Discovering the Côte d'Azur, muse of Impressionism and a land of unprecedented itineraries

Holidays

Immortalized by the great Impressionist masters, including refined restaurants, delicious pâtisserie, breathtaking views and aperitifs by the sea, the Côte d'Azur amazes, excites and fascinates.
By Sara Chiarelli
FPJ Communication & PR Manager

The French Riviera has always been one of the most popular destinations for tourists from all over the world, the attractive French coast overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, has never been more sought after than this year for the entire summer season of 2020.

Often considered a place to live the "mid-season", to enjoy the lively life of its villages and the beauties of the surrounding countryside, it is also a suggestive summer destination for its views set on fire by the sunset and for its blue sea turquoise. Easily accessible by car or private jet, thanks to the large airport of Nice, the Côte d'Azur welcomes many places that can be considered for the summer, starting from the fashionable Montecarlo, Saint Tropez and Cannes up to the "metropolis" of Nice without forgetting many other places certainly suitable for relaxing trips, such as Juan-Le-Pins, Antibes, Villenueve Loubet, Cagnes sur Mer.

The Cote d'Azur is a real paradise, a real status symbol.

Here nothing has the taste of the ordinary, everything refers to luxury, to the good life, to an elite tourism that feeds on the sun, beaches, exclusive clubs and boutiques, casinos, yachts, VIPs and celebrities, many little things that increase day after day the myth of this exclusive region of the Mediterranean, also a favorite destination for many Italians and great artists. The Côte d'Azur, in France, embodies everything that can make a holiday special.

Between sea and inlets, this magical land has been the destination of many artists who have fallen in love with it, immortalizing the breathtaking views of this enchanting territory in many of their works: Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir and many others.

There are many attractions in this fascinating strip of land bathed by the Mediterranean, but some enchanted places remain real pearls for the French territory. If you are nearby, therefore, it is essential to stop in these places.

Once you reach your destination, the best way to freely visit the entire stretch of coast is by renting a car and letting yourself be lulled by the wind and warmed by the sun of this magnificent land.

The first city in which to stop is Menton. Located a stone's throw from the border with Italy, it is the city of lemons. Legend has it that it was Eve, expelled from the Garden of Eden, who brought a lemon with her and planted its seeds right here. The colorful houses are the symbol of the town, which has a very characteristic old part and which, in February, lights up for the Fete du Citron, the lemon festival. With no particularly interesting beaches, Menton is a place of relaxation, where you can take a healthy walk in the historic center, without missing out on visiting some museums of significant historical interest.

Not to be missed, in fact, the Jean Cocteau Museum and the many city gardens, among which the one of Palais Carlones stands out, with 60 varieties of lemon trees and over 400 plant species.

Thanks to the elevators it is possible to reach the top to admire the Royal Palace up close, and to have fun at the sight of the changing of the guard that takes place every day at 11:55. It is also possible to visit the Oceanographic Museum, now a bit dated, but still very fascinating.

The maximum splendor of this area is achieved thanks to the F1 Monaco Grand Prix. Montecarlo, the tiny city-state of the Grimaldi that develops in height, where many pilots, actors, stars of sports and entertainment live, also famous for the casino and the marina, with its ultra-luxury yachts.

Driving, cheered by the wind and warmed by the sun's rays, we then reach Nice, the small metropolis of the Côte d'Azur, a city of about 350 thousand inhabitants that boasts of being the birthplace of the hero of two worlds, Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Perfect for those looking for a compromise between sea life and tourist attractions, Nice is able to satisfy every need. There is no lack of nightlife and a lively nightlife that attracts many young people looking for fun and who often find themselves walking along the renowned Promenade des Anglais, the promenade overlooking the Bay of Angels, a place full of clubs, discos and pubs at the open.

