The Best Things to do in the French Riviera

The Best Things to do in the French Riviera

Known for its glam, high-end, and luxury reputation, Southern France, also known as the South of France or colloquially known in French as Le Midi, is nothing short of spectacular. From Provence to the Mediterranean coast, Le Midi is filled with beauty, history, cuisine, and culture. It is home to the famous Cannes Film Festival, the playground of the rich and famous, and the location of numerous Michelin star restaurants, medieval towns, and even secluded spots and islands for those who wish to escape it all. So what are some things to do in the French Riviera?

The French Riviera, aka Côte d’Azur, is known as one of the most luxurious and beautiful places in Europe. It is home to several cities, including Nice and Cannes, natural parks, Roman ruins, medieval villages, and whale watching. But if you are looking to beat the summer crowd, why not head over to Corsica or Sardinia. Located around 105 miles from mainland France is the island of Corsica, the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean. This island holds a profound secret; it is stunning and often overlooked by tourists. Nicknamed the Island of Beauty, it is known for its landscapes, stone villages, dramatic gorges, and red cliffs that plunge into sapphire-blue waters. It is also home to the Scandola reserve, a popular scuba diving location. 

Before we talk all about the best things to do in the French Riviera, let's look at some essential information that you need to know before traveling:

  • The currency in the South of France and Corsica is the Euro. ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist destinations.
  • The region hosts the Cannes Yachting Festival and the Monaco Yacht Show in September. 
  • Most of the private beaches in the South of France close in October/November for the low season. However, most of the public beaches do stay open year-round. 
  • Make sure that you take a walk down the Boulevard de la Croisette in Cannes, one of the most iconic boulevards in the region. 
  • Corsica has been part of France since 1768, but it retains an Italian influence. The island is only 56 miles from northerner Italy and is separate from Sardinia by the 7-mile Strait of Bonifacio.  
  • Chartering a yacht in the south of France is an excellent option if you are interested in cruising down the Mediterranean coast before traveling to Corsica and Sardinia. Like Corsica, Sardinia is known for its beaches, long coastline, and clear pristine waters. 
  • The best sunsets are found on the west side of Corsica. 

How to Get to & Around France

There are flights to France departing from many major American cities that fly to the main airport in France, which is Charles de Gaulle Airport. However, many airlines also offer daily connecting flights into the Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur, the central hub for the French Riviera and the second busiest international airport in the country after France. If you plan to travel to the French Riviera from Paris (or anywhere else in France), you can take the A8 motorway—the drive from Paris is around eight hours. Another option is to take the train. The French Riviera is well connected to other destinations throughout France and other major European cities. The right train is around five and a half hours from Paris on the TGV high-speed train. Suppose you are flying from overseas or elsewhere in Europe. In that case, numerous national and low-cost carriers fly to the Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur and the Marseille-Provence Airport. Both airports offer easy access by train, coach, or car to the surrounding coastal destinations such as Cannes, Monaco, or St-Tropez. 

Once you arrive in the French Riviera, there are several ways that you can get around, including buses and trains. The main busses and trains drive along the Côte d'Azur and stop at most of the main coastal villages. The Regional Express Train or TER connects most coastal towns and Ventimiglia, the first town over the Italian border. Nevertheless, the best way to experience everything the region offers is by chartering a yacht in the French Riviera. Chartering a yacht in France provides a unique off-the-beaten-path type of voyage that allows you to explore peaceful anchorages, medieval cities, fisherman villages, and resort towns that are often hard to get to by other means. Sailing the Mediterranean seas also means that you can enjoy the beaches, frequent the restaurants, go shopping and even go island hopping — all while avoiding the hustle and bustle of the peak season crowd. Yachting also combines that freedom and tranquility with the luxury of staying in a hotel or resort. Are you ready for a lifetime experience? Learn more about chartering a yacht in the French Riviera here [include a link to your services].

Best Time to Visit 

Whether you come in the spring, summer, autumn, or winter, the French Riviera is a beautiful region to visit. The French Riviera is home to over 300 days of sunshine. However, there are rain showers that are to be expected in the shoulder months of March and April and October and November. So when is the best time to visit if you plan on chartering a yacht in the French Riviera? 

