The French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur, on France’s south-eastern coast is famed for its glamorous resorts, sandy beaches, bustling ports and ancient ruins.
Stretching from St Tropez to the French-Italian border, the Côte d’Azur is one of the world’s most luxurious and evocative seaside regions. From mountains to islands, sandy beaches to wooded capes, this region’s natural landscape is as dazzling as the glitterati that frequent it. Here are some of the best places to visit along the French Riviera by train.
A city that stole the hearts of artists like Picasso, Graham Greene and Max Ernst, Antibes is a blend of cobbled streets and posh portside glamour. Follow the Picasso trail to take in the city’s natural beauty where rocky outcrops meet distant mountains and the sea, then relax on one of Antibes’ beautiful beaches, including Plage du Ponteil or the more secluded Plage Mala. Make time to explore Cap d’Antibes, a wooded cape between Antibes and the neighbouring town of Juan-les-Pins, dotted with seaside villas and walking trails.
The epitome of French Riviera glamour, Cannes is known for being a celebrity playground, especially in May when its famous film festival takes place annually. Walk along the Croisette, the city’s seafront promenade, and explore the winding streets of Le Suquet, Cannes' oldest neighbourhood known for its pastel-coloured buildings. For a quieter beach away from the Croisette crowds, head to Palm Beach or one of Cannes' clutch of offshore islands like Île Sainte Marguerite or Île Saint-Honorat.
The jewel in the Riviera’s crown, Eze is a small, rocky town perched at the top of a hill overlooking the sea. Located between Nice and Monaco, Eze is known for its medieval village boasting higgledy-piggledy stone houses, winding lanes and impossibly beautiful views of the Riviera coastline. For the best views, head to the Jardin Exotique d’Èz, a cactus-filled garden set among castle ruins at the top of the old village.
Nestled between the Med and the mountains, Menton is the last stop along France’s Côte d’Azur before reaching the Italian border. Although Menton may lack the glitz and glam of its Riviera neighbours such as Cannes, Monte Carlo and St Tropez, this off-the-beaten-track seaside town boasts fewer tourists and magnificent Belle Epoque architecture. Menton is particularly known for its sweet lemons, which are celebrated annually during February and March at the Fête du Citron.
Since the 1700s, Nice has enticed visitors to its Mediterranean shores thanks to its sandy beaches and balmy climate. Stroll along the Promenade des Anglais in the footsteps of France’s Belle Epoque aristocrats, pausing to take in sea views from the walkway’s iconic blue chairs. Revel in this Riviera city’s chicness by visiting its old town, then climb up Colline du Château for unparalleled views of the city below. With myriad museums and plenty of beachside and hilltop walking trails, Nice is always a nice visit, no matter what time of year.
Brigitte Bardot’s 1956 role in Et Dieu Créa la Femme turned St Tropez from sleepy fishing village into one of the most glamorous destinations in France. Meander along the cobbled lanes of La Ponche, enjoy an apéro in the Vieux Port and stroll from beach to beach along the city’s coastal path, stopping along the way at the Cap Camarat lighthouse for views across Bonnes Terrasse beach and the bay. The nearest train station to St Tropez is Saint Raphaël, 38km away. Once in Saint Raphael you can hire a car, take a 1 hr 30 mins bus or travel by ferry across to Saint Tropez.
Image credits top to bottom: French village and cobblestone streets iStock ©paparazzit, Cannes iStock ©vichie81, Eze iStock ©sorincolac, Menton on French Riviera iStock ©Milena Pigdanowicz-Fidera, Promenade des Anglais in Nice iStock ©Delpixart, Saint Tropez Flickr Commons (cropped) ©Pepik Hipik
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