The Cote d’Azur counts many rivals these days when it comes to high-end destinations: St Barth, St Martin and the Italian Riviera, to name only a couple. Yet the classic, old-school glamour and rich cultural infrastructure of the French Riviera set it apart, making it an enduringly appealing place for the most discerning travellers. Few places in the world offer its unique blend of prestige, natural beauty, architecture and culture. For this reason, the maritime section of Provence continues to lure vacationers in search of exceptional and private experiences. Read on for 5 for the most luxurious things to do on the French Riviera, with suggestions on where to moor your yacht, perch your cocktail glass, or wander through medieval Provencal streets.
5 Most Luxurious Things to Do on The French Riviera
..Nature, glamour & relaxation await....
Explore The Riviera By Yacht or Luxury Sailboat
A coveted destination for yachting and sailing enthusiasts, the Riviera is remarkable for its blend of glamorous ports, quiet private coves and breathtaking islands where natural wonders come into full view. For a truly exceptional holiday, why not charter a yacht, superyacht or luxury sailboat and explore the marvels of the Cote d’Azur? Who doesn’t dream, after all, of jumping into warm azure waters from a quiet mooring spot,or sailing to St Tropez for a day of fine dining, boutique going or a round at the casino?
Countless itineraries are possible. You can slowly make your way from Nice to Monaco, mooring along the way in the sublime towns of Villefranche sur Mer, Cap Ferrat, Roquebrune-Cap Martin and others. Another prized route takes you from Nice to Cannes or the other way around, stopping off at areas of super natural beauty such as the Iles de Lérins, a protected archipelago near Cannes. Its gorgeous islands of Saint-Honorat and Sainte-Marguerite are covered in eucalyptus and pine trees, and there are many secretive and breathtaking anchor points between and around the islands.
The route between Nice and Cannes is also rich in art history: Antibes and Juan-les-Pins were favorite haunts of artists including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse; while the nearby Cap d’Antibes has an enviable literary history, having notably attracted famous American writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Hollywood film star Rudolph Valentino. And then there’s Cannes, of course: with its annual film festival each summer, many dream of scoring tickets to the red-carpet events or even getting an invitation to one of the many evening yacht parties held offshore. There are many ways to get a piece of Cannes glamour during your yachting or sailing excursion, if that’s of interest.
Private Chefs, Onboard Dining & More
For additional luxury, hire an onboard chef and servers and enjoy superb private dining during your sea journey. You might toast to life over a glass of champagne as you take in the rugged and gorgeous landscapes, strikingly blue waters of the Mediterranean, or the warm hues of the sunset on the horizon. Your bespoke seafaring itinerary will include as many onboard amenities and perks as your imagination can muster. What are you waiting for?
Go on a High-End Shopping Tour
After Paris, few places in France are more sought after for their high-end shopping streets, couture boutiques and fine jewellers than the main cities of the Riviera. From Monaco to Cannes and St Tropez, there are numerous destinations in the region that are ideal for a luxury shopping excursion. We can arrange a personal shopper or concierge to home in on the perfect boutiques and shopping destinations for you, and a private driver can get you from place to place in style– whether in a chic sedan or a vintage 2CV Citroen (for a bit of retro glamour).
In Monaco, home to aristocrats and wealthy socialites, the famed area In Monte Carlo known as the Cercle d’or is brimming with high-end boutiques, luxury jewellers and couture designer standalone shops. Cartier, Bvlgari, Chanel, Dior, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Prada and many others have prestigious addresses there. The legendary Avenue de Monte Carlo has many more destinations for the discerning shopper.
In Nice, the shopping scene is of great quality, if a tad less ostentatious. The area around the glamorous Promenade des Anglais is the place to head for global luxury boutiques, while on the Avenue Jean Medecin, concept boutiques such as By Colette offer the latest from up-and-coming and trendy designers. For those in search of excellent gourmet goods and artisanal French products, don’t miss the colourful Cours Saleya Market. Not only can you procure some of the best Provencal produce and goods such as jams, dried fruit and cheeses; those interested in fine perfumes will be regaled by the presence of boutiques such as Fragonard.
Read related: The Best Luxury and Bespoke Perfumers in Paris
In Cannes, La Croisette, Rue d’Antibes and the narrow little streets in between form the central nexus of the little town’s remarkably well-developed luxury shopping scene. It’s no wonder that there are so many couture boutiques and sumptuous jewellers here– it’s a destination that’s coveted by wealthy travellers. From Yves St Laurent to Choppers, Chanel and Dior, Cannes concentrates the most luxurious shops into a few blocks.
If you’re interested in a bespoke shopping tour around the Riviera, we’ll craft an itinerary that perfectly corresponds to your tastes and interests. Foodie? A gourmet French food tour is entirely possible. Looking for antiques and fine furniture to ship home? We’ll arrange transport to the region’s finest antique sellers and home boutiques.
Enjoy Gourmet Dining (in Exceptional Settings)
The Provencal and Mediterranean traditions that infuse local cuisine in the French Riviera make it a particularly attractive destination for gourmet discovery. ‘Whether you’re a savvy foodie or a curious aspiring gourmet, you’ll be sure to enjoy remarkable culinary treasures and delicious local specialities as part of your holiday on the Cote d’Azur. There are many fine restaurants with exceptional cuisine, breathtaking natural settings, or both to enjoy. Here are just a couple we strongly recommend; we can suggest many others for your gastronomic delight.
