Vibrant cities, turquoise beaches, picturesque villages, dream villas… the Côte d’Azur is rich in attractions for all interests. It’s a destination where there’s never a dull moment!
Here’s our selection of the best things to do and activities on the Côte d’Azur (between Cassis and Menton) with our own photos!
BEFORE OUR TIPS + PHOTOS
HERE ARE OUR FAVORITES ON THE Côte d’Azur
Our favorite car rental platform: DiscoverCars
This guide is completely independent, based on our experiences. We visited the region anonymously, making our own choices and paying our bills in full.
1. Village of Èze
Èze is the most popular village on the Côte d’Azur and even in Provence. And he absolutely deserves his popularity. It’s exceptional!
Between Nice and Monaco, it is perched on a steep hill some 427 meters above the Mediterranean Sea, offering spectacular views of the coast and sea.
It’s a maze of narrow lanes and cobbled streets, typical of the Mediterranean region, with tunnels and arches. You can stroll through the picturesque alleyways, explore the local craft stores and discover Èze’s charming medieval architecture.
What’s more, it also has a remarkable hillside garden! We were enchanted by the mix of cacti, rooftops and endless sea views!
2. Cassis and its calanques
Cassis is a small fishing town that has preserved its authentic charm despite its growing popularity. The iconic harbor is lined with lively cafés and seafood restaurants.
What we liked most was that Cassis combines the charm of a Mediterranean village with magnificent natural playgrounds: the calanques on one side and the Soubeyranes cliffs on the other. We highly recommend the calanques boat tour and the hike to the Port-Pin calanque.
The town is also famous for its white wine, Cassis, which you can taste in the surrounding vineyards.
3. Porquerolles Island
Located off the coast of Hyère, the island of Porquerolles seduced us with its unspoilt natural beauty. We rented an electric bike to explore as much as possible in one day.
We discovered its dream beaches, with crystal-clear waters and golden sand.
But we were also fascinated by its historic forts, which bear witness to its military past. Be sure to climb to the very top of Fort Sainte-Agathe for exceptional views.
The island is a true haven of nature, with hiking trails winding through pine forests and fields of wild flowers.
It’s a quiet place where you can get around on foot or on a rental bike (we recommend an electric bike, as there are some nice hills).
OUR TPS FOR RENTING YOUR CAR IN Provence
- Compare prices on our preferred platform: DiscoverCars – one of the best rated sites.
- Choose a car that is powerful enough (the roads are steep) but compact (some passages are narrow).
- Think of thecomplete insurance (some roads are tortuous and narrow).
- There is a lot of demand, book it early.
4. Nice and its museums
Nicknamed “Nissa la Bella” by its locals, Nice is an unmissable destination that has truly charmed us. Between its omnipresent nature in the city, its seaside, its captivating museums, its architectural gems and its thriving gastronomic scene, we had no time to get bored in this idyllic Côte d’Azur location. It’s the region’s largest city.
But what charmed us most was the architecture and elegance of the city’s streets. Just look up and be amazed!
You won’t be bored with all kinds of museums: art, natural history, archaeology, sports…
See all our favorite activities in Nice.
5. Menton and its colorful houses
Menton is the most unique town on the Côte d’Azur. It’s a fascinating destination to explore. The old town of Menton, with its narrow streets and colorful facades, offers an immersion in the authenticity of the region.
The city is famous for its lush gardens, notably the Val Rahmeh Botanical Garden, which amazed us. Menton is the ideal place to relax on its sunny beaches, stroll through its gardens and sample local specialties. The town harmoniously combines the Mediterranean art of living with a peaceful, sunny atmosphere. We were spellbound.
6. Saint Tropez and its beaches (Pampelonne…)
Nestled on the Côte d’Azur, Saint-Tropez is a legendary town that combines glamour and authenticity. We were pleasantly surprised, as the town has managed to preserve a real Mediterranean charm (despite the huge yachts in the harbor that block the view of the colorful facades).
The old town remains on a human scale, where it’s a pleasure to stroll along the narrow streets. The Old Port, with its terrace cafés and relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere, is an iconic location.
But what struck us most was the surrounding peninsula, which has remained largely undeveloped. It’s the ideal place to recharge your batteries, with vineyards, impressive views and sandy beaches with azure waters. Pampelonne beach is the best-known, but we also love Plage de L’Escalet.
