The French Riviera is just as darkly glamorous as it’s always been – minus the Russians (2023)

The closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival takes place today, the pinnacle of the annual event and the culmination of a two-week parade of stars and starlets drifting between the red carpet and their suites at the sold-out Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, where neither love nor money can get you a room this summer.

It’s closely followed by tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix, where superyachts line the tiny principality’s harbour and the ultra-rich squeeze themselves into its narrow confines to feast in extravagant restaurants, while untroubled policemen patrol pavements so pristine you could lick them without fear of contamination. And on and on the party goes, yachts and helicopters zigzagging the coast between Saint-Tropez, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and beyond until at least mid-October.

It all sounds like business as usual. But according to an extensively researched new book (400 pages long) by cultural historian Jonathan Miles, Once Upon a Time World: The Dark and Sparkling Story of the French Riviera, the famously idyllic playground is now but a crumbling husk of its glorious past – an ‘overcrowded’, in parts ‘architecturally monotonous’ and ‘vapid’ playground for the rich and their ridiculous displays of wealth, plus a haven for money laundering, crime, prostitution, racism, unspeakable behaviour and shady characters.

In the book Miles, who is married to a Frenchwoman, goes on an entertaining roller-coaster ride through the region’s glamorously decadent and licentious history, from its earliest uninhabited days to the moment ailing British aristocrats descended in droves in the 18th and 19th centuries, often for months at a time, to convalesce from bronchial complaints in the soothing and temperate Mediterranean air.

The area was so beloved by our countrymen that on a visit to Nice in 1787, Thomas Jefferson, who would later become US president, declared it a ‘gay and dissipated… English colony’. It turns out we are largely responsible, more than the French themselves, or indeed any other visiting foreign contingent (pre-Revolution Russians were early adopters, followed by the Germans and the Italians, and then the Americans in the 20th century), for laying down the imprint of the Riviera.

But if it felt like a giant health spa for Brits in the 18th and early 19th centuries, it morphed into a louche enclave thanks to the arrival of gambling when the first casino opened in Monaco in 1856. ‘How can France tolerate such a moral infection on its doorstep?’ cried Léon Pilatte, a vocal Nice-based pastor, railing at the ‘princeling on a denuded rock’ (a reference to the principality’s ruling Charles III of the Grimaldi family, who have been in situ since 1419; it is today governed by Grace Kelly’s once-playboy son, Prince Albert II) who ‘braving universal condemnation, enriches his coffers with this shameful industry’.

Meanwhile, the 19th century Cannes-based Scottish essayist and novelist Charlotte Dempster remarked, ‘the Casino is the thing that all Europe, Asia and America talk of, that all moralists decry, and that all pleasure-seekers declare to be a paradise’. It was from that period that the Riviera as we know it properly took off.

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Perhaps the greatest writer to capture both the magic and moral dissonance of the Côted’Azur was F Scott Fitzgerald, following a sojourn with his wife Zelda and their daughter Scottie at Villa Saint-Louis (better known today as the five-star Hôtel Belles Rives) in Juan-les-Pins. There he wrote Tender Is the Night, his allusive novel set on the Riviera, which he described as possessing a ‘diffused magic of the hot sweet South… the soft-pawed night and the ghostly wash of the Mediterranean far below’. Its opening scene is clearly modelled on the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc and the social shenanigans he observed while carousing there himself with friends.

It wasn’t that long ago (until 2005) that guests at the Hôtel du Cap paid for everything in cash and would arrive with suitcases stuffed with various currencies. I was recently told a story about how, in the early noughties, one Russian oligarch always sent £1 million to the hotel before his arrival to ensure he got everything he wanted when he wanted it. If there was spare change at the end of his stay, the hotel could keep it.

Until very recently, the Riviera was crawling with Russians. I speak to Jonathan Miles and ask him how much he thinks their presence affected the area. He cites a report by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, published in 2000, which concluded that Monaco would become a key European centre for Russian money and finance.

