Looking for the best cities and towns on the French Riviera? The Côte d’Azur is jam-packed with unrivaled beauty, charm, history, and not to mention luxury.
I’ve always loved the French Riviera even though I’m less of a luxury traveler than most visitors to this glittering French coastline.
It’s got a charm and so many different layers to uncover. Strolling through old Medieval streets, snapping pictures of colorful buildings, and going on refreshing boat trips in the deep blue Mediterranean are just some of the things you can expect from this startling destination.
It can be hard to decide where to go, which is why I’ll focus this post on the best French Riviera towns and cities so that you can find the ones that resonate with you the most.
Read on to uncover the best of French Riviera cities and towns!
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Table of Contents
Best towns on the French Riviera
By Jo of World Wild Schooling
Cassis is a cozy, charming French Riviera town near Marseille. To start your journey, fly into Marseille Provence Airport and rent a car to explore freely and at your own pace. You can reach Cassis by train and bus, but it’s more accessible by car.
Once in Cassis, stroll along the quaint port, enjoying the view of soft-colored houses, and wander through the picturesque old town with its cobblestone streets and adorable buildings.
Next, the Calanques – tall, dramatic limestone cliffs beside the sparkling blue sea – are something you can’t miss!
You can explore them by taking a boat tour, or if you’re up for a bit of adventure, hike the scenic trails to experience them up close. You can also swim in the crystal-clear waters.
Dive into local life by visiting the Cassis markets to buy fresh food and handmade items. The markets in Southern France are such a great way to experience the culture.
And remember to try the famous Cassis white wine by visiting a local family-run winery – or the Cassis wine festival if you are there around mid-May.
Where to stay: Hôtel Les Roches Blanches Cassis
By Taylor of Taytrum Travels
Becoming increasingly popular as a colorful, seaside town, Menton offers a variety of leisure activities. You can spend the day on the beach or explore the old town where there are many restaurants to choose from.
The old town offers lots of photo opportunities as most buildings are painted in pastels that glow against the Mediterranean sun.
Seeing the Basilica de Michael Archangel and its 53-meter bell tower is a popular first stop. This lemon-yellow structure is hard to miss and has a striking zig-zag staircase.
You might not be able to go inside as it is only open on select days and at narrow time windows, but exploring the cobblestone streets around it is worth the short walk from the waterfront.
In addition, Menton was historically a top lemon producer in Europe. You can taste various citrus treats such as lemonade or desserts throughout the city. In February, the city hosts a zesty lemon festival to celebrate this heritage.
In about 30 minutes by car or train, you can reach Menton quickly from Nice, France. This makes Menton an easy day trip from Nice.
Ultimately, Menton is a unique and tranquil destination for travelers and beachgoers visiting the towns on the French Riviera.
Where to stay: Hotel Riva Art & Spa
By Izzy of The Gap Decaders
A pretty Provençal town, St. Tropez on the Cote d’Azur was once a humble fishing village. Today, St. Tropez is a must-visit on any South of France road trip, with a maze of an old town, some fabulous beaches, two ports, and a castle watching over it all.
Saint-Tropez, as it’s styled in France, is perfect for meandering and small enough for you to be able to hit all the highlights on foot.
Start in the elegant 19th-century Place de Lices before wandering the atmospheric and oh-so-Instagrammable old town, where honey-colored buildings dripping in colorful blooms line the cobbled streets.
The old town is located behind the Vieux Port, where you can grab a coffee and admire the super yachts berthed here.
Next, head up through fragrant wooded hills to the 17th-century Citadel for spectacular views of St Tropez Bay and the French Riviera, and the excellent Musée de l’Histoire Maritime where you can learn the history of Provençal seafarers.
Now you can relax on Pampelonne Beach, the most glamorous of all St Tropez’s beaches, or if you want to explore a little further afield, head up to the gorgeous hilltop village of Gassin. There, you’ll find charming streets, pretty houses, and fabulous restaurants.
There is no doubt, St. Tropez is one of the best towns in French Riviera and truly a gem.
Where to stay: Hôtel de Paris Saint-Tropez
By Megan of Megan Starr
Eze is a renowned medieval village located around 8.5 km outside of Nice (and even closer to Monaco). The village has just over 2,000 inhabitants and offers some of the best views over the French Riviera.
The narrow, cobbled streets will take you through the historic Old Town (which is nearly the entire town) from shops to cafes to restaurants.
One of the best things to do in Eze is to visit the Exotic Botanical Garden. It is a multi-tiered garden that has a diverse array of plants, specifically succulents and cacti… all overlooking the azure Mediterranean coast.
A can’t-miss place to grab food is at Le Nid d’Aigle, a place offering fine French and International cuisine.
In the village, there is also a well-known place for fragrance lovers called the Fragonard Perfume Factory. You can venture in and grab a souvenir, or simply take a guided tour to learn more about the history of Fragonard in France.
If you’re looking to be active during your time in Eze, head to Mont Bastide – a trail and hike that takes you past an abandoned village while overlooking the coast. You can also opt for the Nietzsche Path, which connects Eze Village to Eze Beach.
