Nice, Menton, Antibes, Cannes and Grasse to name but a few. The Côte d’Azur offers many beautiful towns – and just as many unforgettable experiences. Every urban escapade promises a plunge into our unique lifestyle and buzzing nightlife!
A Sparkling City
Nestling in one of Europe’s most beautiful bays, the aptly-named Bay of Angels, Nice, the capital of the Côte d’Azur, is a beautiful and sparkling city. You will love discovering its charming historic quarter, where Italian Baroque rubs shoulders with Belle Époque architecture, taking a leisurely stroll along the Promenade des Anglais and visiting the city’s many museums paying tribute to the 20th century’s greatest artists. Redolent with deliciously-colourful and fragrant flowers, Nice is also an invitation to party and delve into the world of glamour and luxury. The place dreams are made of…
A Land of Lemons
The last French town on the Côte d’Azur before you arrive at the Italian border, Menton – a town dear to Jean Cocteau – has maintained all of its former charm. With its colourful house frontages, ancient graveyard and shaded square, the historic quarter is a place where time stands still. Take time to enjoy a stroll in one of the town’s luxuriant parks: thanks to Menton’s generous sunshine and subtropical microclimate, lemons thrive here. Now a symbol of the town, the Menton lemon is coveted by chefs the world over and celebrated every year for 3 weeks from mid-February onwards at the “Fête du Citron”, when floats decorated with sweet-scented citrus fruit parade through the town.
A hub of artists
Tucked between two coves and separated from Juan-les-Pins by Cap d’Antibes – a pretty, wooded peninsula home to many luxury villas –, Antibes is a typical Mediterranean town, complete with a picturesque marina, historic quarter criss-crossed with flowering old lanes, market exhaling scents of iodine and spices, and ancient ramparts set facing the sea… Antibes is also a town of art: the 20th century’s greatest painters – Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst and Nicolas de Staël – have all set their easel down here to capture the town’s endless sources of inspiration on canvas. Last but not least, Antibes is a renowned party town: after the wild nights of the Roaring Twenties, it continues to pulsate to the sound of the jazz every July during the international Jazz à Juan festival, attracting aficionados from the world over.
Beyond the clichés
If you want to appreciate Cannes to the full, you need to push past the old stereotypes. Of course, the town that welcomes the Cannes Film Festival every year is synonymous with palaces, luxury boutiques, casinos, glitter and flashy cars. But to grasp the essence of Cannes, it’s best to move off the beaten track. Nothing beats a walk in the old Suquet quarter – the cradle of the town –, redolent with Provencal charm and offering stunning views over the bay. Alternatively, opt for a boat ride to the Iles de Lérins islands: two little beauty spots adorning the Mediterranean waters. It is here, on the island of Sainte-Marguerite, that the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned under the reign of Louis XIV. The island also boasts a beautifully-preserved plant life and little coves lapped by crystal-clear waters. Its neighbour, Saint-Honorat, is dominated by Lérins Abbey, where monks have been perpetuating Cistercian traditions since the 5th century. A far cry from razzle-dazzle and designer shops…
A princely place
Legend tells that in 1297, François Grimaldi penetrated the Rock of Monaco – a Genoese fortress – disguised as a Franciscan monk. Once inside, he opened the doors to his soldiers, who captured the rock and the Grimaldi family took the throne… Eight centuries later, Monaco has lost nothing of its princely allure. Its Art Deco and Art Nouveau buildings rub shoulders with palaces, casinos and deluxe souvenir shops, coveted by an international clientele. During your visit, don’t miss the impressive Musée Océanographique, home to no less than 6,000 marine species divided among 90 pools, together with a shark lagoon.
A scent of Spring
Welcome to France’s perfume capital! Perched on the heights of Cannes, at the foot of the French Southern Alps, Grasse owes its renown to its rich soil, ideal for flower growing. Jasmine, lavender, roses, mimosa, narcissus and orange blossom are still lovingly nurtured all around the town. Enjoy a casual stroll through the picturesque, ochre streets of the 7th-century historic quarter before visiting the International Perfume Museum and one of the town’s three perfumeries open to the public. Set inside a 17th-century former tannery, the deliciously-fragrant Parfumerie Fragonard offers a captivating insight into the various stages of perfume making.
A Roman city
Conquered by Julius Caesar in circa 49 BC, the town of Fréjus, set at the gateway to the Estérel hills, is home to many fascinating Roman remains, including an amphitheatre, aqueduct and Roman theatre, where the fabulous “Nuits Auréliennes” festival is staged every July. The town also boasts a captivating medieval past: take a walk through the historic quarter to discover the Episcopal buildings (cathedral, baptistery, cloisters and ancient bishop’s palace). A buzzing summer meeting place, the sea front is lined with pretty restaurants where you can savour a shellfish platter with a glass of chilled rosé…
A popular resort
A former fishing village, Saint-Raphaël became a highly-coveted seaside resort in the 19th century. It was here that F. Scott Fitzgerald drew the inspiration for his famous novel “Tender Is the Night” in the Twenties. Stop off to admire the vast Neo-Byzantine basilica, then wander along the Promenade des Bains before heading to the town’s plush quarters such as Valescure, lined with magnificent Palladian-style villas.