Côte d'Azur: what to do, what to see...

Culture, art or sport… the pulse of the Côte d’Azur races all year round with events and festivals from Cannes to Nice, and the Croisette to the Promenade des Anglais. Only the surroundings stay the same: the villages with their saturated colours, the palm trees with their welcome shade, and the unique endless blue that inspired Matisse and Chagall...

Not to miss sights on the Côte d’Azur

• Nice

Nissa La Bella, the gateway and the capital of the Côte d'Azur, is a city of many identities. Nice mixes Baroque, Belle Epoque and contemporary styles to form a French Riviera style all its own. The city's famous Promenade des Anglais is an open invitation to stroll along the lovely Bay of Angels.

• Cannes

Headquarters of the international film festival each May, Cannes keeps is star power shining all year long. At the foot of the Suquet, facing the sea and the islands of Lérins, you can find 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) of sandy beaches, on the seductive Croisette.

• Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Just outside of Nice, this perched medieval village has something to attract art lovers of all kinds: home to narrow streets stocked with galleries, the Maeght Foundation and its works integrated into nature (Giacometti, Calder, Braque, Matisse , Léger, etc.), as well as its Chapel of the Penitents decorated by Folon.

• Port Grimaud

Nicknamed the Venice of Provence, this lakeside city full of small houses and moored boats is the French Riviera's answer to that Italian marvel.

• Marc Chagall Museum in Nice

Housed in a sober building, surrounded by a Mediterranean garden, the museum displays more than 250 colorful Chagall pieces, the first of which date back to 1903.

• Saint Tropez

Made famous by a series of artists (the painter Signac, the novelist Françoise Sagan, the actress Brigitte Bardot, the actor Louis de Funès and many others), this fishing village has kept its Provencal charm, nestled in a gulf of clear waters.

• Grasse and its perfume museum

The lands of Grasse exude the scents of lavender, mimosa, orange trees, jasmine and roses. The perfume capital's museum traces the history of fragrance here since antiquity, and explores the expertise of perfume artisans.

• Antibes and Juan-les-Pins

Celebrated by painters, including Picasso, Antibes is ripe to discover, from the old port docked with luxurious ships or from the ramparts that surround it. In Juan-les-Pins, you'll be entranced by the Art Deco buildings, the beautiful beaches and the international jazz festival.

• The small port of Saint-Raphaël

At the foot of the Esterel massif built from its signature red rocks, St Raphaël has been captured by many painters, seduced by the authenticity of the old port and its "pointed" boats ready to set sail to fish.

• The Shrine of Our Lady of Laghet in Trinidad

Between Nice and Monaco, this church perched on a rocky outcrop is known for the miracles lavished here by the Virgin Mary since 1652. Nowadays, pilgrims flock there to pray to the Madonna of Laghet.

• The island of Porquerolles

Between sunbathing at the two white sand beaches or exploring the fragrant pine forest, take time to discover the Carmignac Foundation, dedicated to contemporary artists.

• The Lerins Islands

In the bay of Cannes, the forest-carpeted island of Sainte-Marguerite is dominated by a royal fort. As for the little St. Honorat, it houses a serene monastery and a beautiful abbey.

• Cagnes-sur-mer

Close to Nice, it offers both a lively seaside resort of pebble beaches, and a medieval village tucked away in the heights, crowned by the Château-Musée Grimaldi.

Things to do on the Côte d’Azur

• Discover the ultra-modern architecture of Villa Noailles in Hyères

At the request of the founding couple, Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, the villa was built in the 1930s by architect Robert Mallet-Stevens. Cubist style, with lots of light, it hosts a center of contemporary art, dedicated to design, photography and fashion.

• Track the incomparable light in the footsteps of painters

This land, bathed in golden light, has inspired so many artists through history: Bonnard in Cagnes, Matisse in Nice, Picasso in Antibes, Miro in Saint-Paul de Vence, Fernand Léger in Biot. Observe their work in a museum, a foundation, a chapel, a workshop, for a luminous journey steeped in color.

• Play petanque on the legendary Saint-Paul-de-Vence square

In Saint-Paul de Vence, the petanque players take the stage on the Place de Gaulle at the entrance of the village, along the café La Place. Lino Ventura, Yves Montand and Henri Salvador were among the most diligent players. The view of the pétanque players is one of the most typical of the French Riviera.

• Celebrate Lemon in Menton

For two weeks, between mid-February and early March, Menton throws a lemon-scented event! The city is adorned with yellow and orange colors during the Citrus Festival: parades of citrus floats, visits of exceptional gardens, craft shows, orchid festivalas and fireworks.

• Visit the Château-Musée Grimaldi in Cagnes-sur-Mer

The medieval castle, adorned with splendid Renaissance ceilings, houses two museums: the Olive Tree and the Solidor Donation, which displays many portraits of the cabaret singer Suzy Solidor, painted by famous artists such as Foujita, Picabia and Van Dongen.

• Stroll through the road of the gardens

It is said that the Côte d'Azur is a garden, blooming with the most beautiful floral and olfactory creations, from the exotic garden of Monaco, the gardens of the perfume museum in Mouans-Sartoux, the gardens of Menton, the beds surrounding the Maeght Foundation and the Château de la Napoule. In all, about 60 versions of paradise await.

• Choose flowers at Saleya market

In the old town of Nice, Cours Saleya welcomes a typical Mediterranean market, colorful and full of flowers, fruits and vegetables, in a lively atmosphere.

• Approach the celebrities on the Croisette during the Cannes Film Festival

Every year in May, Cannes attracts moviegoers from all over the world. With a little luck, you will come across some stars on the Croisette, on the way to the red carpet of the Palais des Festivals.

• Take a dip in the Calanque of the English

In Anthéor, near Saint-Raphaël, lie three small coves of red pebbles worn smooth by the sea lie beneath the road, accessible by steep stairs. A tranquil sea, protective cliffs, a calm atmosphere—a seaside haven.

• Attend the Monaco Grand Prix

The legendary circuit travels the streets of the Principality in 78 laps, requiring great control from the drivers, who fly at more than 150 km/h (93 mph) on average. For front row views, 13 stands are installed in turns and straight lines throughout the course.

Getting to the French Riviera