Where to stay: La Perle d’Eze
By Bronwyn of Bronwyn Townsend
A kaleidoscope of color explodes in the sleepy seaside resort town of Villefranche-sur-Mer. Boats bob in the harbor as bougainvillea frames balconies and doorways, the clinking of glasses full of blush-pink rose ring out, and revelers make the most of summer on the French Riveria.
One of the best day trips from Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer is just a quick 7-minute train ride from Nice making it one of the best places in the French Riviera for exploring for the day.
Perched in a sheltered bay between Cap Ferrat and Cap de Nice, this is the ideal place for a beach day. Plage des Marinieres is a long, sweeping bay with crystal clear waters and a stunning view of the colorful village.
Wandering the streets and lanes of Villefranche-sur-Mer is the best way to get to know this idyllic town. The shutters and doors are painted in contrasted rainbow hues on many of the town’s 12th and 13th-century buildings, where flower boxes and potted plants line the streets.
Strolling through the passageways and stone steps is one of the best things to do. On Wednesday and Saturday, the village market is held at Jardin Francois Binon where merchants tout local produce, flowers, and ceramics.
If you’re looking to stay the night, there’s no better place than the Welcome Hotel which offers sensational sea views and a delightful terrace serving the best regional wines and expertly crafted cocktails.
Where to stay: Welcome Hotel
By Kylie of Life in Rural France
Grasse is the perfume capital of the world, but despite that, it’s still only a small town sat up in the hills to the North of Cannes. While it’s located by bustling the French Riviera, it’s still considered a hidden gem in France.
At one time, back in the 18th century, the industry & commerce was very different. Instead of perfume, it was leather and tanneries it was known for, which weren’t quite so fragrant.
The three biggest perfumeries, Fragonard, Molinard, and Galimard, are well worth a visit if you want to learn about the process of creating scents.
Gallimard, the oldest of the three, used to provide fragrances to the court of Louis XV. You can do a guided tour of the perfumery and take a workshop for under €30 per person.
Grasse has so much more to it than just perfume. The streets are full of quintessential French architecture, with hidden nooks and crannies around every corner.
Exploring each street to see what you can find is a must, and you’ll find plenty of lovely little boutiques and restaurants to enjoy. It feels like you’ve stepped into a scene from a movie set.
Remember to leave enough time to visit the 12th-century cathedral, Notre Dame De Puy, and the Jean-Honoré Fragonard museum, named after the artist who inspired the name of the perfumery.
To get to Grasse take the train from Cannes or Nice, a short and scenic ride. Alternatively, if you’re driving, it’s about a 30-minute journey from Cannes, and if you’re flying, the nearest airport is Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport.
Where to stay: Le Mas Candille
St. Paul de Vence
By Noel of Visit Spain and Mediterranean
If you’re on the hunt for a fantastic spot in the French Riviera that’s brimming with artistic inspiration, St. Paul de Vence should be at the top of your list.
Located in the hills above Nice, this artsy town, whose name translates to Saint Paul of Vence, is historically one of France’s oldest medieval towns.
It’s essentially a haven for artists and a fun escape from the crowded atmosphere of the other French Riviera towns. The best part of visiting this village? It’s just a short 45-minute bus ride from Nice.
As you explore this artistic commune, you’ll discover a beautiful village filled with trendy shops, art galleries, and studios where creativity and design are everywhere in town.
Not to mention the plethora of delicious restaurants that promise an unforgettable culinary journey with local foods to try from the region.
Walking around the village, you discover some breathtaking views that unfold below, offering a unique perspective of the French Riviera region.
Getting to St. Paul de Vence is a breeze – simply hop on a local bus 655 from Nice and exit at the main town entrance.
From there, you can leisurely wander through the narrow streets of this small but enchanting village, making it a perfect day trip.
With plenty of delectable dining options and intriguing attractions, St. Paul de Vence is a must-visit destination, offering a fresh and distinct outlook on the Alpes-Maritimes region of France.
Where to stay: Ideal BnB
By Imee of Journey To France
Antibes is one of the most charming towns on French Riviera, known for its picturesque old town and stunning coastline. In fact, it’s considered one of the most visited towns in French Riviera.
There are so many things to do and must-see while in Antibes. Wander around the Old Town of Antibes (Vieil Antibes), explore the narrow cobblestones, admire the colorful buildings, and visit the historic quarter and the boutiques.
Antibes also boasts beautiful and pristine beaches where you can soak and relax under the sun.
Take advantage of the beautiful Port Vauban. This stunning marina is one of the largest in the Mediterranean.
You can stroll along the harbor, admire the fascinating and luxurious yachts, and enjoy the maritime ambiance.
There are many ways to get to Antibes. From the nearest airport ( Nice Côte d’Azur Airport ), you can take either a taxi, shuttle, or train to go to Antibes or by boat, and there are yachts and sailing vessels visiting Antibes where you can experience a memorable Mediterranean journey.
Where to stay: Hotel La Place
Best cities on the French Riviera
By Lisa Garrett of Waves and Cobblestones
Nice is one of the best cities in French Riviera. It has even been granted a UNESCO World Heritage site designation for its history as a winter resort town on the French Riviera. It’s not hard to tell that Nice is one of the most popular places to stay in the French Riviera.
