Welcome to my adopted home, the French Riviera! Blue waters and endless coastline. Mountains crashing into the Mediterranean. Yep, it’s everything you think it is (and more). I love this place and I hope that everyone gets a chance to visit at least once in a lifetime. This list is in no specific order. You will notice that the last two things on my “things to do list” are absolutely NOT neutral, they are totally biased. If this list leaves you hungry for more than I would definitely check out one of my favorite blogs: Nice is Love.
1. Eat Gelato
Yes! The French Riviera has amazing Gelato. It’s the benefit of the Italian effect (being so close to Italy). One of my favorite things to do after dinner is to take a nice cool night time stroll through Nice and stop at a favorite gellateria for a scoop of one of my favorite flavors. My favorite locations include Meraviglia and Casa Elli in Nice and Barbarac in St. Tropez. Of course, you cannot forget the ever classic Fenocchio in Nice on Place Rossetti. My favorite flavors at Fenocchio include the dolce de leche (like a caramel swirled ice cream) and the cinnamon.
2. Eat at Amazing Restaurants
The French Riviera is home to some amazing restaurants. Again, the Riviera benefits from its close proximity to Italy. It’s easy to find an amazing pizza in Nice. Provencal and Nicois cooking is world famous. It’s the perfect cuisine for a warm climate being mainly vegetable based. The famous restaurant Safari on the Cours Selaya of Nice boasts a tried and true “Cusine Nicoise” menu that includes fried fish balls (much tastier than they sound), roasted red peppers, and Daube Nicoise (a local stewed ravioli). Some of my favorite restaurants for local fresh food are Comptoire du Marché (photographed above), Le Canon, L’Atelier du Port, and Le Petit Cafe.
3. Do a cooking class at Les Petites Farcis
Speaking of food. If you are a foodie like me and would like to more about the local flavors of the French Riviera, then you must try a cooking class at Les Petits Farcis with local food journalist Rosa Jackson. Les Petits Farcis is named after a local dish of stuffed vegetables. There are many classes to choose from, including Pastry classes to fix your sweet tooth. I would highly recommend the Market Tour and Cooking Class. Rosa will take you around the local market and teach you the tricks of ordering the best products. After a sensory overload, you go back to her gorgeous studio where she runs you through the process of preparing the local dish. You guessed it, at the end all your work pays off when you dig into your own French creation. Bon appetit!
4. Go to the Beach
My favorite way to spend a Sunday is on the beach on the Riviera. This is really what it’s all about here: doing nothing and loving every minute of it! Some pointers for the best beaches on the Riviera? Don’t be afraid to leave Nice! There are some great beaches within a train ride away from Nice. Get ready, the beaches on the French Riviera are not cheap. It’s not unheard of to spend 20 euros per day for a beach bed that is half falling apart. In this respect, the French Riviera is a victim of its own success. It’s actually really easy to eat a bad meal on one of the many overprices private clubs on the coast: do your research first! I actually have done an entire blog post on the beaches of the Riviera that you can read here!
5. Wander around aimlessly in Villefranche-sur-Mer
Villefranche-sur-Mer is a mouthful to say, but also a feast for the eyes! This charming fishing village is perched on a hillside that slowly slopes into the sea. Located between Nice an Monaco, it’s the perfect place to get lost for a day. As the sun slips behind the mountains and the street lights lazily flicker on, grab a glass of rosé at a local cafe and feel your worries vanish.
6. Villa Ephrussi Gardens
I love the Villa Ephrussi gardens, especially in the sprint time when everything is freshly in bloom and the tourist crowds havn’t quite arrived yet. Again, this is timeless Riviera elegance. When walking through the gardens you get a sense of what it was like here 100 years ago.
7. Fitness Outdoors
Ok, so I understand that this is probably not everyone’s idea of how to spend a good time, but this is my list so I am going to include it. The French Riviera is an amazing place to workout and be active, especially outdoors where there is space and views (and hot bodies) to motivate anyone. I love running on the Promenade des Anglais, where you can go on forever without having to stop at a red light. There is also an amazing path around St. Jean Cap Ferrat for a hike and for those that are really motivated to hike, you can take a mountain path from the seaside in Eze up to the Village. The Nice-Cannes Marathon is also a great way to see the coast.
8. Visit the markets
Markets on the French Riviera are a sensory explosion. Colors, smells, tastes, sounds… I love it all! It’s so much fun to get lost among the rows of produce and find small hidden gems from local producers. The coast provides many to choose from. There is the famous Flower Market in Nice and the beautiful covered Marché Provencal in Antibes that is absolutely worth a visit. For me, it’s not even about buying anything, but melting into the crowds of people and soaking up the sun, grabbing a coffee, and watching time slowly slip by with friends.
OK, so the next two of my favorite things to do on the French Riviera are obviously biased, but I mean it when I say they are my favorite things to do! Nothing makes me happier than my job and meeting amazing people that travel to the French Riviera.
9. Photo Tour
Photo tours are something that I only advertise on Trip Advisor and are not a huge part of the work I do, however, I love working with people that are passionate about the French Riviera and are eager to learn how to take better photos. This is a great alternative to your traditional city tour, because you will walk away with real practical information that you will be able to use when you return home. I created this concept because so many people I know own expensive cameras but they don’t know how to use them! My friends know how frustrated I get when I see them taking photos in Auto mode!
10. Romantic Photo shoot
Gone are the days when people buy refrigerator magnets to remember their last vacation when they are drinking from the milk jug. Travel photography is huge now. More couples are realizing that a romantic photo shoot is an amazing way to remember their vacation. Imagine in 20 years the family album will be off the hook! Sorry friends, the selfie stick just isn’t going to cut it! Leave it to the professionals and book a photo shoot on the French Riviera. Ask me if you need a recommendation for a good photographer! ;-)