Driving, cheered by the wind and warmed by the sun's rays, we then reach Nice, the small metropolis of the Côte d'Azur, a city of about 350 thousand inhabitants that boasts of being the birthplace of the hero of two worlds, Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Perfect for those looking for a compromise between sea life and tourist attractions, Nice is able to satisfy every need. There is no lack of nightlife and a lively nightlife that attracts many young people looking for fun and who often find themselves walking along the renowned Promenade des Anglais, the promenade overlooking the Bay of Angels, a place full of clubs, discos and pubs at the open.

It is also possible to get to know its more historic and ancient side by visiting the old town district, considered very characteristic with its markets, traditional alleys and the two museums of Matisse and Chagall. Nice, in fact, is not only fun, it is also a city where the cultural ferment is alive, among its many museums and the beautiful cathedral dedicated to St. Nicholas.

Next to Nice is Cagnes-sur-Mer, known to most as the city of Renoir, the magical place that the great painter chose as a location to spend the last years of his existence and of which the house has now become the Renoir Museum .

Not far away we reach Saint Paul de Vence, also called San Paolo di Venza, a village perched on the Maritime Alps that Picasso and Chagall chose as their refuge. This, in fact, is a place that inspires, with its characteristic streets and unique views, still the destination of many artists and designers today.

You cannot say that you have been to the French Riviera without having visited one of its rarest pearls: Antibes. Jewel set in the arch of the Côte d'Azur, where in the morning, at the dawn of a new day, you wake up in front of the same expanse of a deep blue sea that enchanted Pablo Picasso, who right here found hope and happiness, so much so that immortalize them forever in the painting La joie de vivre, kept in the museum born in 1966 and which bears his name.

Antibes, an unmissable place to contemplate the paintings and ceramics of an unexpected Picasso, who portrayed sea urchins and dancing fauns, goats, satyrs and mermaids. Where to go out in the sun on the magnificent terrace overlooking the sea, dotted with spectacular sculptures by Germaine Richier and works by Miró, Bernard Pagès, Anne and Patrick Poiriere. There is no better place than Antibes to shake off the winter greyness and immerse yourself in that ethereal light that inspired so many artists. To finally spend the days en plein air and warm up on the beach in the spring sun, with the mountains still snow-capped to frame the coast, or to spend a summer holiday full of glamor, but also appreciating traditions and bon vivre in pure French style. Of rare beauty, this town is so memorable that Victor Hugo wrote: "Here everything shines, everything blooms, everything sings". With a smile on your face, to fill up on bonne humeur, just immerse yourself without hesitation in this relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere, more intimate and intimate than nearby Nice, where art, bien vivre and good food coexist with a chic touch.

Walking in the old town, among flowered corners, squares and enchanting squares, accompanied by the sound of bells, unexpected glimpses of the blue sea, the scent of freshly baked baguettes and pâtisserie, you can enjoy the most authentic Antibes. Visiting the famous Boulangerie Veziano, in fact, you can enjoy a freshly baked baguette, a pain au chocolat or a slice of pissaladière, a typical Provencal focaccia garnished with tomato, olives and salted anchovies.

 

Walking, surrounded by smells and colors, you quickly find yourself in the heart of the Provencal market that animates the town every morning: Cours Masséna, perfect for shopping for tea and spices, lavender, flowers and typical local products.

 
Also worth seeing are the yachts in the port and the Bastion Saint-Jaume, on which the installation Le Nomade, by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa, has stood out since 2007. Ten meters high, the sculpture represents a pensive man, composed of steel alphabetical letters that stand out against the blue of the sky. At sunset and at night he appears as a guardian of light who watches over the entire city.
 
