- Maroc-inspired Med villa
- Red-rock Riviera
- Minimalism for maximalists
- Cream of the Côte
- Glamorous Med mansion
- Lushly landscaped Èze clifftop
- Arty townhouse
- Streets of Vence
- Painter’s historic house
- Bohemian Saint Paul de Vence
- Hearts and flowers
- Super Cannes
- Jetsetters’ paradise
- 1930s Riviera resort
- Chic chambre d'hôte
- Arty enclave of St Paul de Vence
Côte d'Azur Overview
- Pines, palms and pools
- Coast life
- Portside posing, artwork ogling
On the coast that defined seaside glamour, you can never be too rich or too brown.
This is where rustic glamour was invented: a balmy playground, equally endowed with show-off glitz and craggy, pine-clad coastline. Beautiful beaches stretch east from Hyères towards the Italian border; the celebrated hot spots – Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo – are synonymous with unashamed ostentation, and have Italianate architecture and rock-star villas to match. When the boats and Bulgari get too much, you can retreat to the region’s mediaeval villages. Èze, Mougins and Saint-Paul- de-Vence crown the cypress-dotted hills, all quaint cobbled alleys, casual cafés and ruined ramparts. The one thing you can’t escape is the Mediterranean, its blue brilliance a timeless lure, whether you’re Pablo Picasso or Paris Hilton.
Completely Côte d'Azur
Millionaires, established or aspiring, can hire a Bentley – have it delivered to your hotel – and tour the Grande Corniche, a classic driving route along the highest of the coast roads from Nice to Menton (www.platinium-ca.com). What started life as a mule track along which Napoleon and the boys could invade Italy is now a smoothly Tarmacked regular on car ads, its sweeping bends making light work of the coastal contours. You may not make it as far as Menton,but try to get to Turbie, a hilltop hamlet with a Roman monument, La Trophée des Alpes (www.ville-la-turbie.fr; closed Mondays). It’s one of many excuses to stop the car and admire the jaw-dropping views.
- Towns such as Nice, Cannes and Monte Carlo have taxi ranks, but you’ll have no luck hailing. For middle-of-nowhere fares, ask your hotel to book a cab.
- Tipping culture
- By law, a service charge is automatically added to all restaurant bills, but it’s nice to leave a euro or two.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Most shops are open 9am–12pm, then from 2pm or 3pm until 7pm. Banks open Tuesday to Friday, 8am–12pm and 1pm–5pm.
- Packing tips
- Merrell walking shoes for rambling in the hills; budgie-smugglers or your least substantial bikini for the beach at Cannes.
- Recommended reads
- Super-Cannes by JG Ballard; Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald; To Catch a Thief by David Dodge.
- Light, pale rosé wine from Provence. Langoustines, goat’s cheese and Cavaillon melons are among the region’s big-flavour, low-food-miles favourites. Expect plenty of grilled fish, bouillabaisse and authentic salade niçoise.
- Euro (€).
- Time zone
- GMT +1.
- Dialling codes
- France: 33. Southeast: 04 (drop the zero when ringing from abroad).
- Do go/don't go
- To make the most of the coast, go May to September, but check the social calendar to avoid the road-clogging traffic that accompanies events such as the Monaco Grand Prix and Cannes Film Festival.
Don't go home without...
…strolling along the strand in Cannes – aka La Croisette – as the sun goes down, and stopping at art deco Martinez Hotel for pre-dinner pastis.