The French Riviera, also known as the Côte d’Azur, is a beautiful stretch of coastline along the Mediterranean Sea in the south of France. This region is famous for its luxurious cities, medieval hilltop towns, rich culture, and pristine beaches leading into the turquoise sea. It has been a popular summer resort for the rich and famous for centuries, offering a perfect getaway for those seeking a glamorous lifestyle, sandy beaches, and breathtaking scenery. If you’re planning a trip to the south of France with just a few days to spare, don’t worry! This French Riviera 4-day itinerary will ensure you experience this coastal paradise’s charm even with a little time “in your hands”.

Day 1. Exploring Nice

The most famous cities on the French Riviera include Nice, Saint Tropez, Eze, Cannes, Antibes, Grimaud, Toulon, and many others. Although not in France, the French Riviera also includes the Principality of Monaco.

The capital city of French Riviera, Nice, is usually a good starting point for most itineraries. Thanks to its size, beauty, and various beaches it’s the most popular city on the coast.

Promenade des Anglais

Let’s begin our 4-day French Riviera itinerary at the Promenade des Anglais – the place to which Nice “owes” its fame and popularity! This phenomenal, popular “English walkway” follows the entire Bay of Nice. It is hard to imagine that such a boulevard was initially only 2 m wide!

Promenade des Anglais is a great place to experience the French Riviera lifestyle. You’ll see many iconic hotels, colorful Mediterranean-style houses, and fancy cafes and restaurants serving some “bougie” meals. It’s a popular destination for beach-goers, families, tourists, and sports enthusiasts.

The Beaches here, of course, attract the most attention. Some beaches worth checking include Plage Publique de Castel, Plage Publique de Carras, and Plage Publique Magnan. Extra tip: If you plan to book a sunbed on one of these beaches do it well ahead of time. It’s hard to find a free place during the most popular season!

Embark on a long stroll and grab a coffee and a fresh, buttery croissant from one of the many bakeries along the seafront.

Square Massena

From the Promenade Des Anglais, head into the city’s center and the Place Massena. This always-buzzing square, recognizable by its red buildings, is the center of city life. Here you will find the Clock Tower, the Tower of St. Francisco, and a large fountain  “Fontaine du Soleil” – the Sun Fountain.

Cours Saleya

After this, head straight to Marché Aux Fleurs – Cours Saleya. It’s an outdoor market that offers fresh fruits and vegetables, local products, handmade crafts, and souvenirs. With all the colors, aromas, and buzzing energy, it’s a delight for all the senses! It’s an ideal place for a quick stopover, and you can try out the famous chickpea bread – socca.

Castle Hill

The next point on our French Riviera 4-day itinerary is a “mandatory” one – the Castle Hill.

Castle Hill (Colline du Château) is a scenic hill between the Old Port and the New Port in Nice. To reach the top of Castle Hill, there are two options: either climb the staircase next to Promenade des Anglais or take the lift available at the same place. Although the climb might be challenging, the breathtaking panoramic view of Nice from the top makes it worth it. Once you reach the top, you’ll see an artificial waterfall, built in the 19th century, the ruins of an old cathedral, and a stunning view of the Old Port of Nice on the other side of the hill.

Cimiez and Museum of Henri Matisse

After enjoying the panoramic view, you can head straight to the north of the city to explore its residential area, Cimiez. Here, you’ll find the remains of an old Roman fortress, as well as the Archaeological Museum of Nice. Next to these two sites is a beautiful park with centuries-old olive trees and the Museum of Henri Matisse who lived in Nice until his death.

Old Town (Vieux Nice)

From here come back to the town and finish your tour strolling around the Old Town in Nice. Meander through the narrow streets, yellow houses, and small charming restaurants. Treat yourself to a well-deserved dinner in some of the many restaurants in the old city. My tip – Nicoise salad is something you need to try here!

Day 2. Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Eze Village

Our second at the French Riviera itinerary is Villefranche-Sur-Mer, a small harbor town, located just 4 km from Nice. It’s famous for its stunning coastline and crystal-clear sea waters. Getting there is easy as there is a train every 15 minutes, and the ride costs around 8 EUR. Even getting a taxi will not be overly expensive.

Villefranche-Sur-Mer

What can you do in Villefranche-Sur-Mer? One of the famous streets to visit is Rue Obscure, an underground street built in the 13th century for soldiers to pass through. The place was also used for storing wine and protecting livestock over the next centuries. You can also visit the Church of St. Michael, whose colors and Baroque architecture from the 18th century echo the opulent religious buildings of Italy. Another place to discover is the Chapel of St. Peter near the fishing harbor.

Villefranche-Sur-Mer was once a fishing village, and it’s now bursting with beautiful pastel buildings and narrow streets full of charm. Winding through the Old Town streets, enjoying colorful houses, and having lunch in some of the fish restaurants near the marina can be a fun experience!

Eze village

Continue walking to the train station and purchase a ticket to Eze Village. This will be our next stop, and it’s only a 6-minute ride away! The ticket costs 2.50 EUR and the journey lasts about 6 minutes. Alternatively, you can take bus 602 from La Corne D Or in Villefranche-sur-Mer directly to Eze. If you prefer, taxis are also available, and Uber works well here.

You have now arrived at Eze! If you haven’t heard of it, Eze is a picturesque medieval village located on the hill between Nice and Monaco. With its narrow streets, stone houses, and charming small shops, it’s like you’ve entered a completely different world! Be prepared to walk uphill and make sure to wear comfy shoes!

