French Riviera Travel Guide: Best Places To Visit
27th February 2022
The French Riviera (later known as the Cote d’Azur) continues to set hearts aflutter. So, what’s the secret to its enduring appeal? Maybe it’s because this stunning destination perfectly encapsulates the ultimate in laidback stylish cruising.
For a start who can resist the hot spots of Cannes, Monaco and Saint Tropez for pure heart-racing excitement. Or for sheer escapism and romance, the unbridled natural beauty of Lérins and Hyeres islands. Not forgetting picture-postcard perfect villages like the Medieval settlement of Les Baux de Provence.
Ever since literary greats Ernest Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald put the region on the map in the 1920s, the ravishing Riviera has long been the place to be. Picasso, Cezanne and Matisse found artistic inspiration here and glamorous icons from Brigitte Bardot to Audrey Hepburn sent the world’s press photographers’ flashbulbs into a frenzy.
Why not soak up the magic of the glittering azure-blue French Riverian coastline this summer, from the luxury of a Princess charter yacht. To whet your appetite, here is a selection of destinations and activities that temptingly lie in wait.
Join the jet-set in St Tropez
Perhaps begin by getting acquainted with the luxury that made the French Riviera world-renowned. Set sail from the port Grimaud to the Saint Tropez’s legendary 5km-long white sandy Pampelonne beach (firm favourite with A-listers and location for the 1955 movie And God Created Woman). A magnet for superyachts, the location plays host to water sports aplenty such as jet-skiing, windsurfing, and paddle boarding. Take time to stop off at St Tropez’s iconic attractions from a dazzling variety of gorgeous sandy beaches and exclusive beach clubs to luxury shopping and modern art.
Go fast and luxurious in Monaco
To many Monaco lives life in the fast lane thanks to its iconic Grand Prix, while its famous glitzy Monte-Carlo casino cements its reputation for high-class hedonism. An independent sovereign city-state and famed as the second-smallest country in the world after the Vatican, Monaco packs a wealth of wonderful attractions within its compact 0.78-sq-mile confines. Its Royal Palace, Oceanographic Institute and the Cathedral offer other interesting cultural attractions. There’s also plenty of luxury shopping to enjoy here and for a relaxed stroll, the city’s sedate Fontvieille Park and the Princess Grace Rose Garden make fantastic scenic settings.
Seek peace and quiet in Antibes
For an overall more peaceful but nonetheless luxurious ambience, Antibes offers an authentic flavour of the classic French Riverian resort. The beautiful old town perched on a rocky headland is characterised by grand villas, the Picasso Museum and scattering of bars and fine dining restaurants. Take a delightful stroll along La Promenade des Arts or seek out the town’s surrounding tranquil rocky coves.
Relax in elegant Nice
Around an hour’s cruise away from Antibes you may wish to revel in the delights of another iconic elegant resort, where la daube niçoise and crispy socca chickpea pancake feature on local menus. Rich with historical interest, Nice is famed for its long 7km beach (at Promenade des Anglais), an old port, leading art museums as well as scenic parks. Transport yourself back in time at the Baroque-era Palais Lascaris or the 19th century Russian Orthodox church.
Sunbathe on the sparkly sands of Beau Rivage beach or hop to Villefranche-Sur-Mer. Sited south-west of Monaco on the French-Italian border, this picturesque old town (founded in the 14th century) has a local heart, putting you in touch with a traditional Mediterranean way of life. Overlooking the famous Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat peninsular, swimming in its tranquil glittering blue waters is practically irresistible.
For another exhilarating perspective take a 15-minute drive up to the medieval village of Èze to discover the original authentic French Riviera. Perched atop a hill its dramatic rural landscape is famous for featuring in Hitchcock and James Bond movies.
Continue the luxurious lifestyle in Cannes
Hollywood stars strut the red carpet in May for Cannes’ world-famous Film Festival but there’s much more discover in this glitzy city all year round. Stop for photos along the paved footpath of Allée des Étoiles du Cinéma, where below your feet are 46 celebrity hand imprints. Gaze at the Art deco hotel palaces as you stroll the palm-lined Boulevard de La Croisette, set against the majestic backdrop of the Estérel mountains.
A popular pastime for the well-heeled city-dwellers, as night falls and the lights sparkle. Overlooking a superb vantage point of the Lérins islands, Cannes’ city centre harbour – Vieux – sees the world’s most prestigious yachts gather and go on to explore more of this mesmerising region.
Beyond Cannes – Lérins islands
The Lérins islands (of which there are four) make the perfect getaway from the buzzing resorts of the Cote d’Azur, allowing you to reconnect with nature and discover quiet solitude on wild beaches. The largest of the islands, Sainte-Marguerite, is carpeted by pine forests and thanks to trails is popular with walkers and nature lovers. Feel at one with the natural surroundings on secluded pebbly beaches with crystal-clear water lapping tranquil little coves. Enjoy diving, snorkelling and birdwatching.
For history buffs, Port Royal and its 7th-century prison fortress once invaded by the Spanish is well worth a visit. Be among the first to try a unique new diving spot just off Sainte-Marguerite. In what’s been dubbed an ‘underwater art museum’, six sculptures of faces made of stone (each over 6ft tall) offer a safe haven for marine life.
Wines and nature wild and free in Île Saint-Honorat
Just approximately 1.5 kilometres in length, yet the Lérins’ second-largest, Île Saint-Honorat, is a paradise of azure waters lapping natural coves and a rustic wonderland where paths meander through pastures of olive trees and Aleppo pines. Star attraction is the fortified 14th-century monastery of Lérins Abbey, currently inhabited by 21 Cistercian monks. For over 150 years, the monks have been producing from the surrounding vines, highly prized wine and liqueurs. For another fascinating natural diversion head to Mandelieu-la-Napoule and explore the impressive red rock mountains of the Massif Esterel.
More dream island getaways to discover
Plage de Notre-Dame on Porquerolles, is considered to be one of the finest in France. The gentle breeze off the dazzling white sandy beach, which lies one of the three islands of the Hyères archipelago (located just off the western side of the French Riviera coast) sends refreshing wafts of eucalyptus and pine. You could easily laze the day away in this amazingly beautiful idyll. For lunch, the island’s one Michelin-starred restaurant Le Mas du Langoustier completes the rural island paradise experience. In this stunning archipelago, the protected Port Cros Island, is another must. Go snorkeling to discover a sea bed teeming with wondrous marine life or take the many natural walking trails.
Sample a taste of French Provence culture
Head inland and amidst the Alpilles mountains and another utterly charming rural landscape awaits you at Les Baux de Provence. This is the heartland of traditional Provence, where artisans and producers ply their trade in the unspoilt Medieval village and where the natural rocky landscape of the Alpilles Regional Nature Park simply takes your breath away.
Hire a yacht and charter the voyage of many magical contrasts
There is so much to discover in the French Riviera, we could write a book. But we hope this provides some food for thought.
Our friendly helpful team will help you choose your ideal yacht and itinerary, based on your specific needs and wishes. We offer a range of exciting Princess branded yachts: Imperial Princess Beatrice, Lady Isabella, Molly Malone, Lady Beatrice, Shawlife or Tao.
If you have a larger group to accommodate we invite you to explore our superyacht selection and embark on a summer voyage of a lifetime.