What are the best things to see and do in the French Riviera?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Thomas Samph

We know what you’re thinking: you have a week and you want to see and do it all in the French Riviera. Not so fast. The best thing you can do is slow down. You won’t cover it all so don’t even try and more important, zis is not ze way! You are here to do as the French do: sip your rosé slowly in a sunny café, take three hours to eat dinner, have a stroll along the waterfront and maybe listen to some music. Otherwise, you’ll spend more of your time in your car getting to places. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors have compiled an overview of the five best things to see and do in the French Riviera. It’s of the big things, the must-sees; the starting points for any trip to the Riviera. It’s meant to be a guide. If all you do is stroll from the same café down to the same beach everyday, hit a market or two, perhaps pop into a museum when you’ve had enough sun and spend your evenings eating and drinking, your time has been well spent.
1. Glorious beaches are everywhere along the French Riviera but the most famous ones are in St. Tropez. Visit Plage de Pampelonne. The sandy beach was forever made famous by the 1950s film And God Created Woman with Brigitte Bardot. Pick a beach club and settle in. As the day progresses, the champagne really starts flowing—literally. Expect a spray tan of Krug at some point thanks to some Middle Eastern princess’ birthday party — or just because. Cannes also has sandy beaches along La Croisette.
2. The city of Cannes, famous for hosting the eponymous International Film Festival since 1946, is about an hour’s drive to the north of St. Tropez. A stop there for a stroll along the famous Promenade de la Croisette is a must. Stay in one of the iconic hotels lining La Croisette or hole up as A-listers have for decades a few miles away in Antibes. Dine along the waterfront, shop the chic boutiques or tiny gourmet food stores and roll some dice at the casinos.

3. Many great artists from the 20th century lived and worked along the French Riviera. Further up the coast from Cannes is Antibes, which is home to the Musée Picasso, the world’s largest collection of Picasso paintings housed in the Chateau Grimaldi, where exploring the old town is like taking a stroll through medieval France.
4. Climb the steps up to the Colline du Château in Nice where you’ll find the best view of the city. Later, explore its scenic promenade and visit its museums, including the Matisse Museum, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and the Chagall Museum.
5. Dial it down in Menton, or rev things up in Monte Carlo, depending on your mood. Menton has a temperate climate year-round. In February the annual Fête du Citron celebrates the town’s famous lemon production with sculptures and parade floats made from the town’s golden fruits. Of course, Monte Carlo is the place to go for gambling in the posh casino. The principality also has great restaurants, a lovely manmade beach and an excellent aquarium.

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