Things to do on holiday in the Cote d'Azur
Whether this is your first visit to the South East of France, or whether it’s a return visit, one of the most interesting features you will find here is the diversity of the region.
If you are looking for warm weather, spectacular scenery and the chance to experience a bit of life in a small village, this is the part of France to be.
The Côte d'Azur region is ideally situated between the Mediterranean coastline and the Alps. Its location and climate are extremely attractive. Every city, town, village and resort is adequately equipped to accommodate and cater for your needs. Sometimes you read about places to visit and they disappoint when you get there. But here, on the Côte d'Azur, it is exactly the way it is described. The light, the colours, the people, not to forget the food and the wine.
If you go to the Côte d’Azur, don't just see the towns. See the countryside, it's beautiful. If you don't drive, go on a tour or hire a guide. It's worth it.
One piece of advice, however, is to rent a car. Granted, there is public transportation between the major cities, but to see the countryside, the villages, you need a car. It is essential. It will add so much to your visit here. Contrary to the horror stories, the driving is fine and fun in France !
Needless to say, the seaside resorts are the last word in entertainment, for aquatic sports and swimming.
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 also 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 a 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.
On the outskirts of Nice, the 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, http://www.astouxbrun.com/index-gb.htm 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.
Just along the coast road, teenagers will love Juan Les Pins where restaurants, bars, discotheques and boutiques stay open till 5 o’clock am in the summer months.
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger coastal cities, you have a large number of smaller inland towns, Biot, Grasse, Mougins, Vence, Valbonne, where you will certainly find all you are looking for, and much more.
In Biot you can still find 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!
A day trip up to 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!
If you are more interested in art and sculpture, both Mougins and Saint Paul de Vence will see you right, with at every corner, museums, galleries and artists who are willing to discuss their profession and even the prices of their works, once again unique pieces, definitely not mass produced. For a more modern touch, visit the Maeght Foundation.
Mougins is also very famous for its gastronomic restaurants where quality is extraordinary and very reasonably priced. In the very heart of the city, try out the Brasserie de la Méditerranée.
Only 6 kms from Mougins you find the village of Valbonne village (http://www.tourisme-valbonne.com/en/), which 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.
A small selection of villa accommodation on offer in the region follows. A full list is available here.
£2885 - £3250
French Riviera contemporary villa rental – Peacefully set at the end of a cul-de-sac, backed by a small olive grove on the outskirts of Valbonne, Le Cerf Volant is an impressive example of French modern architecture perfectly blended with its natural surroundings.
£2465 - £4460
Stunning, newly-built villa with views near Grasse situated on a hillside with fabulous far reaching views, air-conditioned bedrooms, private pool and an outdoor gym.
£2470 - £2995
Le Repos du Lac is a charming France villa near Lac de St Cassien nestling among forest with great lake views. The terrace is a super area for alfresco meals, overlooking the shaped pool whilst enjoying splendid views over forested hills to the lake.
£4835 - £5560
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.
£2995 - £3995
A charming villa in a peaceful residential area in the countryside surrounding Plascassier.
£10550 - £11715
Modern Cannes villa located in the exclusive area of La Californie above Cannes, La Contemporaine is a striking, avant-garde villa with stunning views of the Bay of Cannes.
£3540 - £5710
Les Palmiers is a unique family villa near Biot, hidden in an oasis of palm trees. It is a large villa with an open-plan double height living space. A mezzanine with stone balustrades overlooking the living room and a large stone corner fireplace add character and charm.