‘The oligarchs came,’ Miles writes in the book, ‘rich from the seizure of state assets that communism had appropriated on behalf of the people… [and] invested in Riviera gold – prestigious real estate – often choosing villas built in a style of architecture that the Revolution had suppressed.

‘They started to arrive in the mid-1990s as Cyrillic was added to restaurant menus and estate agents began to employ Russian-speaking staff. Like their aristocratic forbears, they were lavish spenders. One of the earliest Russian buyers on Cap d’Antibes, banker Andrey Melnichenko, spent more than €10 million on his wedding celebration – flying in Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston and Julio Iglesias to perform.’

A British film producer, who lives in the hills above Nice (he asked not to be named), witnessed the Russian invasion firsthand. He recounts how he would occasionally treat himself to a two-night stay at the Hôtel du Cap. ‘I was once woken up by a transporter unloading supercars at 4am, the engines revving up as they were driven off,’ he says. ‘I remember thinking, what are they doing, shooting an episode of Top Gear?’ He called the concierge and asked what was going on; he was told they were for a Russian guest.

‘The next day I saw workers digging up the lawn and installing parallel bars. They were for the same person because that was how he liked to exercise, apparently.’ Later, the producer said he was sunning himself in one of the hotel’s famous cabanas that line the cliff overlooking the sea when he saw a yacht pull up and drop off 10 jet skis, likely another delivery for the oligarch’s amusement.

But it wasn’t just goods and cash. ‘I remember seeing young girls enter the bar that night and they only seemed to speak one word of English: “Bellini”. The oligarch sat on the other side of the bar with his mates.’ Apparently he was a regular guest, who stayed three weeks every summer; one week with friends, one week with family, one week with business associates. But for each of those weeks, the girls, who stayed at a hotel nearby, were always arranged around the bar (or any restaurant he visited), presumably for the purpose of eye candy.

These stories are, of course, entertaining, but they are now largely redundant because since sanctions were imposed on certain oligarchs after the war in Ukraine began, most have scarpered. Which is why another press-shy Brit I speak to (a Monaco resident for the last 20 years, who works in media and investment and advises local yacht and private jet brokers, as well as the hospitality industry) dismisses Miles’s summation of corruption. ‘Just try and open a bank account in the south of France or Monaco today. They throw out hundreds of people a year if their businesses are in a non-green sector, or their money is nefariously obtained.

‘It doesn’t matter if you’ve been an investment banker for 30 years, or work in private equity; if you don’t smell good, you’re out. And as to the Russians, no one wants them down here any more, they’ve disappeared. Take a trip to Dubai if you want to find them, that’s where they are now.’

The difference today, he says, is that the Americans are back. ‘The Hôtel du Cap is packed with Americans again; they have more money since Covid – and the exchange rate has played in their favour. They were never the biggest consumers of prostitution and money laundering. So things have definitely calmed down.’

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But it’s not only the area between Cannes and Monaco that Miles decries. ‘Today, many places along the coast are lost resorts,’ he says. ‘As the decades passed, Saint-Tropez boomed out its popularity, pulling the desperate into ever-more-crowded streets, restaurants and clubs – the once-stylish resort living on cockeyed memories of the past.’

I ask Miles to explain more what he means about Saint-Tropez, because while yes, it is ridiculously busy during peak summer season in July and August, there isn’t a single ugly construction either on the beach or in town, and it still feels redolent with a strong Gallic energy. Frenchmen play pétanque at sundown in the Place des Lices, where a market takes place every Tuesday and Saturday morning and locals sell their Provençal wares.

‘No tower block or modern development exists on a beach in Saint-Tropez, nor are any coming soon,’ adds the Monaco-resident Brit, because the locals are renowned for blocking unsightly constructions. ‘They are very rigorous. [And] the vulgar hordes moved away long ago to Ibiza and Mykonos. If you want to go on a three-day partying cocaine-binge, go there.’