7. Antibes and its ramparts
Antibes is one of our favorites on the Côte d’Azur. It may be less famous and luxurious than its neighbors Nice and Cannes, but it offers the charm of history, beautiful stonework and breathtaking views.
It’s a pleasure to stroll through this human-sized commune, which offers magnificent Mediterranean landscapes, with ramparts, a rich heritage, sandy beaches and views of the sea and mountains.
Last but not least, it’s an ideal place to relax: numerous beaches, water sports and leisure parks. In Antibes, you’ll feel an immediate change of scenery!
See all our favorite activities in Antibes.
WHERE TO STAY ON THE Côte d’Azur
Option 1: City of Nice
A city with beautiful architecture, a long seafront promenade and lots of museums.
Option 2: Menton
For a town full of charm, close to several charming villages and mountains.
Option 3: Saint-Tropez
A small town surrounded by nature, known for its jet-set but also with a lot of charm!
8. Village of Roquebrune
Also perched on a hill, Roquebrune once again offers an unforgettable experience, steeped in history and Mediterranean charm. It’s a medieval village with narrow streets, tunnels and breathtaking views of the coast and Monaco.
What’s more, there’s a castle to visit at the top of this rocky spur for even more history and exceptional views.
We really enjoyed exploring the village and climbing to the top of the castle!
9. Hiking in the Esterel or enjoying the Corniche
One of the most beautiful sections of the Côte d’Azur is the Esterel massif. There are no big cities here, nature dominates.
You’ll love its red rocks, in stark contrast to the turquoise waters of the nearby sea.
There are several ways to enjoy it: climb up into the park and go hiking, or drive along the corniche de l’Esterel to enjoy the views and the calanques.
10. La Ciotat and the Figuerolles cove
What a wonderful discovery! La Ciotat is a discreet town, but one that really knew how to enchant us. We appreciated its less touristy atmosphere, the charm of its port, dominated by an elegant church, its long golden sandy beaches and its calanques, all within easy walking distance!
What more could you ask for?
La Ciotat has a peaceful atmosphere that we recommend if you’re looking for a little more authenticity.
What’s more, in less than 30 minutes’ walk, you can discover one of our favorite beaches: the Calanque de Figuerolles with its beautiful orange rocks.
See all our favorite activities in La Ciotat.
11. Villa Ephrusi and its gardens
A visit to the gardens of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is an enchanting experience that epitomizes the luxury of the Côte d’Azur. The meticulously landscaped gardens are a true masterpiece of landscaping, featuring a variety of magnificent trees, colorful flowerbeds and water features. The whole creates a fairytale atmosphere, with every nook and cranny revealing a new botanical discovery. What’s more, breathtaking views over the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer from the overhanging terraces add a touch of romance to this getaway. This garden and its villa are a symbol of the elegance and beauty that characterize the Côte d’Azur.
Save time by buying your admission tickets
A LITTLE MORE patience
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12. On the trail of painters and artists around Nice
The Côte d’Azur has inspired many artists, especially around Cannes and Nice.
Here you’ll find numerous museums dedicated to artists, important places in their lives, tombs and foundations. We particularly recommend:
- The Renoir House Museum with its magnificent olive trees (Cagnes-sur-mer)
- Chagall Museum (Nice)
- The Pablo Picasso national museum (Vallauris), with its ceramics
- The Matisse Museum (Nice)
- The Maeght Foundation with works by Miro
- The Ferdinand Léger Museum
- Chagall’s tomb in Saint-Paul-de-Vence
13. Kayaking: a must-do water activity
The best way to enjoy the turquoise waters is to explore the coastline by kayak.
There are several places that lend themselves particularly well to this mode of discovery:
- Calanques from Cassis – see program and availability
- L’Île-Verte and the calanques from La Ciotat – see program and availability
- The Ramatuelle reserve from Saint-Tropez – see program and availability
14. Cannes for film fans
Cannes is one of the best-known cities on the Côte d’Azur. We were seduced by its golden sandy beaches, its special relationship with cinema, its museums and its famous Croisette promenade.
You probably know the city from the world-famous Cannes Film Festival. Does this event, which attracts major celebrities from the 7th art world to the red carpet, make you dream?
Beyond the cinema, we enjoyed discovering the old town (particularly the hilltop Le Suqet district) and the Lérins islands opposite.
