A hundred years ago, celebrities from London to Moscow flocked to the French Riviera to socialize, gamble, and escape the dreary weather at home. Today, budget vacationers and heat-seeking Europeans fill belle-époque resorts at France's most sought-after fun-in-the-sun destination. Some of France's most stunning scenery and intriguing museums lie along this strip of land — as do millions of sun-worshipping tourists. (For a rocky and photogenic alternative to the beach scene, head inland and upward to explore some of France's most perfectly perched hill towns and splendid scenery.) Evenings on the Riviera, a.k.a. la Côte d'Azur, were made for a promenade and outdoor dining.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Nice Classy resort town with beaches, seafront promenade, a fine pallete of museums, and a ramble-worthy old town.
▲▲▲ Villefranche-sur-Mer Romantic pastel-orange beach village with a yacht-filled harbor and small-town ambience.
▲▲ The Three Corniches Scenic coastal roads highlighted by the exclusive woodsy Cap Ferrat peninsula and flowery hill-capping Eze-le-Village.
▲▲ Monaco Tiny independent municipality, known for its classy casino and Grand Prix car race.
▲ Antibes Laid-back beach town with a medieval center, worthwhile Picasso Museum, sandy beahes, and view hikes.
▲ Inland Riviera Up and away from the beaches, postcard-perfect St-Paul-de-Vence, crammed with boutiques and tourists, and appealing little Vence, host to a Matisse chapel.