Sumptuous St Tropez and the walled hilltop villages of Tourrettes-sur-Loup, Vence and Valbonne
The Côte d’Azur sweeps along the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France, undeniably one of the most naturally beautiful places in the country. Thick forests of pine and fields of glorious lavender grow alongside the many sandy beaches with their clear turquoise waters. Ancient and picturesque villages nestle in the hills, against the backdrop of the spectacular mountains.
Sightseeing and activities
Aside from the stunning scenery, there are plenty of things to see and do in the Côte d’Azur. In the architecture of the region’s many historic villages, Roman and Medieval influences delightfully mingle together. Each of these villages – nearby to our villas – have their own market, where local produce such as olives, truffles, lemons and fragrant lavender are sold in abundance. Many also sell crafts and paintings, reflecting the rich artistic history of the region. Special summer festivals and saint’s days are often celebrated in the villages, definitely events to look out for.
The town of Tourrettes-sur-Loup is home to many delightful artisanal shops, which are run by the artists themselves. Likewise, the town of St Paul de Vence, historically a favourite spot of prominent artists and intellectuals such as Sartre and Picasso, has plenty of art museums and galleries to visit. These include the Fondation Maeght, a renowned museum of modern art, and the Colombe D’Or, a hotel and restaurants whose walls are lined with works by Matisse, Picasso and Dufy.
Another village worth visiting is Vence, the home of the remarkable Matisse Chapel. Also, the town of Grasse (the perfume capital of the world) is fascinating, with tours of the perfume factories on offer, and plenty of shops to buy exquisite products from too.
Of course, the beaches of the Côte d’Azur are absolutely breathtaking. The Plage de Passable, a beach with plenty of water sports, sun loungers and a restaurant, sits in a small cove in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, with lovely views across the bay. The little shingle beach of Paloma, also in a cove, is a good choice if you’re looking for a more protected, private beach. Cagnes-sur-Mer has several pretty pebbled beaches and a real seaside town feel. If you feel like joining the glamorous crowds of the French Riviera, the beach along La Croisette in Cannes is the ideal place to relax with a glass of rosé in hand. Pampelonne beach in St Tropez is famous for its good restaurants and buzzing feel.
Bars and restaurants
There is a reason why the region of Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur is so popular with lovers of fine food and wine. Provence is renowned for its rosé, as well as the sheer abundance of seafood and the local, flavourful and colourful fruits, vegetables and herbs. There are plenty of Michelin starred restaurants, should you wish to book into any. Particularly noteworthy restaurants include the Christian Plumail in Nice (close to the Cours Saleya market). Also in Nice is La Terrasse, high up in Le Méridien hotel, serving elegant dishes and beautiful views. St Tropez boasts the Résidence de la Pinède, with three Michelin stars and a charming terrace over the beach. For still more glamour you could try the Palme D’Or (with two Michelin stars) or the Z-Plage Beach restaurant, both in Cannes. If you would like to try creating the delectable cuisine of the region yourself, several local chefs offer day-long cookery courses.