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Côte d’Azur Travel Guide – Experience the real South of France from your rented luxury villa
From your rented holiday villa you can explore the beauty the Riviera has to offer. We have many exclusive villas with stunning sea views in the Côte d’Azur.
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Scroll down to read more about the Côte d'Azur
You may want to consult our page on 'Getting There'
The Côte d'Azur, or “French Riviera”, is one of the most popular French destinations and there are many very good reasons why – the sun, coastline, fantastic beaches, the glamour, the shops, the hotels and cafés where you can sit outside and enjoy a refreshing aperitif while watching people passing by. Have a look at our wide selection of holiday villas in the Côte d’Azur.
The region has extraordinarily beautiful coastline with a backdrop of impressive mountain ranges. It is an animated and lively region with glittering annual events such as the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix as well as other events that will take place close to your rented holiday property. The Côte d’Azur is a popular yachting and cruising area littered with impressive marinas filled with extravagant yachts – rent one of our beautiful villas and experience the beauty and luxury! We have a selection of Luxury Designer Villas in the area.
Smaller towns that are worth a visit are Villefranche-sur-Mer and Roquebrune. These are beautiful communities with picturesque old towns that don’t have the garish wealth of Cannes and Saint Tropez but still maintain the style of the French Riviera. Many of our properties are located close to the charming communities of the Côte d’Azur which makes it easy to visit them!
Of course, the region is not all about beautiful fishing ports and glamorous seaside towns, the area is famous for being a meeting place for artists, such as Matisse and Picasso and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary art in Nice is well worth a visit.
The Côte d'Azur's fascinating history stretches from Roman rulers to the fantasy and luxury of the Belle Époque architecture to the 20th century Hollywood lifestyle. The ancient forts and Chateaux that line the coast are breath-taking and popular tourist attractions, such as the grandiose Palace in Monaco or the 16th Century Saint Elme Citadel in Villefranche. Check out our amazing holiday properties only a short drive away from Monaco.
To explore this stunning and glamorous region choose one of our beautiful, luxury villas for a holiday in the Côte d'Azur.
The Main Towns
Antibes-Juan les Pins
The Côte d'Azur's third largest town, faces Nice across the bay. The Grimaldi's 13th to 16th century castle on the sea-front now houses one of the world's finest Picasso collections. As well as the Picasso Museum the town is home to a Naval Museum, an Archaeology Museum and a museum dedicated to the fabrication of Absinthe. There are also many public botanical gardens within the town. The old Garoupe Lighthouse provides one of the best views in the region from its hilltop setting. There are 48 beautiful beaches on the 25km coastline that surrounds the Antibes area. Antibes plays host to many festivals throughout the year such as the Antibes Yacht Show in April and the Jazz Festival in July. Check out our villas near to Antibes.
Set along a lovely bay, backed by wooded hills, it claims to be the most glamorous and sophisticated of Europe's larger resorts – and certainly its famous palm-lined sea-promenade, La Croisette wears all the trappings of glamour and people watching. But away from this super-elegant façade, it also has an old quarter full of character. The Cannes Film Festival attracts international celebrities as well as Hollywood stars. The town also hosts other glamorous festivals such as Midem, the foremost trade show for the music industry and the Lions Advertising Festival. The Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras Celebrations are big in Cannes with the massive Carnival Parade that takes place every year. The annual fireworks festival is not to be missed - check with the local Tourist Office for exact dates - the fireworks are set on pontoons along the beachfront on the Croisette and synchronised to music. Have a look at our holiday properties close to Cannes – you’ll only be a short drive away from the various events Cannes hosts during the year!
Cannes is having a revival as a Bar/Nightclub destination in the summer. The area around Rue de Commandant Andre is full of chic bars and night clubs. There is a massive night club in the Palais des festivals that has all the top European DJ's playing over the summer. There are also a number of great beach bars including the Z Plage beach bar at the Martinez Hotel. Drinks at these establishments will be pricey, expect to pay €20/25 for a cocktail.