Summer is the best season to visit the region, specifically between June to September. The summer is the perfect time to enjoy the beaches, swim, sail, and see the islands. During the summer months, primarily during July and August, the temperature reaches around 85°F. The best things to do in the French Riviera happen during the summer months, including concerts, festivals, and cultural events. However, as this is the busy season, keep in mind that this region will be crowded with tourists. 

You can technically sail along the Mediterranean coast from April to October, but if you are looking to beat the crowds, you can opt to sail during autumn and spring, also known as the shoulder seasons. During these times, the prices are lower, and the summer crowds have disappeared mainly, allowing you to enjoy what the French Riviera has to offer fully. 

What to Pack

As the main tourist attractions are the beaches and islands on the Mediterranean coast, casual and light clothes are the best option to bring to the French Riviera. It is always good to have something cool to wear when partying and something more formal for a romantic evening in a restaurant. We recommend packing: 

  • T-shirts, shorts, skirts, and dresses
  • Flip-flops, walking shoes, and sandals
  • Swimwear and water shoes 
  • Protection from the sun, including a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
  • A light jacket and pants for cooler evenings
  • Bug Spray
  • Waterproof case for your phone or camera
  • Adapters and converters for your electronic devices

The Best Things to Do in The French Riviera  

Due to its beaches and islands, the Mediterranean coast is the most appealing area for tourists in France. There are also famous coastal towns that are a must-see and have rich historical backgrounds, whether on the continental coast or the islands. Here are some of the best things to do in the French Riviera

Visit Nice

One of the most popular destinations in all of the French Riviera, the city of Nice is home to several exciting things to do for any type of traveler. One of the best things to do in the French Riviera is to visit Nice. The city is known for its fantastic climate, fabulous beaches, and beautiful coastline with unforgettable views. 

  • Taking a stroke down the Promenade des Anglais, one of the most iconic roads in France. The brainchild of English expats in the 19th century, this promenade is full of bards, restaurants, beach clubs, and ice-cream stalls—did we mention that it has quite the view?
  • If you didn't know, jazz arrived in Nice in the 1920s. Scott Fitzgerald hosted wild jazz parties for his friends at the five-star Hotel Belles Rives, still standing today. Also, spend a night out listening to jazz in one of Nice’s clubs—we’d recommend Shakpo or the B Spot. 
  • In the 1st century, the Romans founded the city of Cementum. The remains of that city are not part of a neighborhood in Nice called Cimiez. This neighborhood contains the ruins of this Roman town, the Cimiez Monastery dating back to the 16th century, the Matisse museum, and the Ciminez cemetery, home to several famous French artists, including Henri Matisse. 
  • Have lunch at the Hotel du Cap, which was the setting for Fitzgerald’s 1930s book Tender is the Night -- the hotel is the inspiration for the Hotel des Etrangers in the book. 
  • Try Socca, the chickpea pancake, which is the region's delicacy. Originating from Nice, nothing embodies the spirit of the Côte d'Azur quite like socca. This delicacy costs around €3 or €4, and you can find it at Rene Socca or Lou Pilha Leva if you want to sit down or Chez Theresa’s stall in the flower market (Cours Saleya) if you're going to eat on the go. 
  • Nice has several public and private beaches that you can lounge at, including La Reverse, Coco Beach, or Villefranche-sur-Mer, all located on the coast. If you want to lounge in style, then head on over to a private beach where you can order a drink and recline lazily on a sun-lounger on the beach. Our recommendations? Castel beach or Ruhl Beach. 

Spend Some Time At Eze

Arguably one of the most beautiful villages in the region, this small little village is often overlooked by many tourists. This small village lies between Nice and Monaco and sits on a hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean sea. This beautiful hilltop medieval village is famous for its spectacular views, impressive architecture, and stunning geographic location above the French Riviera. The town is actually located on a hilltop of a high cliff about 1,4000 feet above sea level. Some things you should in Eze include: 

  • Visit the oldest building in Eze, the Chapelle de La Sainte Croix, which was built back in the 1300s
  • Take the time to walk the narrow streets and steps, stopping by the village's handful of shops and galleries, all housed in medieval-style buildings. 
  • Visit Le Jardin Exotique d’Eze, which is the village’s botanical garden. 
  • Visit two of Provence’s top perfume houses, Fragonard and Galimard. Galimard’s perfume factory and historical museum are open daily and offer a 45-minute tour. 
  • Have lunch or a drink at Les Rempart or the Café du Jardin (but make sure to book in advance). 

