If you're looking for glitz and glamour on your holiday, the Côte d'Azur is the ideal place to go, and its top hotspots offer more than you expect...
Best places to visit on the Cote d'Azur
Where to go in the Côte d'Azur
One of the Cote d'Azur's must-visit cities, Nice is packed with culture, character and delicious food (it's the place that gave us ratatouille and salad Nicoise). The Nice Carnival in February livens up winter in the south of France and attracts over a million visitors to see animated floats, dancing and fireworks in the street. The Promenade des Anglais is the city's well-known promenade, where the iconic Hotel Negresco stands. A stroll in the old town is a must for its winding streets and traditional squares. Don't miss the Place Rossetti square to for its cathedral and amazing ice cream parlours.
Fancy catching a glimpse of a film star on the red carpet? Cannes is the place to do it at the annual Cannes Film Festival. Around the city you'll find designer boutiques aplenty, hotels and restaurants, as well as the attractive beachfront, La Croisette, and the charming old town, Le Suquet, with its imposing church clock tower overlooking the city's harbour. It's worth catching a boat to the low-profile Lerins Islands (pictured), just off Cannes, to see where the Man in the Iron Mask was held captive on the larger island, Sainte-Marguerite.
The fishing village of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is steeped in royal history and home to some of the most luxurious yachts in the Mediterranean. It's perfect for exploring by foot with lovely pedestrian paths around the nature-rich peninsula and some small, secluded beaches if you like sunbathing in private. The picturesque Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild (pictured) was built by French socialite Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild in 1905 and is one of the village's most beautiful attractions, with its nine different-themed gardens.
For some of the best art and entertainment around, Antibes and its lively town, Juan-les-pins is worth a visit. Don't miss the Juan-les-pins jazz festival, Jazz à Juan in July and the town's dynamic nightlife, with restaurants, bars and nightclubs for all to enjoy. The fine sandy beaches are a treat and if you want culture and history, head back to Antibes to spend half a day walking up to the Garoupe Lighthouse for its amazing views, explore the 16th-century Fort Carré and discover the town through the eyes of Picasso and Monet with the La Route des Peintres guided arts walk.
As the world's perfume capital, producing two thirds of France's natural aromas, Grasse is a delight for fragrance lovers - it's where the legendry Chanel No. 5 was created. The Jasmine Festival in August is when the town gets together to be showered in flowers by the Festival Queen and even the fire service joins in throwing jasmine water over spectators from old-fashioned fire trucks. If you're interested in more than just perfume, there are a number of large caves around Grasse to explore, some top gourmet restaurants and great mountains for walking and hiking.
The charming hilltop village of Eze is perfect for escaping the popular beach spots and famed for its authentic beauty and awe-inspiring views of the sea from its 427-metre-high setting. It has a botanical garden, a variety of craft boutiques and Planet Square, which is home to a historic fountain and the ancient Riquier Mansion. Legend says the stone bridge with eight arches leading to Eze was built when a peasant made a deal with the devil to build it in return for the soul of the first person who passes on it.
Thanks to its warm climate, Menton grows a variety of citruses, making it the Town of the Lemon. Every year in February to celebrate its symbol, the carnival-style Lemon Festival takes place, where bright floats are designed using over 140 tonnes of oranges and lemons. Around Menton you'll find some outstanding gardens, gorgeous beaches and fantastic markets selling spices, the flat crepe-style speciality, socca and of course... lemons! Don't miss seeing the Wedding Room at the town hall for its portrait of eternal lovers by French poet and artist, Jean Cocteau.
Fashionable Saint-Tropez is a famous hotspot for the rich and famous and the top place to visit if you're hoping to catch a celebrity sighting. When you're done browsing the chic fashion boutiques, stop in a café at the port to watch the sunset, before heading out to enjoy the town's glamorous nightlife. For sea and sand, Pampelonne beach has five kilometres of shore for you to enjoy and there's history in Saint-Tropez too, with the 18th-century Italian baroque church towering over the old town and the town's citadel being its most famous feature since 1589.
The medieval village of Cagnes-sur-mer is famed as the place that French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir spent his last years and where you can see some of his original works at the Renoir Museum. The village boasts a quaint fishing port, bustling markets and great beaches with water sport facilities. If you fancy meeting a few locals, a great way is with a game of pétanque (boules) at a club near the beach, where you may even bump into Renoir's grandson, who's said to be a keen player in the area. A must for horse racing fans is an evening at the races at the Cote d'Azur Hippodrome during racing season.
It's known as a rich man's playground and the main resort area of Monte Carlo is a centre for casinos, Ferrari-owners and yacht-lovers, but Monaco isn't just for the wealthy. It's an interesting place for anyone to explore with a visit to Prince Albert II's palace, the beautiful St Martin Gardens and a tour of the grand Monte Carlo Casino. It's also a sports fan's haven being home to the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, the Monte Carlo Rally and the AS Monaco FC football team.