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French Riviera Honeymoon Guide

Experience a classy honeymoon on the French Riviera: the glamorous and unrivalled coastline is home to a string of chic resorts and mainly golden beaches that lie nestled between lush green hills, stark mountains and the pristine blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

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Villefranche sur Mer, French Riviera
Villefranche-sur-Mer, French Riviera – Image courtesy of ebony.com

Introducing the French Riviera

Known in France as the Côte d'Azur, the French Riviera is world-renowned for its glamorous nightlife, exposed beaches and the chic resorts of Cannes, St Tropez, Cap d'Antibes and St-Jean-Cap-Ferra – the perfect destination for a honeymoon or romantic getaway.

Along with neighbouring Monaco, the 160km-long Côte d'Azur attracts the rich and famous as well as artists drawn by the inspiration of its hillside beauty and sultry climate.


Monte Carlo Casino

What to do and see on the French Riviera


Together with Monaco, the French Riviera offers a choice of elegant restaurants, classy nightclubs, glittering casinos and a range of grand hotels – all of which combine to create a memorable romantic honeymoon getaway in France.

The French Riviera stretches for around 160km along the south coast of France, from St Tropez’s clothing-optional beach of Plage de Tahiti via the elegant resorts of Cannes, Cap d'Antibes, Juan les Pins and Nice to the exclusive enclave of St Jean-Cap Ferrat. Next stop is Monte Carlo, Menton and the Italian Riviera.

Join the rich and famous as well as artists drawn by the inspiration of the hillside beauty and sultry climate of the French Riviera. Sunbathe on La Croisette Beach in Cannes or on Plage de Tahiti while watching the beautiful people at play.

Take lunch in the lively Place aux Herbes in fashionable St Tropez and pop into Antibes to ogle the huge luxury yachts.

Party the night away in Juan les Pins, known for its choice of all-night jazz clubs and discos. Admire masterpieces at the impressive Matisse Museum in the hillside village of Cimiez.

In Monaco, try your luck in the elegant gold and marble Le Grande Casino (photo) and check out the home of Monaco’s royal family in the 13th century Palais du Prince.

Along the way, stay at a choice of honeymoon accommodation that caters to all budgets. Note: In France, four stars are reserved for deluxe accommodation.


Top beaches on the French Riviera


Discover a choice of beaches that either hug small inlets framed by rocky promontories or nestle in front of stylish palm-lined promenades.

Beaches along the French Riviera range from soft golden sand around St Tropez to fine shingle and pebbles at Nice.

Typically, going topless is de rigueur (required by etiquette or fashion) on all Côte d'Azur beaches, but total nudity is generally forbidden except on designated beaches such as Cape d’Agde and Port Cros.

The best beaches on the French Riviera, include…

Plage de Tahiti, St Tropez

Plage de Tahiti

(St Tropez) – Unwind on the soft golden sand of France's most infamous beach, where topless sunbathing is common practice.

Go swimming, waterskiing and wakeboarding. Watch people cruise past while you enjoy a refreshing drink or snack at one of the many beachfront bars and cafés.

Even with the nudity, this is a very popular beach not only for jetsetters but also for French families.

Facilities include umbrellas, sun loungers and a range of water sports activities. At the northern end of the beach lies the aptly named nudist beach, Plage de la Liberté.

Plage de Tahiti is located at the northern end of Baie de Pampelonne, around 4km south of St Tropez.

Plage de Pampellone, St Tropez

Plage de Pampellone

(St Tropez) – Pick your own spot to sunbathe on this gorgeous 9km-long golden-sand beach that stretches between Cap du Pinet and Cap Camarat, home to France’s second-tallest lighthouse.

Swim in the warm turquoise waters of the beautiful bay, stroll along the beach and follow the path around the craggy hillside of Cap Camarat, where you can climb to the summit and be rewarded with fabulous views of this lush green peninsula and the Mediterranean Sea.

Public beach facilities include umbrellas, sun loungers and beachfront cafés and restaurants. This trendy beach is a continuation of Plage de Tahiti.Plage de Pampellone is located around 5km south of St Tropez.

Plage Port Grimaud, St Tropez

Plage Port Grimaud

(St Tropez) – Dig your toes into the soft golden sand of this long beach that sits to the north of a 98ha marine village and miniature-styled Venice.

People-watch for celebrities and admire some of the Riviera’s most expensive yachts moored in the harbour.

