Things to do -Cote d'Azur
Wonderful weather, spectacular scenery and the chance to experience life in a small village, yet have glitz and glam on your doorstep -a region with something for everyone.
The light, the colours, the people, not to forget the food and the wine make it a region full of diversity.
Situated between the Mediterranean coastline and the Alps, greeting Italy at its border town of Ventimiglia (A well known weekly market!) this region is made up of the ‘departements' Alpes Maritimes and the Var.
What it look like?
The coast is built up in a buzzy, heady, hypnotic fashion. Nice, the regional capital is well worth a visit and stroll along the promenade at night. Cannes for a day on one of the beaches is busy and relaxing all in one go (You have to try it to believe it). Pop to the fish restaurants near the port for lunch. Juan les Pins at night is fun for music and people watching. And this is just 3 places picked out of myriads of great places on the coast.
The key to really enjoying this region is to mix country and coastal. The real winner for a villa holiday on the Cote D’Azur is the mix. A breakfast of coffee and croissants on the square of a medieval inland village, the afternoon on the beach or for the more active try all the waterspouts on offer (or just swim at your holiday villa!), an early evening meal right by the sea with a stroll along with the locals along many a great promenade when the sun goes down.
One piece of advice, however, is to rent a car. Public transport does exist, but to see the countryside and the villages you really need a car.
Towns and villages highlight:
Monaco is a must. Stroll around the Formula One Grand Prix Circuit, open all year round as it’s actually in the town of Monte Carlo. See the Changing of Guards on the forecourt of the Castle and finish off with a homemade ice cream in one of the many small shops in the old town.
Nice has its old town. Try out Nissa Socca, 7 Rue Sainte-Réparate where you will be able to taste the traditional “Socca” (very fine crepes made from chick pea batter), or if you feel like something more consistent, stuffed vegetables, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, and onions, are always on the menu. For relaxation, The Promenade des Anglais is m succession of public and private beaches stretching from the Nice International Airport to the centre of town, 7 Kms, with large cycling tracks for the really enthusiastic.
Bay of Villefranche sur Mer is quite remarkable, a harbour for small ships and even luxury liners which means a town always buzzing with life, with a host of seafront restaurants selling the products of the morning’s fishing. The fresher the better, and you can’t get much fresher than this.
Cannes is Cannes, of course, with its International Film Festival, “La Croisette” style, glamour and night life, 5 star hotels and so many restaurants, among them “Astoux & Brun” on the old port renowned for its sea food, and “La Pizza” where they serve you only half a pizza so it will fit into your plate; you can’t really go wrong.
Antibes is one of the most historic cities on the Côte d’Azur with its ramparts dating back to the 17th century, built by Vauban, possibly France’s best known military engineer. There is also largest yachting marinas in Europe with over 2000 moorings where it’s very pleasant to dream of all those luxury yachts right in front of you, and of course an interesting local market every Thursday. Read more about Antibes.
Juan Les Pins is just along the coast road from Antibes, teenagers will love this place - restaurants, bars, discotheques and boutiques stay open till 5am in the summer months.
Biot is home to small traditional glass blowing factories, where each glass, vase and ornament is unique due to the air bubbles left during the blowing process. Be on the lookout for the inimitable champagne glasses with a stem but no base, meaning you can’t actually put your glass down until it is empty. Try the experience, but with moderation!
Grasse will not only enable you to visit a perfume factory to discover the ancestral extraction and distillation techniques. There are 3 major factories which you can visit : Fragonard, Molinard and Galimard. Read more about Grasse. They all have two factories, one in the heart of the old town, the other on the outskirts of Grasse. In Galimard you will even be able to assemble your own personalized fragrance, with the help of a professional “nose” of course. There is also The International Perfumery Museum to visit, where you will find one of the world’s largest collections of perfume bottles and labels. Reports have it a second museum may have to be built to house the entire collection!
Mougins is wonderful for two things -gastronomic restaurants where quality is extraordinary and very reasonably priced. (try out the Brasserie de la Méditerranée) and Art. There are art galleries down all the small cobbled streets. Head up to this hill top village for food, art, the joy of getting lost of little streets and great views.
Saint Paul de Vence is another lovely hilltop village, little lanes overflowing with galleries and shops. For a more modern touch, visit the Maeght Foundation.
Valbonne, in contrast to hundreds of other medieval villages where the streets tend to be narrow and twisty, is laid out in neat, symmetrical rectangles planned by the Abbot of Lerins, following the plans of ancient Roman cities. A large Provençal market is held every Friday morning, and you are sure to find just the thing to take home with you to remind you of an amazing and memorable stay in the Cote d’Azur region. Dine on the square and watch the world go by.
A small selection of luxury villa accommodation on offer in the region follows. A full list is available by clicking here.
£2765 - £3095
€3040 - €3405
$3400 - $3805
Perfectly blended with its natural environment is this impressive villa with infinity pool, on the outskirts of Valbonne. Backing on to a small olive grove, Le Cerf Volant is a wonderful piece of French modern architecture which serves to make the most of the outside even when you're in, with superb floor to ceilings windows.
Waking up to the views from this stunning luxury villa near Grasse is a treat indeed. Set amongst verdant hills stretching as far as the eye can see, with sightings of Lac de St Cassien and Mandelieu, you are likely to spend moments here you'll never forget.
£2850 - £3280
€3135 - €3610
$3505 - $4035
Not every lake dreams to be an ocean, and the wonderful Lake Cassien should certainly not. There's so much to do, it's of course the perfect spot for a luxury family villa. With so many activities on offer and iconic places to visit nearby, this is one popular property.
£4500 - £4925
€4950 - €5420
$5535 - $6060
Biot luxury villa rental in Cote d’Azur – Set in a quiet residential domain surrounded by acres of protected woodland and hills, Villa Azalee is a stunning property on the Cote d’Azur with a manicured garden and mature trees.
A charming villa in a peaceful residential area in the countryside surrounding Plascassier.
£3740 - £5930
€4115 - €6525
$4600 - $7295
Les Palmiers is a unique large, villa near Biot, ideal for families or groups of friends, hidden in an oasis of palm trees and well located to explore the famous Cote d'Azur and many attractive inland towns and hilltop villages