The French Riviera

We’ve compiled the best of the best in The French Riviera - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Chapelle du Rosaire

    On the outskirts of "new" Vence, toward St-Jeannet, is the Chapelle du Rosaire, better known to the world-at-large as the Matisse Chapel. The artist decorated...

    On the outskirts of "new" Vence, toward St-Jeannet, is the Chapelle du Rosaire, better known to the world-at-large as the Matisse Chapel. The artist decorated it with beguiling simplicity and clarity between 1947 and 1951 as his gift to nuns who had nursed him through illness. It reflects the reductivist style of the era: walls, floor, and ceiling are gleaming white, and the small stained-glass windows are cool greens and blues. "Despite its imperfections I think it is my masterpiece . . . the result of a lifetime devoted to the search for truth," wrote Matisse, who designed and dedicated the chapel when he was in his 80s and nearly blind.

    466 av. Henri-Matisse, Vence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 06140, France
    04–93–58–03–26

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €7, Closed Sun., Mon., and two weeks in Dec.
  • 2. Commune Libre du Safranier

    A few blocks south of the Château Grimaldi, aka the Picasso Museum, is the Commune Libre du Safranier, a magical little neighborhood with a character...

    A few blocks south of the Château Grimaldi, aka the Picasso Museum, is the Commune Libre du Safranier, a magical little neighborhood with a character (and mayor) all its own since 1966 (it's not technically a part of Antibes). The commune even holds its own festivals throughout the year, celebrating a variety of things like chestnuts, grape harvests, and the Christmas Yule log. Not far off the seaside promenade, Rue de la Touraque is the main street to get here, and you can amble around Place du Safranier, where tiny houses hang heavy with flowers and vines, and neighbors carry on conversations from window to window across the stone-stepped Rue du Bas-Castelet .

    Rue du Safranier, Rue du Bas-Castelet, Antibes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 06600, France
  • 3. Fondation Maeght

    Many people come to St-Paul-de-Vence just to visit France’s most important private art foundation, founded in 1964 by art dealer Aimé Maeght. High above the...

    Many people come to St-Paul-de-Vence just to visit France’s most important private art foundation, founded in 1964 by art dealer Aimé Maeght. High above the medieval town, the small modern art museum attracts 200,000 visitors a year. It's an extraordinary marriage of the arc-and-plane architecture of Josep Sert; the looming sculptures of Miró, Moore, and Giacometti; the mural mosaics of Chagall; and the humbling hilltop setting, complete with pines, vines, and flowing planes of water. On display is an intriguing and ever-varying parade—one of the most important in Europe—of works by modern masters, including Chagall's wise and funny late-life masterpiece La Vie (Life). On the extensive grounds, fountains and impressive vistas help to beguile even those who aren't into modern art. Café F, should you need time to reflect, is open year-round. Contact the tourist office for a private guided visit in English (€7 plus discounted admission rate of €11).

    623 ch. des Gardettes, St-Paul-de-Vence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 06570, France
    04–93–32–81–63

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €16
  • 4. Gorges du Verdon

    You are here for one reason only: to explore the extraordinary Gorges du Verdon, also known as—with only slight exaggeration over another, more famous version—the...

    You are here for one reason only: to explore the extraordinary Gorges du Verdon, also known as—with only slight exaggeration over another, more famous version—the Grand Canyon. Through the aeons, the jewel-green torrent of the Verdon River has chiseled away the limestone plateau and gouged a spectacular gorge lined with steep white cliffs and sloping rock falls carpeted with green forest. The jagged rock bluffs, roaring water, and dense wild boxwood create a savage world of genuinely awe-inspiring beauty, whether viewed from dozens of clifftop overlooks or explored from the wilderness below. If you're driving from La Palud, follow the dramatic Route des Crêtes circuit (D23), a white-knuckle cliff-hanger not for the faint of heart. When you approach and leave La Palud, you'll do it via D952 between Castellane and Moustiers, with several breathtaking overlooks. The best of these is the Point Sublime, at the east end; leave your car by the hotel-restaurant and walk to the edge, holding tight to dogs and children—that's a 2,834-foot drop to the bottom. You can also access the famous drive along D71 called the Route de la Corniche Sublime from Moustiers: top lookout points here are the Horserider's Cliff, the Balcon de la Mescla, and the Pont de l'Artuby bridge. If you want to hike, there are several trails that converge in this prime territory. The most spectacular is the branch of the GR4 that follows the bed of the canyon itself, along the Sentier Martel. This dramatic trail, beginning at the Chalet de la Maline and ending at the Point Sublime, was created in the 1930s by the Touring-Club de France and named for one of the gorge's first explorers. Easier circuits leave from the Point Sublime on sentiers de découverte (trails with commentary) into the gorge known as Couloir Samson.

