Where the Mediterannean’s azure waters meet picture-postcard resort towns: Our French Riviera travel guide

Published

22 December, 2022

Edited

12 January, 2023

Hugging the shores of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in Southern France, the French Riviera is a sight to behold. Much more than just the annual setting for the Cannes Film Festival, this idyllic stretch of coastline has bountiful natural beauty and a rich and diverse history.

The glitz and glamour of this sparkling, star-studded coastline is truly inimitable

World-renowned for its sandy beaches and exclusive resorts, the French Riviera has been attracting the beau monde as far back as the late 18th century. It’s no wonder so many stars have fallen in love with the French Riviera; from Nice’s palm-swathed promenade to the historic old town of Antibes, this dazzling destination is steeped in elegance and glamour no matter where you turn.

Discover the effervescent atmosphere of the French Riviera’s very best beaches

Of all the things to do in the French Riviera, beach days are usually the first to spring to mind. Whether you’re seeking the lively atmosphere of Cannes’ exclusive beach clubs or looking for a quiet spot to watch the waves roll in from Antibes, you’re never too far away from a gorgeous bay.

La Réserve - Nice

Away from the luxury hotels and resorts lining the main stretch of Nice’s coastline, La Réserve is the closest you’ll get to a wild beach. This pebbly bay doesn’t offer anything in the way of beach bars and restaurants, but the trade-off is well worth it if you’re seeking peace and quiet; the only distractions here are the sounds of crashing waves and seabirds, making it the perfect spot for a day of peaceful bathing.

Pampelonne Beach - Saint-Tropez

Stretching over three miles, Pampelonne Beach is easily one of Saint-Tropez’s most iconic landmarks. With its crystal-clear waters, powdery white sands and buzzing beach clubs, this glorious stretch of coast has enticed many famous names over the years. In fact, it was on these shores that '60s starlet Brigitte Bardot filmed the famed beach scenes for And God Created Woman.

Plage de la Gravette - Antibes

Nestled behind rampart walls and set right at the end of the port in Old Antibes, Plage de la Gravette is a much-loved spot among locals - which is always a good sign if you’re searching for Antibes’ secluded spots. Much quieter than the rest of the resort’s bustling beaches, this quiet bay makes a lovely setting for family picnics.

Plage de la Croisette - Cannes

There’s always plenty to see at Plage de la Croisette. This long stretch of fine white sand spans the length of Cannes’ famed La Croisette boardwalk, lined with a dazzling array of high-end boutiques and fine dining eateries. The beach itself is excellent for swimming; protected from east-west winds and with a shallow entry point, you can wade right into the waters if you need to cool off from the sizzling summer heat.

Verdant vineyards and captivating coastal vistas

With so many top-rated tourist attractions dotted across the French Riviera’s sparkling coast, you’ll never be left wondering what to do here. Spend a morning at the local farmer’s market, make a beeline to the promenade for an afternoon of retail therapy, or head further inland to discover the region’s finest vineyards.

Take a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice

Lined with rustling palms and with stunning sights of the azure Mediterranean coast along the entire four-mile stretch, the Promenade des Anglais is a must-see while visiting Nice. Named after the English aristocrats who flocked to the warmer climates of the French Riviera in the 18th century, this popular promenade is lovely for a relaxed afternoon stroll or a scenic bike ride.

Enjoy a day trip to the vineyards of Chateau des Marres in Saint-Tropez

As one of the largest wine producers in the world, it should come as no surprise that France’s coastal regions are home to a collection of flourishing vineyards. Among them is Chateau des Marres, tucked away behind Saint-Tropez’s glittering coast and set within acres of verdant countryside. Set on a traditional Provencal estate, guests are able to enjoy group tours of both the cellar and winery with expert guides before getting a chance to sample a selection of wines - accompanied by a delicious deli platter.

Shop like a local at the Marché Forville in Cannes

Just a short stroll from the glamorous boutiques of the La Croisette boardwalk, Marché Forville is where you’ll find the very best produce of the French Riviera. Open six days a week for locals to sell their wares, the stalls are filled with a kaleidoscope of colours; from freshly-picked fruits to sizzling paella made with locally-caught seafood, it’s practically impossible to walk through this market without taking home a little something for later.

Take a trek along the Le Sentier du Littoral in Antibes

While the French Riviera might be best known for its star-studded film festivals and luxury shopping destinations, there’s plenty of natural beauty to be explored too. The Le Sentier du Littoral is a three-mile trail around the southern tip of Antibes. Along the winding stone trails, you’ll get to enjoy the most breathtaking coastal views across the shimmering Mediterranean Sea.

