulle, at the entrance of the village, along the café La Place. Lino Ventura, Yves Montand and Henri Salvador were among the most diligent. Do you shoot or point? Doesn’t matter, just have fun!

• Celebrate Lemon in Menton For two weeks, between mid-February and early March, Menton sets the tone! The city is adorned with yellow and orange colors during the Citrus Festival: parades of citrus floats, corso of fruits, visits of exceptional gardens, craft shows, festival of orchids, fireworks...

• Visit the Château-Musée Grimaldi in Cagnes-sur-Mer The medieval castle, with its splendid Renaissance ceilings, is home to two museums: the Olive Tree Museum and the Solidor donation, where many portraits of the Suzy Solidor cabaret singer, painted by famous artists such as Foujita, Picabia or Van Dongen.

• Do not hurry on the road of the gardens It is said that the Côte d'Azur is a garden, so discover the most beautiful floral and olfactory creations. For example, the exotic garden of Monaco, the gardens of the perfume museum in Mouans-Sartoux, the gardens of Menton, the gardens surrounding the Maeght Foundation or the Château de la Napoule. In all, about sixty natural sites await you.

• Choose flowers at Saleya market In the old town of Nice, Cours Saleya welcomes a typical Mediterranean market, colorful and full of flowers, fruits and vegetables, in a lively atmosphere.

• Approach the celebrities on the Croisette during the Cannes Film Festival Every year in May, Cannes attracts moviegoers from all over the world. With a little luck, you will come across some stars on the Croisette, on the way to the red carpet of the Palais des Festivals.

• Take a dip in the calanque of the English In Anthéor, near Saint-Raphaël, imagine three small coves of red pebbles, below the road, accessible by steep stairs. A limpid sea, protective cliffs, a calm atmosphere ... It’s just you here.

• Attend the Monaco Grand Prix The legendary circuit travels the streets of the Principality in 78 laps, and requires the greatest control from the drivers, who drive at more than 150 km / h average. To attend at the front row, 13 stands are installed in turns and straight lines.

© Art Gallery of New South Wales — Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Have a chance to win 1 out of 25 double passes to visit the exhibition Matisse: Life & Spirit, click here!

By Rédaction France.fr

The magazine of the destination unravels an unexpected France that revisits tradition and cultivates creativity. A France far beyond what you can imagine…