There’s nothing quite like summer on the French Riviera. The sea air, the feeling of the blazing sun on your skin and the sweet, sweet smell of jasmine that fills the air. Sounds pretty idyllic doesn’t it?
Whilst most people decide to come for a long weekend and explore just one city on the Riviera, we’d advise you to forget this faux pas and spend at least a week in the South of France.
Many don’t realise that most iconic, holiday destinations are located close by to one another, therefore you’d be silly not to explore more than just Nice or Cannes. The trains are inexpensive, frequent and pretty good quality so travelling around the Riviera is pain free and quite cheap.
So, with that being said, here’s a quick guide on how to enjoy a fun-filled week here.
Of course, plenty of visitors just want to relax and enjoy days at the beach, but feel free to pick and mix according to your centres of interest. It’s best to base yourself in Nice, and use the train station as a way to reach other destinations along the coastline (whether you go east or west).
Day’s 1 & 2: Discover Nice
The capital of the Riviera and an excellent place to base yourself for the week of adventuring ahead.
A vibrant city framed by mountains and the deep blue of the Mediterranean sea, it’s a place of spectacular beauty.
Start off by getting your bearings with a walking tour of Nice and then either spend your time exploring the quintessentially French Old Town, wandering down the Promenade des Anglais and taking the small climb up Castle Hill to see the iconic view of the Nicoise coastline.
You can cover almost all the main attractions in one day, but we’d recommend also spending one day on the beach. The promenade is lined with many great beach clubs, Le Galet being a favourite. Or, if you’re a fan or a rooftop, Le Meridien has a great one with views of the sea.
Take your time to enjoy an aperitif or two, and dance the night away at one of Nice’s hidden bars.
Day 3 : Villefranche-Sur-Mer & Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Just two stops on the train from Nice Ville station, sits the quaint town of Villefranche. A slice of peaceful relaxation compared to the bustling city of Nice.
Here you’ll find climbing old town, huddled near the harbor and distinctively marked by the orange-tiled roofs. It has old world charm with tiny streets, quaint passageways, and terracotta buildings. .
The old town runs parallel to the waterfront, which is lined with irresistible restaurants serving incredible seafood, pastas, pizzas and the like.
Take your time to explore the small streets as well as the 16th century citadel, quite a marvel as it offers great views of the tiny town. If you’re one for watersports, Villefranche is a great spot to either paddleboard or kayak as the waters are so still.
Just next to Villefranche lies the stunning little town known as Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, full of seaside resorts. You can either walk, following the guided nature walk (takes around two hours) or, you can grab the bus and be there in 20 minutes. It all depends what kind of holiday you’re after.
If you fancy the walk, you’ll see sign posts as soon as you get off the train. Along the walk you’ll discover amazing nature, hidden beaches and incredible views…so it may be worth the extra time taken to explore.
The peninsular most recently shone in the 2018 film ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ where the beautiful Paloma Beach hosted Mr and Mrs Grey on their honeymoon. So put on your best swimsuit and pretend you’re as glam as the famous couple.
Day 4: Juan-Les-Pins
A smaller, and perhaps more idyllic than Antibes, spending the day in Juan-Les-Pins is highly recommended! Especially If you love sandy beaches. You can get that picture perfect, holiday snap of your toes in the whitest, loveliest sand. Carribean vibes anyone? The water is crystal-clear and feels like stepping into a warm bath by mid-July.
Excellent beaches are found on the Cap d’Antibes peninsula and along the Juan-les-Pins coastline. You’ll find everything you need here from parasols to rent, to beach clubs serving endless glasses of wine and cocktails.
But if you fancy discover Antibes before heading further along the coast to Juan-Les-Pin then maybe our Walking tour may be a great option? A great way to spend a morning before hitting the beach and sunbathing into the evening. If you’re a lover of art then you’ll find the Picasso Museum, formerly the Château Grimaldi at Antibes, is built upon the foundations of the ancient Greek town of Antipolis.
Day 5: Eze and Monaco
The home of the Grand Prix. It’s the city everyone wants to visit for that small taste of glamour and high-life. Monaco and Monte Carlo take centre stage in many tourists minds, to see the casino, fast-cars, designer shops and super-yachts bobbing up and down in Port of Hercules.
Perched atop the “Rock of Monaco,” the oldest part of the city, you’ll find the Royal Palace (which is open to the public for visits) and the old town of Monaco. The old town is very quaint, nothing like the new city that lives below.
We could go on, as there’s so much to do in Monaco (surprising for such a small place). Nevertheless, it makes a great day trip from Nice!
There’s also the option of visiting Eze, If you still have energy and it’s not too hot, the spectacular walk in the footsteps of Friedrich Nietzsche up to the perched hill town that is Eze Village to be rewarded with some stunning panoramic views of the Cap Ferrat peninsula and of Nice.
Day 6: St Tropez
This small fishing village which was made famous by the French icon that is Brigitte Bardot who came to St-Tropez in the 1950s, is an excellent day trip from Nice. Getting there can be a little difficult as there isn’t a straight train, but there is the option to rent a car, or catch the ferry from the Port of Nice.
You can spend the day catching a glimpse of millionaires partying on their yachts that line the waterfront as well as taking the time to wander around the many designer boutiques. Take the time to meander down the cobbled lanes in the old fishing quarter of La Ponche, sip pastis at a place des Lices cafe, or walk in solitary splendour from beach to beach along the coastal path.
If you fancy a beach club atmosphere then get yourself down to the famous Pampelonne Beach, it’s lined with many lively spots and it’s a great place for lunch under the sun. We’d recommend having a car if you’d like to visit the beach as it’s a little further away from the centre of St Tropez.
Day 7: Saint Paul de Vence
So it’s your last day, if you’ve had enough of adventuring…we won’t judge you if you’d rather spend it relaxing on the beach sipping an ice cold glass of Rose.
But if you’re up for one final adventure and to tick another South of France location off your list, why not visit the medieval village of Saint Paul De Vence?
Perched on at the top of a large rock that overlooks the Provence countryside, Saint-Paul de Vence is a typical Provençal village.
Being only a 30 minute drive from Nice, it’s an excellent day trip if you fancy a taste of the countryside. Getting there by car (or coach) is the best way, as the village is not very well connected by public transport.
Steeped in history and elevated by the artists who discovered in the 1920s, St Paul De Vence gives tourists (and locals) a real sense of escapism from the hustle and bustle of Nice.
Art galleries line the medieval village, from art installations to classic paintings by
Bonnard, Chagall, Kandinsky, Léger, and Miró. Creatives will find St Paul De Vence so inspiring and ever so captivating.
You can really capture the feeling of this well-preserved town by taking the time to wander down the narrow cobblestone streets that wind through the village. Delightful fountains, town squares, and art galleries add to its charm.
The hilltop village of Saint-Paul de Vence is often included in guided, full day tours from Nice, many combine the tour with a perfumery tour in Grasse and a visit to glamorous Cannes (home of the film festival).
So there you have it, a week in the French Riviera…covering almost all iconic spots on this dazzling coastline. If you’re one for adventure, then following this schedule is the one for you!