Port Grimaud beach is less decadent than those south of St Tropez. Beach facilities include umbrellas, sun loungers and beachfront cafés and restaurants. Plage Port Grimaud is located around 8km west of St Tropez.

Plage de la Croisette, Cannes

Plage de la Croisette

(Cannes) – Pick your own spot to sunbathe on the golden sands of this 12km-long beach, which is divided into more than 30 sections – a mix of mainly private, hotel run and public beaches.

The best public beach sits in front of the Palais des Festivals, with other less-crowded public beaches to the west along Plage du Midi as well as to the east.

Facilities on private and hotel run beaches include sun beds and parasols. Hotel beaches are complimentary for guests, while private concession beaches may charge up to AUD50 per day to access the beach.

See more beaches…

Plage de la Salis, Antibes

Plage de la Salis

(Antibes) – Unwind on this crescent of golden sand that shelves gently into the blue Mediterranean.

This public beach offers unbeatable views of Old Antibes, just a 20-minute stroll away. Behind the tree-fringed boulevard lies a choice of hotels.

Plage de la Gravette, Antibes

Plage de la Gravette

(Antibes) – This small but wide crescent of golden sand is a public beach that nestles beneath the huge stone ramparts of the old port.

It is perfect for families with small children as the calm water is sheltered from waves by a small breakwater.

Plage de Juan les Pins

Plage de Juan les Pins

(Juan les Pins) – This narrow, 2km-long golden-sand beach is divided into many sections that are a mix of both public, private and hotel run beaches, all shelving gently into a large bay. Facilities include parasols, sun loungers and water sports activities.

The palm-tree fringed beach offers numerous hotels, cafés and restaurants all within easy walking distance of the beach. For clean golden sand, try the beach section opposite the Garden Beach Hotel or Hotel Belles Rives.

Plage du Veillat, Saint Raphael

Plage du Veillat

(Saint Raphael) – Dig your toes into this long stretch of golden sand that shelves into shallow water.

This family friendly beach offers a range of facilities such as parasols and sun loungers, within reach of cafes, restaurants and hotels.

This region is one of the most affordable spots along the French Riviera and is especially popular with families.

Plage du Débarquement, Saint Raphael

Plage du Débarquement

(Saint Raphael) – This 7km-long pebble and sand beach became part of history on 15 August 1944 when Allied forces stormed ashore into then-occupied France during World War II.

Facilities include parasols and sun loungers.


Promenade des Anglais, Nice

Beaches in Nice

Choose from a mix of public, private and hotel operated pebble beaches that stretch uninterrupted for more than 7km along the seafront facing the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels).

The 23 public beaches offer a free section and one where you can rent a parasol, sun lounger or a mattress, have access to a changing room and a freshwater shower; both sections provide lifeguards.

The 15 private beaches (along the Promenade des Anglais (photo) and the Quai des Etats-Unis) offer the same facilities as the public beaches, with the addition of towels, restaurants and beach bars with waiter service.

You can also find a good choice of water sports including jet skiing, windsurfing, water-skiing, paragliding and sailing. Nice offers a huge range of hotels to suit all budgets.

The best seafront hotels include the super glamorous Hotel Negresco and the glittering art deco Palais de la Mediterranean.

Note: Covered with galets – hard, round smooth pebbles often as large as golf balls – the beach at Nice can be pretty unpleasant to walk across unless you wear waterproof beach sandals. For comfort, try thongs/flip flops or the more stylish French beach shoes.


Monte Carlo Beach Club

Beaches in Monte Carlo

Unwind on this fashionable golden-sand beach, once frequented by Princess Grace of Monaco.

Look out for your favourite movie stars, models and celebrities at this trendy beach, which adjoins the luxurious Monte Carlo Beach Hotel (and actually sits on French soil).

The sand here is shipped in by barge and frequently replenished by the Monte Carlo Beach Club.

Facilities include two swimming pools, cabanas, sunbathing mattresses, a restaurant, café and bar. Expect to pay around AUD300 per day to use the facilities (and perhaps chat-up a movie star or famous fashion model).

See less beaches…


Pars

Nice

Consider Nice as a base for a honeymoon or romantic getaway on the French Riviera.

While less glamorous (and less expensive) than Cannes, the capital of the French Riviera offers a lively honeymoon destination within easy reach of all the major resort towns.

