When I think about the French Riviera I imagine Belle from Beauty and the Beast cascading down stone steps and singing “Bonjour” to passerby’s. Do I also imagine myself as Belle? Yes. But it’s easy to break into song when you see the green hills set next to the cobblestone streets with views of an idyllic sea. What I love about the French Riviera is how each town differs so drastically from one to the next. You can eat socca on the streets of Nice in your swimsuit, then head to Cannes or Monaco dressed to the nines. Instead of doing a guide to the French Riviera I decided to break down some of the most Instagrammable places.
So, grab your camera or your selfie stick (I don’t judge) and head to some of the prettiest places; some well known, others are off the beaten path. A quick note on getting there: you can fly into Nice, since there’s a fairly large airport. As far as getting around your BEST option is to rent a car. There are so many lovely small towns and they are more easily accessed by car. You can take a bus but your options will be a bit more limited.
The Most Instagrammable Places Along the French Riviera
1. Château Eza in Èze
Èze is an ancient town perched atop a hill and is completely encased in stone. You’ll feel transported back to Medieval times as you walk the stone paths. Friendly cats pass you by as you walk past tiny perfume shops to the view of all views at the little restaurant, Château Eza. We drank wine and watched the sun set at this lovely spot. The preserved historic village is the perfect place to walk around and take in the easy going French lifestyle.
2. The yachts in Monaco
The coast of Monaco represents the epitome of wealth. I know this isn’t technically France, but since the country is about a mile in size, I’m including it here. My mouth dropped at the site of these yachts. Stark white boats bobbing along the deep blue hues of the water made for an epic sight. Of course, there is lots of shopping and colorful homes in the town, but this was one of my favorite places to perch.
3. Monte Carlo, Monaco
I’d be remiss to not include the most famous casino in the world, Monte Carlo. Make sure to walk inside to gawk at the over the top marble decor.
4. Villa Rothschild, Villefrance
Want to explore Barbie’s dream house along the Côte d’Azur? You got it. Villa Rothschild is not only perfectly pink and beautiful inside and out, it’s got character. The French seaside villa located at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is filled with decor from the likes of Marie Antoinette and rare porcelain. Béatrice de Rothschild collected and decorated her home to it’s splendor and flair. She had the 30 gardeners, who maintained the garden, dressed as sailors with berets with red pom poms.
A good time to come is in June for Painter’s Day, the Villa opens up for artists to paint and find inspiration.
Here’s a look at the backyard:
5. Stay like a local in Mougins
I had the best time at the cozy, quiet, and beautiful cottage in Mougins. I really felt like I adopted the French lifestyle as I luxirated in a perfume bath and ate chef prepared meals. This small village is filled with many B&Bs and is a great place to escape.
6. Medieval views on the mountain in Gourdon
The hills and the sea are etched into the horizon at the tiny mountain town of Gourdon. I just loved the culture here. Lots of open air shops, restaurants, and a quiet scene. It’s an easy drive up from Mougins and there are waterfalls trickling down the sides of the road as you make your way up.
7. Eat hand crafted candy at Confiserie Florian, Pont du Loup
After driving through Gourdon, head back down the mountain and stop at the incredible candy shop Confiserie Florian. Hand crafted candy since 1949, this candy and chocolate shop uses natural fruits and even rose petals to create the most delicious treats. They toss everything in sugar, boil it syrup for 12 hours, creating crystallized petals and delightful candy.
8. Bask in the Sun in Valbonne
One thing Europeans know how to do: lunch. Leisurely lunches can last up to three hours. And you might just want to stay longer at the beautiful patios in Valbonne. Spilling out into the street, these large restaurants are the perfect place to relax. People walk with their dogs and take their time to eat as there is no driving in the city center.
9. Hotel Negresco, Nice
Set right on the boardwalk on the Promenade des Anglais is the luxury 5-star hotel named Negresco. Named after it’s owner, this hotel is pure opulence and makes for a perfect photo backdrop. It’s listed as one of France’s National Historic buildings and contains a 16,000+ crystal chandelier in the Lounge. I only got a picture outside because inside they asked not to snap photos since “important guests” were there!
10. Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Nice
Some of the coolest and most eye catching architecture in the world is in Russia. But you can get a slice of it in Nice at St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral. This orange and turquoise church stands proudly near the city center and is recognized as a national monument in France.
11. Lemon Festival in Menton
Each year in the small city of Menton holds a Lemon festival in mid February to early March. You’ll see floats decorated with lemons and oranges at La Fête du Citron. This is the second most important festival on the Riviera, right after Carnival.
12. Carnival, Nice
Americans call it Mardi Gras, they call it Carnival. Each February, people flock to Nice for the extravagant celebration with floats and music, all parading on the boulevard near the ocean. The festival happens both day and night and it is so fun to see the colorful floats march past the beautiful buildings.
13. Walk the streets of Antibes
This Mediterranean resort town of Antibes is situated right between Cannes and Nice. You’ll find lots of cute shops, gelato stands, and patios with tourists and locals alike sipping aperitivo and watching the world go by. The big attraction is the port- the Mediterranean’s largest marina. My favorite aspect was strolling the Old Town and marveling at the multicolored homes and shops. Close by is Juan-les-Pins which is known for nightlife and a party scene.
14. Fort Carré, Antibes
Looking out over the Côte d’Azur is the large Fort Carré from the 16th century. Built to protect the border between France and once the country of Nice, this fort has seen many battles. What’s interesting is the fact that the fort is star shaped and helps with the structure of the defensive walls.
15. Cannes Film Festival
You can’t NOT go to the site of Cannes Film Festival. Possibly one of the most famous film festivals in the world, each year celebs flock to attend the festival in their best outfits. It’s lovely to stroll around and see where they park the yachts and where the red carpet is rolled out!
16. The sandy beach, Cannes
Many of the beaches along the French Riviera are not sandy. For example, in Nice you’ll find a pebbly beach. You find the warm, sandy beaches in Cannes. The Promenade de la Croisette, the waterfront avenue, is lined with palm trees and makes the perfect entrance to the beach.
So there you have it! 16 places that are wonderful to visit in the French Riviera and also perfect spots to take the best Instagram pic.
If you’d like to see how we planned out our route, see this post: