The French Riviera or Côte d’Azure has long been the playground of the rich and famous. However, far from the “bling” of Monaco there are also picturesque villages, quiet beaches, fantastic food, and more art and history than you can shake a stick at. The clarity and softness of the light have attracted numerous artists over the years, including Picasso who lived in Antibes, and Cezanne who was born and lived in Aix-en-Provence. Take the opportunity to visit Cezanne’s studio in Aix-en-Provence if you’re visiting this historic university city. The Picasso Museum in the seaside resort of Antibes has a fine collection of this artist’s work.
Nice, “la belle”, is a city full of life and character, from the narrow streets of the medieval old town, to its pretty port and the long stretch of the seafront, known as the “promenade des Anglais” after the earliest holidaymakers. It, too, has several noteworthy museums, such as the Chagall Museum, and the Matisse Museum.
The papal city of Avignon is known for its magnificent Palais des Papes, or Popes’ Palace, as well as the famous stone bridge, the “Pont d’Avignon” which features in the French nursery rhyme. If theatre, dance and other performing arts appeal, the Avignon Festival is a major event with street performances as well as classic events going on.
Another festival hotspot, Cannes is of course known for the world-famous Cannes international film festival, welcoming stars on its red carpets each spring. Take a stroll down the Croisette and soak up the atmosphere. A popular destination among sailors, like much of the Riviera, Cannes also offers a variety of watersports activities such as wakeboarding and waterskiing.
The Cote d’Azure is known for its delicious, fresh seafood and sun-ripened tomatoes. Try the Bouillabaisse, a thick Mediterranean fish soup. And although you may have had a salad Niçoise before, don’t miss the opportunity to taste the real thing, perhaps accompanied by a crisp Provençal rosé.
Station to station