What to see on the French Riviera: cities, villages and beaches

The French Riviera is a beautiful French destination that stretches from Menton to Marseille. While it doesn't actually have a clear and indisputable demarcation, the Cote d'Azur includes numerous coastal towns, 14 natural parks, Roman ruins, medieval villages, and exceptional seabed.

Also known as the French Riviera, the Cote d'Azur is one of the European regions most associated with glamor and glitz. Cities like Nice, Saint Tropez, Cannes or Monte Carlo are practically synonymous with luxury.

But there are many lesser-known but equally beautiful attractions, such as the perched villages of Eze and Gourdon, the perfumeries of Grasse, the glassblowers of Biot and the potters of Vallauris.

You shouldn't see the CĂŽte d'Azur as a purely summer tourist destination because the ski resorts are only a two-hour drive from the coast.

In this article we will try to list the best things to see on the French Riviera, cities and attractions not to be missed!

What to see on the French Riviera

Saint Tropez

What to see on the French Riviera: cities, villages and beaches
Saint-Tropez, French Riviera - France - Image from Pixabay

It is certainly the most famous city in France, the place where the Stars spend their holidays. Saint-Tropez is known for its cafes, luxury hotels and its luxurious harbor. The city with its pastel colored facades is the ideal place to stroll along its pier where you can admire beautiful yachts, targets of all eyes and all cameras. Do not miss the beautiful views that can be enjoyed from its Citadel.

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What to see on the French Riviera: cities, villages and beaches
The “Promenade des Anglais” in Nizza - Foto da Istock

Nice is one of the most interesting and vital cities in France and often the entry point to the French Riviera for all travelers arriving by plane, as it has the most important airport in the region.

To visit the Promenade des Anglais, the most famous boulevard in Nice, the city center with the marvelous Massena square Old Nice (with its multitude of narrow streets, baroque churches and craft markets) or Piazza Garibaldi with its Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher.

You can also enjoy a walk to the Promenade des Arts where the important Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art is located, as well as the curious sculpture Tete Carrée. Finally, you shouldn't say goodbye to Nice without enjoying the wonderful views you get from Castle Hill, where one of the most romantic cemeteries in Europe is located.

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What to see on the French Riviera: cities, villages and beaches
Cannes, French Riviera - France - Photo from Istock

It is one of the most glamorous cities on the French Riviera, known as the capital of cinema. The most famous place in Cannes is surely Promenade of the Croisette, the 3 km long avenue that runs along the coast of the city.

However, this walk isn't the only fascinating area to visit. The essence of Cannes is to be found in the neighborhood of Le Suquet where some of the most fascinating corners of old Cannes are located. At the top of this neighborhood you shouldn't miss the Museum of the Castre, located in the ruins of what was once the medieval castle of the monks of LĂ©rins.

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What to see on the French Riviera: cities, villages and beaches
Monte Carlo, Monaco - Photo from Istock

It is one of the smallest countries in the world and undoubtedly the luxury capital of the French Riviera. Perched on the Ligurian Sea, this small enclave offers exceptional landscapes.

Monaco is famous for its glitzy hotels and restaurants, high-class casinos, yacht-filled harbors and the prestigious Automobile Grand Prix. In addition to these you can also visit a beautiful one Neo-Romanesque cathedral, a flowery exotic garden with various species of succulents from all over the world, the elegant Castle of the Princes, the port of Monaco and the Oceanographic Museum which attracts many tourists.

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Almost on the border with Italy, Menton is located, one of the most fascinating cities of the CĂŽte d'Azur located between the sea and the mountains. The first place to visit in Menton is his marina. And it is precisely from this point that you can enjoy the most beautiful view of the city, with the colorful houses that develop on the gentle hill overlooking the port and culminate in the Old Cemetery.

Via Saint Michel it is, without a doubt, the main axis of the historic center, full of restaurants, ice cream parlors and souvenir shops. Don't miss the Basilica of San Michele, one of the most beautiful Baroque monuments in the city.

Menton is a city that is discovered all year round thanks to its mild climate. Full of flower gardens in spring, a great destination for swimming in summer, and a must-see destination in February, when the famous Lemon Festival.

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What to see on the French Riviera: cities, villages and beaches
Grasse, France - Image from Pixabay

This small population in the hinterland of the CĂŽte d'Azur is known as the European perfume capital. This is where Peter Suskind's famous novel, Perfume, was set. And it is not strange because neither more nor less than a quarter of the perfumers around the world have their headquarters in this small town.

Some of these perfumeries can be visited. The most famous of all will be perhaps Fragonard. Do not miss the beautiful Grasse International Perfume Museum, where we are told the story of fragrances since classical antiquity.

In addition, the narrow medieval alleys of the city are one of the most interesting walks on the entire Cote d'Azur. Place du Puy and its cathedral are the highlight of this walk into the past.

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Perhaps Antibes is one of the lesser known cities of the French Riviera, eclipsed by the more touristic and famous Cannes and Saint Tropez. However, his visit is not to be missed. This beautiful seaside resort, located between Nice and Cannes, is surrounded by fortified walls overlooking the sea.

You can stroll through the streets of the old town and visit the Provençal market of Antibes. You can also relax in hers beaches, famous for their beauty. The coast also offers picturesque routes, such as the Customs Path, perfect for hiking.

Art lovers can visit the Picasso Museum, one of the many that the phenomenal artist has throughout Europe.

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Saint Paul de Vence

Saint-Paul-de-Vence is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France. This picturesque fortified medieval village sits atop a rocky hill and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. Its reputation as a haven of peace has allowed Saint-Paul-de-Vence to attract numerous famous painters, including Matisse, Renoir, MirĂł and Marc Chagall.

