Things to do in the Cote D'Azur

Should you spend time gambling in Monte Carlo, sunbathing in Saint-Tropez or seeing the stars in Cannes? Absolutely! But there is much more that you must make a point of experiencing while in this lovely region. To help you understand where you can find the best things to see and do, let's start in the easternmost spot of Menton and head westward towards Marseille.

Menton 

Nicknamed the "Pearl of France", it is a charming harbor town with a long history of habitation dating to the Paleolithic era. Many famous archeological finds have been discovered here and it is easy to spend days visiting the different museums, gardens, and historical sites. A popular annual lemon festival is held here in February, and it hosts a daily covered market that has operated since the 1890s.

Monaco 

Home to Monte Carlo, it is the second smallest country in the world and the most densely populated. The annual Rallye Automobile occurs here in January along with the International Circus Festival too. The Grand Prix takes place in May. Tourism and casino gambling are the top businesses in the country and so you will find an abundance of charming harbors, cafes, shops, and other destinations in most areas.

Villenfranche sur Mer

Close to Nice, it is home to many popular churches and chapels, including Eglise Saint-Michel and Chapelle Saint Pierre. The old town and harbor is utterly charming and provides a glimpse of life during the 17th century. There is even a famous street known as Rue Obscure, dating as far back as the mid-1200s. A walk through this harbor town is an absolute must.

Nice

A large and populated city, it is a port town showing influences from the many groups that have possessed it over the ages. A place of natural beauty, its rolling hills offered inspiration to many known painters and the city is home to several popular museums, including one honoring Matisse as well as a general Musée des Beaux Arts. With excellent hotels, the Promenade des Anglais along the bay, and a popular car-free tourist and shopping area known as the Zone Pietonne, it is a marvelous city to explore for a day or more. It also hosts an annual Jazz Festival each July

Antibes 

A very popular resort town, it has roughly 45 beaches, several popular museums including the Picasso Museum and a museum dedicated to Napoleon's navy, and many impressive gardens and parks. The Garoupe Lighthouse is found here along with several excellent ports. It plays host to several annual festivals including an Antique Show, Yacht Show and the Jazz a Juan festival.

Cannes

The famous Film Festival occurs each May in this city, but there is more to it than that. It is a luxury spot ideal for those looking to escape to an idyllic French Riviera town full of harbors, beaches, spas, shopping, and world glass restaurants. There are museums in town, a bevy of classic Mediterranean villas, and even a long list of annual festivals apart from the film festival.

Grasse

Each May there is an annual Rose Festival here. It is an inland destination famous for its perfumes, its Saracen Tower, and a monumental gate. There is also a Jasmine festival each year, as well.

Saint Raphael 

Once a fashionable spot in the late nineteenth century, it was damaged during WWII. Today it is a lovely place for beachgoers and those looking for a family friendly destination in the Cote D'Azur - though it also has a casino nearby.

Frejus

Dating to the Roman era, this ancient port was a naval base for Julius Caesar's forces. Antony's ships (of the famous Antony and Cleopatra) were here after his defeat at Actium, and you can see different areas of Roman ruins in this charming town.

Saint Tropez 

Be prepared for the crowds, but don't miss at least a day here. Long known as a playground to the wealthy and famous, its current status began in the 1930s, and you can find architecture, shops, restaurants, and locations reflecting that period. Interestingly enough, many say it is a, "Love it or leave it," sort of location with some truly falling in love with the city or others being quite content to visit briefly never to return again. Yacht watching can be quite fun, shopping is world class, and some open air markets actually net you affordable finds such as olive oils, soap, and domestically made garments and cloth.

Iles d'Hyeres

Unspoilt islands offering a wonderful option for those who hope to enjoy the flora and fauna of the area.

Hyeres

Considered sedate today, it is the oldest resort in the region and once hosted Tolstoy and Queen Victoria among others. It is now a wonderful spot for date palms and cut flowers, but offers a medieval town that charms all who visit. There is an area of villas that offer a pleasant afternoon of strolling and sightseeing.

Toulon

A large military harbor, it is home to an annual Tall Ships Race, it is thought by some to be the westernmost point of the Cote D'Azur. It is a popular spot for archeological digs as it has direct evidence of Paleolithic habitation. A charming range of fountains also makes it a popular spot for walking tours, along with its lovely Old Town area. The Baron Haussman developed the Upper Town where many garden and palaces are still found, and the harbor is a truly impressive spot with its arsenal and views.

Cassis 

East of Marseille, it is popular with tourist because of its sheltered inlets and lovely cliffs. This is a popular area for wine as well and many foodies venture here to enjoy the excellent dining options.

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