Known as ‘the balcony of the Côte d'Azur', Grasse lies terraced along the southern slopes of a rocky plateau. It is the centre of the perfume industry; until recently some 85% of the world's flower essence for scents was treated here. Grasse's particular micro-climate makes it the perfect environment for flower growing. There is an annual Jasmin festival called La Jasminade at the beginning of August where decorated floats drive through the town. Jasmin is one of the key ingredients in perfume and twenty-seven tonnes of the flowers are harvested in Grasse every year. Explore the magnificent area of Grasse by staying in one of our stunning villas nearby.
Nick-named the 'Pearl of France' the town, with its mellow old-fashioned charm, it is the prettiest and gentlest of the major resorts on the Côte, also the warmest in winter hence the luxuriance of sub-tropical fruit and acres of lemon groves. The town is famous for its gardens, the Menton Botanical Gardens, the Maria Serena Garden and the Fontana Rosa. The Jean Cocteau Museum is situated in the town, and the wedding room in the Mairie was painted by Cocteau - the prolific writer, artist and filmmaker. The Lemon Festival takes place every February. The historic covered market was built 1898 and boasts over 30 kiosks that sell local and imported produce.
A Lilliputian sovereign state, wealthy, glamorous and dynamic squeezed onto a small strip of land between sea and mountains. Monaco is also the ‘Old Town' where the Royal Palace stands. Beyond the port is the newer district, Monte Carlo, where the Casino opened in 1865. This glamorous Principality is a favourite holiday destination for the rich and famous. Visit the beautiful Palace that stand proudly on the cliffs with stunning views over the bays of Monaco. A huge event in Monaco is the annual F1 Grand Prix in May. Monaco is a perfect location for a day trip so why not rent a luxurious villa close to Monaco!
Côte d'Azur's capital looks a big place, as indeed it is – not just a tourist resort but a busy and diverse commercial city, the fifth largest in France. The sophisticated seafront hotels along the Promenade des Anglais, and the expensive boutiques in the streets behind seem a world away from the teeming medieval alleys of the Vieille Ville where the flower and food markets are. Nice's stunning architecture can be seen throughout the city but especially in the Place Garibaldi with its 18th Century architecture and the Place du Palais with the clock tower at the centre and where many concerts, films and other major public events take place. Nice has an international airport close to the city centre – you can now start your holiday in your rented Côte d’Azur property as soon as you can! Have a look at the selection of gorgeous holiday villas we have close to Nice.
Other Places to Visit: Côte d'Azur
The heart of Bormes is often referred to as one of the most beautiful places in France and it is only a short drive away from your holiday villa! This florally decorated town is a very popular destination for day trips because of its picturesque old buildings and the view over the town and the villages in the area. The official retreat of the President of France from 1968 until 2013, Le Fort de Brégançon, is also situated in the area. The fort will become a national monument and it will be open to the public in the near future.
The town is often referred to as Hyères -les-Palmiers because it facilitates the cultivation of palm trees – 100 000 trees are exported every year. This charming town is the oldest resort on the French Riviera and hosts various events during the year; Hyères is home to the International Fashion and Photography Festival which takes place at the end of April as well as the annual music festival MIDI French Riviera Festival taking place in July. The islands of Porquerolles, Port-Cros and the Île du Levant are located just offshore of Hyères. A boat service from Hyères to the islands is available. The Toulon-Hyères International airport is situated only 4km from the town which makes it easy to access your rented holiday villa!
An old fishing port which has expanded into a biggish holiday resort, but the animated harbour area still has charm. Le Lavandou has multiple beaches with restaurants and cafes on the seaside. The town has a busy market on Thursday mornings.
Massif de l’Estérel
A single mass of red volcanic rock fills the whole coast from La Napoule to St Raphael. The coast road, or ‘corniche', is a lovely scenic route past coves and cliffs, with contrasts in colour of red rocks, blue sea and green foliage. The area is renowned for its golf courses. If you have had enough of sitting by the pool of your holiday villa, take one of the narrow hill roads up into the wild heart of the Esterel and trek on foot to the main peaks or explore the grandiose rocky gorge, Le Mal Infernet.
A little Venice on the Riviera. Actually built in the 1960s, but in the style of an old medieval port. The town is mainly traffic free, parking spaces outside the town are provided.
