Mouthwatering cuisine, mindblowing art, and incredible natural vistas are three of the best things about visiting France, along with the boundary-pushing architecture and trendsetting fashion that is found all across the country. Along with this, the French people certainly know how to enjoy life, and visitors from all over the world fly in regularly, searching for that elusive “la vie en rose” that comes so naturally to the locals. You have only to look at the success of the recent Netflix show, ‘Emily in Paris’, to see that the world is still in thrall to France’s unique charms.
Far away from the hustle and bustle of Paris’ capital city, however, is the beloved south of the country, home to the French Riviera and much more besides. If you’re looking for the perfect place in which to relax and let all your worries simply melt away, then you can do no better than one of the famous cities along this paradisiacal coastline. However, don’t let the tranquillity fool you – the south coast is also home to some of France’s most glamorous destinations, full of charisma and excitement. Luckily for you, we’ve put together a guide to the area, taking in all the must-see sights along the way.
Monaco and Monte Carlo
Although Monaco is a separate city-state in its own right, it does, out of necessity, have very close ties with the country that surrounds it on all sides and makes for one of the glitziest destinations on the French Riviera. A trip to this most prosperous of seaside towns is not complete without visiting the Casino de Monte Carlo as well as the attendant Opéra and Ballet also housed within the complex. Nothing says glamour quite like this world famous entertainment complex, though if you don’t have chance to hit the tables, never fear – the classic roulette on offer here translate beautifully to online versions that can be played from anywhere, even your hotel room. The perfect opportunity to feel like James Bond himself.
A little further along the coastline, we come to Nice, the artistic capital of the South Coast. Here you will find art galleries galore, including the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, the Marc Chagall Museum and the Matisse art museum, all within just a few minutes’ walk from each other. You can while away a happy afternoon wandering from place to place, admiring the incomparable artworks of these world-changing artists and enjoying the sights and sounds of such a pleasant city. Don’t forget to take a stroll along the beach too, and take in the city’s phenomenal architecture as you go.
Moving much further down the coast now, we come to the one and only Cannes, where the annual film festival attracts the most glamourous A-listers every year and where the most on-trend fashionistas have flocked to for their vacations since the 19th century. Stuff yourself with haute cuisine, marvel at the haute couture worn by holidaying celebrities, and admire the abundance of supercars seen revving up and down the streets. Much like Monte Carlo, Cannes is a place to see and be seen, so you best make sure you’re dressed up for it! If you can, try renting out a yacht or at least getting out on the water to admire the sparkling city from a distance.
Do you know the way to Saint-Tropez? Since its status as a holiday resort for the wealthy jet set was firmly established in the early 20th century, this southern fishing village has undergone a complete transformation. It is now one of the top destinations for luxurious food, designer shopping and glamourous sightseeing in the whole of Europe. However, one of the best loved activities for regular visitors is simply sunbathing on the gorgeous beaches, filled with perfect golden sand and just minutes away from luxury amenities. Be sure to check out Pampelonne Beach for the classic Saint-Tropez experience.
Marseille and Provence
The city of Marseille and the surrounding Provençal area are a treat for all five senses – van Gogh certainly thought so. The clean air, fragranced with lavender and other herbs, sets the scene, before the famed cooking from this part of the world prepares to fill all hungry bellies. For the eyes, you can choose to look out upon the slopes of the Southern Alps, the rolling vineyards stretching into the distance, or impressive pine forests, olive groves and much more; Provence is famous for its diverse landscapes. The Provençal language is a pleasant variation on standard French, sounding melodious and gentle to the ear, and your skin will thank you for standing in the glorious sunshine this region is famous for.
We come to the final destination on our tour of the South of France – Montpellier. Here you’ll find a supremely stylish, fashion-conscious city, strewn with beautiful 18th century architecture and bathed in sunlight. You may even be lucky enough to stay at one of the city’s mansions, many of which were built during Louis XIV’s extravagant reign. Wherever you are, be sure to soak up that exclusive atmosphere and adopt your best attempt at French elegance.