But Miles is still circumspect. ‘It’s a very strange place,’ he continues, ‘it was fabulous in the ’40s and ’50s when [the French novelist] Colette was there. Today it’s only doable off-season, in May, or late September and October.’

And he adds, ‘It’s the one town where you can’t find a bakery.’ I agree with him on that point. There is only one really good one, hidden down a dark, narrow street.

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Personally, I still find the place enrapturing, no matter what month I visit. You just need to know where to go: not the obvious jet-set and Instagram-influencer magnets like Le Club 55 on Pampelonne Beach, or Hotel Byblos’s Les Caves du Roy nightclub, but the hidden Plage des Graniers, a small sandy bay surrounded by greenery, or the chic little restaurants in the hills above.

Speaking of hotels, the famous ones along the Riviera – prohibitively expensive Babylonian temples – that still retain their opulent cachet include La Colombe d’Or in the medieval village of Saint-Paul de Vence; Le Negresco in Nice; Château de la Chèvre d’Or in Eze; the Carlton in Cannes; Hôtel de Paris in Monaco; as well as Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat.

As to property, I am told by the Monaco-dwelling Brit that while prices remain astronomical, they have not measurably risen (or tanked, for that matter) in the last four or five years and the market remains buoyant. Estate agent Paolo Risso, of RI Properties Monaco, agrees: ‘The property market on the French Riviera is very hectic at the moment… The average price in Monaco is now €52,000 per square metre. It’s also very strong in places like Cap-Ferrat, where the most beautiful houses on the Riviera can be found.’

The mass exodus Miles cites is perhaps about Russians leaving, rather than a more general departure. Though Risso adds: ‘We haven’t felt the impact of departing Russians because they have been replaced by Europeans.’

The Riviera has long provided a rich source of inspiration for artists and writers; culture has always been synonymous with the area and there are many museums. However Nice, which Miles gives as an example of decrepitude, endured a fallow period during the tenure of disgraced mayor Jacques Médecin who green-lit the construction of ugly apartment blocks along the coast, as well as the building of the urban autoroute, tunnels for heavy vehicles, and the widening of the roads during his long period in office from 1966 to 1990 (he was later convicted on corruption charges). But the current mayor Christian Estrosi is on a drive to restore Nice to its former architectural splendour and reintroduce nature in the town.

Similarly, St-Paul de Vence, which features a Matisse chapel and the Fondation Maeght, which holds one of the largest collections of 20th century art in Europe, including works by Miró, Braque and Kandinsky (and is currently closed for renovation), has become an important cultural destination.

Crime has long been seen as problematic on the Riviera, its flagrantly displayed rich pickings tempting for criminal gangs. But things have apparently been calmer since Covid – there are fewer targeted and well-planned robberies, more pedestrian street thefts. In Monaco, it is safer still: ‘It’s the only place you can still wear an expensive watch,’ says the film producer.

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Prostitution remains a thriving industry; it always has been and probably always will be. But then again the same goes for various concentrated rich pockets all over the world, such as Miami, Dubai or London. I remember four years ago having dinner at a trendy restaurant in Monaco. There were two beautiful and elegant-looking young girls seated at the table next door. Nothing about them suggested they were anything other than regular customers until a man from a neighbouring table went over to speak to them. He knelt down and, although he spoke quietly, I could clearly hear a deal being made. They settled on receiving €2,000 each for a trip to his boat.

Speaking of Monaco, which Somerset Maugham once famously described as ‘a sunny place for shady people’, Miles tells me he has heard rumours of an ‘explosive investigation’ in the works regarding Prince Albert’s reported ‘friendship’ with Putin, something that if true could do irreparable damage to the principality. But that too may be a red herring. ‘Putin and Albert went on [a handful of] social expeditions years ago but have not been in touch since then,’ says the Brit film producer. ‘You’ve got to remember Putin was friends with lots of people years ago.’

