The French Riviera
Welcome to The French Riviera. There is nowhere else like the Cote D’Azur. Glamour, style and it’s legendary history make this a destination of dreams and an artists delight. The French Riviera is one of the most famous coastlines in the world. It brings to mind breath-taking views, exclusive resorts, wealthy mansions and vivid colours which make it a favourite destination for artists from all over the world. It’s coastline provides a sophisticated mix of city and beach life and a lifestyle straight out of a James Bond movie.
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One sight that goes hand in hand with Nice is that of its palm trees. It was in the 19th century with the arrival of the English that palm trees were acclimatised on the Cote d’Azur. They are now a symbol of the French Riviera and add to the charm and visual splendour of all the Riviera resorts. The mild Mediterranean climate allows a variety of vegetation such as olive trees, pines, cypresses, lavender, laurels, mimosa, carnations, citrus trees, cacti and of course bougainvillea.
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The French Riviera is a film makers paradise. The range of films set on the Riviera including the famous titles such as the 1955 classic To Catch A Thief.
The French Riviera Coastline
Definitions of what makes up the French Riviera or Cote D’Azur tend to vary although a general description would be the coastline of the south eastern corner of France. The Riviera extends from Menton to Cassis in the West. Amongst other resorts, the French Riviera contains the seaside resorts of Monaco, Nice, Cannes, Antibes, Juan-les-Pins, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and St Tropez.
The Riviera begins just west of Italy at Menton with it’s near perfect climate and lemon groves. It’s climate is rivalled only by Beaulieu a short distance further along the coast and here you will find the only town in France where bananas ripen naturally. Along the coastline of St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Roquebrune and Cap Martin you will find spectacular villas belonging to the rich and famous and high in the mountains you will find medieval villages such as La Turbie.
The French Riviera actually took its name from the Italian Riviera (Riviera being an Italian term) and the name Cote d’Azur was given to the coast by the writer Stéphen Liégeard in his book, La Côte d’azur, published in December 1887. The coastline also includes The Esterel, the scarlet rocks which illuminate the landscape. There are also many islands off the French Riviera coast. The Lerins islands are only 15 minutes away by boat from Cannes with Ste Marguerite and St Honorat being the two main islands forming the Lerins archipelago.
French Riviera Hotels
Arriving on the Cote D’Azur, Nice will probably be your arrival point. Nice is a large city and as one would expect , it has hundreds of hotels ranging from budget accommodation to palatial palaces such as The Negresco where you can wine and dine in luxury.
The hotels near the seafront and especially along the Promenade des Anglais tend to be the more expensive (but not always the best value for money). Other hotels including those in the pedestrian area along Rue de France and the roads leading off Rue de France tend to be around the same price and offer comfortable and central accommodation.
Moving along the coast to Cannes, The Hotel Martinez is one of the most attractive hotels on the French Riviera. Located on the Croisette in Cannes, it lies in a perfect position for a luxury stay on the Riviera. If luxury and nostalgia is what you want, then you will want to stay at the famous Carlton in Cannes.
You can search the full hotel list by resort on the right hand side of this page or simply use the search box below to list the areas you are interested in.
Holidays on the Cote D’Azur
If you search the web for all inclusive package holidays on the French Riviera then you may be disappointed with the lack of choice. From the UK it’s probably easier and less expensive to organise your own French Riviera holidays as there are hundreds of choices available for booking flights, hotels and rental accommodation. If you decide to stay in Nice, Cannes or Monaco then Nice International airport is probably your best flight destination.
In fact Nice airport is suitable for all Riviera destinations although the cost of resort transfer will obviously be a consideration. Toulon Hyères airport or Marseille Provence International are other possibilities if you are heading for Saint Tropez or the surrounding district. There is no rail link to Saint Tropez and the nearest train station direct from Nice is Saint Raphael.
Buses do leave from Nice airport to St Raphael and from there you can catch another bus to Saint Tropez although the whole trip will take quite some time. For St Tropez, many just hire a car or pay the very expensive taxi fare. Staying at Nice or Cannes will obviously reduce the airport transfer costs and if you also want to visit Monaco, Menton or any of the nearby Italian resorts then Nice will be an excellent base. Please see our page on Where to stay on The Riviera.
French Riviera Sightseeing
Both Nice and Cannes provide an excellent base from sightseeing trips along the French Riviera coastline and excursions to resorts such as St Tropez, Monaco and nearby Italy. Also remember that the French Riviera can provide a base for trips out into the marvellous countryside of Provence.
Along the 120kms of coastline, a succession of famous French Riviera resorts, 40kms of beaches, capes and beautiful islands provide an opportunity to enjoy the Cote d’Azur to its full.
The port of Nice offers regular services to Corsica, Italy and North Africa. Many cruise ships also stop over at Nice, Cannes and Villefranche-sur-Mer.
The magnificence of the region inspired Queen Victoria to name it the winter residence of the British Empire. A proper name for the coast arrived in 1878 when the French poet Stephen Liagard wrote a book about the French Mediterranean coast and called it ‘The Cote D’Azur’. The British had originally shunned the coast during the hot summer month’s, preferring instead to visit during the winter. However, in 1923 the American millionaire G Murphy was spotted sun bathing on the Riviera and the summer months soon became the time of year to enjoy the true Riviera lifestyle.
Initially the Cote D’Azur was only for the rich and famous and it was not until after the Second World War that the average tourist started flocking to the area. Nowadays the coast accommodates over 18 million visitors a year and the glamorous riviera resorts such as Nice, Cannes, Monaco and St Tropez have managed to retain their splendour and charm.
Nice French Riviera
Four hundred thousand years ago prehistoric man set up home at the site of Terra Amata at the foot of Mont-Boron. Towards the 4th century BC the Greeks arrived and settled on the Colline du Chateau. Then just 100 years BC the Romans built the town of Cimiez.
In 1860 the Treaty of Turin was signed by Napolean III and King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia which stipulated that Nice would become part of France. Nice soon became a fashionable holiday resort with sophisticated events and carnivals. Nice has preserved numerous traces of its past including the Old Town with its baroque art. When wandering around the Old Town, take a look at some of the arches above some of the shops which date back to medieval time.