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Beauty of the Cote d'Azur - Top 10 French Riviera places

In my previous hotel review post I already talked about the beauty and authenticity of Saint-Tropez including a few pictures. Here I already experienced some of the charm of the French Riviera and the coastal towns of the south of France. But as this area is so wide and full of charming places there is much more to see and visit. We went in June and I can definitely recommended it, as it is still nice and quiet, everything is in full bloom then and the weather is soft, perfect for exploring and already warm enough to swim!

In this blog post I will try to show you the beauty of all places we visited in the Cote d’Azur through many of my personal pics, and made a top 10 list of my most preferred places based on authenticity and uniqueness.

No stock pictures here, during our 7 day trip I took about 1,000 pictures, of which 600 really worth sharing:) Of course that’s still too much for one blog post, so I tried to narrow it down to the following pictures based on our itinerary. On below map you can see the route we followed and circled are the most interesting places we visited:

For this trip we rented a car with the Dutch company Sunny Cars, which provided us with the coolest ride and the most relaxing service we experienced so far. Having traveled a lot already and usually renting a car for a day or more to explore our surroundings, we have extensive experience with different car rental companies, so we can definitely compare.

Sunny Cars acts like an intermediary between the car rental company and you, they handle all the insurances and hassles when something might happen on the road, which takes away a lot of stress. And they work with trustworthy rental companies which were really friendly and helped us quick, which made it possible for us to be on the road in half an hour after arriving at the airport, so more time for exploring.

Check out their site if you want to rent a car for your stay in Nice or any other destination around the world as well: Sunny

I hope my French Riviera top 10 will guide you through this beautiful area and will help you choose where to go, as there is so much beauty, class and authenticity to be found here. And of course I added many pictures as always!

(Remember to click on the pictures to see the bigger version with description and click on under the picture to scroll through the gallery)

We started our trip driving from Nice airport to Gassin, situated left of Saint-Tropez on the map, circled but not named here. As we stayed in such a beautiful hotel we didn’t see much of the surroundings, but of course we did visit the biggest attraction in this area Saint-Tropez, right next to Gassin. Nevertheless we liked another nearby place even more, so much that I named it my nr. 1 of the top 10, I am talking about:

1. Ramatuelle

Not much more words needed for this place, as I talked about it already in my previous blog post, but what I loved most were the ancient influences which are still clearly visible in this medieval town up the hill. I adored the small streets with plants and flowers every where, ancient doors, small shops, a beautiful authentic restaurant street with quaint but also Michelin starred restaurants, and stunning views towards the sea!

Going from Gassin to Nice you pass by several pretty towns and villages like Sainte-Maxime, Esterel and Frejus, which look very nice, and the coastal route is definitely worth it (although it takes twice as long). But I appreciated the route from Nice to Monaco even more, passing by high cliffs, small villages and the most impressive views of the French coast in towns like these:

2. Cap Ferrat, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Beaulieu-sur-Mer

Just imagine passing by old stown houses covered with bougainvillea, smelling the scented jasmine all around and constantly being surprised with views like these:

A beautiful drive with equally stunning views. Although we did not actually visit all these towns, the views towards them, the beaches and look of the small harbors with high cliffs in the background made me fall in love with them and wanting to come back to this area to see more.

3. Saint-Tropez

Next to the yacht-, people watching and luxury side of this place I loved the contrast with the quaint and authentic buildings and small beaches around the corner.

Make sure to walk towards to the fishermen’s harbor on the right and follow the paths passing by the beaches and up the old town to find the unique local restaurants, beautiful old architecture and see the other side of Saint-Tropez which made me appreciate it so much.

4. Antibes

This harbor city with remaining old city walls is the perfect mix of luxury combined with authenticity. A bit like Saint-Tropez but much more quiet and with many pretty views when you start at the right side of the harbor and walk past the city walls all the way up the edge of town.

We really enjoyed the beautiful authentic French streets and quaint terraces here with good food.

5. Mougins

Another medieval town up a hill which reminded me of Ramatuelle, but with a whole other vibe. This small town is just adorable with its many small and winding streets with an abundance of galleries and art shops all around.

