The Nice Carnival, Monte Carlo Beach, Cannes Film Festival and St. Tropez are just a few reasons why Côte d'Azur aka the French Riviera is a popular destination for celebs, royals and jetsetters.
Welcome to the French Riviera aka Côte d'Azur! The southeast coast of Provence, France, is sprinkled with some of the world’s most popular <a title="beaches" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/beaches" target="_blank"><em> <b>beaches</b></em></a> and destinations, including Monaco, Nice, Cannes and Saint Tropez. Many celebrities, such as Elton John and Brigitte Bardot, have homes in the region.
The Hotel Negresco is where self-made millionaires and wannabes rub shoulders as this 1906 landmark. The luxury hotel is named after Henri Negresco, who had the palatial hotel constructed in 1912. Built to attract wealthy vacationers, the Hotel Negresco has 119 guest rooms and 22 suites.
In the spring, Cannes becomes the backdrop for the annual Cannes Film Festival. Celebs donned in the best attire walk the red carpet surrounded by adoring fans and a crowd of paparazzi.
Monte Carlo Beach -- the most fashionable of all the French Riviera’s beaches -- was once frequented by Princess Grace. The sand was imported to the beach which conveniently runs along the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel. The best time to visit the coastal beach is between July and August.
St. Tropez has been called the playground to jetsetters, fashion models, and millionaires. It’s also known as the place were French actress Brigitte Bardot was discovered. In addition to the town’s acclaim for its clothing-optional beaches, it also hosts an annual regatta at the end of September that draws numerous superyachts aka luxury yachts.
Perched on a cliff on the coast of Monaco, the Oceanology Museum main draw is the famous aquarium with tanks containing every imaginable species of fish, crab and eel. The main floor displays skeletons and taxidermy of enormous sea creatures; as well as, submarines and diving gear from the Middle Ages. Other top attractions in the Riviera include Place du Casino in Monte Carlo, Jardin Exotique de Monaco and Colline de Chateau in Nice.
If you didn’t know already, the Nice Carnival attracts over a million visitors every year. The first celebration on record dates back to 1294, which probably makes it the original carnival celebration. The Carnival spans a 2-week period with the final day on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday).
Visit Nice’s Chapelle de la Miséricorde to marvel in the chapel’s beautiful architecture, which includes crystal chandeliers and a magnificent altarpiece by Renaissance painter Ludivico Brea.
The 2nd largest French city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille, Nice is also the 2nd-most visited place in France after Paris, receiving 4 million tourists every year. The city has a university, several business districts, museums, a national theater, an opera house with a regional library and several concert halls and casinos. Between May and October is the best time to experience the warm Mediterranean climate of this coastal city.
The Grand Hotel, built in 1908, competes with the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc as the Riviera’s most opulent. Set in a well-manicured garden, it was once a winter haven for royalty. This posh place to stay has a private beach club with a heated seawater pool and a Michelin-starred restaurant that uses fresh ingredients from the local markets.
Experience the annual Lemon Festival in Menton. The festival lasts a few days and consists of different bands passing through the city streets on foot or on truck trailers. The Casino Gardens, in the center of the town, are decorated in the theme of the festival, using lemons or citrus fruit to cover the exhibits and huge temporary statues. Past festival themes include Viva Espana, Disney, Neverland and India.
Cannes is one of the most popular and glamorous resort destinations in Europe. This French coastal city caters to the upscale travelers. Although it’s known as a haven for sun worshippers, the city takes center stage for the annual film festival. Most beaches along La Croisette are owned by hotels and or restaurants. Tourists can rent a sailboat at the port or at some of the beachfront hotels.
Château de la Napoule has the reputation for being the Riviera’s most eccentric and most fascinating château. The castle was constructed in the 14th century for the Countess of Villeneuve. In 1918, Henry Clews Jr. and his wife, Marie Clews, restored and moved into the castle. The American sculptor created a menagerie of scorpions, pelicans, gnomes, monkeys and other odd sculptures around the castle.
Visit Plage de Tahiti, St. Tropez’s sizzlin’ sandy beach. This is France’s most well-known beach because it’s frequented by topless or nude sunbathers. Ever since the days of actress Brigitte Bardot, this beach has been a movie star favorite, and it’s been known to be a cruisy spot for singles.
Not surprising, the InterContinental Carlton, a 1911 hotel that survived World War II attack, is packed during the Cannes Film Festival. The hotel has 343 rooms, including 39 renovated suites, 2 restaurants, 2 bars, 10 meeting rooms and a private beach. With breathtaking views over the Bay of Cannes and its location near city’s shopping district, this is the place to be in Cannes.