Antibes is also home to many beaches such as Plage Belles Rives, a super chic corner of paradise with fine sand and crystal clear sea, where it is a must to sip a glass of frozen rosé while contemplating a literally poetic panorama. To taste the local confectionery delicacies, there is no shortage of historical addresses, such as the Pâtisserie Cottard, with its tables in the shade of a palm tree where you can taste the maison's delicious desserts; however, there are also novelties to be discovered, such as the laboratory in the suggestive place du Safranier by Lilian Bonnefoi, pastry chef of the legendary Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, the "Grand Dame" of the Riviera overlooking the Cap d'Antibes, opened from 1870 and which embodies the most glamorous spirit of the French Riviera. A place for a few, with its long avenue leading to the nineteenth-century villa, furnished with exquisite elegance, the rose garden where you can stroll, the spectacular swimming pool desired in the 1920s by the Piedmontese Antonio Sella, who transformed Villa Soleil into what is now the hotel, having it carved into the rock overlooking the sea and with the restaurant in an enviable position, overlooking an infinite horizon, this hotel still remains one of the symbols of the Côte d’Azur.
 

Antibes is also famous for the events it has hosted for years, including the Festival des Jardins of the Côte d'Azur, a competition of ephemeral gardens created by landscape architects, the Salon d'Antibes, an antiques and modern art fair, the Jazz à Juan which from 1960 highlights the diversity of musical genres and popular, elitist and avant-garde programming, the Fireworks and pyromusical festivals, during which the greatest blasters of the moment give a prodigy of lights and sounds, and finally Les Voiles d ' Antibes, during which spectacular regattas are held between vintage and classic yachts.

Heading west you come to Cannes, the undisputed capital of the French Riviera for cinema. Famous films, actors and directors animate the famous Film Festival, one of the cult events of the world jet set.

 

Here, a walk on the Croisette, the mythical boulevard by the sea, is a must; the Croisette, the designer boutiques, the millionaire yachts, the luxury cars whizzing by at full speed and the exclusive hotels that usually host Hollywood stars, this is Cannes. A beautiful and elegant seaside town in the South of France. Those who want to breathe in luxury usually stay here. But Cannes is also something else: pastel-colored houses, for example, and a small fishing port that has never lost their simple and genuine spirit. The sea is the undisputed protagonist of this French coastal town. Here the golden sandy beaches stretch along the entire city overlooking a beautiful turquoise sea. It is no coincidence that Cannes boasts the title of "Queen of the Côte d'Azur" and not only for the fame linked to its grand hotels and the kermesse of the Palace of the Festival and Congresses, but precisely for its natural beauty.

 

Lying along a large bay, Cannes is bordered to the west by the buttresses of the Esterel massif, from which a wonderful stretch of red rocky coast begins between which beautiful coves of emerald waters are hidden, and to the south-east by the islands of Lérins, Saint-Honorat, which houses a convent and can be reached via a private ferry, and finally, Sainte-Marguerite, much more touristy and popular.

If you are in Cannes you can visit the newer and more modern city, with recently built Art Nouveau buildings, shops, hotels and clubs. It is also possible to visit the ancient fishing village, the "Suquet", which developed around the old port, full of winding alleys and picturesque alleys that climb from the port to the hill. The Suquet is dominated by the Notre-Dame-de-pins church, in Provençal Gothic style and revered by fishermen for its miraculous faculties. Older and partially fortified is the Chapelle-Sainte-Anne, next to which the Tour du Suquet offers an extraordinary panorama of the city, including the beautiful castle. Along the way, it is also worth making a stop in Valbonne, a small inland town, a little off the big circuits of the Côte d'Azur. Mass tourism has not affected this quiet and uncontaminated place, made up of flower plants on balconies and windows, small artisan shops and stone houses with an ancient flavor. Not to be missed is the city of Grasse, where perfume was invented. Coco Chanel conceived here, among fields of lavender and violets, the legendary Number 5. Everything in the narrow streets of the city refers to essences and fragrances. Place aux Aires, with its gushing fountain, is the heart of city life, a place to shop at the market to create your own personalized perfumes.

 
If you are on the French Riviera, then, it is a must to reach Saint Tropez, the beating heart of the Riviera during the spring and summer period.
 

