The French Rivera, or Côte d'Azur, is located on the Mediterranean coastline in the southeast corner of France. Dotted with glamourous seaside resort towns, this area is home to yachts, celebrities and even royalty.
The town of Nice is a nice central location for exploring the wider area, with all nearby towns accessible by the nearby bus stops or the main train station. There’s also plenty of hostels and accommodation options here.
How to get there:
Nice is well connected via FlixBus or train to most towns in close-neighbour Italy, with direct journeys from Florence, Rome, Turin, Milan and Bolonga. There are also plenty of other international connections to cities such as Barcelona in Spain, and Munich in Germany.
Nice’s international airport is located 6km west of the city with its two terminals connected by free shuttle bus.
There are 2 airport buses to take you into the city – Route 99 runs every half hour to Gare Nice Ville from 8am to 9pm. Route 98 runs every 20 minutes from 6am to 9pm, taking a longer route.
How to get around:
Regional trains run roughly every half hour from Gare Nice Ville station all along the coastline, taking you to each seaside town – they will either head in direction Cannes or direction Monaco - you can see schedules here. Tickets can be bought at the station and range in price depending on how far you’re travelling, ie:
Nice to Villefrance-sur-mer: €1.80
Nice to Monaco: €3.90
Nice to Cannes: €7.20
Within Nice, if you don’t feel like walking you can catch trams to either side of the town, and to connecting bus stops. A ticket costs €1 or a day pass for €4. You can buy tickets from the driver or machines at tram stops.
Buses leave from a range of places, you can see the map below for where you need to get to. Tickets can be bought on the bus and cost €1.50.
Where to eat:
Stop by the Monoprix grocery store in the main street for plenty of ingredients to make a perfect picnic. Don’t be afraid to try some new and local produce – carrot gratin, soft cheese, and don’t forget a fresh baked French baguette!)
Plenty of bars along the promenade like Merkado and Ma Nolans offer happy hour cocktails, perfect after a long day on the beach.
Nice also has a fruit and flower market near the main promenade - take a stroll through the stalls and find some tasty treats!
Where to stay:
Villa Saint Exupery hostel has a great common area, a basic kitchen and friendly staff who’ll help you plan your stay.
If you’re looking to splurge, there are a number of great hotels on the beachfront in Villefranche-sur-Mer, starting at only €70 per night.
Example Daily Budget
€58 per day
- Hostel: €20 per night
- Baguette and espresso: €5
- Picnic for lunch: €8
- Return train ticket: €10
- Crepe with Nutella: €5
- Home cooked dinner: €10
How long to spend here:
There is so many beautiful small towns hidden in the hills and by the seaside, and you can easily spend a week or two exploring and soaking in the sun.
What to see and do
Wander around the streets & visit the beautiful sites of Vieille Ville (Old Town), Apollo Fountain, Fruit and Flower market, Colline du Château (Castle Hill) with its man-made waterfall, and of course enjoy a gelato as you walk (or skate!) along the beachfront promenade. Just don’t be alarmed when the canon fires off in the Old Town, every day at midday.
This stunning former Italian fishing village has a great beach (half sand, half pebbles) and is set in a bay surrounded by sailing boats. The view from the road above is incredible, so take a stroll up after you’ve finished tanning!
Take bus 100 from Nice Port OR take train direction Monaco to Villefranche station.
Beaulieu & Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Beaulieu is another beautiful cove and beach, on the smaller side to some others around. Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is located on a peninsula next to Beaulieu, extending out into the Mediterranean. The walk from Beaulieu to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, then around the peninsula on to to Plague Passable beach is stunning.
From Nice, take bus 100 from Nice Port OR take train direction Monaco to Beaulieu station. To get home, you can either catch bus 81 from Villa Rothschild (near Plaugue Passable beach) back to Nice Port, or walk around to Ville Franche and train back.
Eze Sur Mer & Eze
Another beautiful cove and beach is Eze Sur Mer, which lies underneath the hilltop neighbour Eze.
Accessible from Nice by a mountainous coastal road, or a hike up from Eze Sur Mer, this medieval village clings the top of a steep tapering rock, over 400 metres above the Mediterranean Sea below. From almost everywhere in the village you can enjoy magnificent sea views, with the best outlook being at the Jardin Exotique.
Check out Chevre d'Or Hotel if you’re wanting to splurge at their Michelin-starred restaurant, and tour the factory at the Fragonard Perfume Museum.
To reach Eze direct, take bus 112 or 82 from Vauban bus stop in Nice.
To hike up to Eze, take train direction Monaco to Eze Sur Mer station. The path starts across the road from the station and is very clearly marked.
Spend the afternoon at one of the more hidden spots along the coast. Cap d’Ail is set in a cove with a smattering of houses perched on the cliffs above.