On the Gulf of St Tropez is an attractive traditional resort with long sandy beaches. You can find shops, markets, restaurants and cafes in the old town, opposite to the harbour.
Remains a charming fishing port. It is long beloved of artists and cradled by green hills. It attracts a sophisticated high society, but it has also become a honeypot besieged by the tourist crowds in the height of summer, and is best to visit in May or September. We have a wide selection of holiday properties close to Saint Tropez.
The Mercantour National Park
68,500 hectares of protected land, 4000 km of hiking and rambling paths, 65 mountain bike tracks, 30 rock-climbing sites, 325 km of navigable rivers, 200 potholing sites and 70 canyons…for a huge variety of exciting activities (Canyoning at Breil-sur-Roya, potholing, fishing, climbing, hang-gliding…).
For a truly breath-taking experience drive inland to the Gorge de Verdon, the deepest gorge in France; wonderful rafting and canoeing, and some very airy walking!
Magnificent cave-paintings, located within Mercantour National Park.
La Colmiane (Valdeblore)
The Riviera's Adventure centre.
Interested in the aquamarine? You can enjoy Marineland in Antibes, the oceanographic museum of Monaco, sea museum in Cannes, and the marine museum in Nice.
Take a look at the many beautiful castles: La Napoule castle, Mouans-Sartoux castle, Gourdon castle, Cagnes sur Mer castle, Roquebrune Cap Martin castle…
In Monaco, see how the other half live, visit the Grimaldi Palace (commonly known as the Pink Palace) where the Royal Family reside, the famous Casino where you can play the public tables (make sure you have your passport with you!).
Day Trips by Car from Villefranche-Sur-Mer
Antibes: Old village, ramparts and Picasso museum
Menton: One mile from the Italian border, attractive sea side town with excellent market, open gardens
Hillside towns behind and west of Nice: (in order of interest) St Paul de Vence, Tourrettes-Sur-Loup, Vence, Gattiere, Peillon
While at Vence visit the Matisse Chapel, La Chapelle du Rosaire, 446 Avenue Henri Matisse, D2210, Vence. Henri Matisse dedicated four years in decorating the chapel – 1948 to 1951
While parked outside St Paul de Vence (you cannot park within the walled city) visit Fondation Maeght Modern Art Museum 0493328163. www.fondation-maeght.com
Musée l’Escoffier de l’Art Culinaire, 3 Rue Auguste Escoffier, 06270 Villeneuve-Loubet
Grasse: With its perfume factory and views of the sea
Biot: With its glass making which can be visited
Peillon: Another hill side town (village perché)
Eze: A dramatic cliff top village - 1000 years old atop a rocky outcrop with views over Cap Ferrat.
La Turbie: 5 minutes from Eze village where there is a huge Roman Trophee des Alpes constructed in 6 B.C.
St Jean Cap Ferrat: The House and Garden of Villa Ephrussi is enthralling, charming Port Sainte Jean on the east side with several restaurants, including the Captain Cook restaurant.
Beaulieu-sur-Mer: Attractive village with restaurants, port area, open market in town square, Villa Keylos (a Greek villa built in 1902).
Cagnes-sur-Mer : The Renoir museum and Chateau Grimaldi.
Roquebrune : Village ‘perché’ above Cap Martine.
Entreveaux: A fairy tale town with Roman origins - 90 minutes north of Nice - fortified with a draw bridge crossing the Var.
Saroge: Picturesque 15th century town in the Roya Valley in the foothills of the Alps. A stacked village "village empile" accessed from the French side via the village of Sospel or from the Italian side via Ventimiglia driving from the coast up the narrow gorges of the Roya Valley.
Italy: The first town over the border is Ventemille (Ventimiglia), this is 45 minutes away by car if the auto route is taken. Beyond that is San Remo, with its morning market and winding streets. Hanbury Gardens - botanical gardens on the coast just 8kms from Ventimiglia built by a wealthy English man Lord Hanbury and bequeathed to Italy after WWII - 17 hectares of garden sloping down to the sea. Apricale between Ventimiglia and Bordighera is worth a visit.