Explore Port Grimaud

Although the French Riviera is situated close to the French-Italian border, there is a little bit of Italy that can be found within the region's borders, specifically Venice. The French version of Venice is relatively new, as Port Grimaud was only developed in the 1960s. However, unlike Venice, Port Grimaud’s chain of canals is bounded by Provencal-style buildings, with each district boasting its color and design. Also, unlike Venice, you can find incredible beaches perfect for swimming here. 

Sail to the Lerins Islands 

Just off the coast of Cannes is an archipelago of four islands, two of which are uninhabited. The islands are only a 20-minute boat ride from Cannes, and the two main islands are just under one mile from each other. The two main islands are ​​Île Sainte-Marguerite and Île Saint-Honorat island. The former island is the biggest of the two and is home to almost 14-miles of natural hiking trails. 

But nature is not its only draw. The island is also home to Cistercian monks that work on the island’s vineyards. ​​The 20 monks of the Abbaye de Lérins Cistercian brotherhood provide a highly organic wine on their beautiful 20-acre vineyard. Visitors that want to taste some of this wine can visit the Lérina boutique, a few steps from the port landing. Make sure to try the monks’ seven vintages, including Saint Salonius, made from 100% Pinot Noir,  which is also often served to the jury of the Cannes Film Festival. The monks also make several liqueurs from top-secret recipes, including the aromatic Lérina, made with 44 herbs and seeds, and sunny Lérincello, which is made from the famous lemons of Menton

Once you are done, head on over to Île Sainte-Marguerite, which has excellent picnic spots, is home to a maritime-themed museum and a 17th-century bastion, which once served as a remote holding cell for prisoners, including the Man in the Iron Mask.​​

Soak It All Up in Cannes

Yes, you’ve probably heard of the Cannes Film Festival, but what else can you do in Cannes? First of all, Cannes is home to several beautiful private and public beaches, including La Croisette and Plage du Midi. If you didn’t know, La Croisette is also one of Cannes's most popular and established streets. 

Cannes is also home to over 80 Michelin-star restaurants and is known as a culinary utopia for travelers. It has an extensive list of delicious restaurants that you can frequent, and it is also home to food markets that promote traditional French cuisine. Head over to the Marché Forville, a vast indoor market for flowers, produce, and your pick of French cheese. Our recommendation? Pick up some wine, cheese, bread, and some extra goodies to pack up for a romantic picnic on the beach. 

Party Like There’s No Tomorrow in Saint-Tropez 

Saint-Tropez has been the hotspot for the rich and famous since the late 19th century, and not much has changed. Today, it is renowned for its exclusive beach clubs, yachts, exquisite restaurants, and a gorgeous cobblestoned old town and its Vieux port. Here are a couple of things you can do in Saint-Tropez. 

  • Visit the Plage de Pampelonne, one of the longest beaches near Saint-Tropez, which has been an institution since 1955. Make sure to visit one of the leading beach clubs on the shore
  • If you are around on Tuesday or Saturday morning in the summer, visit the Marché de Saint-Tropez, which has as many 120 stallholders selling everything under the sun, including pastries, herbs, vintage posters, flowers, and much more. 
  • Try the Tarte Tropézienne, the creation of Polish-born chef Alexandre Micka. The dessert is said to have been named by Briget Bardot while she was in the city filming And God Created Woman. This tarte is made up of brioche, whipped cream and crème pâtissière. It pairs quite nicely with a glass of rosé wine. 
  • Visit the ViewPort, which is the heart of Saint-Tropez. Make sure to take a stroll along the Môle Jean-Réveille promenade, stop at Café Senequier for a cup of coffee, Place aux Herbes for some fruits, vegetables, or flowers or Halle aux Poisson to pick up some fresh fish. 
  • Visit The Old Town of Saint-Tropez, known as "La Ponche," which borders the Vieux Port harbor basin and is below the citadel. ​​La Ponche is the historic center and one of the city's most picturesque areas. 
  • If you're looking for a party, any clubs along Pampelonne Beach will do the trick; while Nikki Beach is famous for its DJs, theme parties, and high prices—you are looking for celebrities, indulgences, and debauchery, then this is the place for you. Other areas include Les Caves de Roy, Hotel Byblos, The Vip Room, and La Bodega de Papagayo. 