Jardin Botanique d’Èze

Apart from the spectacular views, there are a few art galleries and a charming small hotel named Chateau Eza. At the top of the village lies Jardin Botanique d’Èze (botanical gardens), which offers one of the most stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea I have ever witnessed! Wander through the narrow streets and wait for the sun to set at one of the restaurants with live music. It’s an exquisite way to end the evening while watching the pastel colors of the sky and the mesmerizing blue water, all while listening to French “chanson”.

Extra note! If you want to use the bus to come to Eze, make sure to also leave on time. Buses here run on a limited schedule. Unfortunately, we missed it and didn’t want to pay 40 EUR just for a cab, so we took a hiking trail to reach the main road. Let’s say that walking down the rocky goat path in flats while it is getting dark was an “interesting experience”!

Day 3. Monte Carlo, Monaco

We’ve made it to day three of our 4-day French Riviera itinerary – well done! Today, we’ll be traveling to Monaco, which is only a 15-minute train ride from Nice. Monaco is a small principality that’s perfect for a day trip. When you first arrive, you’ll quickly notice the luxurious and posh atmosphere – from the buildings to the restaurants and even the cars.”

Monte Carlo Casino

Monaco is often referred to as the “Las Vegas of Europe”. One of the most iconic landmarks in Monaco is the Monte Carlo Casino, which is an absolute must-visit. The Monte Carlo casino is housed in a stunning Belle Epoque building that also serves as the Opera House. The casino’s interior and exterior are breathtaking, with grand chandeliers and stained glass windows.

St. Nicholas Cathedral

Another notable place to visit in Monaco is the St. Nicholas Cathedral. This Roman-Byzantine-style cathedral was built in 1875 and is located on a church site from the 13th century. It serves as the burial place of Princess Grace and the former princes of Monaco.

Exotic Garden of Monaco and Japanese Garden

The Exotic Garden of Monaco is set on a cliffside and includes thousands of rare plants. The Princess Grace Rose Garden in Fontvieille Park has recently been remodeled and expanded and is another spot worth visiting. It contains 8,000 rose bushes and 300 different varieties. It’s a perfect place to catch your breath and enjoy the tranquillity.

Automobile Club de Monaco

Monaco is famous for its association with Formula 1 Racing. The annual race takes place in the third week of May each year. The Formula 1 circuit is in the heart of the city and you can explore it even in the off-season. The Automobile Club de Monaco, which organizes the Grand Prix and the Monte Carlo Rally, has a popular racing memorabilia shop at 46 rue Ruimal Grimaldi.

A great way to have a nice time here is by the beach. The famous beaches here are Larvotto Beach, Les Plages, and Solarium Beach. Enjoy your afternoon and evening and have a delicious dinner at some of the restaurants on the shore.

The old town of Monte Carlo is a beautiful place with many picturesque cobbled streets. Here, you will find many fine restaurants and souvenir shops to explore and enjoy.

Day 4. Cannes and Ile Saint-Marguerite Island

Our 4-day French Riviera itinerary is coming to an end! And is there any better way to finish the trip than visiting the epicenter of glamour and celebrities?

It’s hard to believe that once Cannes was just a small fishing town. Now, it has transformed into a glittering city, famous for its glamour, luxury yachts, and festivals.

Palace of Festivals

One of the most iconic landmarks of Cannes is the Palace of Festivals, also known as the Palais des Festivals. The red carpet that leads to this Palace is a popular spot for taking glamorous photos and is always crowded with people waiting in line.

La Croisette

Don’t forget to take a stroll down the most famous boulevard in Cannes, La Croisette, where you can find luxurious white hotels, high-end fashion stores, and expensive restaurants. Despite its small size, the city has a lot to offer, including the charm of old times that can be found in the old part of town called Le Sequet, where you can wander along the stone streets and soak up the unique atmosphere.

Museums

I would like to recommend a couple of museums that you can visit here. The first one is Musee de la Castre, which displays paintings, sculptures, and other works of art. The second one is the Fragonard Museum, also an art gallery, where you can learn about the history of one of the most famous and oldest perfumeries in France. Lastly, I suggest visiting the Malmaison Museum, situated in a 19th-century villa and showcasing 20 and 21st-century art.

Ile-Saint-Marguerite

Our last destination on the 4-day itinerary is the island of Île Sainte-Marguerite. Located just a few minutes by boat from Cannes, it is the perfect place to escape and witness a world completely different from the glamorous and always buzzing Cannes. It is quite surprising that the island is so close to the dynamic French Riviera, yet maintains its peacefulness.

Once you disembark, you will immediately be enchanted by the scent of pine and eucalyptus and the abundance of cultural and recreational activities available on the island. Fort Royal, which was used as a royal prison for two centuries, and the Musée de la Mer, which houses a collection of artifacts from the Gallo-Roman period, are both worth visiting. The entire island is classified as a bird sanctuary, and to maintain a balance between species protection and tourism, certain areas are closed to visitors.

Some beautiful beaches are on the island, but we preferred to explore by walking among the pine and eucalyptus trees. Make sure to follow the signs on the trails to avoid getting lost. During our walk, we stumbled upon many figs and couldn’t resist treating ourselves.

How many days on the French Riviera are enough?

The South of France and the French coast are full of wonderful experiences. If you’re wondering how much time you should spend there, I suggest a minimum of one week. However, if you’re short on time, a 4-day itinerary can also be a great option to get a taste of the region’s atmosphere and beauty.

What is the best time to travel to French Riviera?

Exploring the French Riviera is a great idea any time of the year. However, it is particularly breathtaking during July and August. This is the peak tourist season when visitors flock to the sandy beaches, attend numerous festivals, and soak up the warm Mediterranean sun.

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