Today Monaco is rigorously policed, but then it always was. A friend remembers having to visit the homes of his father’s acquaintances to occasionally turn on the electricity and run baths because authorities could tell whether you had spent the requisite number of days there (to qualify for residency, and therefore tax-free status) by how much water and electricity was consumed. (The current requirement is 183 days per year.)

Longtime Monaco resident Tanya Nalbantis says banks are even more hyper-vigilant today: ‘In terms of shady business, it’s just not happening any more; if €1,000 is deposited into my account today, I am immediately asked where it has come from,’ she says.

The point is the Riviera still excels at delivering the right kind of glamour to a rich stream of visitors who come looking for it now, and it will continue to do so, evolving with the needs of the time (as London has done since the ’80s) no matter how much we long for the past. Life moves on.

When U2’s ex-manager Paul McGuinness came up with the idea for the Sky drama series Riviera, he is quoted as listing its ingredients as follows: ‘Rich people behaving badly in the sun, yachts, Maseratis, great clothes, beautiful women, art fraud, money laundering through auction houses, Russians, English people, American, French. Murder, adultery.’

It’s all still there, minus the Russians. But in 20 years’ time, who knows how the ever-changing French Riviera – so adept at adapting itself to whoever occupies it – will be.

Once Upon a Time World: The Dark and Sparkling Story of the French Riviera, by Jonathan Miles (Atlantic Books, £22), is out now


What is the French Riviera best known for? ›

The French Riviera is famous around the world for its good climate, beaches, medieval villages and luxury appeal. It is also known for its proximity to Italy, which is reflected in its dishes, which are full of flavor. In short, it is the perfect destination to satisfy the desires of the whole family.

How the French Riviera got its glitz? ›

Soon enough, the construction of various casinos, including the world-famous one in Monte Carlo, and the expansion of French railways helped transform the Riviera from a peaceful oasis for the unwell to a bustling hub of glitz and glamor.

What is known as the French Riviera? ›

The French Riviera, known in French as the Côte d'Azur (IPA: [kot dazyʁ]; Occitan: Còsta d'Azur [ˈkɔstɔ daˈzyʀ]; lit. "Azure Coast"), is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France.

What is the difference between the French and Italian Riviera? ›

There's no distinction between the French and Italian Rivieras. The 'Riviera' simply refers to the continuous stretch of coast from Cannes in France to La Spezia in Italy. The French side is more developed and luxurious, while the Italian side features more relaxed villages.

What famous people live on the French Riviera? ›

Here is the list of the coolest ones we know about:
  • Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie, Var.
  • Bono, Eze-sur-mer.
  • Elton John, Nice.
  • Rod Stewart, Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
  • Tina Turner, Villefranche-sur-mer.
  • Johnny Depp & Vanessa Paradis, Plan De La Tour.
  • Roman Abramovich, Cap d'Antibes.
  • A list of its own.

Is French Riviera or Amalfi Coast better? ›

To sum up, the French Riviera is larger than the Amalfi Coast and there are twice as many beaches, although they are similar (sand and pebbles). In both places, the landscapes are hilly. There are sometimes beautiful and colorful villages on the side of cliffs, and a multitude of small ports.

Why is the French Riviera so blue? ›

When the sunlight illuminates the water, the particles diffuse the light in a phenomenon known as the "Tyndall effect". The opalescent shade is most frequent after a storm or during a period of high winds and tall waves. You'll also see the two-tones when workers add galets and level the beach before the summer season.

Is St Tropez a tourist trap? ›

The New York Times described the St Tropez restaurant scene as “full of tourist traps and obscenely priced see-and-be-seen restaurants”.

What is the most expensive part of the French Riviera? ›

Number One on the list was Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. The average price per square metre for a flat comes in at €14,559 and up to €20,454 for a villa in this prestigious post code, which boasts amazing views, proximity to Monaco and Nice, as well a level of privacy that is hard to get in this highly developed region.

