The Cote d’Azur offers much more than the blockbuster cities of Nice and Cannes – nestled amongst the rocky crests and twisting curves of the southern coast of France lie some spectacular natural scenery, quaint villages and some excellent cultural destinations.
Basing yourself in pretty Villefranche, a cute settlement just outside of Nice, is a great option and you can explore the region as far afield as Antibes and Cap Martin. Here is the VINGT Paris selection of local delights…
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is a splendid village and offers a stunning walk around the peninsula. In summer, refresh yourself with a dip in the crystal clear waters. A must see is the legendary hotel on the end of the peninsula, the Royal Riviera.
Antibes is also a lovely old place with the Picasso museum housed in an old chateau showcasing the works he painted in the town just after World War Two. Take in the fresh air looking around the Cap D’Antibes and spoil yourself with a stay at the secluded Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc.
For the most picturesque village look no further than medieval Roquebrune, perched on the hill above Cap Martin. You’ll be in good company as this was also Churchill’s favourite French coastal residence.
Other towns deserving a spot on your itinerary are St Paul de Vence and Biot – the former a charming, authentic town full of artisan ateliers and excellent gift choices.
The Maeght Fondation in St Paul is a famous arts foundation which is a must see if you are in this region.
There are several outstanding museums in the area, although our advice is to stick to the national institutions rather than regional; they are generally of a higher calibre (although the regional Matisse collection in Nice is housed in a fantastic building). The Chagall museum in Nice is definitely worth a look, along with Saint Paul de Vence’s Fondation Maeght housed in a 1964 building by Catalan architect Lluís Sert. Our favourite though is the wonderful Leger museum, en route to Biot, which owes much to his wife and is an essential for modern art-lovers.
If you’re leaving the region from Cannes, try and make time for some of the town’s great shopping and a Saturday open air antiques market.
Musée National Fernand Léger
255 Chemin du Val de Pôme, Biot
Musée National Marc Chagall
36 Avenue Dr Ménard, Nice
623 Chemin des Gardettes, Saint Paul de Vence
Musée Picasso Antibes
Place Mariejol, Antibes
Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
Boulevard J F Kennedy, Antibes
04 93 61 39 01
Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat
71, Bd du Général de Gaulle, St Jean Cap Ferrat
04 93 76 50 50
Royal Riviera du Cap Ferrat
3, avenue Jean Monnet, 06230 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
04 93 76 31 00