Sunshine, glamour, glorious beaches, sophistication and style… you’ll find all these things and more on the wonderful Côte d’Azur.
Named after its unbelievably blue waters, the Côte d’Azur enjoys a typically Mediterranean climate as well as somewhere in the region of 300 days of sunshine each year. Resorts such as St Tropez, Port Grimaud, Cannes and Nice will inevitably be on your list of places to visit. But also set aside some time to discover the captivating beauty of the surrounding countryside that remains a haven of peace and tranquillity and helps make a holiday on the Côte d’Azur so very special.
English visitors in the 19th Century called the region’s beautiful coastline between Menton and Cannes the ‘French Riviera’. The forested hills of Provence and coves sheltered by the stunning cliffs of the Côte d’Azur, blend with the glamorous resorts of Fréjus, St Raphaël and St Tropez. Great rocky headlands and coves to the west contrast with the wide sandy bays of Cannes and Nice. While the deep blue ocean stands out against the spectacularly rugged coastline.
Spend lazy days on the many sandy beaches. Visit the beautiful hilltop town of St-Paul-de-Vence. Or rub shoulders with the rich and famous in Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo.
Remnants of the region’s Roman ancestry are still visible on the rolling Provence landscape and within the fortified hilltop villages perched on the wooded hillsides. Visit the dramatic Gorges du Verdon, France’s Grand Canyon, and the huge Lac de-Ste-Croix which is popular with watersports enthusiasts.
Sparkling seas and glistening diamonds, that’s St Tropez. Once a small fishing port, St Tropez has grown into a glamorous resort where the yachts of millionaires far outnumber the fishing boats. Best of all, you don’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy the ‘pizzazz’. Spend an afternoon window-shopping for the very latest look from the leading fashion houses; browse the work of the pavement artists, then head over to the narrow streets of the old town for a relaxing coffee and to watch the world go by. Older children (and adults) will love La Maison Des Papillons with its exhibition of 4000-plus butterflies. A boat trip around the Baie des Cannebiers provides an idyllic way to spend an afternoon. Whilst for those seeking underwater adventure, diving is available locally. Drive just a couple of miles southeast, and you’ll find Plage de Tahiti, an appropriately named wonderful sandy beach that the kids will love.
This lively, modern resort was only constructed in the 1960s. Sitting on a lagoon and located west of St Tropez, Port Grimaud is also known as ‘Little Venice’. It has a maze of narrow streets, piazzas and canals lined with lively cafés and restaurants. If you visit on a Thursday or a Sunday, look out for the bustling market in the Place du Marché.
It won’t surprise you to discover that affluent Cannes is one of the smartest resorts on the Côte d’Azur. Hosting the International Film Festival each May, Cannes literally trebles in size for the duration of the event. Cannes boasts a picturesque harbour, bay and old quarter. The beaches are to die for. But take care if you decide to go sunbathing as hiring a parasol and sunbeds can cost a small fortune. There are daily markets throughout the Cannes area.
If you fancy a day’s walking, fishing, sailboarding or canoeing – or maybe just a picnic or swim - why not head over to picturesque Lac de St. Cassien? About 7 miles west of Cannes, the lake sits in a wonderfully unspoilt rural setting and is really easy to get to.
St Raphaël is well known for its beaches and watersports. It is also a popular spot for diving, as there are several Second World War shipwrecks off the coast. A coastal cycle track makes sightseeing particularly rewarding. By night, the little port of this chic resort comes alive, as holidaymakers and residents drink cocktails in the smart bars or stroll under the palm trees.
With its belle époque architecture, narrow streets and numerous restaurants and cafés, cosmopolitan Nice is a town of amazing contrasts. The capital of the Côte d’Azur, this elegant town has retained much of its Italian influence. Indeed, amongst that maze of alleys and squares, a good selection of Italian restaurants can be found.
Covering less than 2 sq. kilometres, the Principality of Monaco is the second smallest country in the world and has been ruled by Prince Rainier III since the 1940s.
Although Monaco - the capital of which is Monte Carlo – is small, it certainly offers lots to see. There’s the famous casino, for example; the opulent Hotel de Paris, the Grimaldi Palace and the colourful Botanical Gardens with their stunning setting overlooking the yachts moored in the harbour. Plus once a year the streets of Monaco quite literally scream into life as the city hosts the Monaco Grand Prix. Whether you simply want to mix with the rich, take in the views, or find out more about this fascinating Principality and its most famous daughter – Princess Grace – you should spend a while in Monte Carlo.
If you are holidaying with children, Monte Carlo’s Oceanography Museum, founded by Jacques Cousteau, is well worth a visit, and also has a fascinating aquarium.
The second biggest river canyon in the world and certainly Europe’s most spectacular, Gorges du Verdon is easily reached from resorts on the Cote d’Azur, making it a great day out. Simply enjoy the breathtaking views from various points along the roads on its southern edge, or visit one of the large lakes it has formed, like Lac de-Ste-Croix, which is 10km long. You’ll find a boating centre at the village of Ste Croix du Verdon or simply enjoy a picnic alongside the turquoise green waters of the river.
The Côte d’Azur’s largest waterpark has seven huge slides, a wave pool, whirlpools and a picnic area.