What type of attraction is French Riviera? ›

Along the southern coast of France, between Provence and the Mediterranean Sea, is an area known as the French Riviera. This collection of seaside resort towns is famous for its gorgeous scenery, laid-back lifestyle, sandy beaches, boutique shopping, and beautiful people.

Why is French Riviera so warm? ›

The French Riviera or Côte d'Azur is known worldwide for its mild climate, typically Mediterranean, with warm, sunny summers and mild winters, thanks to its location along the Mediterranean Sea and the protection from the cold north winds which gives the barrier of mountains that lie behind it.

Why do they call it the French Riviera? ›

“Riviera” means “coastline” in Italian and therefore in English the “French Riviera” describes the area along the Mediterranean in the South of France. The “Côte d'Azur” was actually given its name by Stephen Liegeard in his book La Côte d'Azur which he published in December 1887.

Which is nicer the French or Italian Riviera? ›

Both locales offer charming places to relax, but in this edition of French Riviera vs. Italian Riviera, the latter has the upper hand. The Italian Riviera is much more laid-back—its villages are gorgeous and historic but are less glamorous than their French counterparts.

What do Italians call the Italian Riviera? ›

Liguria, aka Italian Riviera, is located in the north of Italy and is that arc of coast that extends from the French border to Tuscany. But be careful not to get confused. Many confound the Italian Riviera with the Amalfi coast which is located in southern Italy, just below Naples.

What is French Riviera dress code? ›

The French Riviera style is timeless and elegant. Crisp whites and neutral or classic colors blend seamlessly with nautical elements to create a refined yet laid-back vacation look. Breton stripes, straw boaters, and basket bags are just a few of the signature touches that make this style a classic.

Where do celebrities stay in French Riviera? ›

For the true celebrity experience, Hotel-Du-Cap-Eden-Roc is in a stunning location and has been visited by what seems like nearly every star under the sun (Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks & Cate Blanchett to name a few).

Where do the rich and famous live in France? ›

The French Riviera is renowned for its breath-taking coastline, opulent hotels, lavish fine dining eateries and sophisticated beach clubs, and draws in thousands of affluent visitors each summer as they flock in to enjoy its abundance of sunshine, pretty beaches and renowned casinos.

Is it expensive to live in the French Riviera? ›

Living on the French Riviera can be as expensive as you want it to be. Realistically, it's not a penny-pinching destination, but this isn't a secret. For a fairly comfortable, no-frills retirement, you'll probably want to budget around €1,100 per person. This won't include hobbies or healthcare.

What is the safest city in the French Riviera? ›

The Safest Area: Monaco

The safest city on the French Riviera (and perhaps in the world) is Monaco. With nation-wide video surveillance, three police stations, and more than one police officer per 100 residents, Monaco has safety standards so strict that it is known as the safest square mile in the world.

What is the most beautiful part of the Italian Riviera? ›

Portofino is probably the most picturesque town of the Italian Riviera. Maybe even the whole of Italy. With luxury yachts in the azure blue water, colorful houses and luxury estates dotting the landscape it's a picture-perfect town you see on postcards and in travel guides.

What are the safest towns in the French Riviera? ›

  • Beaulieu.
  • Cap Ferrat.
  • Cap d'Ail.
  • Corniches.
  • Eze.
  • La Turbie.
  • Villefranche-sur-Mer.

What is the cleanest beach in the French Riviera? ›

Plage de la Mala, Cap-d'Ail

As one of the best beaches in the French Riviera, it's immensely popular, especially as all three of Cap d'Ail's beaches, located between Nice and Monaco, have blue flag status for their clean seawater.

What does French Riviera smell like? ›

With a base of warm cashmere musk and weathered driftwood, French Riviera® adds depth and richness to your sensory experience.

