I’m sure French Riviera comes to your mind when you think about a perfect summer holiday. But what are the best places to visit in the French Riviera?
Côte d’Azur is famous for glamorous beach resorts, beautiful medieval towns, delicious Mediterranean cuisine, 5-star luxury hotels, and unforgettable sea views. I want you to experience it all and plan your perfect road trip around the most charming places that French Riviera has to offer.
In this article, you will find only the best places to visit in the French Riviera that you have to add to your itinerary for the South of France.
Nice is the heart of the South of France and this is where the journey of the French Riviera usually starts. If you haven’t been to Nice before, think about sunny Mediterranean weather, endless beach, lively promenade, delicious seafood in luxury restaurants, vibrant street life topped with an Italian heritage. It’s been the playground of the rich since the 18th century and now anyone can experience that lifestyle.
You should certainly visit the old town of Nice, make a stop in Place Massena, admire the beauty of St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral, and have a walk on the Promenade des Anglais. Don’t miss the Matisse Museum and Museum of Fine Arts if you like museums and have time.
If you don’t like to change hotels, you can use Nice as your main base and travel from here. Use other destinations as a day trip option. However, I highly advise you to make an entire road trip out of this list and to make the most of your time.
Menton probably is my highlight and certainly one of the best places to visit in the French Riviera! It’s a mix of small-town, lively streets, and beautiful views – a combination made in heaven. It is known as the city of Lemons – so if you are planning to visit Menton in February, don’t miss Lemon Festival.
Make sure you walk the Promenade du Soleil and sit on the rocks for those perfect postcard views. You can visit Musée du Bastion Jean Cocteau and discover French art. Climb up to the Basilica of Saint Michael Archangel and get lost in the tiny streets of Menton. Go shopping in Rue Saint Michel and buy local goodies or just relax on the beach and swim in the Mediterranean Sea.
You don’t need to pack your Itinerary when it comes to Menton. I shared some of the highlights, but you can simply wander around this magical town and experience the French charm.
You can combine it with Roquebrune Cap Saint Martin – it offers wonderful views over Menton and Monaco.
The Bay of Villefranche is reputed as one of the five most beautiful bays in the world. So it certainly deserves a visit, right?
The port, the Citadelle, the old town, and the gentle curve of the coast all contribute to the beauty of the village. With its colorful fishing boats and nets, the port is both a base for fishermen and tourists, offering numerous cruises in the summer.
I strongly advise you to visit the old town, see Chapelle Saint Pierre, and take the walk on the promenade. You might recognize Chapelle Saint-Pierre from Emily in Paris!
Beautiful Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is located nearby, so you can visit together with Villefranche-sur-Mer.
Èze is a stunning hilltop village located between Monaco and Nice. It is famous for steep streets, village vibes, and unforgettable views.
I visited Èze many years ago and it was still considered a hidden gem, but nowadays you will find many tourists around here. So I recommend spending a half-day in Èze, but you should arrive early to avoid crowds, especially in summer.
I highly suggest having lunch in Château Eza. It is a pricey option, but the food, the views, and the service is excellent. Just like you imagine it would be in the South of France.
If you are looking for a unique experience, you can visit the Fragonard factory. It is one of the oldest perfumeries in France and the brand is well known around the world. The perfume factory tour includes a visit to the cosmetics laboratory where the brand’s creams and other skincare products are made.
Also, include Jardin Exotique. Views from here are stunning!
Marseille is another famous attraction and must-see when discovering the best places to visit in the French Riviera.
It is the oldest city in France and a major trading port that plays important role in the French economy. If you ask me, modern identity takes away the charm and glamour, but I still think that you should visit Marseille during your time in the South of France.
Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde together with Cathédrale La Major are probably the highlights of Marseille. Also The Palais Longchamp deserves a visit.
The Château d’If is a fortress and former prison located on the Île d’If, the smallest island in the Frioul archipelago, situated about 1.5 kilometers offshore from Marseille. If you have time, don’t miss it!
I advise you to plan more than one day in Marseille and add it to your French Riviera Itinerary.
Antibes is one of the most beautiful towns on the French Riviera. Famous for being home to the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, Antibes certainly saw its fair share of glitz, glamour and a touch of the avant-garde through the 20th century.
Despite that, it has a very traditional vibe that is hard to find in other towns of the French Riviera.
Since I mentioned Picasso, here you can find Musée Picasso. Fort Carré is a 16th-century star-shaped fort of four arrow-head shaped bastions, that stands on the outskirts of Antibes and adds a certain charm to the place. Also, don’t miss Salis Beach!
I bet you have heard about Cannes Film Festival – it attracts many famous people, actors, and singers, so the place has to live up to certain standards. And don’t worry, the French know how to deliver and exceed your expectations.
Walking around Cannes feels like taking part in a Hollywood movie and it’s something that you don’t want to miss. La Croisette is the place to be, that’s where you can find the fanciest hotels, luxury brands, and elite restaurants.
Luxury is fun, but my heart belongs to Le Suquet – the old town of Cannes. Steep cobbled alleys, Marché Forville’s food stalls, and candy-colored cottages all around. Your little getaway from the busy life in Cannes.
Next to Cannes you will find the island of Sainte-Marguerite. It takes 15 minutes on the ferry to get there and you can discover a different kind of Riviera. Raw, untouched, and wild.
Saint-Tropez is famous for its exclusive private beach clubs along the Pampelonne and unforgettable parties. If that’s not your thing, you can still find a lot of entertainment in Saint-Tropez. Apart from the fascinating azure blue seas, the city also has a lush countryside of olive groves, pine trees, shrublands, and cypresses.
You should certainly visit The Vieux Port, Citadel, and Château Suffren. Or enjoy a relaxing day on the beach. It has many famous French Riviera beaches – public and private.
La Ponche is the old town of Saint-Tropez and if you have been reading carefully, you already know that this is my favorite place in Saint-Tropez.
Saint-Tropez is a must of every French Riviera Itinerary.
Technically, Aix-en-Provence is not on French Riviera, but I still wanted to add it to this list. It’s located close to Marseille and this is one of the best places to visit in the South of France.
Aix-en-Provence is a student town, so more down to earth compared to the rest of the area and fancy locations. Visitors come here to see the art, relax, shop in a local market and enjoy the simple things in life.
In the old town you will find many beautiful churches like Paroisse Cathédrale Saint Sauveur Aix-en-Provence, Eglise Sainte-Madeleine, Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste du Faubourg.
Visit Place des Cardeurs – an area that offers many restaurants and bars. A lot of budget-friendly options for local standards.
Cagnes Sur Mer
In Cagnes Sur Mer you will find many famous French Riviera beaches. Most of them are public and can host big crowds, so not as overcrowded as other places. You can do many water sports and beach activities here as well.
This medieval quarter is full of tiny streets, stairs, little restaurants, and old houses that gradually descend and blend with the modern lower city.
As a matter of town, it’s not very busy and alive. But if you want to relax on the beach for a couple of days, make sure you visit Cagnes Sur Mer.
I hope that after reading this article you have found the best places to visit in the French Riviera and can’t wait to hit the road. I believe that this list will help you plan your time in the South of France and visit the places that you will remember forever. Follow my tips and make the most of your trip!
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.