The France’s Mediterranean coastline (French: Côte d’Azur) became the playground and vacation spot of aristocrats many years ago, rivaled by just a few other places on the globe.
From the giant yachts of St.-Tropez to the uber high-end resorts of Monaco and the star-studded Cannes film festival, the French Riviera is known for its pristine blue waters, warm weather, high rollers and crowded beach towns. However, this area, while expensive and overly crowded in the summer, is famous for a reason - it’s beautiful, it’s chic, and it’s a got great weather and even better food. And, while there is definitely no place to totally avoid people and high prices, there are some great lesser-known yet equally beautiful destinations on this spectacular region of France.
Since the days when Brigitte Bardot frequented the beaches of St.-Tropez, the town has become an international tourist Mecca and star magnet. Although the town is mostly known for its famous and wealthy guests, the port city does have a lot to offer visitors in terms of activities and sites. The city has great people (and yacht) watching. You can sit at a sidewalk café in the Old Port and watch as tourists, Parisian jet-setters, and international playboys cruise by. You can also watch the huge yachts line up in the port, where the rich and famous dress in their finest and dine on deck at night. The best time to visit this glitzy port town, however, is in the off-months (not summer), when you can appreciate the true nature of Saint-Tropez without the throngs of tourists.
This ethnically diverse large city on the French Riviera is a popular tourist destination for young and old, rich and, well, not so rich. While most of the beaches consist of stones, taking a swim in the azure Mediterranean waters is still popular among residents and visitors here. Also, because Nice is a major port city in France, there is an abundance of great shopping, fresh seafood, fine restaurants and plenty of things to do.
Known throughout the world for its famous and influential international film festival, Cannes is synonymous with glitz and glamour. While you will usually have to fork over about 30 euros to use one of the private beaches in Cannes, there are a few free attractions. Travelers can admire the fancy yachts in the harbor, check out the Palais des Festivales where the film festival takes place every year, stroll the winding narrow streets of the Old Town, or visit the two islands in the bay off the coast.
Once the home of and inspiration for Picasso, Antibes is now a favorite destination for vacationing French families. It is a beautiful town known for its great beaches and hilly coastline. In the evenings, everyone is town seems to flood the many outdoor restaurants at the old port. You can relax on the beach, visit the Picasso Museum and shop in the provincial covered market for fresh vegetables, meat, fish and cheese.
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