Is it safe to swim on the French Riviera? ›

The safest solution is to swim only on beaches with lifeguards. The other danger of Nice beaches (indeed the whole Cote d'Azur) comes from below in the form of jellyfish. These insidious creatures generally infest the water in swarms which you can see from the water's edge.

Where do the rich live in St Tropez? ›

With an impressive 110 hectares of land and an estimated 160 luxury properties in the estate, Les Parcs de Saint Tropez attracts the wealthiest and most exclusive individuals to its gates.

What actress made St Tropez famous? ›

With 48 films to her credit and more than 80 songs in her 21-year career, Brigitte Bardot, also known by the initials BB, is one of the most famous French artists on the planet. And it all started in Saint-Tropez!

Why do people like St Tropez so much? ›

It all started with a film. In 1956, the iconic movie "And God Created Woman" was released, starring the stunning Brigitte Bardot. The film, which was set in St. Tropez, put the small fishing village on the map and created a frenzy of interest in the town.

What is the richest neighborhood in France? ›

Neuilly is the most affluent residential area in France. It is valued for its immediate proximity to Paris' Porte Maillot, La Défense business district, Bois de Boulogne, the Seine, and the popular Île de la Jatte. It hosts over ten thousand companies and a well developed public transportation system.

What is the most expensive villa in the French Riviera? ›

Villa Les Cèdres on the French Riviera is one of the most expensive homes in the world. For the price of this 187-year-old mansion set on 35 acres of land, you can instead buy 10,000 kilograms of gold, 100 of the world's most expensive yachts, or 50 of the world's most expensive cars!

What is France most luxurious city? ›

As expected, Paris remains the leader of the most expensive large cities in France in 2021 with a square metre at 11,591 euros. In second place is Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine) with 9,524 euros per square metre. Montreuil-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis) completes the podium with 6,721 euros per square metre.

What town on the French Riviera is for perfume? ›

Grasse is a city on the French Riviera known as the world capital of perfumes. It is here that the fragrance formulations of the best known cosmetics are produced. Every tourist who visits Grasse appreciates the unusual atmosphere of this place.

Is the French Riviera romantic? ›

The south of France has some of the most beautiful beaches, coastlines and towns that make a memorable vacation particularly romantic. Some of the most fantastic resorts in the world are located in towns along the French Riviera, which are easily accessible via train or car.

What is the difference between the south of France and the French Riviera? ›

Okay, here's the deal: unlike what many people believe, there's a major difference between the two. The French Riviera is a region which is situated inside of the south of France. As such, this means that the south of France is made up of several different smaller regions.

Does it get cold in French Riviera? ›

While winter on the Riviera is relatively mild compared to other regions of France, conditions can be quite chilly when compared to the hot summer months. Snowfall is quite rare owing to the maritime influence, but it sometimes falls in the nearby mountains and brings cold winds.

Is St Tropez or Cannes better? ›

St Tropez is best known as a high-octane party spot, while Cannes is the place for designer shopping and seafront promenading. St Tropez has a glam village feel, while Cannes gives off a luxe town vibe.

What is the difference between the French Riviera and the Cote d Azur? ›

The French Riviera, also known as the Côte d'Azur, is a dreamy French region that extends east along the coast from Menton and Monaco to Théoule sur Mer and up into the Southern Alps.

What is Riviera lifestyle? ›

Riviera Lifestyle is a Real Estate Agency, located on the French Riviera. 🏡 Real Estate. 🌅 Sun, Lifestyle & French Riviera. ✨ Carlton Group.

Is Monte Carlo considered the French Riviera? ›

Monte-Carlo, resort, one of the four quartiers (sections) of Monaco. It is situated on an escarpment at the base of the Maritime Alps along the French Riviera, on the Mediterranean, just northeast of Nice, France.