This is THE place for authentic architecture and art lovers! Much more about this beautiful place can be seen and read in my following blog post next week, as we stayed in a fantastic hotel in this town for a few days.

6. Nice

One of the biggest cities of the French Riviera welcoming 4 million tourists a year is beautiful but quite touristy as well. But these tourists come here for a reason, and although it tends to get crowded the Promenade des Anglais has to be experienced. This famous boulevard spreads out from Nice airport passing by Nice towards to old city centre. With its 7 kilometers it’s quite a walk but you continuously pass by the Mediterranean sea, several Art Deco styled beach clubs and various chic hotels, casinos and historical buildings.

A few of the beautiful buildings which caught my attention were the Opéra and the impressive Negresco Hotel roof! But there are several unique old buildings all around, some a bit decrepit and badly maintained, but combined with the constant views of the sea, the fifties allure, palm trees and colourful facades all around they complete the atmosphere.

I adored the buildings in this city, a beautiful mix of French and Italian style lined with high palm trees. If you appreciate Belle Epoque, Neo-Classist and Art Nouveau architecture and of course brightly coloured facades with contrasting pastel colored shutters, Nice is the city to visit!

We stayed here for 3 days and enjoyed Nice old town the most. A few things which should not be missed here:

  • Have dinner on the many terraces of the local restaurants in the small streets or on one of the old city squares.

  • Have breakfast on the Place Massena with views towards the colorful buildings on both sides and the famous Apollo fountain.

  • Walk through the parks of the Promenade du Paillon and watch the children play in the fountains.

  • Make sure to walk to the east side of the Promenade des Anglais all the way up to the Quai Raubu Capeu or even to the castle for a full view of the Baie des Anges.

  • Stroll through the Parc du Chateau (Castle Hill) surrounding the ruins of the old fortress.

7. Monaco

This place is quite big and mostly high, but if you park in the top part of the city you will have great views over the famous harbor and pass by beautiful houses on your walk down.

What we really loved here was walking through the ruins to the Palais up the hill, which will again give you great views over Monaco. The area around the Palais has beautiful classy buildings and small streets with many souvenir shops and restaurants. Really recommended for a day visit combined with a visit to Monte-Carlo.

8. Monte Carlo

Part of Monaco surrounding the famous casino is the area called Monte-Carlo. The casino is the most famous landmark of the city and one of the oldest casino’s in existence. Built 1878 in Belle-époque style, very opulent with beautiful architectural elements, as well as the Hotel de Paris next to it.

A definite must visit and you can have a long good look at it while enjoying a refreshment on the terrace of the Café de Paris next to it, as an expensive but traditional option. And from the small park opposite to it, as a cheaper option.

9. Cannes

Renowned for its movie star status and allure this was a must visit in my book, but regrettably I did not like it that much. Cannes has a long boulevard with many beach clubs and nice harbor and sea views, but not so much of the beach is open to the public, as most of it belongs to the beach clubs and hotels behind it.

The architecture is very classy and there are some really fancy and beautiful hotels here, but personally I prefer the more authentic style of Saint Tropez. Though for designer and couture shopping this is THE place to go to!

10. Grasse

Being known for its extensive perfume history this small town caught my attention. Obviously being the nr. 10 of my list this was not my favourite place, as the town itself is a bit messy and run down. But there are still some nice views to be found here and a lot of local shops which offer various scented souvenirs.

And a visit to a perfume factory museum is free and quite interesting for an hour or so.

I hope my top 10 will inspire you to visit the Cote d’Azur as well as I can really recommend it. This was my first time here, I really loved it and can’t wait to go back soon! Find me on social media for more inspiration pics, as I still have so many beautiful pictures to share of this area, which didn’t make it into this blog post.

You can find my daily inspiration on my social media accounts, via the links at the bottom of this page.

And if you’re planning to visit the French Riviera and need more tips feel free to contact me by mail at:

Have you ever been to the French Riviera and do you agree with my top 10 or is there anything you’re missing? I would love to hear about it in the comments below…

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