The beaches of Nice are one of the city’s big draws. With 7 kilometers of beaches along the gorgeous Mediterranean coast, you’re sure to find a great place to soak up the sun.
One of the top attractions in Nice is the famous Promenade des Anglais. This iconic boulevard is perfect for strolling, cycling, or people-watching.
Admire the beautiful beaches to the south and check out the glamorous hotels, restaurants, and casinos to the north. Relax and enjoy a cocktail at the elegant Negresco Bar.
Nice has several fantastic museums to suit any interest. Enjoy classical fine art at the Musée des Beaux Arts Jules Chéret, enjoy Matisse’s bold style at the Matisse Museum, or dig deeper into history at Nice’s Archaeological Museum.
Savor fresh foods and fabulous flowers at the Cours Saleya Marché Aux Fleurs in Vieux Nice. Be sure to sample socca, a thin chickpea pancake that is a favorite snack food in Nice!
Fly into the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, only a few kilometers from the city’s main attractions.
Where to stay: Hôtel Beau Rivage
By Constance of A Well-Read Wanderer
Marseille is one of the bustling port cities on the French Riviera, and one worth a stop on your trip to the Cote d’Azur.
Here, you will find bustling markets, centuries-old churches, great museums, and opportunities to enjoy the beautiful coast and Mediterranean Sea.
Head to the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations for items of archaeological interest and the Musée des Beaux-Arts for beautiful paintings and sculptures.
For some of the best views over Marseille, you’ll have to journey outside the historic city center.
For one, climb the hill to the famous Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde overlooking the city. For water views, hop on a boat.
After all, no trip to Marseille is complete without a ferry ride to visit the Chateau d’If, the real-life island prison made famous in The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s a gorgeous boat ride and an unforgettable visit.
If you have more time in Marseille and love the outdoors, you can visit the nearby Calanques National Park. The white limestone cliffs against the turquoise water of the Mediterranean make for some unforgettable hiking and swimming.
Marseille is actually the largest of the French Riviera cities and the second-largest city in all of France. It is easily accessible, with an international airport in Marseille and ICE trains connecting the city to Paris in only 3-4 hours.
Where to stay: Hôtel la Résidence du Vieux Port
By Kristin of Global Travel Escapades
Ever wanted to experience the life of the top 1%? Look no further than Monaco. This tiny principality is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the South of France.
With its stunning coastal views, the abundance of dreamy luxury hotels, and flashy cars, Monaco is a place everyone should visit at least once.
With regards to things to do in the area, there’s plenty to do. For example, strolling around the Prince’s Palace of Monaco is one of the easiest ways to understand the illustrious and sometimes grim history of Monaco.
Afterward, you can enjoy the gorgeous views of the harbors filled with multi-million dollar yachts.
And of course, be sure to stop by Place du Casino. This is easily the most recognizable spot in Monaco as it’s where you’ll find the famed Monte Carlo Casino.
Whether you want to play some games inside or just take in the grand architecture, be sure to stop by.
To reach Monaco, your best option is to arrive at Nice International Airport and then catch a regional train heading to Monaco. Just be aware that you’ll have to transfer trains at Nice-Ville station.
Where to stay: Hôtel de Paris
By April of Dreaming in French Blog
In favor of its glitzier French Riviera neighbors, Toulon is often overlooked. Toulon, however, more than justifies your attention with its coastal setting, fascinating old town district, a wealth of cultural attractions, and some of France’s best markets.
There are so many things to do in Toulon, there is something for everyone.
The Bay of Toulon can be seen in its entirety from Mount Furon, which is reachable by cable car. By taking one of the numerous boat tours to nearby Porquerolles Island, you can explore the Bay itself.
You can take advantage of the fantastic French cuisine the Cours Lafayette Market has to offer before spending the afternoon cheering on the wildly popular Toulon Rugby team at Stade Muyol.
The mouthwatering restaurants there make for the perfect post-game celebration, and the stadium is only a few meters from the port area.
Toulon enjoys convenient air, rail, and road connections to Paris and other major cities throughout France.
There are a few low-cost flights from Paris that go to Toulon Hyères Airport and take less than 1.5 hours.
By high-speed, direct train, you may also get to Toulon very quickly, with frequent services to Gare du Toulon provided by the Marseille-Ventimiglia train line. By car, Toulon is also easily reached by the A50 and is about 60 kilometers east of Marseille.
There are many great hotels in Toulon, but one of my favorites, especially for location, is The Originals Boutique, which is in the center of the city and is located next to the train and bus stations.
Where to stay: The Originals Boutique
Reflections on cities and towns on French Riviera
Summing up the best places on the French Riviera, I’m sure you found more than one favorite. From the cities in French Riviera boasting high-scale shopping, exquisite French and international cuisine, and an array of fun activities, to the colorful towns on the French Riviera where you can soak in history and culture interrupted by days on sea.
This corner of France is a true paradise and even though it’s quite hyped up, I always enjoy it just as much.