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8-Day Road Trip to the French Riviera

di Alice

After leaving behind us the great Provence (you can read the dedicated article here), we move to the French Riviera to start our eight-day road trip.
We chose to make a stop in Villeveuve-Loubet, a small town between Nice and Cannes, it is not characteristic, but it is cheap and in a central location to see the whole Côte d’Azur.
Below you will find the day-to-day itinerary of our eight days in the French Riviera.

Road trip in the French Riviera: the itinerary

In our stay in the French Riviera we decided to divide our days between visits to the most famous cities and relaxation on the beach. We chose to visit Nice, Menton, Villefranche, Monaco and Monte Carlo, Antibes, Saint-Tropez and the Massif de L’esterel with the bay of Agay.

The stages of our itinerary

First day: Nice

Nice is the second most famous French city after Paris, the capital of the French Riviera, a destination par excellence for millions of tourists every year.
The central point of Nice is Place Masséna. Recently renovated it is a real architectural jewel. It’s crossed by the tram and characterized by a checkerboard floor of white and grey tiles. It’s the hub of the city, close to all the main attractions, from which you can access the old town, or head to the sea.
The old buildings surrounding the square are all painted red with blue shutters, typical of this area. What characterizes it is the particular installation of modern art by the Catalan artist Jaume Plensa. These are seven poles on top of which are depicted seven statues that are often compared to Buddha because of their location, representing the seven continents and the dialogue between them. In the evening, the seven statues are illuminated with plays of light, changing and alternating through a range of colors.
In addition, the square is animated all year round by several events: in December there is the Christmas market, then there is the Carnival of Nice, the Music Festival, and the Nice Jazz Festival.
The square is two tram stops from the main station.

Place Masséna e la Promenade du Paillon

From Piazza Garibaldi begins the Vieille Ville, the old part of Nice. In these streets there are many craft shops, restaurants and squares such as Place Rossetti in front of the old Nice cathedral.
These are the most lively streets of the city, especially in the evening there are many places to eat the typical dishes of Nice.

Promenade des Anglais

From any part of the city, going to the sea you will be on the Promenade des Anglais, the spendido promenade of Nice, frequented assiduously by Nice. Here you will find a lot of people running, skating, skating, cycling or just taking a walk. Going east, at the end of the walk, just before the port area is the castle. I recommend you get on it, it is located in a garden that can be visited for free that gives the opportunity to see the entire coast of Nice.

The view from the castle of Nice

Day two: Villefranche-sur-mer

Villefranche is a small port village located at the end of Nice in a very picturesque bay.
I fell in love at first sight with this small town, especially its port area. It is a large u-shaped promenade where boats of various sizes dock due to the deep waters; a long promenade on which many restaurants overlook. In summer you can eat in the tables that are placed on the seashore creating a very suggestive and romantic atmosphere.

Villefranche, the port and the beach

At the end of the port begins the Plage des Marinières. One of the most beautiful beaches of the entire French Riviera, and also the most frequented by the locals. Thanks to the location of the bay the water is very calm and warm and the final part of the beach is sandy. The water is beautiful, of a blue green color and the view of the boats and the town in front is really beautiful.

Day three: Menton e Cap Martin

Menton is the last French city on the Côte d’Azur before the Italian border.
It’s nicknamed the Pearl of France and the city of lemons, which thanks to the mild climate here ripen all year round. Legend has it that Eve, driven out of Heaven, took one of these golden fruits with her and planted its precious seeds right here. Every year between February and March is celebrated a feast in honor of this citrus, the fête du Citron, which sees parade floats covered with 115 tons of lemons with which they are made incredible themed sculptures.
Menton is also famous for its gardens, which are considered the most beautiful in the whole Côte d’Azur.
The most characteristic area is the old town, while walking along the pedestrian rue Saint-Michel you are immersed in the liveliness of this city, full of craft shops, restaurants and squares packed with people sitting in cafes.


The seafront of Menton is connected directly to that of the nearby Roquebrune, a pleasant coastal village that on top of the hill retains the original nucleus of a village of the ‘400, within which there is a castle with a spectacular location, overlooking the sea. 
The promontory of Roquebrune is called Cap Martin and from here starts the “promenade le corbusier“, a scenic walk along the coast that arrives at a small pebble beach, plage du buse. The walk is quite flat, it is 3.6km and is suitable for everyone.

Promenade le Corbusier

Day four: Monaco and Monte Carlo

We arrived at the middle of our road trip in the French Riviera.
The Principality of Monaco extends for 2 km², is in fact the second smallest state in the world after Vatican City, and has one of the highest population densities in the world! No wonder, given its exceptional geographical location.
The famous and exclusive district of Monte Carlo is the beating heart and the central part of the Principality of Monaco. One of the main tourist attractions is undoubtedly its famous casino. Built in the late 19th century, it has been one of the main sources of wealth in the Principality, attracting gaming enthusiasts from all over the world. Part of the casino complex is the Opéra de Monte Carlo, also known as the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, a charming theatre representing one of the main cultural institutions of the Principality., a true miniature reproduction of the Paris Opera, in pure Belle Époque style.
Montecarlo is also famous for the famous Formula 1 Grand Prix, for its hyper-modern skyscrapers and high fashion boutiques. But not only: it also offers the opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of the sea and relaxation in an exclusive context, full of services and infrastructure, and the panorama of the coast surmounted by the mountains is undoubtedly among the most fascinating of this area of the French Riviera.


