We don’t need to twist anyone’s arm to inspire a desire to visit the Côte d’Azur—if you’ve seen the photos of its turquoise water and terra cotta coastline then you’re already sold. But… we wanna talk about it anyway!
We’ve united with Atout France to bring you the very best of the Cote d’Azur. Atout France is the France Tourism Development Agency and the French state’s only tourism body. On their website, you can find out what’s going on in France, places to go, hidden gems, and all sorts of things to do! And if you need a bit of visual inspiration, their Instagram account will most certainly tickle your French fancy.
The Côte d’Azur by rail
Along the coastline of the Côte d’Azur is a railway line with rich history (quite literally). To ride by train all the way from Nice to Marseille is one of the most spectacular journeys in all of Europe for sure, with awe-inspiring views of the sea and sky from the seat of a comfy TER or TGV. Come and see for yourself what brought royalty, high rollers, and notorious artists here for over a century.
Our suggested routes:
- Paris to Nice (~6 hours, fares between €25 – €204)
- Nice to Cannes (~34 minutes, fares between €2 – €13)
- Nice to Antibes (~21 minutes, fares between €1 – €8)
- Nice to Saint-Raphaël (~58 minutes, fares between €3 – €24)
- Cannes to Fréjus (~35 minutes, fare is €8.10)
- Fréjus to Toulon (~1 hour 9 minutes, fare between €4 – €24)
The high rollers
Nice and Cannes are the two beautiful celebrity sisters that steal the show when it comes to the Côte d’Azur. And when we say celebrity, we really mean it—you’ll probably see some famous folks here, especially if you’re hanging around during the annual Cannes Film Festival in May, or the Nice Jazz Festival in July.
There are plenty of reasons to visit these two spectacular cities, even if you’re looking to stay off the beaten path and have a more unique experience. In spite of being two major tourist destinations, their magical magnificence and the power behind their pebble beaches has not faded since the railway lured in international crowds over 150 years ago. If a town has remained this renowned since 1864, you know it’s gotta be good.
Something new, something blue
What a lot of people miss out on when they visit the Côte d’Azur are the little unsung stars behind its big shots. There’s much more to the Côte d’Azur than slathering yourself in oil and achieving a Rodin-level bronze in Nice (although that sounds plenty nice). All along the coastline, you can happen upon true gems among those pebbly beaches.
If you want to talk about towns that’ve been popular for a while, Antibes shows hints of occupation dating back to the Iron Age. And if you want to get a tad closer to history, you can literally touch it here. The Aqueduc d’Antibes de la Bouillide has been around since the 11th century, and stretches 16 kilometres through the sylvan countryside just outside Antibes (that’s right—there’s more to the Côte d’Azur than just the shore!).
Antibes itself is full of luxurious homes of the wealthy and you’ll find it flooded with French fans in the hot summer months, but it boasts of plenty to do:
-See the Cap of Antibes under a full moon.
-Put on some white linen and live it up at the Antibes Yacht Show.
-Snap your fingers at Jazz à Juan, the world-famous jazz festival in Juan-les-Pins, a resort and spa for the international jet-set.
-Throw one back at the Absinthe Museum (just joking, we highly suggest that you sip that stuff slowly, it’s strong).
Saint-Raphaël, blending land and sea
Nestled between the Mediterranean and the Estérel range, Saint-Raphaël has shone out, since the Belle Époque, thanks to its setting and pleasant climate. The seaside resort boasts an exceptional heritage: a 36km-long coastline, with beaches, harbours, creeks and red rocky inlets. A town centre combining a medieval quarter, the old port and the Promenade des Bains and its various districts: Valescure, Boulouris, Le Dramont, Agay, Anthéor, Le Trayas. Captivating nature from the Estérel to Cap Dramont. Firmly rooted traditions, including ancestral fishing, local markets and communities. The town is proud of its heritage and landscapes, and in all seasons is the setting for a wide range of leisure activities, visits, sailing activities, golf courses, hikes and events.
Free yourself in Fréjus
There is a strong aroma of Rome in the commune of Fréjus, where the still visible amphitheatre, lighthouse, Roman baths, and well-preserved aqueduct built under the reign of Tiberius remain. If you’re a habitué of historical hamlets, Fréjus is right up your alley, and right around the corner from Cannes. If you’re bringing the whole family and the kids find old stonework a snore, then Aqualand Fréjus will make a bit splash! Fréjus also has beautiful beaches and you can plunge into the sea with some snorkelling gear to explore the wonderworld beneath the surface of the Mediterranean Sea!
Don’t wait Toulon, get Hyères now!
Toulon has a major French naval base and is therefore a great city for maritime or naval enthusiasts. There’s a Navy Museum as well as a Boat Museum called Navire Musée La Dives which is, well, on a boat. To be here on Bastille Day (July 14th) is quite a thrill, with a military march on the main boulevards and an aircraft show that you can watch from the beach.
Toulon itself has a beautiful historic centre where you can shop for produce, flowers, perfumes, and souvenirs every day except Mondays. Coast around Cours Lafayette, a main strip that hosts open-air markets, and you’ll find plenty of locally produced goodies. Visit the fromager and the charcutier and pack yourself a picnic to enjoy at the top of the Mont-Faron hill, which will give you a magnificent view of the whole town. You can go up by cable car.
Hyères is the OG of the entire Côte d’Azur, the oldest resort among them all. Hyères and Îles d’Hyères offer a unique retreat that the French have, for the most part, been pretty tight-lipped about. But it has award-winning beaches and a stunning national park that’s just a stone’s throw away. By the way, please don’t pick up the rocks, they’re preciously preserved.
There’s plenty to do around Hyères, from snorkelling to bike riding to windsurfing for the adventurous. And, oh, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, then maybe you’ll want to take a little cheeky peeky at Île du Levant, famously known for embracing nudism… but try not to stare, it’s considered rude.
Coast by train to the Côte d’Azur
With the Trainline app (for Android and iOS) at your fingertips and Atout France’s website providing you with all of the pleasures and treasures to be found in Côte d’Azur, we think you’ll not only have a great time in paradise, but you’ll be itching to return next year!