Go Island Hopping to Corsica 

The best thing about chartering a yacht in the French Riviera? You can skip the crowds and instead spend your days exploring some of the most beautiful islands that can be found around the French Riviera. One of those islands is Corsica. 

Corsica has a long and exciting history. Although Corsica is a territorial collectivity of France, the island was previously part of the Republic of Genos for five centuries. As a result, although French is Corsica's official and working language, many Corsicans speak Italian and the native Corsican language (Corsu), which you will regularly hear in Corsica's more rural areas. The island is famous for its mountainous central area and stunning white sand beaches surrounded by stunning turquoise blue waters. Here are a couple of things you should not miss if you do plan on going to Corsica; 

  • Make sure to try the Cap Corse Mattei, a famous apéritif. Another popular drink is the Ratafia, a liqueur obtained by macerating fruits into local aquavita and sugar.
  • Take a walk in Ajaccio, which is the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. Explore the old town of Ajaccio and make sure to visit the 16th-century Cathédrale d’Ajaccio, where Napoleon was baptized in 1771
  • Explore the fortified town of Bonifacio, which is perched on a steep limestone fluff and offers stunning sea views. Bonifacio is located on the island's largest nature reserve, the Réserve Naturelle des Bouches de Bonifacio. 
  • Visit some of Corsica’s most stunning beaches around Porto Vecchio. These beaches are famous for their expansive sandy shorelines, calm waters, and unspoiled natural beauty. Our two recommendations are Plage de Palombaggia and Plage de Santa Giulia.
  • ​​Seafood is not as beloved in Corsica as you would imagine. The traditional dishes of the islands are composed chiefly of chestnuts, charcuteries, cheese, wild boar, and veal. Corsica’s signature dish is perhaps civet de sanglier, a hearty wild boar stew made with onions, carrots, fennel, red wine, and) chestnuts.

Chartering a Yacht in the French Riviera

The French Riviera is beautiful, sophisticated, authentic, and intensely blue. The South of France is one of the most spectacular yachting destinations globally, and sailing along these shores is nothing short of spectacular. 

​​A private yacht charter is the absolute best way to travel South France in style and experience all it offers. You’ll be able to venture freely along the region's coastline and drop anchor at any little slice of paradise you choose. Chartering a yacht in the French Riviera seems like the obvious choice. No matter where you set sail, you’ll be surrounded by restaurants, historical sites, nature reserves, superb nightlife, and more. Plus, you will be able to choose which beaches you’d like to frequent—from secluded coves to celebrity hotspots, the choice is yours. Chartering a yacht in the French Riviera is the epitome of luxury and freedom as you get to choose where you’d like to go and what part of this beautiful region you’d like to explore. 

The best part? You can unpack your bags once and wake up somewhere new every day. How exciting is that? Is there anything better than waking up every morning at a new location and exploring everything that the French Riviera offers? Chartering a yacht in the French Riviera provides a unique off-the-beaten-path type of voyage that allows you to explore peaceful anchorages, historic ruins, fisherman villages, and resort towns that are often hard to get to by other means. 

Many people think that chartering a yacht is out of their price range. However, this is not necessarily true. It all depends on your needs and wants. We have a personal chef that can customize a menu based on your preferences and any food allergies or dietary restrictions that you may have. Many of our yachts are stocked with water toys like stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and a dinghy that can be used for tubing, water skiing, and wakeboarding. We also can include the option to scuba dive from the yacht. Other less common amenities still available on some yachts include an e-foil board, seabob, sea scooters, snuba, and kiteboarding. There is even an option to have a hot tub or jet ski on one of our bigger yachts if you'd like. 

If you are interested in learning more about chartering a yacht in the French Riviera, let us know your dates, budget,  and the number of guests, and we would be happy to walk you through the process.  A catamaran that sleeps six people and has a captain can be as low as $10,000 per week. When you add a captain and all meals and drinks to make it all-inclusive, the rates start around 15k then go up to 50k or more depending on the luxury you want. 

And that is our list of the best things to do in the French Riviera. Don’t wait to make your dreams come true. Come live the historical experience and heavenly views of France without any worries. Sail the Mediterranean Sea with a yacht and have the time of your life!