French Riviera in southern France, or Côte d’Azur, evokes scenes of opulent mansions, powder white sandy stretches and hills topped with glitzy casinos. Made up of seaside towns, this is a sunny locale with a Mediterranean soul. Surprisingly, the once luxury focused destination is suitable for any traveller who knows how to stretch a buck. It may entail some planning or whimsical new finds, but the treat for the eyes and the heart remains the same. Here’s a glance at the most famous towns of Côte d’Azur.
The destination offers the one essential thing that cannot evade ubiquity—excellent views. The Promenade des Anglais is a long two-mile arch along the beach covering the length of the town. At one end is Colline du Chateau, an ideal spot to hike and spot the aqua marine Ligurian Sea. The Vieille Ville (Old Town) is a sprawling mass of red-roofed homes criss-crossed by slim streets.
Mornings are the least crowded, as the town stirs into action with the daily Cours Saleya flower and fruit market. Roaming the old parts, you’re likely to pass and linger at Place Masséna, the city's main square. The Albert I and Massena gardens are free to roam around. From here one can get buses to the other villages of Côte d’Azur.
With history dating back to 2000 BC, Eze is known for its steep cobblestone steps along crevices and crannies morphed into cafes and shops. The Exotic Garden with thousands of succulents that overlooks the sea, and the laboratory-factory of Fragonard, one of the leading perfume producers of France, are some of the key attractions. For some, the lesser-known Friedrich Nietzsche’s Path is the most exciting part of the visit.
If one is not averse to walking, the 16th century fort town holds a great charm. A train ride from Nice, the resort town overlooks plush yachts moored at the Port Vauban marina. The Mediterranean region was an inspiring backdrop to famed artists, including Picasso. Drinks in a discrete cellar, with 1860 original zinc bar, a handful of round tables and live piano music on Friday and Saturday evenings is sure to make you feel like an insider.
Visit the Marché Forville (Forville Market) to see it buzzing with food, cafes and antique shoppers. A walk along La Croisette, the most famous beach-lined street of the city, doesn’t cost anything. Access public beaches or hike to La Croix-des-Gardes, a 200-acre national park close to Cannes. Cannes is made for walkers.
The old Roman camp of Le Suquet is another vintage neighbourhood that is dotted with a 12th century castle turned into a museum (Musée de la Castre), the Église Notre-Dame-d’Espérance church and fisherman colonies along the sea.A week-long trip to Côte d’Azur doesn’t have to cost anything other than time and love for gorgeous blue skies and a complementing sea, complete with unspoilt picturesque fishing villages and glamorous architecture for contrast.
❖ It is best to home yourself in Nice’s old town, where accommodation is budget-friendly
❖ Get a Côte d’Azur multi-day pass card for €45 for free entry to multiple tourist sites
❖ Socca, niçoise and crepe are delicious and filling specialties that can be found as street-side
snacks for less than €5
❖ Use daily transport cards to get around other villages apart from Nice