If there’s one area in France that has put itself on the tourist radar, it’s the French Riviera or Côte d’Azur. The French Riviera refers to the Mediterranean coastline in the southeastern part of the country. Charming fishing villages, splendid resort towns, and an endless strip of beautiful beaches make the French Riviera a favored family travel destination.
The French Riviera also hosts some of France’s most exciting events and festivals, so you’ll even get to taste the fascinating culture here with a bit of planning.
Tips and recommendations
- Arrange your hotel via Booking.com. This provider has the largest selection of accommodations, from beach-side resorts to quaint homestays.
- If you’re planning to travel around with the family, it’s recommended to rent a car. The Côte d’Azur stretches out for 250 kilometers.
- When you want to cover a smaller area, it’s good to know that coastal towns are connected through an extensive bus network.
- The French Riviera has over 300 sunny days a year, so always bring enough sunblock, a hat, and sunglasses.
- Tap water is safe to drink along the French Riviera.
Where is the French Riviera?
The French Riviera is located in the most southeastern part of continental France, near the border with Italy. France’s famous resort area is located entirely within the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. Roughly 2 million people live along this coast, and the largest city is Nice. The French Riviera is a magnet for celebrities, jet-setters, and superyachts. Authentic villages provide a nice contrast to this world of luxury.
What to do in the French Riviera?
With over 300 days of sunshine each year, it’s tempting to sit down on the beach and soak up the sunrays. The French Riviera has numerous beaches, and many of them have family-friendly amenities. Little Africa Beach has crystal blue water, is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, and facilities such as umbrellas for rent.
Paloma Beach offers a more secluded experience on the Cap Ferrat Peninsula, where palm trees and magnificent villas encircle the beach.
Other than beach-hopping, the Côte d’Azur has heaps of charming villages to discover. Stray away from the posh yachts and head for settlements like Menton or Peillon, where the Côte d’Azur’s true soul is displayed. Peillon is a tiny but incredibly scenic commune, carved out of the mountains. Although Peillon is less than 30 kilometers away from humming Monte Carlo, the narrow streets and stone houses couldn’t be any more different from the French Riviera’s extravagant side. Menton is home to vibrantly colored houses and hosts the annual Lemon Festival to honor the region’s favorite citrus fruit.
The village of Èze is also worth visiting, as it’s a medieval settlement carved out of steep rocks. Colorful architecture, views of the Mediterranean Sea, and a number of cozy vintage shops make for a fantastic day trip from nearby Nice.
Other appealing spots to visit on France’s southeast coast include Castle Hill in Nice, the grand market hall in Cannes, and the Port-Cros National Park. You can go hiking, scuba diving, or discover the ruined Fort du Moulin in this marine reserve.
If you’re a museum visitor, you’ll be pleased with the presence of several compelling art institutions. Musée Marc Chagall in Nice houses works from one of France’s most known artists. At the same time, the Villa & Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat displays a variety of landscaped gardens and an opulent villa from the early 1900s.
When traveling with kids, theme parks generally top the list of want-to-visit places during the vacation. Le Village des Fous is a terrific location for family fun, as this amusement park has attractions ranging from pedal cars and trampolines to a maze, slides, and a pool.
Where to eat?
Whether you’re after French fine dining restaurants or humble eateries, the French Riviera has places to anyone’s liking. This area has around 250 kilometers of coastline, so you can pick from thousands of food options. One place that comes in highly recommended is Anjuna Beach in Èze, a seaside restaurant with splendid views over the Meditteranean Sea and a low-key atmosphere. Higher up at Chateau Eza’s Gourmet restaurant, fine dining and unspoiled views go hand in hand.
Nice is the most significant city in the region, and obviously a superb location to take a bite. Taste French-South African-inspired cuisine in Michelin-starred Jan, or sit down for regional delicacies at La Merenda. With Italy being just around the corner, you won’t have to miss out on Italian dining experiences. Attimi in Nice sits in a wonderfully plastered building and dishes out delicate pizzas, plates of pasta, and other Italian mains.
Best family hotels in the French Riviera
Mix family rooms, a spacious lounge, and cool amenities like a dartboard and table tennis table, and you have the recipe for a pleasant family stay. This property in the heart of Nice is only a 250-meter walk away from the central train station. Family rooms here have bunk beds, and the rooftop suite that sleeps up to 4 guests comes with an outdoor terrace.
The quadruple rooms have a simple design, but they’re conveniently equipped with a private bathroom and a TV. You’ll either get a garden or sea views from the room. Hotel Pavillon Imperial has a small library to relax in, as well as an outdoor seating area surrounded by greenery.
If you wish to travel to historic Peillon, Auberge De La Madone is an attractive place to stay. The hotel doesn’t have family rooms, but guests can ask for connecting rooms. You can delve into numerous activities: join a cooking class in the on-site gastronomic restaurant, play a game of tennis, or go for a hike in the wonderful surroundings of Peillon.
An outdoor pool, city views, and modern facilities make the Five Seas Hotel in the center of Cannes a superb choice. For a family up to 4 people, the Family Suite offers a flatscreen-tv, a complimentary minibar, coffee-making facilities, and a separate living area. The location is very central, which makes it easy to explore this coastal city.
This property in Fréjus has family rooms that incorporate an ensuite bathroom and a TV with streaming services. Within walking distance lies the majestic Fréjus Cathedral, and Hotel Le Flore is surrounded by bars and eateries. All in all, this quaint hotel is a great budget-friendly option in the heart of Fréjus.
Where to go shopping?
Nice has the largest shopping centers in all of the Côte d’Azur. Centre Commercial Nicetoile and Nice TNL satisfy all your shopping cravings with more than 100 shops in each complex. The streets in the center are packed with boutiques as well, from clothing stores to souvenir shops. For a welcoming environment and stunningly displayed produce, take a stroll over the Cours Saleya Market with fresh regional produce.
Other commercial centers include Saint-Tropez with its impeccable pastry shops and Toulon with tons of quirky boutique shops.
Best time to go to the French Riviera
During July and August, long days and lots of sunshine are guaranteed. However, it can get quite sweltering at the peak of summer. April, May, September, and October definitely are near-perfect alternatives. Temperatures usually exceed 20 degrees, the sun is high in the sky, and you don’t have to share the beaches and attractions with many other tourists. For these months, it’s also easier to find more reasonably priced hotels and resorts.
How to get around?
To be as flexible as possible, it’s recommended to rent a car and explore the sun-drenched shorelines at your own pace. Alternatively, hop on the bus or train to get around. Buses go on main routes like Nice to Monaco, but also frequently drive between smaller towns. A ride costs only 1,50 euro, which makes it a no-brainer to use this type of transport. The train network is extensive as well, although it lacks stations in the more modest villages. Between more prominent places such as Toulon, Cannes, and Nice, the train is useful to get around.
How to get to the French Riviera?
Most commonly, travelers from abroad arrive in the French Riviera via Nice Côte d’Azur Airport. This airport receives flights from all over France and major European cities. If you’re traveling from non-European destinations, you’ll most likely transfer flights in Paris or London. From Italy, it’s possible to take a train from northern cities like Milan and Genoa to Nice.
Is the French Riviera part of a longer travel itinerary in France? High-speed trains drive from Paris to Nice in 6 hours. From Marseille and Aix-en-Provence, direct buses operate services to Nice.