The south of France is one of my favourite places in the world. As a true Francophile, I take every opportunity I get to enjoy a few days in my spirit country. And the French Riviera is where my soul rests. After my fourth visit to the Cote d’Azur, I feel like I’m really getting to know this beautiful area of France. So, without further ado, let’s explore some of the best things to do on the French Riviera, to help you plan your own trip pronto!
Things to do on the French Riviera
1. Visit the beautiful village of Èze
Few villages offer views as spectacular as those from the hilltop vista of Èze. Just a stone’s throw from Monaco, this mountainous jewel towers over the Cote d’Azur with all the quaint charm of a medieval village preserved through the ages. About a 30-minute drive from Nice, Eze’s winding, cobbled-stoned streets are now home to various cafes and arts and crafts boutiques leading up to the beautiful Jardin Exotique d’Èze.
2. Drive La Corniche d’Or from Cannes to Théoule-sur-Mer
Sitting serenely at the foot of the Massif de l’Esterel, the coastal road, known as La Corniche d’Or, between Cannes and Theoule-sur-Mer, delivers unbeatable scenery at every turn. With towering red cliffs on one side and the azure ocean on the other, you’ll be stopping at every vista point to snap away at the jaw-dropping landscapes and outstanding panoramas.
3. Tour a perfumerie in Grasse
On my most recent trip to the south of France, I stayed in the pretty hillside town of Grasse, home to several traditional French perfumeries. Many of the perfumeries in Grasse offer free guided tours of their factory, allowing a sneak peek into their creative processes. We enjoyed an extremely insightful tour of the factory and museum of Fragonard, which dates back to 1926. Highly recommended if your looking for some unique things to do on the French Riviera!
4. Explore the markets of Valbonne
Valbonne, a beautifully rustic town just a short drive from Grasse, hosts a bric-a-brac and antique market on the first Sunday of every month and a wonderful Provençal market, selling food, clothes, homewares and accessories, every Friday from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm. Personally, the true essence of France is found in its markets and this is one not to be missed, especially on a sunny day.
5. Hike the Massif de l’Esterel
Characteristic red rocks tumble dramatically into the sea as La Corniche d’Or winds its way along the epic coastline at the foot of the Massif de l’Esterel. The Massif covers 320 km² and offers a wide range of marked hiking trails to various peaks and summits, such as Cap Roux, Cap du Dramont and Mont Vinaigre. Hiking this rugged terrain, you’ll be rewarded with unending views of the French Riviera, including the bay of Cannes and the coastline beyond.
6. Take a train ride into Italy
Maybe it’s just me, but hopping across European borders for a day or two always feels so decadent! While train travel in the UK costs an arm and a leg, travelling by train in France and Italy is certainly a cost-effective way to get around. I took the train from Cannes to the pretty town of Ventimiglia in Italy for just €13! The various towns along the coast of the Italian Riviera are framed by the rolling Italian hills and lush green valleys, meaning they are definitely worth a visit. Check out Ceriale, Pietra Ligure and Borghetto, all just an hour from Ventimiglia, an extra €10 on the train.
7. Stroll along La Croisette, Cannes
Famous for its annual film festival, Cannes is frequented by the rich and famous and it’s easy to see why! Cannes is one of my favourite towns in the south of France, and as simple as it is, strolling along La Croisette (the beachfront), with a selection of macarons in hand, is one of my favourite things to do on the French Riviera! Alternatively, stop by one of the many restaurants on the beach and enjoy a glass of chilled white wine while watching the sunset.
8. Climb Le Suquet, Cannes
Step back in time and visit the rustic medieval quarters of Cannes. Take the leisurely climb or if you’re tired from exploring, take the mini train that runs up the hill. Not only will you be immersed in Cannes’ history, with the gothic Notre Dame de l’Esperance church sitting proudly atop the hill, but you’ll also be able to admire the amazing views over the bay, harbour and coastline beyond.
9. Visit the legendary Monaco
A playground for the rich, some would say that Monaco has reached legendary status. Set into the stunning coastline, this affluent city-state exudes luxury and bathes in the warmth of the southern sun! Tour the Palais du Prince, visit the Musée Oceanographique or watch a show at the Opera de Monte Carlo.
10. Road trip to the Lavender Fields of Provence
If you fancy exploring further afield, you have the whole south coast of France on your doorstep. Less than two hours drive from Nice, you’ll find the Insta-famous lavender fields of Provence. Just make sure to pack that gorgeous summer dress for the typical Insta ‘travel girl’ shot 😉 (hey, we’re all guilty of it right!?)
After four trips, I’ve still only scratched the surface of the exuberant Cote d’Azur. I know for sure that I’ll be back for more fun in the sun, so watch this space!