Unofficial capital of the French Riviera, Nice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Most visitors arrive on the Côte d’Azur at its busy international airport. An elegant city with a distinctly Italian flavour, Nice only became part of France in 1860 and boasts an elegant tree-lined seafront, the Promenade des Anglais, looking out across sparkling turquoise water in the Baie des Anges. Away from the shore is a quaint, ramshackle old town, a busy food and flower market on the Cours Saleya, bustling restaurants, bars and shops as well as a number of important museums and galleries. Scores of artists were attracted to Nice for the quality of the light on the Riviera, which has inspired hundreds of canvases. Thanks to the French Riviera Pass, you can obtain discounted entry to many of the museums for either 24, 48 or 72 hours. Don’t miss the Musée Matisse, MAMAC (Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain), Musée Marc Chagall, Musée des Beaux-Arts and Musée d’Archeologie in Cimiez. Guided tours of the old town leave from the Tourist Office every Saturday at 9.30am.
Nice Tourist Office
5, Promenade des Anglais
Tel : +33 (0)4 92 14 46 14 www.en.nicetourisme.com
Cannes has an international reputation as a resort of glitz and glamour, a celebrity playground home to the famous film festival every May and lined with designer boutiques, expensive cars and yachts. But it’s not all frivolity and an obsession with red carpets and evening gowns: Cannes has a more serious face too, hosting business conferences and events for a large portion of the year. Its modern, trend-setting image is at the forefront, but it has also preserved its heritage and traditions, and an authenticity that can be enjoyed by the visitors that slip away from the main thoroughfares and into the older part of town to savour the views and old-world French charm. Don’t miss…
Le Suquet and Musée de la Castre
The old, elevated quarter of Cannes, perched on a hill with breathtaking views of the port and out to the Lérins islands. You can reach it from various angles, taking steeply sloping narrow streets criss-crossed with picturesque flights of winding steps. Visit the ancient ramparts, the Musée de la Castre with its interesting display of artefacts, the tower and the church.
Le Marché Forville and Rue Meynadier
Lose yourself amongst rows of food shops: butchers, bakers, fishmongers, cheesemongers and wine merchants. The scent of thyme, basil and verbena fills the air and market sellers sing out the virtues of local produce in their lilting Provençal accent.
A spectacular sight, especially viewed from Le Suquet, where you can feast your eyes on a whole lot of waterborne wealth. Quai St-Pierre dates from 1838 and accommodates old sailboats – which set out from here for the Royal Regattas in September – as well as modern speedboats.
The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès
Containing Cannes’ tourist office, this building’s history is closely linked to that of the film festival. An initial building was constructed on the Croisette to host the event in 1947 (where JW Marriott currently stands), but in the light of the increasing success of the festival and the emergence of business tourism, the decision was made in 1979 to construct a new conference centre on the site of the town casino. In total, the Palais des Festivals now boasts 44,000m² of exhibition space and 15 auditoriums. Each year it hosts over 50 international trade events and 300,000 delegates, making Cannes the second most popular business tourism destination in France.
The star-studded walkway
Film directors, actors and other international celebrities have left their handprints and signatures in the stone on the Allée des Étoiles du Cinéma, in similar style to those on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Over 300 handprints have been made so far, to the delight of movie fans and visitors. Admire them in front of Palais des Festivals on Esplanade Pompidou.
In 1850, Cannes’ sweeping main thoroughfare bordering the sea was nothing more than a path running across sand dunes. It’s now an avenue renowned for its prestigious shops and the luxury hotels that have established Cannes' history, including the Carlton, the Martinez and the Majestic.
This former imperial royal road linking Toulon to Antibes is the ultimate shopping street! To attract English colonists many shops – such as chemists, greengrocers and tailors – adopted a Franco-English style, and today all the major international high-street names are to be found on Rue d'Antibes. You can also admire its attractive 19th-century architecture, with doors bearing the initials of their first owners, ironwork, and sculptures by Pellegrini dating from 1883 – as well as the former Cannes theatre with its facades decorated with masks.
Cannes Tourist Office
Palais des Festivals et des Congrès
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 99 84 22 www.palaisdesfestivals.com
The fishing village of Saint-Tropez in Var, 100km west of Nice, has an ultra-sexy and glamorous image thanks to its 1950s association with actress and model Brigitte Bardot. For the last half a century it’s remained a jet-set favourite, with rows of gleaming yachts moored in the harbour and a plethora of expensive boutiques. In high season you’ll jostle for space alongside up to 100,000 tourists per day, but for the rest of the year Saint-Tropez remains an oasis of peaceful, rustic French charm where you can wander cobbled lanes and watch games of pétanque in the shady main square (Place des Lices) while sipping a pastis. Don’t miss…
- Le Musée de l’Annonciade, one of the most beautiful painting and sculpture museums of the early 20th century displaying works by Matisse, Bonnard and many others
- The 17th-century citadel, towering high above the town and offering wonderful panoramic sea views and the Musée d’Histoire Maritime
- La Maison des Papillons, a museum containing over 35,000 butterflies and founded by Dany Lartigue, son of photographer Jacques-Henri Lartigue
- The market in Place des Lices, taking place every Tuesday and Saturday morning and awash with fruit and vegetables, fish, meat and local delicacies, as well as clothes, toys, furniture and decorative items, flowers and plants
- The peninsula, which delights nature lovers with its magnificent coastal path, perched villages and superb vineyards
- Shopping in the town centre – major designer brands rub shoulders with local craft shops
- La Plage de Pampelonne, arguably Saint-Tropez’s best beach(actually situated in nearby Ramatuelle) with nearly 5km of fine whitesand and crystal-clear water for swimming – and plenty of space to enjoy it for free if you aren’t a private club member.
Saint-Tropez Tourist Office
Quai Jean Jaurès
Tel: +33 (0)8 92 68 48 28