The French Riviera is an attraction unto itself. It’s widely regarded as one of the most beautiful areas along the Mediterranean Coast, and that’s saying something. As such, it’s often simply mentioned as a place to see or visit, and left at that. And this is perfectly appropriate! Despite the fact that it actually covers a fairly expansive area, ultimately the French Riviera is marked by a general setting and atmosphere that its largely similar from one town or beach to the next.
Wandering this part of the Mediterranean without aim is more than a little appealing. Yet realistically if you do end up visiting, you’ll ultimately benefit from having a few stops and sights in mind. It’s for this reason we’ve decided to identify a few of the experiences you really shouldn’t miss while you’re there.
1. La Croisette Boulevard
Known as one of the most famous sidewalks in France, La Croisette is a seaside boulevard in Cannes that has come to be synonymous with the area’s general wealth and grandeur, yet which retains a sort of easygoing vibe. High-end shops and wonderful restaurants are all along the walkway, and the views to both sides - out toward the sea and in toward the city - are simply fabulous. There are a lot of specific things you can enjoy doing even along this boulevard, but above all else we’d recommend saving a few hours to walk along and explore it.
2. La Ponche
You’ll undoubtedly see St. Tropez high on the list of individual places along the French Riviera to visit. It’s a whole town on the coast, and well worth taking the team to explore. If you’re just passing through though, or have limited time, be sure to check out La Ponche. It’s the “old town” part of the city (something many cities around Europe have), marked by cobblestone streets and older buildings, and associated with the history of St. Tropez as a quaint but beautiful fishing village, long before it became a tourist haven. It’s a charming place to visit, and an interesting glimpse of something intimate and decidedly authentic within the greater city.
3. Casino de Monte Carlo
A casino may not necessarily sound like the purest of Mediterranean getaways, particularly the way we think of this type of entertainment today. Many will picture kitschy resort lobbies full of jingling slot machines. Some will consider the mobile sites full of games that arguably define casinos even more than the in-person experience these days. Monte-Carlo’s casino however, if you aren’t familiar with it, is something else entirely. It may feature some of the same games you’d find in a Las Vegas lobby or at a mobile gaming site, but it is ultimately a far more elegant building and experience. It’s an “old-world” casino known as much for its architecture and design, and its stunning location within the city, as for its high-stakes card tables. Whether or not you’re there for games, it’s well worth a stop, and gives you a great vantage point from which to explore an incredible city.
One could write up a whole list like this, and in fact one five times as long, identifying amazing restaurants to try along the French Riviera. More than a few restauranteurs have recognized the unmatched benefits of Mediterranean views for drawing in crowds, but rather than relying solely on these views, most of them seem to have gone to great lengths to craft incredible culinary experiences as well. Mirazur, alongside the sea in the town of Menton, is an example of this, and perhaps the best of them all. Run by the Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco yet serving a Mediterranean menu, it boasts two Michelin stars and classification as the fourth best restaurant in the world. And, while it’s by no means a cheap dining experience, it’s not so unreasonable that you can’t swing it with a little bit of advance saving and planning.
5. Plage de la Paloma
As is the case for restaurants, there are countless beaches that could be mentioned on a list like this, and for that matter you’re sure to be able to find lists and rankings of coastal spots on the French Riviera. The bigger point here is that you absolutely have to find a nice beach to hang out on for a bit. We’ve selected Plage de la Paloma as perhaps the best option. It’s known as a private beach, which can scare some people away, but all it really means is that you need to pay a small sum to get your own day bed on the shore - which is to say you don’t need to belong to a club, or be staying at a particular hotel. Paying for a day or afternoon is well worth it, as this beach gives you the best opportunity to enjoy the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat area near Nice, which is famous for its views, relaxing nature, and occasional celebrity visits.