Children will enjoy the regular performances by trained dolphins, seals and killer whales at this large sealife centre.
These islands are simply beautiful, they’re also traffic free. Catch a ferry from Hyères or St Tropez.
There’s no shortage of watersport facilities on the Côte d’Azur, or you can drive inland to pretty Lac-de-Cassien and hire pedalos or windsurfer boards.
Sitting upon a rocky promontory in an area made up largely of vineyards of the Côtes de Provence region, this delightful village offers amazing views over the bay of St Tropez, the surrounding countryside and the Mediterranean. Established during medieval times, Gassin has narrow winding streets and a church that dates back to the 16th Century. Worth visiting just for the view, Gassin is about 7 miles from St Tropez.
This region is renowned for its medieval hilltop villages. If you get the chance, drive over to Grimaud and Ramatuelle, as both enjoy superb views across the Mediterranean Sea. Grimaud has an 11th Century church and medieval castle. The Rue des Templiers leads to a house of the Knights Templar.
Famous for its Roman ruins, Fréjus is a picturesque old town with winding streets, an amphitheatre and several attractive squares. There is a lively, modern promenade and the town has a golden sandy beach (Fréjus Plage) where a night market (marché nocturnal) is held during the summer months. Visit Le Groupe Épiscopal with its 14th Century ceiling paintings and make sure you explore the Roman ruins.
Just hearing that the resort of Menton hosts the Fête Des Citrons every February should be all you need to realise that this pretty subtropical town is mad about lemons. In fact, the famous Menton lemons are grown on the terraced slopes rising behind the town. If lemons aren’t quite your thing, however, don’t despair, the old town and port are worth exploring, as are the beautiful gardens with their rich collections of exotic plants. There are plenty of shops and museums. Plus Menton has a long promenade that’s well-stocked with sea-front cafés. There is also a 1930s casino and a pebbly beach.
If you can tear yourself away from marvelling at the yachts and people-watching from the cafés, explore the 17th Century Citadel and the Musée De L’Annonciade, a former chapel and now a gallery of exceptional modern art.
The renowned Jazz Festival in July is perfectly timed for the holiday season and features the biggest names from around the world. Be sure to see the colourful old town, enjoy a croissant or two in the morning sunshine, and visit the Musée Matisse, with its selection of works by the famous artist.
Domaine du Verdon is an excellent Castels parc with spectacular views, great facilities and an array of outdoor activities for all the family.
Blending perfectly into the rolling hills of Provence, this is a superb holiday centre with the superb Niagara waterpark at its heart.
Nestled in secluded woodland close to a lovely beach, this parc offers a wide range of activities for families of all ages in high season.
Situated on the edge of the Esterel forest, the unrivalled range of amenities at this popular Splash Parc includes two California-style pool complexes.
Located in the heart of the French Riviera, this stylish parc with its huge pool complex is the perfect base for discovering the lively resort of Fréjus, just 10 minutes drive away.
A top quality parc, wonderfully located amongst the beautiful pine tress and pink rocks of the Esterel Hills, with a superb pool complex.
A woodland retreat close to the lively resort of St Raphaël. Ideal for toddlers in low season and for children of all ages during July and August.
Just 15 minutes walk from the lovely town of Port Grimaud, Holiday Marina is the perfect choice for a family beach holiday and also offers two lovely pools.
There's a genuine Provençal style and feel to this parc with its relaxed village atmosphere and superb views from the foothills of the Massif des Maures.
Enjoying a superb hillside location, Holiday Green is one of the finest parcs on the Côte d’Azur. Superbly equipped, the parc offers a California-style swimming pool complex.
A traffic-free village with a huge wavepool complex in the heart of Provence, with a world renowned 18 hole golf course at your disposal.
An exceptional pool complex with waterslide and wave pool surrounded by grassy slopes and a manmade beach, Les Restanques has wonderful panoramic views over the sea and the town of St Tropez.
A rocky headland, carefully transformed into a patchwork of bright blue pools, lush green parkland and red-roofed holiday homes.
Overlooking the thrills of the city, Cannes Villa Francia is situated on a quiet, residential hillside.
A superb resort located in the heart of the Camargue region, set on a 35 hectare estate.
Three distinct villages, nestled in the hills behind one of the most sought after sites of the Côte d'Azur.
Idyllically situated on a loop of the Siagne River just 800 metres from the coast, Apartments and studios are delightfully designed with terracotta-tiled roofs and shady terraces.
A vibrant sports resort in a naturally beautiful spot, with scuba diving, deep sea fishing, kayaking and windsurfing all possible.
This wonderful Apartment Resort residence is located in the Cannes-La-Bocca.
Situated in verdant, private gardens, with a classically designed pool, just five minutes' walk away from a lovely beach.
Located in a private park with direct access to a sandy beach.
The perfect opportunity to have a second Keycamp holiday!
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Keycamp is a trading name of Greenbank Holidays Ltd. Registered office: Hartford Manor, Greenbank Ln, Northwich, Cheshire CW8 1HW England. Registered in England: 1160442. Keycamp Ireland office: 78-80 South Mall, Cork, Eire.