Known also as French Riviera, it’s the most glamorous area of Southern France, stretching from the borders with Italy to Martigues, near La Camargue region. The Riviera is scattered with picturesque little villages, where the blooming flowers, sunshine and sea breeze suddenly transport you in a vacay world. The region of Provence–Alpes–Côte d’Azur is known for having some of the nicest areas of Southern France, but in this post we’ll explore only its coastal area, aka Côte d’Azur.
Our has been a very nice, even short, road trip, departing from our hometown Verona, to Toulon, where we stayed for the first 4 nights, from which we went out exploring the surrounding villages.
We departed very early from Italy, stopping some hours in Cannes for a quick tour of the city, lunch and some touristy time. We just walked around, enjoying the sun, the promenade and the small port, the famous La Croisette where every year the Cannes Film Festival gather the movie celebrities on its red carpet (you can also see their hand prints all over the street). Cannes is really a nice place, all the buildings are built in a peculiar, almost Parisienne, style, giving the city a charm and elegant look.
We went back on the road in the late afternoon, arriving in Toulon, our base for most of the trip. Less known comparing to other places, but still nice and enjoyable. I must say that we didn’t feel safe in some areas of the town, but this may be only our personal sensation. Our hotel was very close to the promenade and the port, an extremely nice area full of typical restaurants and cafes where we enjoyed a lot of dinners tasting the local specialties, on top the Moules et Frites (mussels and french fries) way-beyond-words delicious!
On our second day we took off very early in the morning, direction Port De La Tour Fondue, to catch the ferry in order to reach Ile de Porquerolles, the biggest island of the Hyères Archipelago. The place is AMAZING, trust me. The island is part of Port Cros National Park, an ecological area of nature protection, that’s the reason why on all its territory you won’t see any car or vehicle beside the island golf cars or lots and lots of bikes. At the arrival in its small port, just walk straight and rent a bike to explore Porquerolles.
It is so fun, you’ll go biking in its Mediterranean wilderness and just reach a beach of your choice to rest, sunbath and swim in its clear blue fresh waters. You’ll truly feel the connection with nature in this little beautiful island. There are some camping if you like to stay for more days and I truly suggest you to do it because the place is simply stunning, and it doesn’t happen every day to be on an island preserved from traffic and pollution.
On our third day we decided to enjoy some sun in one of Toulon‘s beaches but that night we decided to take the car and explore Saint Tropez. I must say that even we found a lot of traffic, especially in the small road that takes you in the town, we really enjoyed the scenic street overlooking its gulf. The town became extremely popular from the late 50’s when it has been the set of a Hollywood movie with Brigitte Bardot, and suddenly it became a hotspot for the international jetset. Built around its small, picturesque port, full of luxurious yachts, Saint Tropez is still today the image of luxury and charm lifestyle.
This has been our last night in Toulon, as we planned to leave and spend the last night of our trip in Nice. I have to say that I regret not staying more in Nice as I really liked the city. Bigger than all the other places we visited it is really worth it to spend more days to avoid skipping some really nice areas. We decided to walk around in the morning and enjoy the beach in the afternoon. Be sure not to miss the open air market and the walk to the panoramic point on the Castle’s Hill. The city is similar in style and architecture to Cannes, but bigger.
The beach is pebbled and the sea gets deep very quickly, after few steps in the water, so be careful especially if the stream is strong. Back to the hotel for a quick outfit change, we dedicated that night for the exploration of…Monaco!
The Principality of Monaco is a micro-state mostly known for its famous quarter Monte Carlo and its Casino, the story of Grace Kelly and the Formula One GP. Ruled by the Grimaldi Family is a charming town, beautifully built overlooking the Mediterranean sea, taking advantage of all its territory, cliffs included! The place still imparts a sense of exclusivity, luxury and charm, even royal, lifestyle.
This Mediterranean gem is so nice to explore and so peculiar in its structure it is guaranteed to enjoy the time spent here. The town seems built in layers, down from the port full of luxurious yachts and clubs, to the Grace Kelly Theater overlooking the sea, going up to the Casino and the Castle that watches over the whole place. A suggestion: try to follow the racetrack of the Formula1 GP pretending to be on a Ferrari: you’ll drive at 50km/h but it is still fun to live the race in prime person with your own eyes! 🙂 Be sure not to miss the moon rising from the sea, lighting up all the city and its bay, it’s something magical.
Day 1: Verona -> Cannes -> Toulon
Day 2: Toulon -> Ile Porquerolles
Day 3: Toulon + St. Tropez
Day 4: Toulon -> Nice + Monaco
Day 5: Nice -> Verona
The main airports serving the area are the International Airport of Nice and the airports of Cannes and Toulon-Hyères.