Elizabeth Everywhere’s Guide to the French Riviera

There are few destinations more effortlessly glamorous and gorgeous than the French Riviera. The coastline of southern France is studded with beautiful cities, from Cannes to Nice to St. Tropez. I could spend all year switching from city to city, soaking in all southern France has to offer, but I did my best to squeeze everything into about a week during a trip through France last summer. My family and I stayed in Nice, but took day trips to Cannes, Monaco, and Eze, enjoying the famous French coastline.

Nice is SO beautiful. There is so much to do and see, from the main boulevard, Promenade des Anglais, to the old town, Vieux Nice. I recommend spending at least one day on the beach if you’re in Nice when its warm. There’s a mix of public and private beaches, and the private beaches cost anywhere from 10-40 euros for half or full day passes (plus towel or cabana rentals). We had half day passes at one of the private beaches, which was really nice because we could order food and drinks to our beachside seats. Note: if you’re from the southeast US (like me) and are used to warm, soft, sandy beaches, most of the beaches in southern France are rocky and the water is COLD!

After hitting the beach, I’d recommend walking along the beautiful Promenade des Anglais and taking in the ocean views. This is also a stunning walk at sunset! After that, you should definitely check out the old part of the city. The old town of Nice is beautiful and enchanting. I’d recommend spending hours just wandering around taking in the colorful buildings. If you pass Fenocchio Glacier, stop in for a scoop of ice cream! My French teacher, who was born in Nice, recommended that we check out this ice cream shop, and it did not disappoint.

Cannes is another stunning city along the French Riviera, famous for the Cannes Film Festival and celebrity sightings. One our way to Cannes, we visited Vence to see the Chapelle du Rosarie, a church that Matisse designed towards the end of his life. As an avid fan of Matisse and his contemporaries, I really enjoyed seeing his design and artwork in the church. After touring the church, we headed to Cannes. I loved spending the rest of the day window shopping at the fabulous designer stores, walking the red carpet from the Cannes festival, and enjoying pastries while walking along the beach.

One day while in Nice, we took a day trip to Eze and Monaco. We spent the morning exploring the nearby hilltop village Eze, a simply gorgeous village stuck in time. We wandered through the cobbled streets, grabbing a light lunch before heading to the garden at the top. This exotic garden is filled with cacti and other plants, and it features stunning views of the ocean and nearby towns. I highly recommend checking out this town, but get there early! We were there pretty early in the morning, but we noticed crowds of people coming in as we left.

After visiting Eze, we drove to Monaco. We explored Monte Carlo, visiting the famous casinos, and walking through the shopping areas. I loved walking down by the marina and seeing the yachts. The Gran Prix race track was still up when we visited in mid-June, so it was neat to walk along the path for the famous race.

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Look at this perfect blue ocean!

There is so much to see and do along the French Riviera. I loved staying in Nice, but its hard to go wrong when picking a city to stay in because they are all so beautiful. If you have the ability, I would definitely recommend renting a car to explore the nearby towns because the increased accessibility makes going to places like Eze and Monaco much easier.

Have you been to the French Riviera before? Which coastal city was your favorite?

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