It was 1956 when Saint-Tropez, a picturesque village of fishermen and sailors, with pastel-colored houses overlooking the Vieux Port, became the most glamorous destination on the French Riviera, thanks to Brigitte Bardot who, in love with this sleepy village, quickly created it the myth. A lively town, very popular among the international jet set and a destination for many tourists attracted to the nightlife, it is also a destination for those looking for a relaxing stay but always in the name of luxury and exclusivity. Characteristic for its colorful houses overlooking the sea, Saint-Tropez is also a perfect location for a visit through the streets of the town, to savor the quiet life that takes place there and to dine by candlelight in one of the many seaside restaurants. . From Pink Floyd to Peppino Di Capri, up to the most popular DJs in recent years, there are many artists who have sung the magic of Saint Tropez, its exclusive port, its trendy clubs and its poetic sunsets. Spearhead of the Côte d'Azur, Saint Tropez refers to past and romantic echoes, typical of the luxury holidays of the 1960s, among its views set on fire by the sun, aperitifs by the sea and a taste for the glamorous style par excellence.

 

The ideal time to visit Saint-Tropez in all its beauty, contemplating its silence, sheltered from the multitude of tourists, is certainly towards the end of August, but also in September and in the early autumn period, when the light of the Cote d ' Azur, who has enchanted so many painters, illuminates the facades of the houses overlooking the Vieux Port.

It is the right place for those who want to relax in the early morning with a walk along the harbor, surrounded by historical places such as the Senequier, open since 1887 and much loved by the writer Colette, or for those who love to get lost in the maze of narrow streets of the old city, between idyllic squares, flowers and art galleries up to the heart of Place des Lices, where pétanque is played under the plane trees and where on Tuesdays and Saturdays the unmissable market with the typical products of Provençal gastronomy is held. Going up to the citadel of the seventeenth century you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the gulf and the red roofs. Not far away it is possible to visit the suggestive marine cemetery, and then there are the beaches, the beating heart of Saint Tropez. The most authentic is La Ponche, a hidden gem among the houses in the heart of the old city. For those who love nature, it is also possible to take the Sentier du littoral that from the Tour du Portalet leads to the legendary beach of Pampelonne, with its fine sand and Caribbean-colored sea, passing through the bay of Canebiers and Madrague, the famous villa of 

Brigitte Bardot, who when she disappeared became a memorial museum to finance her foundation for the defense of animals.

Another tempting activity that Saint Tropez offers its visitors is shopping. Many boutiques and shops offer unmissable products for a Riviera outfit, including the legendary ultra chic flat sandals in full Cote d'Azur style.

 

However, Saint-Tropez remains a jewel-like village, proud of its past and its own identity, which is keen to maintain traditions and enhance art and culture. In fact, there is no shortage of museums. Among these, unmissable is the Annonciade Museum, an oasis of art and tranquility, a 16th century chapel that became a museum in 1950 which houses, among others, works by Henri Matisse and Paul Signac.

There are also many appointments and events that are organized in this area in the south of France. For example, there is a moment in which the "old" Saint-Tropez of fishermen and sailors rediscovers its origins, when, at the end of the summer, a of the most beautiful regattas in the world, and thousands of sails color the magnificent gulf. In fact, Les voiles de Saint-Tropez involves over 300 boats, modern and vintage. Refinement and elegance are the key words that distinguish this enchanted place that must be immortalized in a photo shoot at least once in a lifetime.

 

The Côte d'Azur is a place capable of offering unprecedented itineraries, including exceptional art galleries of the great Impressionist masters, who found inspiration here in the vivid colors of nature, characteristic villages full of ancient charm and historic centers that oscillate between the elegance of luxurious villas of the 1920s and medieval nuclei immersed in lush nature.

Visiting the Côte d'Azur is an experience that warms the soul and which, through memories rooted in memory, creates in the visitor that sense of nostalgia typical of places that enter the heart. It is easy to be conquered by glamorous beaches, refined restaurants, picturesque views, breathtaking views, delicious gluttony and aperitifs accompanied by lounge music. The Côte d'Azur amazes, excites, fascinates.

In short, Côte d'Azur je t’aime!

 
 

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