Walking through the historic center of Monaco means discovering an almost entirely pedestrian area, very similar to the small centers of the south of France. Well-kept and spotless, rich in history and fascinating views, it welcomes visitors with narrow streets, shops and pastry shops with colorful and inviting windows, as well as a series of historical places and monuments.
Perched in the centre of Monaco, the Palace of the Princes has dominated the sea and the territory since 1191. The official residence of the Prince of Monaco stands on the remains of a Genoese fortress and since 1297 it has been owned by the Grimaldi family. Legend has it that the leader of the Guelphs Francesco Grimaldi, with his cousin Ranieri I, infiltrated the palace disguised as a monk, taking power and killing the guards of the Republic of Genoa. From the old town a pleasant descent leads to the Port Hercule area, lined with brasserie, restaurants and shops.

The old Monaco

Day five: Antibes

Antibes is a must-see destination on the Côte d’Azur, a real jewel, founded by the ancient Greeks, retains a picturesque charm given by its location overlooking the sea. A medieval coastal village rich in history, art and enchanting views a few steps from Nice and Cannes, is in fact 10km from Cannes and 20km from Nice.

On Antibes Victor Hugo wrote:

Tout ici rayonne, tout fleurit, tout chante means everything shines here, everything blooms, everything sings.

With its 75,000 inhabitants in winter, today is the third city in the department, but Antibes is still a city on a human scale that has been able to preserve its charm and its cultural heritage.
The most beautiful part is the old town, with its narrow streets, pastel-colored houses, flowered balconies and the characteristic and lively Marché Provençal, an indoor market with lots of stalls displaying typical products of the area and in the summer you can find it every morning from 6 to 13. In the evening, instead of the market, tables appear in the restaurants overlooking the square. The atmosphere is a bit chaotic, but very characteristic.
Don’t miss the Picasso Museum, housed in the Chateau Grimaldi with over 50 drawings, paintings and prints by the artist.

Historic center of Antibes

At the foot of the old town is the beach Gravette, a small cove of fine sand with a calm sea where you can enjoy the sun. Equipped with every comfort and suitable for children.
This and the beach of Villefranche are the most beautiful and quiet of the entire French Riviera.

Beach of Antibes

Day seven: Saint-Tropez

The sixth day we dedicated it entirely to the sea taking a day of relaxation.
For our penultimate day instead we chose to move towards the end of the Côte d’Azur and visit Saint-Tropez.
Until the fifties it was a simple fishing village, then became a place of international fame for being the backdrop of the film And God Create Woman, which launched Brigitte Bardot as the maximum European sex symbol.
Saint-Tropez has a small port, once characterized by numerous shipyards and today, after the decline of the commercial function, the port is purely tourist. This is the perfect place to start your exploration of Saint-Tropez. It’s full of magnificent sailboats and luxury yachts. Take a walk along the harbor and sit on a terrace of one of the many cafes that surround the harbor such as the Senequier, opened since 1887.
After, lose yourself in the narrow streets of the old town, La Ponche, The old town of Saint-Tropez, located below the Citadel and is the most picturesque area of the city. Much of the center is a pedestrian area. Continue to the Tour du Portalet that overlooks the small beach with still a few fishing boats. An obligatory stop is at La Tarte Tropézienne, a boulangerie famous for the homonymous sweet made with brioche and cream dough.


Day eight: Massif de l’Esterel

The last day of our road trip on the Côte d’Azur was dedicated to the Massif de l’Esterel. It is a rocky formation of volcanic origin that extends from the inland towards the coast, characterized by rugged coastline and wild landscape. Its peculiarity is the presence of jagged red rocks that plunge into the Mediterranean creating a completely wild landscape and full of charm. 
Driving along the Corniche d’Or coastal road between Mandelieu and Saint-Raphaël is a magnificent sight. You can admire the red rocks overlooking the sea that form the magnificent calanques of the Estérel. There are numerous viewpoints where you can stop and admire the power of the sea that is thrown on these rocks. The contrast of the turquoise of the sea with the red of the rock is magnificent.

Massif de l’Esterel

Some tips:
Try not to ever move with the highway, first because it costs a lot, and then because you would miss the most beautiful of the French Riviera. The roads connecting Nice and Cannes above all offer unique views.

View of Monte Carlo

I hope that our road trip in the French Riviera will be useful to you!
We visited the Côte d’Azur on a two-week trip that also includes Provence, you can read the dedicated article here, while if you are interested in advice on how to organize a trip to these two French regions go here.


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