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Provence and the French Riviera

di Alice

In this article I want to tell you about my experience on how to organize a trip to Provence and the French Riviera. A lover of France since childhood and in love with Paris at first sight, I had to organize a journey to discover the Provence and the Côte d’Azur.
A few kilometers from the Italian border begins the stretch of coast that arrives from Menton to Cannes. This is the Côte d’Azur. Entering the hinterland instead begins the territory of Provence.
Choosing what to see was not easy, already from the photos it was clear that every place was unique and unmissable.
To organize our trip we chose to spend the first 4 days in Provence. Then we move towards the French Riviera and its beautiful sea.
Unfortunately we had the holidays set for the last two weeks of September. If you want to go to Provence for the flowering of lavender you must leave between May and the end of July. In fact in our future programs there is definitely a trip dedicated only to this!
However, September is a perfect month to visit this area. Prices are lower; it is a little touristy month (especially considering that schools have already started) and the weather is perfect!

Why visit the Provence

For the lavender fields in the first place, but Provence is not just that. It’s a land full of scents, flavors and colors that can enchant with their incredible elegance. Here you can visit villages rich in history perched on the rock; follow the traces of the great impressionist painters such as Van Gogh or Cézanne or dive into the crystal clear sea of the calanques. It is a very characteristic territory that at times recalls the beauty of the Tuscan Maremma, with its hills and vineyards.

How to get to Provence

The car is essential to visit Provence, certainly if you live in central or southern Italy you should arrive in the area by plane, landing in the nearest airport which is to Nice, and then rent a car.
The alternative of the train is not recommended because the connections are excellent only up to the Côte d’Azur, after which the car is mandatory.
Our departure city is Bologna and we chose to travel with our car to be able to turn with all the comfort. The trip from Bologna was about 8h with the various breaks.


Where to stay in Provence

We decided to make a fixed stop at Aix-en-provance for the first three nights. Aix is gorgeous and has affordable prices. We booked an apartment on Airbnb (here link) two steps from the city centre, equipped with all the comforts for 65€ per night.

Small escursus: if you decide to leave for Provence in September bring a sweater; in case of bad weather it may be cold.

What to see in Provence

The heart of Provence is surely Aix-en-provence that has all the charm of the deepest France of the south; another must-see is the Porquerolles Islands in front of Hyères. They offer perhaps the most beautiful sea of the entire coast. With a beach and a sea compared to the Caribbean. Also along the coast is Cassis and its calanches characterized by turquoise waters surrounded by rocky coves and framed by dense vegetation. Among the most characteristic villages there is certainly Roussillion with its path of ochres; and finally, the gorge of Verdon, a large emerald green river that splits the earth for 25 km creating one of the most beautiful shows in Provence.

Why visit the French Riviera

The Côte d’Azur is certainly an ideal destination for those who love the sea, beach life and the nightlife of the locals. But also for those who love to venture to the discovery of characteristic villages and historic centers with the charm of the ’20s.

Monaco – Antibes – Calanques Cassis

How to get to the French Riviera

The first town on the French Riviera, Menton, is located on the border with Italy, easily accessible by train. All the towns on the Côte d’Azur are close to each other and well connected by public transport. So for those coming from far away it is recommended to land at Nice airport and then move by public transport.

Where to stay on the French Riviera

When it comes to your stay, the Côte d’Azur is certainly not cheap. It also depends on when you decide to go there. Surely the central months of July and August are the most expensive. I advise you to choose to stay in a house. Especially if you decide to make a stay of a week or more. Avoid the more touristy places that are the most expensive and choose niche or little known places. Especially if you have the opportunity to move with your own means. We chose to settle in Villeneuve-Loubet; exclusively residential but central location to visit the entire coast as it is located between Cannes and Nice. We chose a small apartment and spent 60€ per night.

What to see on the French Riviera

Definitely Nice and its seafront with the famous promenade called Promenade Des Anglais, famous for being one of the most beautiful promenade of the French Riviera. Menton, the city of lemons, which ripen here all year round. Its seafront is directly connected to that of the nearby Roquebrune, a pleasant coastal village. At the 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. 

Monaco, well-kept, rich in history and fascinating views, the old town lies at the foot of the “fortress”, where the Palazzo dei Principi stands, and welcomes visitors with narrow streets, shops and patisseries with colorful and inviting windows, as well as a number of historical places and monuments.

Unmissable Antibes, The small town founded by the ancient Greeks that retains a picturesque charm for its location overlooking the sea. Also worth a visit is its center with 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 that in the summer you can find every morning.

Saint tropez, the city was once a simple fishing village, but today the port is full of magnificent sailing boats and luxury yachts.


The most beautiful beaches on the French Riviera

Plage des Marinières is located in the port of Villefranche. The final part of this long beach is sandy and you will find mostly families with children. The water is beautiful, of a blue green color and the view of the boats and the town in front is really nice.

Plage du buse, is located at the end of the “promenade le corbusier”, a scenic walk along the coast that starts from Cap Martin.

Plage de la Gravette, is the beach of Antibes, a small beach located at the foot of the old Antibes and behind the port Vauban, This sandy beach is surrounded by walls and is located in a small cove which makes the warm and quiet water perfect for families.

This is what I think is essential to know to organize a trip between Provence and the French Riviera. Enjoy your journey!

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