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  • 5. Le Sentier du Littoral

    Bordering the Cap's zillion-dollar hotels and over-the-top estates runs one of the most spectacular footpaths in the world. Nicknamed the Sentier "Tire-poil" (because the wind...

    Bordering the Cap's zillion-dollar hotels and over-the-top estates runs one of the most spectacular footpaths in the world. Nicknamed the Sentier "Tire-poil" (because the wind is so strong it "ruffles the hair"), the circuit stretches about 5 km (3 miles) along the outermost tip of the peninsula, bringing it "full circle" around the gardens at Eilenroc over to l'Anse de l'Argent Faux. An educational family-fun nature walk can be booked through the tourist office, or you can tackle the path on your own via the pretty Plage de la Garoupe (where Cole Porter and Gerald Murphy used to hang out), with a paved walkway and dazzling views over the Baie de la Garoupe and the faraway Alps. Round the far end of the cap, however, and the paved promenade soon gives way to a boulder-studded pathway that picks its way along 50-foot cliffs, dizzying switchbacks, and thundering breakers. (Signs read, "Attention Mort" [Beware: Death], reminding you this path can be very dangerous in stormy weather.) Continue along the newer portion of the path to the cove l'Anse de l'Argent Faux, where you can stop and catch your breath before heading up to the entrance of Eilen Roc. Then follow Avenue Beaumont until it touches the Cap's main road RD2559. On sunny days, with exhilarating winds and spectacular breakers, you'll have company, although for most stretches all signs of civilization completely disappear except for a yacht or two. The walk takes about two hours to complete, but it may prove to be two of the more unforgettable hours of your trip (especially if you tackle it at sunset). By the way, if you come across locked gates blocking your route it's because storm warnings have been issued and you are not allowed to enter. From the station in town take Bus No. 2 to Fontaine stop. To return, follow the Plage de la Garoupe until Boulevard de la Garoupe, where you'll make a left to reconnect with the bus.

    Antibes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 06600, France
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  • 6. Musée d'Art Classique de Mougins

    This hidden gem "highlights the dialogue between the old and the new" with Roman, Greek, and Egyptian art rubbing shoulders with pieces by Picasso, Matisse,...

    This hidden gem "highlights the dialogue between the old and the new" with Roman, Greek, and Egyptian art rubbing shoulders with pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, Warhol, and Dalí. Expect to come across a sarcophagus alongside a Cocteau or a Hirst sculpture next to an ancient bust. Spread over four floors, the museum also houses antique jewelry and the world's largest private armory collection.

    32 rue Commandeur, Mougins, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 06250, France
    04–93–75–18–22

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €14
  • 7. Musée Matisse

    Cimiez

    In the 1960s, the city of Nice bought this lovely, light-bathed, 17th-century villa, surrounded by the ruins of Roman civilization, and restored it to house...

    In the 1960s, the city of Nice bought this lovely, light-bathed, 17th-century villa, surrounded by the ruins of Roman civilization, and restored it to house a large collection of Henri Matisse's works. The Fauvist artist settled along Nice's waterfront in 1917, seeking a sun cure after a bout with pneumonia, and remained here until his death in 1954. During his years on the French Riviera, Matisse maintained intense friendships and artistic liaisons with Renoir, who lived in Cagnes, and with Picasso, who lived in Mougins and Antibes. He eventually moved up to the rarefied isolation of Cimiez and took an apartment in the Hôtel Regina (now an apartment building, just across from the museum), where he lived out the rest of his life. He walked often in the parklands around the Roman remains and was buried in an olive grove outside the Cimiez cemetery. The collection of artworks includes several pieces the artist donated to the city before his death; the rest were donated by his family. In every medium and context—paintings, gouache cutouts, engravings, and book illustrations—the collection represents the evolution of his art, from Cézanne-like still lifes to exuberant dancing paper dolls. Even the furniture and accessories speak of Matisse, from the Chinese vases to the bold-printed fabrics with which he surrounded himself. A series of black-and-white photographs captures the artist at work, revealing telling details. Note that you can't get into the museum with a backpack or travel bag.

    164 av. des Arènes-de-Cimiez, Nice, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 06000, France
    04–93–81–08–08

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €15, includes entry to all municipal museums for 48 hrs, Closed Tues.
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  • 8. Villa Eilenroc

    Le Sentier du Littoral passes along the beach at the Villa Eilenroc (designed by Charles Garnier, who created the Paris Opéra), commanding the tip of...

