Sun, sea and sand. A holiday in the French Riviera perfectly encapsulates the three golden ‘S’s of an ideal summer holiday, but it also so much more to offer beyond its tan-topping capabilities. From incredible mountain vistas and adrenaline-fuelled adventures to a fantastic food and wine scene, a villa holiday in the French Riviera has got something for everyone.
Get to Know the Area…
Best Beaches on the French Riviera…
- As a destination très chic, it’s only natural that Cannes is home to many exclusive beaches, the most famous being the Plage Royale. There’s an entrance fee to lay down your towel, but you may be lucky enough to spot some celebrities as you sunbathe.
- The municipal Plage Macé near the port is ideal for families with young children. Each summer, a semi-circle of netting protects the beach from jellyfish – perfect for providing some peace of mind!
- If you’re heading towards Nice and finding the beaches there a little too busy for your tastes, the Plage des Marinières in the delightful seaside town of Villefranche-sur-Mer could be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s not particularly wide but it is long, with lifeguards on hand in the peak summer months.
- For exquisite white sand, pristine waters and rich marine life, the Iles de Lerins are just a short ferry away from Cannes. If you fancy making the most of a day spent island hopping, rent a boat to set your own itinerary.
Things to See and Do
- Boulevard de le Croisettes: Running directly along the coast, this is one of the most famous streets in Cannes. All of the sumptuous Belle Epoque properties that boast this enviable address come with enviable ocean views. Take a stroll along the pavement with your morning coffee and gawp as you go.
- Peillon: Perfect for if you want to take a step back from all the glitz and glamour of Monaco and St. Tropez, this village is perched on top of a very steep hill and offers a fascinating insight into how life might have been 500 years ago for its inhabitants. There are numerous features of historical interest and ample beauty spots to discover as you explore.
- Musée Matisse: Found up on Cimiez Hill in Nice, this 17th century villa is home to a superb collection of the famous artist’s work, stretching from the 1890s to his post-WWII gouache cut-outs. You’ll also find the well-kept gardens of Cimenez Monastery nearby.
- Cours Saleya: This marketplace features a vast array of products, covering everything from collectable, handcrafted carvings to a high-quality fruits and vegetables. There is also a popular flower section for feasting your eyes on.
- Les Bois de Lutins: This huge adventure park, complete with high ropes courses, inflatable zorbs, suspended pathways, and twisting slides, offers a great day out for the young and young at heart. Got little ones along? They’ll be safe and sound in the child-friendly “Forest of the Leprechauns.”
- Luberon National Park: Visit from late June to early August and you’ll be privy to one of the most iconic Provence sights: those rolling hills of the Luberon covered in blankets of lavender. It’s found a couple of hours inland from the coast, and best (least tiring) way to soak up the view and the aroma is by bike, allowing you to go at you and your children’s own pace with a welcome breeze in your hair. See Provence has handy listings of bike rental companies so you can find one close to you.
- Plage les Fossettes: Snorkelling opportunities are plentiful along the Cote d’Azur, and with the abundance of marine life, there is no shortage of underwater sights either. Great for budding sea explorers and marine biologists, this spot at Cap Ferrat is the best place to go owing to its 200m undersea trail. The course runs between five buoys, and below the surface at each one is a notice board detailing the five different Mediterranean biotopes.
- The Daluis and Verdon Gorges: Located about 2 hours inland in the stunning mountain ranges of the Verdon natural regional park, the ‘Grand Canyon of Provence’ boasts a series of sheer-sided dramatic gorges with turquoise rivers lazily snaking their way along the bottom. This beautiful region is yours to explore in your own way, but we’d recommend kayaks for a truly unique and unforgettable perspective.
- Lake Sainte-Croix: Made in the 1970s after a dam was created, this 10km-long long leads into the other gorges. You can hire a canoe, pedal boat or even an electric boat up the gorges, or simply have little ones play on the rocky shores of the calm water.
Food & Drink
- Glaces Scaramouche: This small business was started by a close-knit group of family and friends with a serious passion for ice cream.
- Azur Wine Tours: You couldn’t possibly go home without spending some time among the vines. A great way to learn about the famous wines of the area, these tours provide you with loads of information along with plenty of tastings. You can either tailor your tour to your personal taste or opt for the popular all-day tour, which includes two wineries, pick-ups around the Cannes and Antibes areas, and lunch at a cliff-top village.
- l’Authentique restaurant at the Auberge de la Madone: Found in Peillon, it’s been serving traditional Provencal fare for generations and makes a lovely spot to sit outside and soak up the atmosphere.
Now that you’ve got a good taste of what a week in French Riviera looks like, check out our guide to the Côte D’Azur and Provence-Alpes, the top restaurants and the best foodie experiences in the area as well as what to do with the kids. As for where to stay, we’ve got our full range of fabulous villas to help you find your perfect holiday home – don’t forget, our concierge team is always available to lend a hand too!
Looking for a full list of villas to rent this year? Check out our villa holidays page here.