7 Most Beautiful Hidden Gems on the French Riviera

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July 22, 2020

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Fingers crossed for summer travel again SOON. Where’s the first place you want to go? Summer can be the most beautiful time in many countries… but few are more attractive and scenic than the French Riviera.

Nestled in southeast France, the French Riviera is home to so many seaside towns, quiet villages, and Mediterranean shores that it would fill any vacation with endless beauty. 

Consider these seven towns for your next summer on the Riviera:

Cannes

Best known for its yearly film festival, Festival de Cannes, this resort city has years of history – from Napoleonic camps to lords and ladies – to its name. Once a small fishing village, Cannes grew with the entrance of a wealthy lord who built a villa and visited the seaside town every year. Now, it’s home to luxury hotels and high-end restaurants and is oft-visited by the rich and famous. 

Explore La Croisette, a picturesque mile along the beachy coast made up of restaurants, shops, and hotels before visiting museums like Musee d’Art et d’Histoire de Provence, in an old 18th-century mansion, or Musee de la Castre in the Chapel of St. Anne. You can stroll the cobbled street lanes of the old town of Le Suquet or explore extravagant hotels and orthodox churches. 

Whether you’re looking for luxury or history, Cannes has beauty for you to behold. 


Menton

Sitting right on the edge of Italy is the bay town of Menton. Menton is strongly associated with its citrus industry, with lemon and orange trees thriving throughout the city – and inspiring the city’s yearly Lemon Festival (Fete du Citron). Menton’s climate is warm nearly year-round, giving it the warmest winter on the Riviera. It’s also home to numerous famous gardens, many open to the public, and features beachside markets and museums like the Jean Cocteau Museum. 

A beachy paradise rich with color and life (and citrus!), Menton is not to be missed.


Peillon

If scenic mountain scapes are more your style, try the village of Peillon perched on the Alps’ rocky cliffs. Instead of roads, travel through Peillon on stone pathways and steep stairs and experience the beautiful medieval homes and churches. Exquisite frescos decorate the Church of the Transfiguration walls and Chapelle des Penitents Blancs and heighten the medieval atmosphere of this tiny fortified village.

Peillon is much smaller and more secluded than other Riviera towns – the only businesses and commerce are a handful of hotels and restaurants right before you enter the village. With no shops, tourism traps, or souvenirs, Peillon offers you an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in the Alps’ scenic seclusion. 


Villefranche-Sur-Mer

For more quaint cobblestone streets and small village ambiance, stop by port city Villefranche-sur-Mer. The seven centuries-old town was once the only natural harbor on Mediterranean waters, and the deep harbor is perfect for anyone who loves sitting and relaxing by the sea. Villefranche sits near Monaco’s border, and the old towns within it are quaint, picturesque, and look straight out of a storybook. 

Villefranche is so picturesque that it’s been home to many movie sets – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, An Affair to Remember, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Bourne Identity, to name a few. Now a regular visiting place for royal visitors, Villefranche offers many beautiful events at its historic ports like the annual Battle of Flowers (Bataille des Fleurs) – a perfect escape for anyone craving beautiful sights and extravagant extremities. 


Antibes

Originally a Greek trading post, Antipolis’s former city is now called Antibes, and it is a coastline haven of archaeology and history. Because Antibes was at one point a favorite vacation spot of Pablo Picasso, a museum filled with his works acts as one of the village’s highlights. Another museum offers old collections of archaeological finds and locally-discovered fossils – a perfect outing for a history or archaeology buff. 

Other areas of Antibes to spotlight are Sophia-Antipolis, a nearby science park, the Absinthe Museum, gorgeous gardens, and the annual Jazz festival. Antibes is the perfect place for both relaxation and exploration with the yacht harbors and long winding beaches. 


Vence

Nestled right in between Nice and Antibes is Vence, a commune with medieval walls surrounding its perimeter that transports any visitor to past centuries. Numerous stone fountains, filled with Vence’s famous spring water, and cathedrals fill the old town. There’s even a chapel, Chapelle du Rosaire, conceived and decorated by artist Henri Matisse. 

Vence is the perfect escape if you need somewhere quiet, remote, and transformative, as it will genuinely make you feel as if you are a part of the past. 


Grasse

Last but not least, is the world’s perfume capital – Grasse. Home to many native flowers and the center of the world’s perfume industry, Grasse has a rich history within its commune. Grasse was even awarded two flowers from the Towns and Villages in Bloom Competition (Concours des Villes et Villages Fleuris), a contest designed to judge local efforts to create thriving green and plant spaces. 

Museums, luxury hotels, and shopping boulevards make Grasse much more than just perfume – but the flowers and perfume sure are a big draw! 


No matter what kind of summer escape you’re looking for, there is a town on the French Riviera for you. 

So much beauty and exploration on one coastline is a treat. And enjoying all the treasures would be impossible to see and appreciate all in one trip – so multiple escapades to the Riviera might be in order. I am just saying. 

If dreams of the French Riviera have you ready to book a trip for 2021, talk with us, and we’ll get you there with ease and in style.  

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