    Le Sentier du Littoral passes along the beach at the Villa Eilenroc (designed by Charles Garnier, who created the Paris Opéra), commanding the tip of the peninsula from a grand and glamorous garden. Over the last decade an eco-museum was completed and a scented garden created at the entrance to the rose garden. On Wednesday, September through June, visitors are allowed to wander through the reception salons, which retain the Louis Seize-Trianon feel of the noble facade. The Winter Salon still has its 1,001 Nights ceiling mural painted by Jean Dunand, the famed Art Deco designer; display cases are filled with memorabilia donated by Caroline Groult-Flaubert (Antibes resident and goddaughter of the great author); and the boudoir has boiseries (decorative wood features) from the Marquis de Sévigné's Paris mansion. As you leave, be sure to detour to La Rosaerie, the rose garden of the estate—in the distance you can spot the white portico of the Château de la Cröe, another legendary villa (now reputedly owned by a syndicate of Russian billionaires). It has a host of big names attached to it—singer Helene Beaumont built it; and King Leopold II of Belgium, King Farouk of Egypt, Aristotle Onassis, and Greta Garbo all rented here. Visitors may occasionally find the villa unexpectedly closed due to private events. Your best bet is to check the Antibes tourist office's website before you head out. 

    460 av. L.D. Beaumont, Antibes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 06160, France
    04–93–67–74–33

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €2
  • 9. Villa Kerylos

    One manifestation of Beaulieu's Belle Époque excess is the eye-popping Villa Kerylos, a 1902 mansion built in the style of classical Greece (to be exact,...

    One manifestation of Beaulieu's Belle Époque excess is the eye-popping Villa Kerylos, a 1902 mansion built in the style of classical Greece (to be exact, of the villas that existed on the island of Delos in the 2nd century BC). It was the dream house of amateur archaeologist Théodore Reinach, who hailed from a wealthy German family, helped the French in their excavations at Delphi, and became an authority on ancient Greek music. He commissioned an Italian architect from Nice, Emmanuel Pontremoli, to surround him with Grecian delights: cool Carrara marble, rare fruitwoods, and a dining salon where guests reclined to eat à la grecque. It's one of the most unusual houses in the south of France.

    Impasse Gustave-Eiffel, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 06310, France
    04–93–01–01–44

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €11.50
  • 10. Allée de la Liberté Markets

    Shaded by plane trees and sheltering a sandy pétanque field, this is a little piece of Provence in a big, glitzy resort town. Every morning...

    Shaded by plane trees and sheltering a sandy pétanque field, this is a little piece of Provence in a big, glitzy resort town. Every morning except Monday a flower market paints the square in vivid colors and on the weekend there's a flea market (10–6), where you can find almost any item, from moth-eaten uniforms to secondhand gravy boats. The antiques market shares the space on Saturday and the first Sunday of every month.

    Allée de la Liberté, Cannes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, 06400, France
  • 11. Arènes

    The Arènes (often called the Amphithéâtre) is still used for concerts and bullfights, and can still seat up to 5,000. Back down on the coast,...

    The Arènes (often called the Amphithéâtre) is still used for concerts and bullfights, and can still seat up to 5,000. Back down on the coast, a big French naval base occupies the spot where ancient Roman galleys once set out to defeat Cleopatra and Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium.

    Rue Henri Vadon, Fréjus, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 83600, France
    04–94–51–83–83

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €3, Closed Mon. yr-round and Sun. Oct.–Mar.
  • 12. Basilique St-Michel

    This majestic basilica dominates the skyline of Menton. Beyond the beautifully proportioned facade—a 19th-century addition—the richly frescoed nave and chapels contain several works by Genovese...

    This majestic basilica dominates the skyline of Menton. Beyond the beautifully proportioned facade—a 19th-century addition—the richly frescoed nave and chapels contain several works by Genovese artists plus a splendid 17th-century organ. Volunteers man the doors here, so you may have to wait for the church to open before visiting. The parvis plays host to concerts during the Menton music festival every August.

    Parvis St-Michel, 22 rue St-Michel, Menton, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 06500, France

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Tues., Thurs., and weekends
  • 13. Beau Rivage

    Located across from Cours Saleya. the Riviera's largest private beach is one of Nice's nicest; you can gain access by renting a lounger for the...

    Located across from Cours Saleya. the Riviera's largest private beach is one of Nice's nicest; you can gain access by renting a lounger for the day via phone. The beach itself is stony, so water shoes are advisable. If there are jellyfish sightings, you'll see a written warning of "méduse" on a beach board; ditto for strong winds. Steps from Beau Rivage on the Prom, you can find Nice's own Statue of Liberty (look carefully, as she's only 4½-feet tall). Amenities: food and drink; showers; toilets. Best for: sunset; swimming.

