June 05, 2014

My Bucket List: French Riviera

Sunny skies. Azure waters. Champagne and super yachts. And then there’s Agent 007 and an American actress who became a real-life royal princess. Is there any place more glamorous than the French Riviera? I think not. A small taste of France's Azure Coast, the Côte d’Azur, is well deserving of a place on my bucket list and I’ve been fortunate to visit there twice.

Villefranche Bay


My first visit to the French Riviera took me to Nice, the largest city on the Côte d'Azur and the location of the region’s airport. We only had one day to explore the city and spent a relaxing afternoon wandering through the stalls of colourful produce, spices, French cheeses and baked goods at the Cours Saleya Market in the Old Town. There's also a flower market nearby, the Marché aux Fleurs, selling fragrant jasmine, roses and brightly coloured bougainvillea.

Cours Saleya Market, Nice

On our next visit to the French Riviera, we had more time to explore. We stayed in the charming town of Villefranche-sur-Mer and took day trips to some of the nearby towns. The port is also an important stop for cruise ships on the Mediterranean.

The Port of Villefranche-sur-Mer

Eze Village:

The town of Eze Village sits in a prime location atop a hill overlooking the Mediterranean and Cap Ferrat peninsula. The medieval town itself is the attraction, with steep, narrow alleyways winding behind its ancient stone walls and spectacular views of the coastline below. A medieval festival, MediEZEvales, takes place here in July.

Riviera Views from Eze Village

Cap Ferrat:

The Cap Ferrat peninsula is home to luxurious estates decked out in vibrant bougainvillea blossoms; the sleepy town of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat and it's picturesque harbour; and a lovely belle époque mansion, the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, with its musical fountains and nine different theme gardens. Promenade Maurice Rouvier is the breezy seaside walkway linking Saint Jean with nearby Beaulieu sur Mer and the Villa Kerylos.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Cap Ferrat

Principality of Monaco:

The Monte Carlo Casino is perhaps the most famous sight in Monaco and strolling past the luxury cars in Place du Casino at night is a little like entering a James Bond film. But in Monaco-Ville you can see the Changing of the Guard at the Prince's Palace; the impressive Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium once run by Jacques Cousteau; and Saint Nicholas Cathedral where Grace Kelly wed Prince Rainier III.

The Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco

If you go:
I recommend staying in Villefranche-sur- Mer, mid-way between Nice and Monaco on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s the perfect home base for exploring the French Riviera by bus, train or boat and Cap Ferrat is within walking distance. There’s also a family friendly beach here. The Welcome Hotel lives up to its name with friendly staff and a picturesque waterfront location.

Related Posts:
Cours Saleya Market, Nice
Eze: Perched Village of the Côte d'Azur
Saint Jean Cap Ferrat

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