The French Riviera, or the Cote d’Azur as they call it in France, is a lovely stretch of coastline on the Mediterranean Sea. It includes the small country of Monaco which is surrounded by France. It is a lovely place to visit and is popular with travelers, partly because it gets 300 days of sunshine per year.
In 2019, my husband and I went on a Mediterranean Cruise that started in the Monaco. We arrived a couple of days early so that we could experience the French Riviera.
We chose Nice as our base for exploring because it is the largest city on the French Riviera and is centrally located.
Nice is a fun destination for art lovers. There are a total of 19 museums, including those dedicated to the works of Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse. In addition to the museums, there are artsy touches to be discovered all around the city.
Nice’s old town is an interesting place to explore and it’s easy to navigate on foot. Nice also has a scenic pebbly beach. If you don’t want to walk on the beach, there’s a lovely promenade where you can stroll and enjoy the beach views.
2. Monte Carlo, Monaco
The tiny sovereign state of Monaco is separate from France, but completely surrounded by it, so it’s still considered part of the French Riviera. Monaco is divided into four quarters, the largest being Monte Carlo. Monte Carlo is known for the Grand Prix and for its famous casino. I’m not into gambling, but I did want to go inside and take a look around.
We also saw the Prince’s Palace (where you can watch the changing of the guard), Saint Nicholas Cathedral, and a beautiful exotic garden on a cliffside.
My husband and I really enjoyed our visit to Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum which includes an aquarium along with exhibits on marine animal skeletons and ships. Check out these whale skeletons.
3. La Turbie
The village of La Turbie is known as the “Monaco Terrace” because its location provides a sweeping view of Monaco. It’s also known for the ruins of a Roman monument, the Trophy of Alps, which was dedicated to Emperor Augustus in 7 BC.
The medieval village of Eze with its cobbled streets and cute shops is a fascinating place to explore. It was built on a rocky hill and at the top, you’ll find the ruins of a castle and a garden.
We also enjoyed touring the Fragonard Perfume Factory where we learned how perfume is made. French perfume made a lovely souvenir for myself and a nice gift for my daughters.
5. Saint Paul de Vence
I think my favorite place on the French Riviera was Saint Paul de Vence. Towns just don’t get more lovely than this. This medieval gem is surrounded by ramparts and has cobblestone alleyways that are just waiting to be explored.
We had a relaxing lunch while enjoying the view, and then explored the town.
The old town and its beautiful bay have been the setting for many Hollywood films. If you’re a James Bond fan, you may recognize it from Never Say Never Again starring Sean Connery.
Cannes is best known for its annual film festival. Be sure to saunter down the Boulevard de la Croisette, enjoying the sandy beach on one side and palatial hotels and boutiques on the other side.
The old town of Antibes is surrounded by medieval ramparts built to protect the city from invaders. Artist Pablo Picasso lived in Antibes for a time and a museum there exhibits some of his works.
While we just got a little taste, you could easily spend a week or more exploring the cities and towns of the French Riviera.
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