Getting Oriented

This region is the real heart of the Côte d'Azur. Its waterfront resorts—Cannes, Antibes, Villefranche-sur-Mer, and Menton—draw energy from the thriving city of Nice, while jutting luxuriant peninsulas—St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Roquebrune–Cap-Martin—frame Monaco. Farther inland, medieval villages mushroom out of the nearby hills, offering an escape from the coastal crowds and a token taste of Old Provence. Wherever you head, be it the ooo-la-la opulence of St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, the palm tree–lined promenades of Nice, or the art villages of St-Paul and Vence, you'll find this coast to be an intoxicating mix of glamour and relaxation.

  • Cannes. Conspicuous consumption, glamorous fanfare, and a host of wannabes characterize the celluloid city of Cannes when its May film fest turns it into a global frat party. But the Louis Vuitton set enjoy this city year-round.
  • The Pays Grassois. A crossbreed of the Alps and Provence, this area has striking hamlets such as Gourdon that cling to a 2,500-foot steep cliff and center on the perfume capital of Grasse. Retrace the steps along Route Napoleon as taken by the Emperor in 1815 on his return from exile, crossing Mouans Sartoux to St-Vallier-de-Thiey up to Escragnolles at 3,412 feet.
  • Antibes and Nearby. Antibes is home to one of region's leading yachting ports. When you're done gawking at half-a-billion-dollar megayachts in Port Vauban, endless cobblestone streets beckon you to explore inside the ramparts. The 5-km (3-mile) Sentier Tirepoil bordering the Cap is steps away, as are the sand beaches in Juan-les-Pins.
  • The Hill Towns: St-Paul-de-Vence and Vence. High in the hills overlooking Nice are the medieval walled villages of St-Paul and Vence, invaded by waves of artists in the 20th century. Today, you can hardly turn around without bumping into a Calder mobile, and top sights include the famous Colombe d'Or inn and Matisse's sublime Chapelle du Rosaire.
  • Nice. Walking along the seaside Promenade des Anglais is one of the iconic Riviera experiences. Add in top-notch museums, a charming old quarter open till all hours, scads of ethnic restaurants, and an agenda of first-class festivals all year long, and Nice is a must-do.
  • The Corniches Resorts. The sun shines most brightly on the fabled glamour ports of Villefranche-sur-Mer, Beaulieu, and St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Also here are Èze and Roquebrune–Cap-Martin. Then there’s Menton, an enchanting Italianate resort where winters can be so mild that lemon trees bloom in January.

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