Do they speak English in the French Riviera? ›

Living on the French Riviera, life is laid-back. Priorities for the day might include swimming in the Mediterranean or exploring the picturesque neighbouring towns and vibrant markets. Locals are friendly, and many are happy to speak English.

Is it cheaper to go to France or Italy? ›

France is a larger country with a lot of interesting places to visit. If you don't have time to explore the whole country, then many visitors spend a lot of time in Paris and the surrounding areas. In general, Italy is slightly more affordable than France, but the difference is not too significant.

Is the French Riviera Nice in winter? ›

French Riviera in Winter (December - February)

Winter can be a lovely time to travel to the French Riviera. You'll be able to take advantage of deals and promotions on hotel rooms throughout the region—and it's still warm enough, on most days, to have lunch outside, so long as you're properly dressed.

Is the Italian Riviera the same as the Amalfi Coast? ›

Thе Amalfi Cоаѕt (Costiera Amalfitana in Italian) ѕраnѕ an аrеа frоm Pоѕitаnо tо Viеtri ѕul Mare in the region of Campania. Its landscape is similar to the Italian Riviera, with its rugged tеrrаin, еуе-fеаѕting blue-green wаtеrѕ, terraced hills and colorful villages perched on cliffs.

What are people from south of Italy called? ›

People living in southern Italy, on the other hand, are called “terroni” because while northern Italy experienced prosperous economic development in the past century, the southern Italian economy relied on agriculture.

What do Italians call tourists? ›

Italian Word of the Day: Turista (tourist) - Daily Italian Words.

What food is the Italian Riviera known for? ›

The Italian Riviera is home to its own breed of artichokes, called carciofo spinoso di Albenga, which star in many of the local dishes. These artichokes have a spiky exterior but are soft and tender inside, and are often used in sauces, pies, and frequently eaten raw, shaved into salads and seasoned with Parmesan.

What shoes to wear on French Riviera? ›

Espadrilles. Espadrilles are some of the most common shoes, other than sandals, women wear in the French Riviera. You can wear flat espadrilles for daytime or a heel version for wine tasting or dinner. The cities in the South of France are mostly cobblestone, and espadrilles are easy to walk in.

Why is the French Riviera so famous? ›

The French Riviera is famous around the world for its good climate, beaches, medieval villages and luxury appeal. It is also known for its proximity to Italy, which is reflected in its dishes, which are full of flavor. In short, it is the perfect destination to satisfy the desires of the whole family.

What is a fun fact about the French Riviera? ›

The French Riviera acquired its nickname Cote d'Azur in 1887

The literal translation to the name is ”Coast of Azure”, which quite well describes the French Riviera. The French Riviera is an English name given by the British, but the name Cote d'Azur was given to the Riviera in 1887 because of its nature.

Why is the Cote d Azur so popular? ›

It is located on the Mediterranean coast in southeast France and stands out because of its impressive scenery. It is also the location of many important cultural events, including the famous Cannes Film Festival.

What is a fact about the French Riviera? ›

Did you know?
  • The South of France region is the driest region of France, rainfall is rare but when it comes you can experience spectacular downpours. ...
  • Nice airport is the busiest in France outside Paris with over 13m passengers most years. ...
  • The French Riviera is the home of the world's most expensive villa and penthouse.

Is French Riviera better than Italian Riviera? ›

Both locales offer charming places to relax, but in this edition of French Riviera vs. Italian Riviera, the latter has the upper hand. The Italian Riviera is much more laid-back—its villages are gorgeous and historic but are less glamorous than their French counterparts.

Can you drink tap water in Cote d Azur? ›

Water. Despite what you would think from the proliferation of plastic bottles everywhere, tap water is safe, drinkable and even tasty on the French Riviera.

What does Cote d Azur literally mean? ›

Côte d'Azur, (French: “Coast of Azure”), cultural region in southeastern France encompassing the French Riviera (see Riviera) between Menton and Cannes in Alpes-Maritimes département and extending into southern Var département.


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