The Chateau de la Chevre d’Or in the medieval town of Eze boasts a restaurant, La Chèvre d’Or, that has two Michelin stars and a reputation for some of the finest gastronomy in the Riviera. Chef Arnaud Faye is lauded for his terroir-inspired menu that features “solar, mineral and marine” elements: a poetic way to describe dishes made with fresh local fish, shellfish, vegetables and other fresh produce. Inventive and inspiring, the restaurant is a favorite among dedicated gourmets; the five-star hotel and wellness centre is a marvellous place to stay, as well. It offers superb views over the sea and the green cliffs of Eze. Please note that the restaurant is open from March to November and closed at other periods during the year.
The Toile Blanche restaurant in the picture-perfect town of St-Paul-de-Vence is a humbler, but still wonderful, gourmet destination that features perfectly fresh seafood and simple, delicious Provencal cooking. Sweeping sea views are the icing on the cake at this eatery, included in this year’s Michelin guide as a local gem.
Food, Market & Wine Tours
Interested in a Provencal food and market tour? How about a French wine tour? How about a steaming bowl of bouillabaisse from Marseille, renowned for its delightfully simple but delicious local cuisine? Whatever your culinary cravings, we’ll add the perfect gourmet stops to your private itinerary around the Riviera.
Your palate will naturally expand amid the delicious specialities you’ll taste along the way. In this sunny Mediterranean corner of France, even a simple tomato or plate of ratatouille is bursting with flavour and colour.
Explore & Stay In These Gorgeous Riviera Towns
One of the most charming aspects of the Riviera? Its incredibly photogenic little towns and villages, many of them hundreds of years old, that offer picturesque architecture, winding little streets and quiet fishing ports, craggy little beaches and a rich cultural heritage. Many are ideal places to stay, too, with some of the Cote d’Azur’s more intimate luxury hotels and resorts encrusted on quiet cliffsides or within relatively sleepy little Provencal towns.
Whether you choose to explore these areas by bike, private car or sail from one town to another, these gems will ensure your Riviera getaway is at once luxurious and authentic, full of culture as well as glamour.
Antibes and the Cap d’Antibes aren’t far from Cannes, but their rustic and quiet appeal couldn’t be more different from the glitz of the town best known for its film festival. Boasting two medieval towers and remparts that give the town a romantic and historic feel, Antibes also offers quiet cobblestoned streets in its old centre, delightful sea views and lovely beaches. Its Picasso Museum is one of the world’s most charming.
Meanwhile, the Cap d’Antibes is prized for its stunning natural beauty, wild beaches, and luxurious resorts. One of these is the Hotel du-Cap-Eden-Roc, a 5-star Oetker Collection palace hotel with sumptuous rooms overlooking the sea, private beaches, Sisley spa, renowned gastronomic restaurant and onsite chocolate atelier. Housed in a 19th century mansion, it’s simply one of the loveliest places to hang your sunhat on the Riviera.
The quiet medieval town of Eze, situated between Nice and Monaco, is another quietly opulent and culturally rich spot. Perched on a high cliff overlooking the sea, it’s home to lovely botanical gardens built on the site of a former fortress, offering greenery and peace. The medieval village, with its archways, uneven stone steps and winding little streets, are utterly charming. Stay at the aforementioned Hotel de la Chèvre d’Or, with its glamorous yet rustic suites, arresting views over the azure water, lush trees and indulgent wellness centre complete with outdoor pool.
Other wonderful places to explore by bike, car, yacht or even foot include Menton, Theoule-sur-Mer, St Jean Cap Ferrat, Roquebrune, and St-Paul-de-Vence. Whether you’e primarily interested in French art, culture and architecture, exploring the natural beauty of the region or enjoying activities in or around the seaside, these sublime little towns offer so much beyond superficial luxe. Your private guide will unlock their local secrets and private little niches, ensuring your experience of them is truly extraordinary.
Beaches, Boardwalks & Casinos: See & Be Seen
Last but certainly not least, no luxury getaway to the Cote d’Azur would be complete without a little glamorous hobnobbing– or “see and be seen” activities. Whether you’re sprawling out on a chaise longue at one of Cannes’ private beach clubs on the Croisette, hosting a “they’ll never forget” private evening event aboard a yacht in Monte Carlo, or spending a glamorous evening at one of the Riviera’ prestigious and historic casinos, you shouldn’t hesitate to get out there and enjoy all the region has to offer.
We’ll initiate you to some of the most coveted and exclusive places on the Riviera– from private beaches and nightclubs to evenings in the company of extraordinary people. Banal best-of lists, be banned: your exploration of the region should be nothing short of exceptional.
Book a Bespoke Luxury Tour of the French Riviera
Have we convinced you to make the French Riviera the centre of your next French holiday? If so, contact us now. Whether you go in spring, summer or even in the winter, we’ll design the perfect bespoke tour or holiday for you: one that rhymes with genuine luxury.