If you were to ask me how to rate the French Riviera towns along the coast it would probably in the same order, Antibes, Cannes, and Monaco. Although, my absolute favorite of all the little towns are La Ciotat and Cassis. I loved them so much I wrote about them almost immediately, to share, I’m a sharer.
I love the sailboat town of Antibes, the star-studded town of Cannes and since you are so close you’ll want to have a martini in the famous casinos of Monaco – so James Bond! Why not they are just a train ride away ~ all the Riviera! Today, I am writing about a few of these French Riviera stars because they are definitely worth a visit. Especially if you plan on visiting Nice. Nice was not my favorite. If you follow me you might already have read my review of this coastal “don’t stay here” town. Nice is fine for a day trip but I would not spend the money to stay here. For this reason, I am recommending these nearby wonder gems because they are just beautiful. Monaco might be a stretch financially to spend the night but it is definitely worth a day trip, just to say “been there, done that.”
This sailboat town is quite stunning. I loved just walking the streets and popping into boutique shops, that was affordable. Seriously, you will see the more time you spend on the French Riviera the #stickershock might freak you out. However, I found in Antibes the stores to have a wonderful variety and an artist district that has a history.
Antibes was a favorite of Picasso ~ who happened to live here in the latter part of his life. The Picasso museum was definitely worth the €6/person fee and is in an old castle right on the water with amazing views. Just remember it is closed on Mondays. Students are half-price so if your student has a high school ID show that off.
We took the train from Nice to Antibes. The French Riviera/Cote d’Azur Train is affordable and easy to hop from one city to the next. There is no air-conditioning in the summer. So you may sweat a pound or two but that’s good for the body. The kiosks switch to English. You may decide to pre-pay for these tickets and print them out. I can suggest this because it was crazy busy in Nice when we did this daily. Luckily, the tourist train left quite frequently so it wasn’t a big deal to wait a few minutes for the next one.
Our day in Antibes was filled with shopping, site seeing, and a great lunch. Of course, because the Romans occupied this region for so long the Italian influence can still be felt today, so the gelato stop was in order as well.
If you are looking for a little quieter, yet elegant stay along the Riviera and close by to the other towns, I would recommend Antibes.
I love Cannes. Although I haven’t been to the famous “Cannes Film Festival” season. It still seems “star-studded” to me.
Last year when I was visiting Cannes with friends I decided to use the Fork App from TripAdvisor to book reservations. We booked reservations almost as soon as we arrived in Cannes online for the Cercle de Marins, it was a super busy Saturday in Cannes. The restaurant was at the end of the Promenade near the Pier with great views and a menu online.
As we approached the restaurant it was super busy. I shocked the maitre’d with our reservations on theFork because you see, they were catering to a closed event. A WEDDING! Yup, they realized their mistake and asked if we would mind the wedding menu, seated us outside on the dock and we enjoyed our wedding feast. Although it was quite pricey, it was some of the BEST FRENCH food I’ve had yet.
Yea, we were WEDDING CRASHERS!
Like I say “It’s always an adventure!” It always is an adventure, we still laugh about that experience.
Cannes is filled with high-end shopping, so you will need to plan accordingly on buying a little trinket. Indeed, it seemed the equivalent to our Rodeo Drive in California. Also, not too far from Monaco, it appeared the super-elite rich and famous love summering here too. If you love cars or sailboats, this town always has a yacht shows in the harbor during the summer. Caviar and dreams ~
Monaco is just plain fun to pop into. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone in my crowd who could afford even one night in this little country.
I learned a HUGE lesson the first time I visited Monaco. I pulled into a public parking garage with BIG BETTY, my 9 passenger van and for 2 hours of visiting it was €100!! Not.EVEN.KIDDING! I wish.
Nonetheless, I learned very quickly that this is a town you MUST take the train to in order to visit. Parking is insane. I think they probably do this to keep the riff-raff out. Like me. Some fun things to visit:
Casinos in Monaco
Cafe de Paris
Additionally, walking around town was a highlight too. The city park is quite pretty but we didn’t want to spend an awfully long time here because it hurt the pocketbook. It was nice but nothing special to me. But if you feel you MUST, to check it off, I warned you. I would recommend adding it to your itinerary as a day trip visit and take the train.
I really love visiting the Cote d’Azur in France. I feel like I have just begun to discover its hidden gems. It has natural beauty, great eats, art, history and the blue waters bring me back every time.