Alpes-Maritimes und Côte d’Azur – from sandy beaches to skiing slopes
The Côte d'Azur, also known as the French Riviera, stretches over 300 km from Marseille to the east of Menton on the Italian border. Deep blue water, Mediterranean sun, olive groves, the scent of pine forests. There is something to do here all year round: From skiing in the snow-covered Alps in winter, sparring through the orchards in spring, the beautiful sandy beaches of Nice, Antibes or Cannes in summer, and the golden autumn. Add to this the excellent French cuisine, which makes even real gourmets happy, and nothing stands in the way of an unusual holiday on the Côte d'Azur.
On the Côte d'Azur, dreamlike small towns with France's typical flair and lively hustle and bustle await you. With a bit of luck, you might even meet a famous actor or filmmaker. Nice is a place of inspiration for many artists in the country and beyond. Away from the cities, you will see mimosa plants and feel the scent of lavender. You can also visit the vineyards on the slopes. Just let yourself be enchanted by the authentic flair of the region.
The Côte d'Azur comprises more than twenty towns, some on the coast, others inland, but all with their own unique charm. The variety of natural landscapes and activities on offer make it a delightful place with something for everyone.
Between the sea and the mountains, spectacular Nice is known for many reasons: the famous Nice Carnival, the French-Italian cultural fusion, the exquisite gastronomy, the jazz and the beaches. For these and many other reasons, Nice will surprise you every time you visit. Getting lost in the narrow streets and strolling through the old town will be an essential part of your visit; a walk through the narrow streets surrounded by historic buildings, open-air terraces, markets, old churches.... You should also stroll along the city's promenade, the Promenade des Anglais (named after the first tourists to come here, the British). There are dozens of cathedrals and churches worth visiting. The impressive St Nicholas Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox cathedral, is the largest outside Russia and can be visited. We also recommend a visit to the Cathedral of St. Reparata, the Cathedral of St Jacques and the Basilica of Notre Dame.
Visit the picturesque flower market, the Cours Saleya, which is open daily (except Mondays) from 6am and also sells all kinds of food, vegetables, spices, etc.. It's the ideal place to buy fresh, local produce and meet the people of this beautiful city. Don't forget to visit the port of Lympia, one of the oldest on the Côte d'Azur. It is lined with small boats and surrounded by historic buildings.
There are dozens of restaurants where you can sample authentic local "Niçoise" cuisine. Try socca and panisse, two delicious traditional chickpea flour breads, pissaladière, an onion and anchovy pie, "niçoise" salad, farcia niçois, a stuffed vegetable dish, and daube niçoise, a tasty veal stew. For dessert, try the refreshing traditional Italian ice cream.
Considered one of the most exclusive destinations on the Côte d'Azur, frequented by the elite of famous actors and jet setters, there is something fascinating about this place, be it its history or its seductive and luxurious leisure offer. Apart from a stroll through the harbour lined with glittering boats, a shopping spree in the port's sumptuous luxury boutiques or a night of partying, this place has so much more to offer.
Saint-Tropez was a former fishing village until the beginning of the 20th century, but that is now history. The city is considered a contrast between history and modernity. So if you want to experience some culture, you can visit the historic buildings, art galleries, theatres, museums and palaces that make this city an attractive cultural hotspot. Don't miss the Maritime History Museum or the Annonciade Art Museum. And don't leave without strolling through the picturesque alleys of the old town. Amidst the pastel-coloured buildings you will find tempting bars and restaurants.
Every Tuesday and Saturday from 7am to 1pm, there is a market on Place des Lices. Here you'll find everything from local food, flowers and fruit to antiques, art and the latest fashions.
As you move south away from the centre, you will find beautiful white sandy beaches. The beach des Graniers is a small bay with a natural and wild aspect. Les Canebiers beach, 4 km from the centre, is also a good choice if you want to spend a quiet afternoon. The wide, fine-sand beach of Salins and the beach of Sylvabelle, both surrounded by greenery, are always a good choice.
It's impossible to talk about St Tropez without mentioning its nightlife. From chic beach bars with chill-out music to bars with live music and discos where you can party until dawn, there is sure to be something for you in the port.
You certainly won't be bored by St. Tropez and Nice, but the Côte d'Azur has other places to offer that are also worth a visit. These include Monaco, a city-state of only two square kilometers. It is considered the second smallest country in the world and is known for being a major epicentre of luxury living. Monaco is full of glamour and is known for its magnificent gardens, luxury yachts and streets full of stars. It's ideal for a short visit as you can see it all in a few days. Visit the Principality Palace, Monte-Carlo Casino, Monaco Cathedral and Saint Charles Church, as well as the Oceanographic Museum. There are many good restaurants offering exquisite traditional dishes such as stocafi, a delicious fish stew, porchetta of stuffed pork, bagnat bread... Monaco's gastronomy is characterized by its creativity, refinement and multiculturalism.
The Côte d'Azur is undoubtedly a film region. Many directors have chosen the Côte d'Azur as the location for their films. Among them Alfred Hitchcock, who used the landscapes of Nice, Cannes and Monaco as locations for some of his films. Cannes is considered the world capital of film, a city of glamour and stars. It is a lively and charming place. Although the Cannes Film Festival is internationally renowned, there is another Cannes beyond the world of cinema. This former fishing town combines shopping, culture, history and lots of natural beauty. Visit the old town and stroll through the medieval cobbled streets lined with charming boutiques and restaurants. This area is also known as the Le Suquet neighbourhood.
For a taste of the city's cultural side, visit the Musée de la Castre, with its collections of Mediterranean, Oceanic and American antiquities, or the Malmaison, a centre for contemporary art exhibitions. Most impressive is the Underwater Ecomuseum, which consists of six statues standing between three and five metres underwater. It was recently founded and is located around the Lérins Islands, 4 islands that belong to Cannes. They can also be visited on a short boat trip.
Visit the Vieux Port, a former fishing and trading port that has been transformed into a luxury marina, although it still retains some of this charm and 20th-century aspects. A visit to the Forville market is always a good option, with excellent quality local fruit and vegetables.
In terms of gastronomy, Cannes is known for its diverse range of restaurants serving exquisite Mediterranean and international specialities. Exquisite fish dishes or stuffed vegetables served with authentic Provençal wines are popular there. For dessert, you can indulge in a delicious crèpe in one of the crêperies.
Other charming towns on the Côte d'Azur are Cap Ferrat, Hyeres, Eze, La Turbie, Antibes and Menton. The mountains along the coast also hide charming inland villages such as St Paul and Grasse.
Beautiful beaches on the Côte d'Azur
If you want to escape the center and spend a quiet day at the beach, we recommend the Calanques in Cassis and the Calanque d'en Vau. Both have turquoise waters and are impressive with the rocks and trees surrounding them. Another good option, also located in Calanque, is Port Pin or Estagnol beach.
La Paloma beach in St Jean Cap Ferrat is also very pleasant and has a beach bar. Other well-kept secrets in this area are the Jean Blanc or l'Élephant beaches in Le Lavandou or Pellegrin, both sheltered by green pine trees near the shore. The beach of l'Esterel will also surprise you with its red rocks and emerald waters. Finally, we recommend a visit to the island of Sainte-Marguerite, just 15 minutes by boat from Cannes. Remote and wild, with a pleasant climate, crystal clear waters and pine trees, this peaceful little island is definitely worth a visit.