See all our favorite activities in Cannes.
15. Village Saint-Paul-de-Vence
After the village of Èze, Saint-Paul-de-Vence is undoubtedly one of the best-known villages on the Côte d’Azur. It combines medieval charm, a rich artistic history and magnificent views over the region.
It’s very well preserved and lively, with many art galleries and restaurants.
We particularly enjoyed strolling along the ramparts to admire the views over and around the village.
The village is renowned for its art scene (particularly in the 20th century). It has attracted many famous artists, including Marc Chagall, who lived and worked there, as well as Renoir and Picasso.
15. Driving the Route des Crêtes
We’d also advise you to get some height. The Route des Crêtes between La Ciotat and Cassis offers spectacular scenery. This is one of the most beautiful roads in Provence.
At the start of the route, you can stop several times to admire the bay of La Ciotat. Then views turn to the Bay of Cassis, with its impressive cliffs.
It’s an effective 30min drive, but longer to take in all the sights.
16. Monaco and Monte Carlo
Yes! Even if you’re not a fan of luxury, Monaco is well worth a visit, as it’s a city like no other! While most of the city is made up of massive buildings, Le Rocher has been preserved and features pretty little streets, with magnificent panoramic views of the coast.
If, on the other hand, you’re a lover of luxury, the Principality is the place for you. Between 5-star palaces, high-end boutiques, casinos, clubs and haute cuisine, you’ll be in heaven!
Last but not least, Monaco has other lesser-known assets that we liked: museums, beautiful religious buildings and even green spaces!
See all our favorite activities in Monaco.
17. Enjoy the gastronomic scene
Things to do on the Côte d’Azur: other ideas
But there’s so much more to the Côte d’Azur, we’d love to list it all, but here’s a guide to suit your interests.
Visit the most beautiful villages on the Côte d’Azur
The villages of:
- La Turbie
See our article on the most beautiful villages on the Côte d’Azur.
Enjoy the most beautiful beaches on the Côte d’Azur
Pebble beaches, sandy beaches, on the coast or on the islands, let’s mention just a few:
- Notre-Dame beach on Porquerolles island
- Plage des Sablettes in Menton
- Petite-Afrique beach in Beaulieu-sur-Mer
- Plage Mala, Cap-d’Ail
- La Garoupe beach
See our article on the most beautiful beaches on the Côte d’Azur.
Explore the most beautiful islands
In addition to the Île de Porquerolles mentioned in the list, we recommend..:
- Île Sainte-Marguerite, Cannes
- Île Saint-Honorat, Cannes
- L’Île-Verte in La Ciotat
See our article on the magnificent islands of the Côte d’Azur.
Relax in the gardens
The Côte d’Azur also harbors botanical gems to delight the senses. We recommend..:
- The exotic garden in the village of Èze
- Val Rahmeh, Menton’s botanical garden
- Domaine de Rayol
- Villa Thuret
See our article on the magnificent islands of the Côte d’Azur.
Explore more cities
Also worth mentioning:
- Fréjus and its arenas
- Toulon and its harbour of warships
- Villefranche-sur-Mer and its pretty bay
- Sanary-sur-mer and its colorful boats
See our article on the most beautiful towns on the Côte d’Azur.
Off the beaten track
There aren’t really any secret spots on the Côte d’Azur, and every corner is bustling with activity.
But you can find a few gems that are less frequented by tourists, such as the Île de Saint-Honorat or the village of Sainte-Agnès.
See our article on the Côte d’Azur’s most beautiful uncrowded spots.
Exploring around the Côte d’Azur
Around the Côte d’Azur, not far from most major cities, there’s still plenty to explore in Provence:
- The city of Marseille
- The Verdon gorges
- The mountains of Mercantour National Park
- Lavender fields in spring
- Grasse and its perfume factories
If you don’t want to rent a car, you can find excursions to the Gorges du Verdon and the lavender fields – see program and availability.
What to do when it rains
When it rains on the Côte d’Azur, there’s still plenty to do:
- enjoy the beaches without people (you’ll get wet anyway)
- visit the many museums
- take part in a perfume creation workshop in Nice – see details and availability
- an escape game
- a spa session
- visit one of the villages – we saw several of them in the rain, and that made them even more picturesque!
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO THE Côte d’Azur
- Where to stay