The French Riviera has been famous among the famous for more than a century. Celebrities and statesmen were initially attracted by its beautiful light, mild weather and access to both beaches and mountains. Over the years the area has been built up into a fantasia of luxury beaches, casinos, perfumeries, yachts and mansions. The French call this lavish coastline the Côte d’Azur, and here you’ll find a range of terrain, with unequaled vistas of the both Mediterranean shoreline and French Alps.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Flight time (to Nice): 8 hours from New York City; 14 hours from LA
Entry requirements: Passport valid for three months post-departure
Getting around: Car, bus, taxi, train and helicopter
When to Go: The French Riviera at its best
Best weather: June through August are the warmest and driest (and most crowded) months, with average highs in the low 80s. Spring and autumn see highs around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and fewer tourists.
Best prices: May to June, September to October (for the best deals, book your trip well in advance)
What to Do
Cannes: The population of this high-profile city swells each May, as hoards of celebrities and paparazzi stream in for the Cannes Film Festival. If you’re into star-gazing, book ahead and join the throngs; otherwise, show up a bit later in the year for more low-key (but still ritzy) days in the sun. Take a stroll along La Croisette, the fashionable promenade that runs along the seashore. You’ll find designer boutiques by day and artsy entertainment by night.
St. Tropez: The nightlife is extravagant and the coasts are lined with swanky yachts in this Riviera town. The blue waters and flamboyant company make the area popular with stars like Oprah and Jack Nicholson. Hang out on the beach or in one of the chic outdoor cafes awhile and you’re bound to spot a celebrity or two.
Monaco: This incredible strip of Riviera coast is actually a separate country, currently ruled by Prince Albert II, son of the late actress Grace Kelly. Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, and has become known for its Monte-Carlo casinos and rock-and-roll lifestyle. Also recognized in certain circles as a popular tax haven, this extravagant Mediterranean port was famously described by novelist Somerset Maugham as a “sunny place for shady people.” Monaco’s long stretch of sand and steep cliffs will make you feel like royalty as you’re engulfed in the height of glamour.