The French Riviera is world-renowned as a beautiful part of the country. Parts of it are frequented by movie stars and other celebrities, thanks to the Cannes Film Festival and affluent towns. Provence and the Cote d’Azur enjoy warm summers (300 sunny days a year in Provence) and have beautifully blue waters. You can enjoy a range of landscapes in this southern part of France, from snowy mountains to coastal scenes and beaches. The beautiful landscapes have drawn in many an artist over the centuries. The region is famous for having hosted the likes of Matisse and Van Gogh. It also has a great history, with the Romans having left their mark in the form of vineyards, monuments and entire towns.
Nice is the capital of the Cote d’Azur and curves around the Bay of Angels. A popular stop on cruises of the Mediterranean, boats often stop at either Nice’s own port or the nearby Villefranche-sur-Mer. Nice is a great town for walking around, and the Old Town (Vieux Nice) is pedestrianized, so you can’t drive around it. Some sites, such as the Matisse Museum may require a lot of walking around but Nice also has an excellent public transport system. Walk along the Promenade des Anglais or explore the 30 acre park of Promenade du Paillon. You’ll find charming hotels, hostels and B&Bs to stay in; when I traveled to Nice last and was looking for a hotel, I booked it here.
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Marseille was the 2013 European Capital of Culture, and it used the status to push for regeneration in the city. It has plenty of culture to explore, from history and art to food and drink. Marseille affords beautiful views from its Old Port, where you can find cafes and bars aplenty. This once slightly seedy city is now up-and-coming and loved by many people. Some of the changes the city underwent last year include a new modernist sun shelter and the opening of the Museum of Civilizations from Europe and the Mediterranean.
Cannes is famous for its yearly film festival, bringing movie stars and others in the industry flocking to the area. Prices for accommodation aren’t cheap when the festival is on, but it’s worth it if you want to be surrounded by an impressive set of people. Cannes was once a small fishing village, but it’s now glamorous and affluent, considered to be one of Europe’s social hubs. But if you can’t afford the areas exclusive nightlife and shopping, you can seek a vacation on a smaller budget. Explore the town on foot and avoid the private beaches, which cost about 30 euros a day. Public beaches can be quite crowded, so try visiting the Iles de Lerins in the bay for a quieter time.
There are many more places to visit in Provence and on the Cote d’Azur. You’ll find both small and charming villages and flashier towns and cities. There’s something to suit every budget and every type of traveler.