Stroll along its medieval streets, climb to the top of the ramparts to enjoy the view and don't forget to visit the Maeght Foundation, a modern art museum displaying sculptures, paintings, collages and ceramics in the heart of a beautiful park.

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Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is a narrow peninsula, preserved from the hordes of summer visitors, offering magnificent views immersed in calm. In an hour's walk, you can take the complete tour of the peninsula and discover all the beauty of its coast shaded by pine trees.

Small coves open intermittently, revealing beautiful pebble beaches with crystal clear water. Climb to the Saint-Hospice chapel that dominates the peninsula and visit its bronze Virgin, 1 meters high.

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Ranked among the most beautiful villages in France, Gourdon is a perched village with beautiful medieval houses around a castle that has beautiful gardens designed by Le NĂŽtre. The view over the Mediterranean and the valley is breathtaking.


In the heart of vineyards and hills, Ramatuelle is one of the jewels of the region. At 130 meters above sea level, this peaceful medieval village is a collection of ancient spiral buildings, with winding cobbled streets leading to beautiful squares.

In the city center, the parish church of Our Lady it has a XNUMXth century bell tower and a beautifully decorated interior with gold leaf figurines. Small restaurants and local craft shops are located in ancient cellars carved into the rock.

Below the village of Ramatuelle lies the Pampelonne beach, the best known beach on the Saint-Tropez peninsula.

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St Raphael

It is a city and an therevery popular seaside resort. St Raphaël was originally a fishing village which later became a tourist destination for artists, politicians and wealthy people, attracted by its privileged environment and its pleasant Mediterranean climate.

The historic center is home to the beautiful church of San Raféu and its archaeological museum. In addition, its beautiful coastline stretches for 36 kilometers and offers around 30 beaches and coves to choose from. Don't miss the bay of Agay, dominated by the red rocks of the Esterel mountains, or the Anthéor beach.

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A few steps from Antibes is Vallauris, a town surrounded by hills. It is known for being the world capital of ceramics.

Don't miss the Ceramics Museum and the Magnelli Museum which have some very interesting collections, the splendid ChĂąteau Robert, a luxurious residence with oriental aesthetics and its 15-hectare botanical park.

Golfe-Juan is the seaside resort of Vallauris. Its large sandy beaches, such as the Soleil and the Promenade du Midi, are great destinations for families.

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What to see on the French Riviera: cities, villages and beaches
Èze, France - Photo by Pixabay

Located between Nice and Monaco, Èze is one of the most evocative villages of the French Riviera due to its geographical position: perched on a cliff overlooking the sea from 427 meters high. The village offers incredible panoramic views over the Mediterranean Sea and the French Riviera to Nice.

Visit the steep streets of this medieval-looking village. Numerous boutiques, perfumeries and art galleries adorn the main street, offering the opportunity to discover local crafts. Once at the top of the village, you can discover the exotic garden and its elegant female statues.

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Located in the heart of the French Riviera between Nice and Cannes, five minutes from the Mediterranean, Biot contains incredible treasures. The city has an eventful history and enjoys a unique cultural and artistic heritage.

This fortified village, characterized by arcades and cobbled streets is known mainly for its glassworks and the museum Fernand LĂ©ger which exhibits 400 works by the artist.

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The Estérel massif

This is a little corner of paradise that will satisfy fans of beautiful views. The Esterel massif is made up of red rocks, which create a real contrast with the blue sky and clear sea.

The islands of HyĂšres

Porquerolles, Port-Cros and Le Levant: these are the places to go if you love lush landscapes. The islands boast exceptional flora and fauna and some of the most beautiful beaches in France.

The island of Porquerolles, the largest of the three, offers magnificent trails for hikers, Port-Cros is an ideal destination to discover the riches of the Mediterranean marine environment, while the island of Le Levant is a famous naturist destination.

Gorges du Verdon

What to see on the French Riviera: cities, villages and beaches
Gorges du Verdon - France - Photo from Pixabay

Few sites in France can offer as breathtaking views as those of the epic Gorges du Verdon (Gorges du Verdon). Nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of Europe”, the Gorges du Verdon stretch for 25km across the limestone plateau of Haute Provence to the foot of the Alps.

Created for millions of years, the gorges, with their steep cliffs - in some places 700 m high - have been the centerpiece of the Verdon Regional Nature Park since 1997.

Discover all the excursions in the Verdon Gorges

Other destinations to see

La Londe-les-Maures
Bormes the Mimosas
Cagnes sur mer
Sanary sur Mer
Top of Cagnes
Villefranche sur mer
Loup Valle (Tourrettes-sur-Loup, Le Bar-sur-Loup, Gourdon, etc.)
Valbonne e Sophia Antipolis
St Maximin

When to visit the French Riviera?

The CĂŽte d'Azur is protected by the hills to the west and the Mercantour National Park to the north-east, which gives it a mild Mediterranean climate all year round. The region enjoys nearly 300 days of sunshine a year. Rainfall occurs around March and April, and between October and November.

June and September are among the best months to visit the French Riviera. July and August instead they represent the high season, tourists flock to the cities and it is difficult even to find a place on the beach to lay the towel.

The winter it is not the best time to enjoy the beaches, but it is a great time to visit the 15 ski resorts which can be easily reached in just over two hours from Nice. The big cities and some villages of the Cote d'Azur organize Christmas markets traditional. In February, Nice hosts one of the main winter events on the French Riviera, the Nice Carnival, while Menton organizes the Lemon Festival.

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