Blessed with an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, a picturesque beachfront setting, a quaint old town, numerous art galleries, museums, restaurants, bars and cafés, Nice has attracted visitors for centuries, including numerous artists and writers such as Dumas, Nietzsche, Apollinaire, Flaubert and Victor Hugo.

Read more about Nice


Le Suquet, Cannes

Cannes

Rub shoulders with the rich and famous in sun-kissed Cannes on a romantic honeymoon on the French Riviera.

Join an international cast strolling the famed Promenade de la Croisette, lined on one side with 5-star hotels, chic boutiques and apartments houses, and on the other side with a long golden-sand beach crammed with sun-worshippers preening, cruising the beach and wading in the blue Mediterranean Sea.

Explore the narrow streets of Vieux Cannes (photo) to see the 14th century Tour du Suquet, the Musée de la Castre and the 16th century Notre Dame de l'Espérance, as well as views overlooking the harbour.

Read more about Cannes


Port, St Tropez

St Tropez

Explore St Tropez – one of the French Riviera’s liveliest towns – where the twisting, narrow cobblestone streets of the Old Quarter open on to tiny squares, and a quay lined with tall pastel-hued houses overlooks a port filled with millionaires’ yachts.

This former sleepy fishing village became increasingly popular with honeymoon couples after the 1950s success of Roger Vadim’s film Et Dieu Créa la Femme (And God Created Woman), starring Brigitte Bardot.

Today, you can relax in a choice of chic al fresco waterfront cafés and fine dining restaurants that also allow you to watch the rich and famous dining out on the decks of huge yachts tied up along the quay.

Read more about St Tropez


Antibes

Antibes

Discover the charming town of Antibes – the perfect honeymoon destination on the French Riviera for newlyweds as well as couples enjoying a romantic getaway.

Explore the narrow traffic-free streets and pretty squares of the historic Old Town. From the medieval ramparts, marvel at the huge super-yachts moored below on ‘Millionaires' Quay' in Port Vauban.

Then stroll inside the 16th century Fort Carré and visit the Cathedral d’Antibes, built on the site of an ancient Greek temple and noted for its 12th century bell tower.

Read more about Antibes


Juan les Pins

Juan les Pins

Famous for its nightlife and international Jazz à Juan jazz festival, which takes place in the middle two weeks of July, Juan les Pins sprawls alongside a narrow, palm-fringed, 2km-long golden-sand beach and is the perfect place for a honeymoon or romantic getaway.

Wander along the Hollywood-style walk of fame that immortalises various jazz greats then party hard at one of the town’s many discos or try your luck at the Eden Casino.

Read more about Juan Les Pins


St Raphael

Introducing St Raphael

Located in the heart of the French Riviera, St Raphael offers good beaches, restaurants, cafes, clubs and hotels – at a fraction of the cost of its more glamorous cousins along the coast – just perfect for honeymoon couples on a budget.

Visit the Eglise des Templiers, a 12th century church that stands on the ruins of two Carolingian churches and see the Roman ruins of an aqueduct nearby.

If you like, an official nude beach, the Plage de St-Ayguls, lies 10km west of the town centre. After dark, party-on at La Reserve nightclub or try your luck at the gaming tables of the Grand Casino.

Read more about St Raphael


Monte Carlo harbour

Monte Carlo

Explore the fairytale kingdom of Monte Carlo. Glittering with opulence and jet-set glamour, the action of Monte Carlo often centres around the ornate Belle Epoque Casino de Monte Carlo.

Elsewhere in Monte Carlo, discover the 13th century Palais du Prince, from where the Grimaldi dynasty has ruled since 1297 AD, the cathedral where Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier and the Rock of Monaco, where colourful gardens cascade to the sea.

Read more about Monte Carlo


Best time to honeymoon on the French Riviera

The best months for a French Riviera honeymoon are May, June, September and October when it’s still warm, around 26°C (79°F), and you can avoid the crowds, noise, traffic jams, high prices and scorching heat of July and August when temperatures average 30°C (86°F) but can soar to 40°C (104°F).

The French Mediterranean coast has the driest climate in France, with the most rain falling in spring and autumn.

For more climate info: French Riviera Weather Guide


Getting to the French Riviera

The French Riviera lies along the Mediterranean coast of France, around 900km from Paris.

There are several daily direct flights from Paris to Nice on Air France or you can travel by the high-speed TVR train.

For more information how to get to the French Riviera


Index of Places to Visit in France


Latest update French Riviera honeymoon destination: 26 June, 2017


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