The crystal clear turquoise water of Cote d’Azur is truly a beautiful sight. If you’re visiting the region, you’ll discover towns that take you back in time. Others will thrill you with outdoor adventures that offer cultural experiences worth remembering for the rest of your life.
You can rent a car and drive along the coast (Driving in France is actually not intimidating at all if you don’t enter big cities).
I have another post on the best spots that are located in inland Provence, but this is about towns along the coast.
You most likely won’t have time to visit each and every town in the region, but here’s a list of some of the more popular small towns and villages in the south of France. If you’re interested in a multi-day itinerary check out my other post as well.
Cute Small Towns & Villages in the South of France
Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur – Coastal Towns
Nice is a spot to appreciate life, to take in the excellence of the patio nurseries and the ocean, which douse up the lively Mediterranean vitality. The city has a particular Italian character that is particularly obvious in the Old Town.
Regardless of whether you are idle, the interesting cobblestone boulevards or walking the well-known Promenade des Anglais, guests will be pleased by the excellence, culture, and vibe of Nice.
Eze is a medieval town on a slope over the French Riviera, offering unparalleled perspectives over the Mediterranean. Located between Nice and Monaco, it’s extremely easy to reach from either.
The main reasons why visitors find this town charming is the uneven and narrow stone streets that weave their way around the village. Beginning at the highest point of the slope, you will most likely observe the vestiges of a château, which today monitors the passage to an amazing arrangement of patio nurseries.
The town church and gardens of Eze also adds to the ‘awe factor’ with an interior that looks as if time has stood still. Though this town is old, you’ll find modern gift shops and cafes throughout, giving you the best of both worlds.
Villefranche-sur-Mer is a standout amongst the most beguiling if not the most enchanting French and Niçoise angling town on the French Riviera, in the core of the Cote d’Azur. With Monaco on one side and Nice on the other, it is difficult to trust that it can hold its appeal and credibility of a little town where individuals still know one another.
The Bay of Villefranche, rumored as one of the five loveliest inlets on the planet, is grasped by the Cap of Nice on the privilege and Cap Ferrat on the left.
The enchanting Old Town of Villefranche falls down the slope to the ocean and the sandy kilometer-long shoreline offers incredible diversion consistently.
If you prefer more quiet towns it’s a good spot to base yourself there instead of Nice while you explore the neighboring towns.
The medieval town of Grimaud, with its prime location on the French Riviera and its excellent regularly Provencal blossom-filled restricted lanes, is ruled by the remains of its stronghold.
From that point, the all-encompassing perspective on the coast and the slopes secured with the timberlands of the Massif des Maures mountains is breathtaking.
Nestled between Cannes and Nice on the French Riviera, the popular resort town in Antibes is well known because of the 16th-century fort that surrounds the old town, as well as it’s typical charming Meditteranean town buildings. The sea-facing hilltops are dotted with charming white villas, just as the ocean glitters with luxury yachts mingling with local fishermen’s boats.
The old town is where all of the best Provencial restaurants and farmers markets can be found but take a stroll around to discover the Picasso Museum, the impressive Baroque style Cathedral Notre Dame, the Archeology Museum and the more contemporary Nomade at the Bastion Saint-Jaume which is a giant cast-iron statue visible from far along the coast, by famous artist Jaume Plensa.
Venture just outside the town and you’ll find the picturesque Juan-les-Pin Beaches where you can lounge in the sun on rented loungers, the Fort Carre and the Chemin des Douaniers for unique coastal and landscape views.
You’ve probably heard of Cannes because of its world-famous International Film Festival which takes place every year around Springtime and celebrates all genres of videography, movies and documentaries. The town is also an iconic destination for holiday-makers because it embodies much of the charm and attraction that the French Riviera is known for.
Such as the gorgeous 19th-century architecture, the Intercontinental Carlton Hotel and the Centre d’Art La Malmaison being just two examples.
The town is also a well sought after Meditteranean beach destination because of places like Palm Beach, Long Beach (private beach near the Marriot Hotel), Plage Du Midi and La Croisette near Palais des Festivals which has seen some of the most famous personalities on the planet walk its steps.
Not to forget that the older parts of the town, where the original settlement was, is filled with streets and houses that have been around for hundreds of years. Visit the Marché Forville to sample seasonal and regional produce and foods from all over the South of France.
You most certainly won’t want to miss a visit to one of the neighboring little islands which are a skip, hop and ferry ride away from Cannes old Port. See Île Sainte-Marguerite with her lush pines and eucalyptus forests and Île Saint-Honorat to see the dramatic 15th-century monastery for the followers of the monastic community of St Honoratus founded in 410.
Once a simple fishing village on the Cote d’Azur, Saint Tropez saw a boom in its visitors during the 60s and today remains one of the most thriving Provencial towns, especially in the summer for its postcard-perfect beaches and hip nightlife.
Many celebrities and movie stars have been known to party in this little town so if you head to the right nightclub you might bump shoulders with someone!
Often called the vanguard of modern art at the turn of the 20th century, the historically rich village with a resident population of around 5000 is the perfect place to hire a boat for the day and sail out into the Mediterranean ocean and lap up the ocean air and sunshine. There are several museums, chapels, and the Saint Tropez citadel dating back several centuries.
St Paul de Vence
St. Paul de Vence is a tiny place that’s a huge artist hub. Establishments like Fondation Maeght, La Chapelle Folon, Musée Renoir and Eglise Collégiale Saint Paul house pieces of art that date as far back as the 16th century.
During their time, this town was frequented by artists like Picasso and Matisse, who stayed at the boutique hotel La Colombe D’Or which remains a family-run auberge today that you can dine in.
This just goes to show that even the smallest towns carry just as much rich history and culture, if not more, than others. St Paul de Vence is also one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera.
Grasse has been a scent town as far back as the seventeenth century, and today as the world’s aroma capital, its notoriety justifies itself. The three noteworthy aroma producers; Fragonard, Galimard, and Molinard open their ways to give free guided visits. Grasse is additionally a world chief in the creation of normal aromas for the fragrance business and of flavorings for sustenance producers.
The aroma business, albeit generally constrained by global gatherings, commands the neighborhood economy. Roses, jasmine, and different blooms, just as harsh orange bloom, from which the aromas are refined, are developed in the region. The International Perfume Museum, including shows following the historical backdrop of scent, revived in 2008.
A wonderful island that has yet to beckon hordes of tourists, Porquerolles offers beaches, clear waters for swimming and culture of hotels and restaurants that will make any budget happy.
Here you’ll also find a yearly jazz festival along with a sailing festival. Though you won’t find medieval ruins to explore here, you will find plenty of rocky coastlines to hike and sand beaches to stroll.
To reach this town, you’ll take a fun, yet short, a 10-minute boat ride from the coast of France. It’s totally worth your time.