    107 quai des États-Unis, Nice, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 06300, France
    04–92–00–46–80
  • 14. Café de la Place

    On your way from the overpriced parking garages, you'll pass a Provençal scene played out with cinematic flair yet still authentic: the perpetual game of...

    On your way from the overpriced parking garages, you'll pass a Provençal scene played out with cinematic flair yet still authentic: the perpetual game of pétanque outside the Café de la Place. A sun-weathered pack of men (and it is overwhelmingly men) in caps, cardigans, and workers' blues—occasionally joined by a passing professional with tie and rolled-up sleeves—gathers under the massive plane trees and stands serene, silent, and intent to toss metal balls across the dusty square. Until his death, Yves Montand made regular appearances here, participating in this ultimate southern scenario. It's the perfect place to people-watch, but best to lower all expectations about food and friendly service. Want to give pétanque a go? The Tourist Office rents balls for €4 per person, and you can play for as long as you want. Pay a few euros extra, and you'll get your own private tutor in English.

    Pl. de Gaulle, St-Paul-de-Vence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, 06570, France
    04–93–32–80–03
  • 15. Carlton InterContinental

    Built in 1912, the Carlton was the first of the grand hotels to stake out the superb stretch of beach and greenery on La Croisette,...

    Built in 1912, the Carlton was the first of the grand hotels to stake out the superb stretch of beach and greenery on La Croisette, and thus is the best positioned, which explains its fashionable see-and-be-seen terrace and brasserie. It is here that many of the film festival's grand banquets take place.

    58 bd. de la Croisette, Cannes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, 06400, France
    04–93–06–40–06
  • 16. Casino Barrière

    The famous Casino Barrière on La Croisette—open 10 am to 3 am (until 4 am on weekends and until 5 am during summer)—is said to...

    The famous Casino Barrière on La Croisette—open 10 am to 3 am (until 4 am on weekends and until 5 am during summer)—is said to draw more crowds to its slot machines than any other casino in France.

    1 La Croisette, Cannes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 06400, France
    04–92–98–78–00
  • 17. Casino Barrière

    Relaunched as a modern downtown recreation complex, the huge bay windows with sea views may distract you from the slot machines. Celebrate your winnings by...

    Relaunched as a modern downtown recreation complex, the huge bay windows with sea views may distract you from the slot machines. Celebrate your winnings by dancing the night away at the casion's nightclub, Le Brummell.

    2 av. Félix-Faure, Menton, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, 06500, France
    04–93–10–16–16

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Weekdays 10 am–3 am, weekends 10 am–4 am
  • 18. Casino Barrière de Saint-Raphaël

    Looking out over the waterfront, catering to the city's many conventioneers, the casino's 158 slot machines operate daily 9 am–3 am (4 am on Saturday),...

    Looking out over the waterfront, catering to the city's many conventioneers, the casino's 158 slot machines operate daily 9 am–3 am (4 am on Saturday), but the tables (English roulette, Black Jack, Stud Poker) don't open for play until 9 pm (4 pm on Sunday).

    Sq. de Grand, St-Raphaël, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, 83700, France
    04–98–11–17–77
  • 19. Casino du Palais de la Méditerranée

    Promenade

    In the 1920s, the swanky Palais de la Méditerranée drew performers like Charlie Chaplin and Edith Piaf; however, the establishment lost its glory and was...

    In the 1920s, the swanky Palais de la Méditerranée drew performers like Charlie Chaplin and Edith Piaf; however, the establishment lost its glory and was demolished in 1990, save for the facade you see today. Reopened with hotel service in 2004, the contemporary version has 180 slot machines, 38 electric roulette tables, and three blackjack tables, plus two Ultimate Poker and English Roulette tables.

    15 promenade des Anglais, Nice, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 06300, France
    04–92–14–68–00-for show reservations
  • 20. Castel Plage

    At the east end of the promenade, near Hotel Suisse, there is both a large public beach and a private one, where the water is...

    At the east end of the promenade, near Hotel Suisse, there is both a large public beach and a private one, where the water is calm and clear (you can rent a lounger at the latter for about €25, with umbrella). The public beach is composed of large stones, which are more comfortable to walk on than pebbles. Jellyfish are also less of a problem in this corner due to the currents, and lifeguards at the neighboring beach are on duty mid-June–mid-September. Amenities: showers. Best for: snorkeling; sunrise; sunset; swimming.

    8 quai des États-Unis, Nice, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, 06300, France

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