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French Riviera (Cote d'Azur) Tourism And Travel Guide
15.8° C / 60.5° F
March to September
4 to 6 Days
Nice Cote d'Azur
Gare de Nice Ville
Côte d’Azur or the coast of Azure is a Mediterranean stretch of shore on the south-eastern end of France, a hub of brilliant summer moods and beaches, small towns perched on hills and cobble-stone lined streets. From the world famous Cannes to the quaintness of Saint Tropez, Monaco’s unparalleled beauty to the hip cool attitude of Nice, you will be in for a summer treat when you vacation in here. That is the reason tourism in Côte d’Azur has risen with every passing year and become one of the major economic contributors. To know how, when, where to go, read this little Côte d’Azur travel guide.
How to Reach
You can fly to the second most significant International Airport of France after Paris - Nice. Since Nice is in the Côte d’Azur area, you will be able to get cheap, quick road transport options to your next destination from the Nice Airport. Regular flights from Mumbai and Delhi ply to Nice.
The efficient road network and highways of France connect the Côte d’Azur region to the north and other European countries. Tourists who wish to take a road trip can drive down to Nice from Paris in 8 hours flat. Milan is also not far, only 320 km.
France boasts of high speed TGV trains that connect most cities. You can take the TGV Méditerranée from Paris to Nice and it takes only 5.5 hours.
Most Mediterranean cruise liners dock at Côte d’Azur ports like Nice, Cannes, Monaco etc for a day or two. You can take these cruises from Italian coasts or Amalfi or even Greece. There are also ready ships and ferries to take you to the island of Corsica from Côte d’Azur.
Waling, cycling and biking are the best options to explore smaller towns of Côte d’Azur, while a hired car or local buses may be better for cross-city travel or bigger towns.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Summer is the best time to holiday in Côte d’Azur, but if you are not much into crowded vacations then spring time is a nice shoulder season too.
Summer (May to September):
Summer is jam packed in Côte d’Azur, especially the two months of May-June are heavily celebrity oriented in Cannes due to the Cannes Film Festival. Other towns and beaches are also haunted by huge crowds because the weather is perfect for a Mediterranean sojourn, the beaches are warm and waters cool, pegging the average temperature at around 30°C with no rains.
Spring/Autumn (March-April, October-November):
The shoulder season of spring is great to visit Côte d’Azur as the temperatures have rather warmed up and rains are not to be seen. But autumn time might be an issue for a visit as rainy days outnumber the non-rainy ones.
Winter (December to February):
Winter in Côte d’Azur is not freezing on the shores due to the water’s maritime influence. The temperatures though might drop to around 3°C, but not seldom below freezing point. The only holiday prospect for winter here is the skiing resorts in Southern Alps.
Things to Do
Enjoy the Beaches:
Côte d’Azur hosts amazing Mediterranean beaches, from Villefranche-sur-Mer’s long stretch of coast to Nice’s pebbled beaches, Saint Tropez’s Plage de Pampelonne and the private Le Club 55 to Cap d’Antibes and Sainte-Maxim. There is enough sunbathing, swimming, relaxing and vegetating to be done here to last a lifetime.
Explore the English Walk in Nice:
Promenade des Anglais is a beautiful iconic promenade walk running parallel to Baie des Anges and the beach. Every tourist must come here at least once to enjoy a leisurely stroll, go cycling or indulge in skating. There are boutiques and food stalls around too and the English Walk makes for some swoon-worthy Instagram photos.
The Cannes Film Festival is the highlight of Cannes and is held in May-June annually. Celebrities from all over the world descend to this town at this time and you can be a part of all the glamour too! There are many free premieres of Cannes for tourists and red carpets are also open to viewing galleries of fans. Or you can book a room at the InterContinental Carlton to catch a glimpse of the celebs residing here.
Gamble at Monte Carlo:
Monet Carlo Casino in Monaco is a hotspot for James Bond fans, party mongers and gamblers. You can visit the casino with a nominal entry fee, gamble at only €5 starting price, and enjoy a look around into some great casino rooms like Salle Médecin and Salle des Amériques.
What to Eat
When in Nice, eat Nicoise food. That’s the norm here, eating fresh, simple, local delicacies that melt in your mouth and take your heart away. Some of the most prized local possessions of the Côte d’Azur region are socca (a savoury chickpea pancake), pissaladiere or onion tarts, Nicoise salad made from fresh vegetables and ingredients, farcis (stuffed baked bell peppers) and of course, the humble macaroons for anytime dessert cravings. Don’t forget to pick up a vanilla slice of tarte tropezienne in Saint Tropez, a famous sweet brioche sandwich with thick, smooth vanilla custard lathered in between. This literally is heaven in your mouth.
What to Shop
Shopping in Côte d’Azur is not as wide as you might have imagined, except, if you are the kinds to splurge and would want to spend on upmarket clothing and lifestyle brands in Cannes. For street shopping and high street wear, Antibes is a charming little paradise, perfect for local spices, cheeses, wood work paintings and ceramics too. Nice Etoile in Nice is another famous shopping destination and boasts of a real mall culture where you will get almost anything. For luxury shopping, Cannes is the best.