By IAIN MILLER
The Cote d’Azur, more commonly known in English as the French Riviera makes up the south eastern corner of France’s coastline. While this beautiful stretch of coast became one of the original resort regions in the world, it has always been a destination for travellers from other countries. The ancient Greeks came here to sell their wares to the local people and in the 1700s aristocrats from Britain used the Cote d’Azur as their favourite holiday area. In the 19th century the Russians made it into their summer retreat from St. Petersburg. The 20th century saw famous artists and writers frequently visit, as well as wealthy families from America and elsewhere in Europe. Some now refer to the Cote d’Azur as the “playground of the rich and famous”.
The Cote d’Azur sits on the Mediterranean Sea with the Alps in the background. The name comes from the beautiful azure color of the sea. The entire coastline can be travelled in 3 hours from St. Tropez to the Italian border. Some of the most glamorous beaches in the world are along this stretch of coastline. They tend to be narrow stretches of beach made up more of rock and pebbles than sand bordered by busy streets or highways.
- St. Tropez – The best beaches of St Tropez villas cover a 3 mile stretch that can be accessed easily by foot from town. Many people prefer the sandy expanses of beach farther from town called Les Salin and Plage de Pampelonne.
- St. Maxime – The beaches here are on a waterfront that is crammed with tall buildings, apartments, luxury villas and hotels. But it is considered to be a very affordable beach resort ideal for families.
- Cannes – Most of the beaches of Cannes belong to hotels and restaurants where visitors can rent lounges and umbrellas. There are also public beaches and facilities that rent sailboats. Find bargain hotels in Cannes and throughout France with Twenga.
- Antibes – This area boasts 48 beaches that include small inlets and rocky steeply sloped beaches located at the base of cliffs.
- Nice – These are probably the most well known and popular beaches of the Cote d’Azur. Some run along a public promenade and others are luxurious private beaches that offer restaurants and bars as well as equipment rental for a variety of water sports.
There are a number of wonderful reasons to visit the Cote d’Azur besides the beaches themselves.
Eastern Riviera Sites:
- Monte Carlo in Monaco may be most famous for its casinos, but it also offers lush tropical gardens, the well known Formula One Monte Carlo Grand Prix, and the Monte Carlo Opera.
- The entire stretch of the Cote d’Azur is full of excellent art museums like the Musee Picasso in Antibes, the Fondation Maeght in St. Paul, and Musee Matisse in Nice.
- Nice is known as the “Queen of the Riviera” and is well worth the visit to see its palaces, museums, mansions and extravagant hotels. A path along the sea called Sentier Tirepoil offers spectacular views.
Western Riviera Sites:
- Moustiers St. Marie is an old village that sits at the base of a rocky cliff. A stream runs directly through the middle of the village, dividing it into two halves with a rocky canyon dotted with small waterfalls.
- The Verdon Gorge is a canyon that may the most beautiful one in all of Europe. Formed by River Verdon, it is 700 meters deep. The area is popular to those who like to hike and rock climb as well as kayak.
No matter your destinations in the Cote d’Azur or the time of year that you travel, you can count on the Mediterranean climate to be perfect for your visit. The summer days are hot and dry and the winters are quite mild.
Iain Miller is a finance and travel blogger with an unhealthy interest in poker and dreams of making it big in Vegas. He works in marketing promoting luxury holidays for Elegant Resorts.