How to Travel the French Riviera
The Cote d’ Azur, also known as the French Riviera, is a dreamy French region that stretches east along the coast from Monaco and Menton to Theoule Sur Mer down to the Southern Alps.
The French Riviera has many beautiful cities such as Cannes and Nice, interesting Roman ruins, natural parks, medieval villages and whale watching just offshore. During summertime, these cities heat up come July as visitors and tourists around the world parade down beaches and boulevards.
But, there’s more to French Riviera than just a summer locale, winter is one of the best seasons here with snow falling just two hours north of the shore.
If you’re travelling in Cannes, there are five-star hotels and French Riviera home rentals sitting on the Croisette that are more than just favourites during the film festival. Here are some of the best travel tips to the French Riviera to make the most of your stay in the South of France.
When to Go
In the west, hills are covering French Riviera and in the northwest, there’s Mercantour Alps which means you’ll get a mild Mediterranean climate all year-round. Enjoy the almost 300 days of sunshine, with stretches of rain around the shoulder months of March and April and October and November.
The perfect months to visit the region of French Riviera are June to September. During these months, tourists cram the beaches, so book your accommodation ahead of time.
The weather temperatures sometimes hit freezing during the winter season. Towns and other villages organize traditional Christmas markets and sell local dishes, their own specialties and mulled wine or vin chaud. French Riviera’s 15 ski resorts open in December.
The closest resorts such as Auron Isola 2000 and Valberg are just two hours bus ride from the airport or train station of Nice.
In February, Nice holds one of the Cote d’ Azur’s main winter events, the yearly celebration of 15-day carnival, with over 16 floats parading the streets of Place Massena. In Menton, the city hosts a 3-week La Fete du Citron or Lemon Festival, with floats covered with local oranges and lemons.
French Riviera Travel Tips
- No need to worry about renting a car if you’re planning on staying in just one place like Cannes or Nice. Most towns are pedestrian friendly, so you can walk almost anywhere or easily hop a train or bus to visit nearby villages. However, the traffic in Monaco and Cannes are terribly bad and it’s to find parking spaces plus overnight fares are pricey.
- Uber is an easier option than getting a taxi. Uber serves throughout most of the Cote d’Azur and into Monaco.
- Some of the major department stores are open on weekends, but some of the smaller stores and markets are closed. Restaurants are typically closed on Mondays and museums are closed on either Mondays or Tuesdays.
- Public beaches across the Cote d’Azur are open all year-round, however, most of the private resorts are closed on October or November for packing up for the season. Some of the popular beaches that open all throughout the year include Plage Beau Rivage and Blue Beach in Nice and Plage Goeland and L’Ecrin in Cannes.
- For visitors planning to do the sightseeing tours, enjoy more than 180 attractions on the Cote d’Azur. Never miss out on your places and things to do are the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco, and try the kayaking in Menton and cruise around the coast.
What to do in Cannes
- Start your day in typical French fashion strolling through the boutiques of Forville market in the Old Town (Le Suquet), which sells locally caught fish and vegetables every Tuesdays to Sundays. Every Monday, this market transforms into the antiques flea market.
- Walking along the iconic Boulevard de la Croisette is a great experience to explore Cannes even if you’re not in the market looking for Chanel bag. The boulevard is lined with different boutiques like Celine and Cartier, and some of the hotels like InterContinental Carlton Cannes.
- Go for a swim at the most popular swimming spots such as Plage du Palais des Festivals or book at the largest private beach resort on the Croisette, the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez Zplage beach club.
- Hop on a 15-minute ferry ride going to Lerins Islands.
- Take a tour around Lerins Abbey and its seven chapels, which dated back to the 5th century.
What to do in Nice
- Promenade des Anglais – If you’re traveling here on February, don’t miss out the parades for the ebullient Nice Carnival. The promenade stretches seven kilometers long. It’s a go-to place for joggers, skateboarders, and families.
- Vieille Ville – It’s a mesh of alleys with restaurants and local shops. You can easily find glaciers, creperies, and cafes all around the city.
- Parc de la Colline du Chateau – At the top of this steep hill in the park, on the east side of Nice, you’ll get amazed at some of the Cote d’Azur great landscapes.
- Musee Marc Chagall – Visit Marc Chagall’s museum, houses his series of 17 paintings with biblical themes – New and Old Testament. You’ll see in the museum the famous Resistance, Resurrection, Liberation triptych.
- Nice Cathedral – Built in the 17th century with a grand baroque design, with ten highly ornate chapels with gilding, paintings, and sculptures.
- Cours Saleya Market – If you’re staying in a hostel or apartment in Nice then this market is perfect for you to experience. They are selling fresh produce, regional delicacies sourced from the Alpes-Maritimes and Provence countryside. The flower shops are open until 6 in the evening.