Since French National Day – or Bastille Day – is just around the corner on July 14, and Europe is finally re-opening its borders to foreign travellers, we’ve taken a look at one of the country’s most popular holiday destinations, the Riviera, which is home to both high-profile resorts and hidden gems.
Head to the charming city of Nice and take a stroll around the Old Town where you’ll find markets and history. Much loved by foodies, Nice is known for cooking lessons, tastings and food tours. Work off the calories with a stroll or bike ride along the waterfront Promenade des Anglais and stop in for dinner, or just an aperitif, at the world-famous Hotel Negresco. Travel in winter to catch the Nice Carnival, a 12-day party, ending with Mardi Gras.
Travel along the coast to the home of the Cannes Film Festival and, possibly, the world’s most famous red carpet. The Boulevard de la Croisette is a waterfront promenade boasting posh hotels, restaurants and shops or head to the Old Town for more bars and eateries. Make sure you take a stroll around the harbour, the yachts are breathtaking.
Or journey upwards and inwards around 12km from Nice to the gorgeous hilltop town of Ezé where you will find cobblestoned streets teeming with hot-pink bougainvillea and a picturesque tranquility that’s quite refreshing after the celeb hotspots of the coast.
Also, inland, a short train ride from Cannes, is Grasse. This super-pretty town in the Alpes-Maritime is known as the world’s ‘Perfume Capital’. Here you can lose yourself in the old town, visit old-school perfumeries, many complete with their own museums, and even create your own scent. Check out Notre Dame De Puy, the town’s 12th century cathedral set in a historic area that looks like a movie set. Or simply while away the time at an atmospheric street café immersed in the all-encompassing scent of the nearby flower fields.
Back down on the coast, no Riviera trip would be complete without a visit to Saint-Tropez, the original playground of the rich and famous of the ‘jet set’. There are numerous beaches along its stunning shoreline, some of them naturist or topless. The most famous is Bagatelle, where you may still spot members of the glitterati. Head to the port in the morning to watch artists set up for the day and check out the famous Hotel Byblos, which hosted Mick and Bianca Jagger’s wedding party.
If you’re venturing east to Italy, make a stop in Menton, the last town inside the French border. It’s a hilltop and port town with a maze of mediaeval streets, luxury accommodation and a sleepy character.
it is Often referred to as the “prettiest town in France” with famous gardens, a splendid Edwardian Winter Palace, a quaint harbour and incredible views of the Mediterranean.
If you’re a serious foodie with deep pockets, call well ahead to dine at Mirazur which came out top on the list of The World’s Best 50 Restaurants in 2019 and holds three Michelin stars!