Lesser-Known Locations on the French Riviera and nearby
You can travel to locations on the French Riviera time and time again and never truly experience everything it has to offer. Many people assume that the only places worth your while are the ones commonly talked about, like Cannes and Saint-Tropez. However, the French Riviera is vaster than you would imagine, as there are plenty of underrated towns that you’ll almost certainly fall in love with. Let’s take a look at eight of them.
Cavalaire-sur-Mer is where you’ll find discrete, private homes set amongst wide open hills – much of the land is protected by local regulations, and therefore construction-free. Set close to Saint-Tropez, Cavalaire-sur-Mer is on the calmer side, though it still has plenty to offer adventure-seekers, and the crowds aren’t nearly as overwhelming.
The beaches offer all sorts of water sports, and you can also catch a hydroplane from the port. Try out different bars on the busy marina, or take some time to yourself along the less-frequented Plage de Bonporteau.
If you’re yachting, this is where you’ll find a calmer, more serene experience that’s not nearly as popular with the crowds in other locations on the French Riviera. While the Lérins Islands are just 15 minutes by boat from Cannes, it seems that a lot of tourists don’t bother – which is a shame for them, but excellent news for you.
Sainte-Marguerite is the more popular island, and Saint-Honorat is where a community of monks have called “home” for more than 1,500 years. Visitors can see Lérins Abbey and the monastery, and you can purchase homemade goods like honey and wine.
Monaco is home to millionaires and their second houses, an ideal getaway when you’re ready for a holiday. You’ll also find fine dining and luxury shopping in Monaco, and Monte Carlo is where the famous casino is located. Monte Carlo is incredibly safe, which is why it’s so appealing to home buyers and travelers. The town is tiny and monitored around-the-clock by video surveillance, and it also has a large police force considering its petite size.
Mougins used to be a centre for floral production for Grasse’s perfumeries, but today it’s much more – with modern architecture, frequented art galleries and beloved restaurants, the medieval village is most certainly grounded in the current century. You can still see notes of Mougins’ history, of course, but when it comes to dining, homes and culture, it’s luxurious and up-to-date.
There’s a strong expat community in Mougins because of the locations on the French Riviera’s international schools. It’s also a great hub for job-seekers – this is where a portion of the Sophia Antipolis tech park can be found, which could be described as a European Silicon Valley. Mougins also has a low crime rate, lovely natural areas that are protected and high-quality sports facilities.
If you think Port Grimaud looks like Venice, you’re absolutely right. Set in the bay of Saint-Tropez and built in the 1960s, Port Grimaud was purposely designed to replicate Venice. The town is interesting and charming, with colorful buildings and boutiques. You can travel along the waterways or you can take a train from the port to Grimaud, a medieval town with a castle that offers excellent views of the sea.
Saint Paul de Vence
Located 30 minutes from Nice, Saint-Paul-de-Vence is one of the French Riviera’s oldest towns. You’ll likely notice how spectacular the light is in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, which is why the medieval, hilltop town has always been so inspiring to artists. For a taste, visit the Fondation Maeght modern art museum and its sculpture garden. Moreover, La Petite Cave is a must-visit for wine lovers – the wine cellar dates back to the 14th century, and they also sell lavender liqueur.
If you picture a traditional French village, you’ll probably picture something like Tourrettes-sur-Loup. Locals are friendly here, so be sure to say “hello” – or “bonjour” – as you pass them by. While the village may be modest, it’s still a treat to live in or visit. The views stretch to Nice and the streets have a hint of jasmine in the air. The River Loup and its waterfall is the perfect place to stop for photos, and the sound of the water creates pleasing white noise as you explore the commune.
While souvenirs elsewhere may be tacky, the local artisans of Tourrettes-sur-Loup make them by hand, and they’re sure to become some of your favorite treasures. Be sure to try the region’s specialty, too: candied fruit.
Valbonne has seemingly popped off the pages of a storybook, another perfect example of a French town. The town square has pastel buildings and cafes, plus fountains and sundials. Valbonne is a well-maintained commune, both in its ancient architecture and whimsical homes.
The area is best known for its natural beauty, which you can experience yourself in the gardens. This is the perfect setting for a relaxing, Provencal holiday that’s still close to the coast and the more energetic towns and locations on the French Riviera.
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