You either love or hate Saint-Tropez. Once a little fishing village with an attractive façade of houses and a quay lined with fishing boats, it is today the playground of squillionaires, whose gleaming white motor yachts moor fender-to-fender, blocking the view.
Others will see Saint-Tropez’ great charm and atmosphere a wealth of fashion and tourist shopping, superb dining – from quayside tourist bistros to a plethora of Michelin-starred establishments – and plenty of celebrities to spot. Thereafter, until arriving at the super-resort of Cannes, the main attraction of this coastline are the dramatic red hills of the Esterel mountains and their rocky shoreline where, in calm conditions, you can moor, swim, dive and laze in the sun.
After that, nature stops and bright city lights beckon. Everyone should experience Cannes, Antibes, Nice and (momentarily leaving France) Monaco at least once in their lives – the epitome of Mediterranean city chic. For a perfect afternoon out in Cannes, walk the Croisette beachfront towards the old harbour, lunch at any of the small café-bistros, then stroll back along the Rue d’Antibes to take in the exclusive boutique (window?) shopping.
But any stop along this stretch of coast should include the magical village of Eze, perched like a crow’s nest on the top of the high cliffs with truly magnificent views, sometimes as far as Corsica.
Itinerary – The Riviera
Day 1 – Saint Tropez
Saint Tropez evokes elegance and luxury where spotting celebrities is easy. It is a must-see travel destination for its beautiful beaches, rhythmed by Provençal atmosphere. The animated village will seduce you as you wander from shops to galleries and experience French cuisine at its finest. Visit the local market and taste the fresh produce of Provence.
Day 2 – Cannes
Think Cannes, think movies and film stars, expensive boutiques, palatial hotels and paparazzi. After all, it is one of the world’s most chic resorts – the ‘Queen of the Coast’, ‘Pearl of the Riviera’ – twinned with Beverly Hills and, within France, second only to Paris for shopping and major international cultural and business events, including the world-famous Cannes International Film Festival.
Day 3 – Monaco
Nowhere is the affluence of the Riviera more apparent than in the tiny Principality of Monaco, with its luxury high rise hotels, designer shops and ports overflowing with millionaires’ yachts. The neighbouring resort of Cap Ferrat is nicknamed the ‘Peninsula of Billionaires’ with its ostentatious villas set in subtropical gardens, while nearby Villefranche-sur-Mer remains chic but surprisingly unspoilt with its picturesque natural harbour.
Day 4 – Nice
This magnificent all-year-round resort, so agreeably named ‘Nice’, is a vibrant city, shaped by a colourful past. It offers you a fascinating blend of ancient and modern, innumerable attractions, a wonderful climate, and a carefree joie de vivre, as it sits beside the glittering Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels), basking in the scorching Mediterranean sun.
Day 5 – Antibes
Tucked just behind the ramparts is Old Antibes, a honey-coloured quarter of winding cobbled lanes, splashed with flowers and overflowing with shops, restaurants and bars. Be sure to visit the bustling morning market in the cours Massena, the craft market and the seafront chateau of the former Grimaldi family, that today houses one of the world’s finest Picasso collections.
Day 6 – Saint Raphael
The narrow-shaded streets of the old city were once home to Saint-Raphaël’s farmers. Nowadays, this neighborhood hosts a daily covered outdoor market with flower, vegetable and fruit stands and local delicacies. A little further on, there is the Romanesque church. Built in the 7th century, it is a protected monument. Its presbytery houses the Archeological Museum, and at 22 m, its 6th-century watchtower offers a splendid panorama. The “Quartier de la Marine”, a former fishermen’s enclave, gradually became a seaside resort and with the arrival of a Casino and luxurious villas, the centre became a lively destination for holiday makers.