Plan the Perfect Honeymoon in the French Riviera
What to See and Do in the Côte d’Azur
by Ben Lerwill
Paris aside, there’s no part of France that has captured the imagination of so many artists, authors and aristocrats as the Côte d’Azur. From the casino heritage of Monaco to the Brigitte Bardot links of Saint-Tropez, it’s a stretch of coastline that remains synonymous with jet-set travel. Make your dream honeymoon come true! Join thousands of other international visitors, who have been coming here for more than 200 years, drawn by the favorable climate, the languid, five-star lifestyle and the beautiful beaches and mountains. The iconic stretch of Mediterranean coastline continues to captivate travelers. With help from one of Vacation’s travel agents, here what you should add to your customized itinerary for your honeymoon!
The artist Henri Matisse used to rave about the light in Nice, and it’s easy to see why – there’s an almost tropical feel to the place when the sun’s shining. It’s a big, bold city these days, but it retains much of the style and spirit that saw it become such a lure for wealthy travelers in the late 19th century. The palm-lined Promenade des Anglais is a photogenic spot for a beachfront stroll with your new spouse, while Vieux Nice (the old town) is still a Baroque maze of classy places to eat, drink and shop.
Art and culture have always figured prominently here, and one of the city’s most enjoyable features is the Musée Marc Chagall, a superb museum dedicated to the painter’s modernist works. And if the two of you are foodies, you’ll find a range of Michelin-starred restaurants (there are, at the last count, 23 around the city), but leave room for the Nicoise specialty socca, a delicious salt-sprinkled chickpea flour pancake usually consumed on the go.
It may be the second smallest sovereign state in the world (behind the Vatican), but Monaco has its own monarchy, its own Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit and a distinct culture, shaped in no small part by the fact that around 30 percent of the 38,695-population estimated to be millionaires. The principality itself isn’t the most attractive spot along the coast, but it’s a fascinating one. Rub shoulders with the rich and live your dream of being as suave as 007, who frequented the Casino de Monte Carlo – a top draw for visitors.
Among Monaco’s other attractions are an excellent Oceanographic Museum – complete with shark lagoon, turtle enclosure and eye-opening collection of marine memorabilia – and a cactus-studded Jardin Exotique de Monaco, which offers great coastal views. The harbor itself is a rewarding place to cast a covetous eye over hundreds of superyachts. Unleash your inner autophile and let a travel agent arrange a tour for you to see Prince Rainier III’s private collection of vintage cars. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience you can’t miss out on when visiting Monaco!
A fishing village turned energetic seaside town, the often-overlooked settlement of Cagnes-sur-Mer remains a defiantly French proposition: you’ll find boules players on the central square, a daily fish market on the port side and the Alpes-Maritimes region on the doorstep. It’s also the town that Pierre-Auguste Renoir chose to retreat to for the last 12 years of his life, and the Renoir Museum – set in his characterful former home – gives fitting testament to one of France’s greatest Impressionist painters.
Cresting the town is the small medieval district known as Haut-de-Cagnes, which is topped by a sturdy chateau, while down at the seafront are more than two miles of pebbled beach. Seafood lovers should try the lobster or the catch of the day at La Cabane de L’Écailer or have a real splurge on an out-of-town visit to Restaurant Alain Llorca, for lauded Mediterranean cuisine.
Antibes & Juan-les-Pins
The twin towns of Antibes and Juan-les-Pins collectively form one of the most enticing stop-offs along the Côte d’Azur – an opinion shared by everyone from Pablo Picasso to F. Scott Fitzgerald, both of whom chose to spend time living and working here. It’s best known for being home to one of the largest marinas in the country, not to mention the winding wooded shoreline of exclusive Cap d’Antibes.
The old town, known as Vieil Antibes, is where to head to get a sense of the area’s long history – Napoleon returned to France via this region after his exile in Elba. These days the lanes of the old town are also a good for cafes and high-end boutiques. If you’re here in the summer, its’ worth attending Jazz à Juan festival takes place in mid-July. John Coltrane and Miles Davis are both past performers.
Saint-Tropez has spent the last 60 years largely living up to its reputation as the epitome of a high-class French Riviera. Terracotta houses, honeyed beaches, ochre village-style streets and bobbing yachts are all much in evidence, and the international visitors that descend each summer are testament to its ongoing potency as a magnet for the moneyed.
What to do when you’re here? The resort’s focal point remains Quai Jean Jaurès, where gin palaces and gourmet restaurants fill the scene, while the pick of the beaches are the lively Plage de Pampelonne and the far smaller Plage la Glaye. If newlyweds really want to make the most of the headland scenery – mountains, ocean, woods and all – they can take a stroll along the long coastal walking trail, Le Sentier du Littoral, that provides treks that range from two miles to 20.
When to Go: The French Riviera is essentially a year-round destination – it was common in the late Victorian era for upper-class Brits to come here for the mild winter climate. Peak season, however, is mid-May to mid-September, when temperatures average around 80˚. Spring and early autumn are good times to visit, to avoid the summer crowds.
Getting Around: The whole coastal region is well connected by road, making car rental an attractive option. Bus and train are further alternatives, and there are also a number of boat trips available. Big spenders can even arrange helicopter transfers.
Start planning your trip to this glamorous sun-drenched stretch of Mediterranean coastline. We’ll take care of all the details, so you can explore the stunning coastal towns, legendary sites, extraordinary art and cultural delights of the magnificent French Riviera.
Speak with an expert travel agent about how you can plan an unforgettable honeymoon in southern France. Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts match you with an expert travel agent to customize an itinerary you’re gonna love.