Train direction Monaco to Cap d’Ail station, walk through the tunnel to the path on the seafront and turn right.
Monaco, Monte Carlo
One of the smallest countries in Europe, Monte Carlo has only 6,000 Monégasque passport holders and still a principality – overseen by a royal family, with the prince famously marrying Grace Kelly in 1956. Key sights to see include Monaco’s picture-perfect filled with luxurious yachts owned by the rich and famous, the Royal Palace open to the public, as well as the museum housing the HSH The Prince of Monaco's vintage car collection and the rose garden dedicated to Princess Grace, both located in the Fontvieille district.
Take bus 100 from Nice Port OR take train direction Monaco.
Another small fishing village right on the edge of the Italian border, and is quite reminiscent of its neighbour Cinque Terre with pastel houses staggering nup from the beach front.
Take bus 100 from Nice Port OR take train direction Monaco to Menton Station.
A fortified medieval town right on the water, located 20 minutes from Nice by train. See the Picasso museum, the Marché Provençal and explore the sandy beaches. Along the Cap d'Antibes peninsula there are 13 public beaches ranging in size and facilities – some even have snack bars, showers and sunbed rentals.
These are some of the best spots on the coast, particularly for those who prefer sandier beaches to the rocky ones found in Nice.
Take train direction Cannes to Antibes Station.
Home of the famous film festival, Cannes boasts 7 miles of sandy beaches and lines of designer boutiques and restaurants.
Take bus 200 From Albert 1er Bus Stop, OR take train direction Cannes.
Saint-Paul de Vence
The town has retained its medieval charm within the well-preserved circle of 16th-century walls, and in the centre of the village stands a 12th-century tower. The charm of this town comes from wandering the narrow cobblestone pedestrian-only streets that wind through the village, lined with piazzas, boutiques, and colourful art galleries, gelato in hand.
Take bus 400 From Albert 1er Bus Stop.
This beautiful medieval village lies in in the foothills of the Maritime Alps near the Loup Valley, and is surrounded by fields of lavender, mimosa, rose, and jasmine flowers that are used to make perfume in the many famous perfume factories in town.
Take bus 500 From Albert 1er Bus Stop.
Peille is another medieval fortified village nestled in the hills, about 20km from Nice, with quaint, narrow, pedestrian-only streets and historic buildings. Make sure you visit the olive mill, and the tiny chapel with fresco paintings, and stop in at The Auberge de la Madone for an authentic lunch. The best view back down over town can be seen from the trail from Peille to La Turbie – head up the stairs to the left of the village, through terraced olives
Keep in mind, this town is off the typical tourist map, so if you arrive at 2pm, it may be deserted.
Peille can really only be accessed via car from Nice.
Saint-Tropez is a beach lover's paradise. Although famous for its private beach clubs along the Pampelonne, several public beaches are free (except for fees to rent lounge chairs and beach umbrellas). This town lies around 2 hours drive from Cannes.
Take train direction Cannes, and stay on the train past Cannes Station on to St Raphaël Station, then catch bus 7601 to St. Tropez. The journey takes about an hour and costs around €12.
Ile Saint Honorat
This island, just off the coast of Cannes is a haven if peace and serenity. For the last 16 centuries it has been home to the monks of Lérins Abbey, who tend to the 8 hectare vineyard surrounding the monastery and chapels.
Ferries depart Cannes every hour from 9.00am to 4.30pm (5.30pm May – September), and back from Saint Honorat from 9.30am to 5pm (6pm May – September). Return fare on the ferry is €16.50.
Aix-en-Provence is as the ancient capital of Provence, filled with public squares and hundreds of fountains, art and culture. One of the most important traditions is the city's weekly markets, so be sure to visit and pick up some fresh produce. The surrounding areas are also popular for fields of sunflowers and lavender, blooming in summer.
Many bus companies run direct routes to Aix-en-Provence, search GoEuro to find a suitable time.
Trains also run multiple times daily, but many will require a change in Marseille.
Some of the most interesting scenery on the Mediterranean are the Calanques, along the coast between Marseilles and Cassis. This group of high limestone cliffs edge the sea, with coves cut below forming calm pools. Because the light reflects off the white limestone, the water appears a stunning turquoise colour. The best to reach via public transport is Calanque de Sugiton.
You’ll first need to get from Nice to Marseilles: catch train direct to Marseilles St Char station, it will take around 2h 30m.
Once in Marseilles, take bus 21 from L’avenue du Prado at Castellane, in direction of Luminy and stay on to the end of the line (Luminy). From there, follow the walking path around the headlands and coast (45 min).
Alternatively, boat tickets are available at Marseille port.