Uncover the French Riveria’s most secluded spots

You might have already ticked off all the major attractions in the French Riviera, but there’s much more to enjoy just a little off the well-trodden path. From secluded bays with few visitors to local art galleries and historic chapels, we’ve chosen some of our favourite destinations for those seeking something a little different.

Bask beside the quiet shores of Èze-sur-Mer in Nice

The quaint village of Èze clings to the sea cliffs of Nice. Beneath it, the tiny bay of Èze-sur-Mer offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle. Its pebble shores might not rival the soft sands of Plage des Marinières, but instead, you’ll get to enjoy total peace and quiet; aside from the soothing sound of the waves ebbing and flowing between the rocks, of course.

Experience stunning sea views from Chapelle Sainte-Anne in Saint-Tropez

Sat atop a hillside in the village of Ramatuelle, Chapelle Sainte-Anne is an unassuming chapel dating all the way back to 1618. The wedding venue of choice for Mick and Bianca Jagger in 1971, this teeny chapel welcomed the likes of The Beatles, Eric Clapton, and the rest of The Rolling Stones band; but since then, it has remained closed to the public with the exception of three days in the year. Overlooking the busy harbour of Saint Tropez, the views from the top are absolutely sublime from here.

Take a tour of contemporary art at La Malmaison in Cannes

While many flock to Cannes for its glitzy beaches and high-profile media events, there are plenty more things to be discovered here - many of which are hidden in plain sight. Set along the buzzing boardwalk of La Croisette, La Malmaison is a showcase of contemporary art pieces from local talents. It probably won’t take you very long to explore the gallery, but you’ll find many more close by, including the smaller Galerie des Lyons and Galerie Butterfly.

Savour the seclusion of Billionaires Bay in Antibes

Hidden by dense vegetation, the rocky shores of Billionaires Bay are easily missed unless you’re already on the lookout for them. Known by the locals as La Baie des milliardaires, this wild beach offers a secluded spot with clear, azure waters that are perfect for a day of snorkelling and swimming. Given its remote location, you won’t find any of the usual facilities here, so be sure to pack plenty of snacks.

Find Michelin guide dining hotspots around every corner

There’s a good reason why French cuisine is be found in almost every corner of the world. From buttery pastries and crepes to hearty beef dishes, the country is renowned for its unparalleled gastronomy - and where better to enjoy it than in the spectacular surroundings of the French Riviera?

JAN - Nice

Before opening his namesake restaurant, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen worked as a chef on private yachts in Monaco, introducing discerning gastronomists to the world of South African cuisine. Set just behind the Nice’s harbour, JAN offers an intimate dining experience in its compact, yet cosy dining room. Using fresh, local ingredients and homegrown herbs, each dish combines classic South African flavours with the excellent produce of France.

DIOR Café des Lices - Saint-Tropez

An important pitstop for any fashion enthusiast, the DIOR Café des Lices can be found housed within a palatial Provençal building and courtyard. A fabulous spot to refuel with a zesty mimosa and beautifully-presented pastry after a busy day browsing the nearby boutiques of Bottega, Louis Vuitton, and of course, Dior. Open until midnight, you could even stroll down after sunset for a delicious dinner under the stars.

Le 44 - Antibes

Tantalising palates since its grand opening in 2016, Le 44 prides itself on simplicity. Classic French flavours and ingredients are used throughout the menu, from the rich foie gras terrine entrée to the tender lamb plat principal, smoked with hay and Provence herbs. Just a short stroll from the harbour, it’s a lovely little spot for romantic dinners in Antibes’ balmy evening temperatures.

Lucky You Beef & Seafood - Cannes

Only the finest and juiciest of steaks are served at Lucky You Beef & Seafood. Set in the heart of Cannes, this sophisticated steakhouse boasts an impressive selection of cuts from around the world and in the surrounding regions. Cooked using a unique process that sears meat at temperatures of up to 1,200°C, each steak is cooked to sheer perfection. If you prefer surf over turf, the wild shrimp risotto and octopus skewers come highly recommended.

The onefinestay experience

Here at onefinestay, we offer more than just a carefully-curated collection of handpicked villas along the Côte d'Azur. To ensure our guests enjoy an unforgettable experience throughout their stay, we offer a fabulous selection of exclusive concierge services. From private chefs and in-house spa treatments to planning all your exciting activities and adventures, just let us take care of everything on your behalf. With all of these lovely extras arranged well before your arrival, you can make the most of your well-deserved time away.

Fallen in love with the French Riviera?

SPEAK TO ONE OF OUR TRAVEL ADVISORS TO BEGIN PLANNING YOUR GETAWAY TO THE FRENCH RIVIERA TODAY. WE’LL FIND THE PERFECT VILLA FOR YOU AND CRAFT THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME.