Cote d’Azur Villas and Holiday Guide
There is a great selection of guide books and websites available giving full details of tourist attractions on the Côte d’Azur. However we would like to share with you our personal favourite things to visit, see and eat on the Côte d’Azur so here is a brief list:
Art: The Picasso museum is in the 14th century Chateau Grimaldi overlooking the sea (closed Mondays). The Musée Peynet et du Dessin Humoristique , Place Nationale, has over 300 works by the locally-born cartoonist Peynet, as well as temporary exhibitions by other illustrators.
Beaches: The Plage de la Gravette, small beach in the town, good for young children; Plage La Salis is a larger sandy beach.
Festivals: Jazz Festival, third week in July in Juan-les-Pins/Antibes.
Leisure parks: Marineland on the edge of Antibes, superb oceanic park with dolphins, sharks etc.
At the same site are 4 other parks: Aqua-Splash, la Petite Ferme, la Jungle des Papillons and Adventure Golf.
Markets: Le Marché Provençal in the Cours Masséna, open every morning except Monday. Wonderful local produce and spices.
Clothing market on Thursdays 9.00-18.00, Rue Lacan.
Flea market on Saturdays 7.00-18.00, Place Audiberti by the harbour.
Museums: Arts and traditions museum Musée de la Tour housed in the 19th century Tour Gilli on the Cours Massena (free admission). Learn about the Greek history of Antibes at the Musée d'Archeologie, Bastion St André.
Restaurants: There are many to choose from. Recommended are: Le Café des Chineurs, 28 Rue d’Aubernon; Le Brulot 04 93 34 17 76 and Le Brulot Pasta 04 93 34 19 19, Rue Frédéric Isnard, for traditional Provençal and Italian cooking; Square Sud, 3 Place de la Gaulle.04 93 34 86 30, best to book, good food, especially the daily 'specials' menu; for something a little different, Le Broc en Bouche, 8 rue des Palmiers in Old Antibes 04 93 34 75 60 - warm and friendly atmosphere, 30s style restaurant with good food - everything is fresh - and full of antiques and brocante objects which are for sale!
Shops: excellent English bookshop: Heidi’s Antibes Books in the Rue Auberon, new and second hand
Walks: it is very pleasant to stroll around the ramparts of the old town. Also, there is a coastal path around the peninsula Le Cap d’Antibes where there are nice little beaches with lovely but pricey restaurants; you will also see glimpses of exclusive Cote d'Azur villas.
Art: The Ferdinand Léger museum, open everyday except Tuesdays.
Museum: the world famous Verrerie de Biot where you can watch Biot glass bubbles being blown.
Restaurants: recommended are: “Les Arcades”, 16 Place des Arcades. Tel: 04 93 65 01 04. Informal, no written menu, great Niçois food, lots of art on the walls inside; Café de la Poste 24 rue Sébastien 04 93 65 19 32.
Gardens: The Bonsai Arboretum has an exceptional collection of Bonsai from all over the world. Created in 1990 and set in grounds of 2000m² of Japanese gardens, it has been lovingly tended for two generations by the Okonek family.
Market: Tue am, Place de Gaulle.
Golf: Golf de Biot, a charming rustic course created in 1930.
Cabris - perched village with exceptional panoramic views from Cap Ferrat to Toulon – on a very clear morning you can even see Corsica!
History – several pre-historic sites in the area, including bronze-age tombs and dolmens.
Cave – the Grotte des Audides (open to the public for guided visits) is by the D4 halfway between Cabris and Saint Villier de Thiey.
Restaurants – there are several good restaurants in Cabris – recommended are: creperie Bout’chou (inexpensive, good food); the Restaurant-Grill at the tennis club; Auberge de la Chèvre d'Or and the Vieux Chateau for a special occasion.
Walks – the GR51 (Balcony of the Cote d’Azur passes through Cabris, and connects to many interesting hikes. The tourist information office at Cabris publishes a guide with local walks.
Market – Friday morning – food and goods produced and made locally.
Markets: Marché Forville in the Le Suquet district is a superb traditional covered market with fresh produce. Cannes’ top chefs shop here! Open every morning except Monday when there is a flea and antique fair. At La Bocca there is a market every morning at Place de la Poste.
Shops: The Rue d’Antibes has most of the fashionable boutiques.
Wine and food: “Les Vins Nicolas” in la Rue Meynadier near the market. Also in the same street, ERNEST Traiteur and ERNEST Pâtissier for the best delicatessen and cake shop in Cannes. For the best seafood try ASTOUX BRUN Coquillage in Rue Louis Blanc and their stall in the market.
Restaurants: La Belle Plage (lunchtimes only), informal, right on the beach, Plage du Midi.
Le Beja-Flor, 7 rue de Suquet- super food and great set menu starting at around €22 for 3 courses (2008) Owner (Christophe) very friendly, helpful and speaks good English.
Treat yourself to lunch on the beach at the stylish ‘Plage Cannes Beach’ 04 93 38 14 59 on the Croisette, opposite the Grand Hotel. Their new chef Thomas Bongrand proposes two lunchtime menus; a delicious three course ‘Business Express’ lunch (reservations necessary) for EUR 26, or a mouth watering plat du jour with mineral water and a coffee for EUR 16. Great value for good food in a really special setting!
Nightlife: Le Living Room, 17 rue Dr Gérard Monod. 04 93 99 34 82 Stylish clubbing.
Palais, La Croisette. Open daily 8pm to 5am. Upbeat interiors and rooftop views over the Mediterranean. New nightclub, very popular.
Beaches: The Croisette or seafront, has many private beaches; the Plage du Midi near the old harbour is a public beach.
Festivals: Cannes film festival 16-27 May
Gardens: . For a moment’s respite from the glitz and glamour of downtown Cannes, try the Parc de la Roserie. Within walking distance from La Croisette, this park features about 14,000 roses in the summer - a haven of fragrance and natural beauty!
Golf: Les Golfs de Cannes-Mandelieu - the oldest golf club on the French Riviera
Water sports - look for Les Points Passion Plage at Cannes and Mandelieu la Napoule - beaches with organised water activities, with lessons and equipment hire. You buy a book of tickets which are valid for any activity available on any Point Passion Plage - good value for money. Click on http://www.pointplage.fr/ for more information.
Markets: There is a flea market, 60 - 100 stalls from 9h - 18h on Saturdays, Rue de la Marigarde. Produce market every am except Monday, Place aux Aires.
Museums: Grasse is the perfume capital of the world and the three largest perfume factories offer visitors a free tour: Fragonard, Molinard and Galimard.
Nightlife: Le Soft - nightclub - 1km from the centre of Grasse.
Restaurants: for a special occasion, try La Bastide Saint Antoine, a 2** Michelin restaurant: 48 Avenue Henri Dunant. Tel: 04 93 70 94 94
Recommended by previous clients - Mick Elly, 48 Avenue Georges Pompidou - pizzeria. 04 93 70 05 06 and Restaurant La Grignote, 2 rue du Thouron 45. Not open in the evenings. Traditional local cuisine.
Markets: Saturday mornings, on the Seytre square, opposite the tourist information office. flowers, fruit and vegetables, local produce, arts and crafts.
Gardens: The world famous Domaine du Rayol gardens at Le Rayol allow you to explore 12 acres of flora from Mediterranean climates from all over the world, with breathtaking views of the real Mediterranean Sea. During summer you have the unique opportunity of diving in the adjacent underwater garden and exploring the flora and fauna with an experienced guide - wetsuits etc are included in the price of this guided tour - booking essential! . 04 98 04 44 00
Restaurants: Le Maurin des Maures on the main road, 04 94 05 60 11.
La Napoule is the old part of Mandelieu, down by the sea.
Boat trips: From April to September you can take a boat from the port at La Napoule over to the Ile Ste Marguerite with the Compagnie Maritime Napouloise 04 93 49 15 88.
Chateau: The 14th century Chateau de La Napoule, just by the sea, part of which was rebuilt with a few eccentric fairytale twists by an unusual American couple, Henry and Marie Clewes in the early twentieth century. There are hourly guided tours of the interior, or you can opt just to visit the beautiful gardens (with tearooms and children’s treasure hunt) and view the collection of contemporary sculptures.
Restaurants: Lots to choose from in La Napoule, but La Mandarine, 18 rue de la Poste 04 93 49 98 83 is friendly and has reasonably priced good food. Recommended by previous tenants - Le Neapolis, 57 Boulevard Fanfarigoule 04 93 49 82 48 - "very busy bustling, great food." L’ Oasis, 6 rue Jean Honoré 04 93 49 95 52 has two Michelin stars.
Walks: The Parc Départmentale de San Peyre is easily reached on foot from the centre of Mandelieu; the footpath ‘sentier botanique’ zig zags gently up the hill through a profusion of rock roses and heather, and at the top, at an altitude of 131m, you are rewarded by truly spectacular views across the sparkling blue Mediterranean.
Coastal paths also lead from the chateau to the Plage de la Raguette and the Plage de la Rague.
Tourist information office: 272 Avenue Henry Clews.
Market: The re is a fresh produce market in La Napoule every Thursday morning
Restaurants: Newly open in Mouans-Sartoux is La Cantina, which offers a Plat du Jour, dessert and a drink for EUR 15 at lunchtime from Monday to Friday,Tapas and a EUR 35 menu in the evening and a range of salads, pizza and pasta - appealing décor and friendly and welcoming staff.
Markets: Tues and Thurs mornings, Place du Général de Gaulle / Place Jean Jaurès.
Art: In the grounds of the chateau (rebuilt to its original medeival design in the nineteenth century) is the Espace de l’Art Concret, which is devoted to concrete art in all its forms. The gallery stages three exhibitions a year).
Art: The hilltop village of Mougins has many art galleries. There is usually an exhibition of a local artist’s work in the old Laverie which makes a very attractive gallery.
Restaurants: World famous for its gastronomy, Mougins has about 50 restaurants, something for every budget. We like Le Petit Fouet 04 92 92 11 70, 8 Rue des Orfèvres, reasonable price and friendly. Previous tenants' recommendation La Mediterranean serves very good veggie options without making a fuss. Waiters very friendly and you may spot a celeb (best we did was Claudia Winkleman)'.
Visit Musee de l'Automobiliste, A8, Aire des Bréguières, 06250 Mougins 04 93 69 27 80. A modern concrete and glass building housing a collection of more than 100 prestigious cars, some dating back to 1908, and a display of toy and model cars.
Art: Matisse museum, Chagall museum. There are 19 museums and galleries in all - admission to all municipal museums is free. View 13 monumental sculptures (lit up after dark) from the new tram - these works were specially commissioned to enhance the route.
Gardens: The Parc Phoenix on the Promenade des Anglais at Nice has one of the largest glasshouses in the world at 7000m² as well as a lake, a tree fern forest, a collection of rare orchids, a butterfly jungle and a variety of gardens containing over 2500 different species of plant, including some rarities - a botanist’s paradise.
Markets: Cours Saleya in the old town, every morning except Monday: flowers, herbs, olives, street performers, cafés and restaurants all around. On Mondays there is a flea market. On summer evenings there is an arts and crafts market. At the Place de Palais de Justice , you can buy antique books on the first and fourth Saturday of the month, art on the first, thrid and fourth Saturday and old stamps, postcards and coins on the first second and third Saturday.
Nightlife: Le Master Home, rue de la Prefecture, Old Town 04 93 80 33 82. Live music - always busy and often like a disco by the end of the evening. Themed evenings on Wednesdays.
The Grand Escurial Nightclub is the largest indoor club in Nice, with the capacity to accommodate 1200 people. In the evening the building functions as a bar / restaurant , converting to a nightclub at midnight. Resident DJs provide the sounds, playing a whole range of popular music from house to R & B. Guests from all over the world also feature regularly and make use of the club's state-of-the-art facilities. The club's dress code is smart / casual.
Pubs in the Old Town (Vieux Nice) are the best places to go for live music.
We like the look of the champagne bar Effervescence 10 Rue de la Loge in the heart of Old Nice.
The city's tourist information office has recently introduced a "Nice Trendy" mark of quality, indicating tasteful places to eat, drink and shop. It suggests Keisuke Matsushima 22 Ter Rue de France for a very refined use of local produce, or La Claire Fontaine on Place Rosetti for quality and value. Recommended in The Guardian April 2009 are the tiny Bar de la Bourse where the locals eat (on Place St François) where a three-course meal, including local speciality sardines farcies, costs around €12 and Chez Pipo on Rue Bavastro which does excellent value socca, a chickpea galette with olive oil. Vegetarian restaurants in Nice include Le Speakeasy, 7 Rue Lamartine 04 93 85 59 50 for organic meals, take away available, or Zucca Magica, 4bis quai Papacino 04 93 56 25 27 - top Italian chef, fixed menu - one choice depending on the market, and how the chef feels!
Shops: Vieux Nice is a maze of galleries, eateries and shops selling all manner of Provençal goodies. The newly refurbished Place de Massena has some upmarket shops - try Comptoir des Cotonniers, 9 Rue des Massena. (Affordable fashion boutique). There are also luxury shops around the Avenue Verdun. Don't miss Cap 3000, a giant indoor shopping centre near the airport. Could easily spend the day there.
You can taste and buy a wider variety of olive oils than you thought existed at Oliviera and dine on olive oil-based menus in the restaurant.
Beaches: Long pebbley beach but very pleasant. Lots of excellent restaurants right on the beach e.g The Blue Beach restaurant opposite the Negresco Hotel. The Blue Beach itself is one of the private beaches; it is geared up for children with a paddling pool and play facilities. The palm-lined Promenade des Anglais is great for strolling along and people watching, especially atmospheric in the evening.
Sightseeing: A little electric train runs from just across the street from Jardin Albert 1er on the Promenade des Anglais, and this will take you on a 40 minute trip around the Old Town and the Parc du Chateau. Alternatively there is an open top double decker bus which does Le Grand Tour of Nice, you can buy tickets from the tourist office or the driver, and hop on and off at any of the 11 stops. You can also book a pedal-powered rickshaw tour from Cyclotours - telephone bookings only 08 26 10 00 03. Check at the tourist office for various walking tours of the town with different themes.
Walks: The view from the top of Chateau Hill is worth the walk (up about 200 steps); it takes in the whole of Nice from the Port to the airport. For a less populated walk take the coastal path (Sentier littoral) along to the Cap de Nice (not advisable in windy weather, as the waves can be dangerous). Alternatively, catch the no. 14 bus to the top of Mount Boron for the views, then enjoy the walk down to the west of the Port.
History and architecture: Visit the Russian Orthodox Church, Eglise Sainte Rita and Opéra de Nice.
Climbing and caving: The village nestles at the base of an enormous cliff, superb opportunities for climbing in a natural environment, numerous routes and several caves. Climbing school based in the village.
History: Beautiful village with 17th century houses and church.
Views: Stunning panorama views right across to the sea.
Walking: Choice of waymarked routes in the area.
Gardens: Gourdon’s garden at St Paul de Vence was designed by Le Notre, the gardener of Louis XIV who designed Versailles. This formal garden is in a spectacular position, perched right on the edge of the mountain.
Art: there are interesting little galleries in the old town behind the Place Carnot. E.g. Atelier 9 in Rue Safranié has quirky sculptures. Also the new Centre Culturel, Place G. Peri, has temporary exhibitions.
Beaches: There are beautiful sandy beaches close to the town between the old harbour and the new Port Santa Lucia. The stretch of coast known as the Esterel between Cannes and St Raphael is stunning; it has a backdrop of steep red cliffs and there are beautiful little coves. It is a great area for snorkelling and is known as an outstanding diving centre due to the number of World War 2 wrecks off this coastline.
Boat trips to Saint Tropez and Port Grimaud, along the Esterel coastline and out to Ile Saint Marguerite with Les Bateaux de Saint Raphael.
Cycling: There is a two lane cycle track along the coast for about 100km that leads to Toulon.
Markets: Daily food markets Place Victor Hugo & Place de la République.
Restaurants: A good choice of reasonable brasseries by the Place Victor Hugo.
Markets: Fri mornings, Place des Arcades. Some previous tenants (2010) said that it's 'an absolute must if you like linen clothes' but recommend that you get there early, as parking can be difficult.
Villages to visit– recommendations from our previous tenants on the Cote d’Azur:
Gourdon – ancient village perched precariously on a spur of rock above the river Loup. Seen in the 1955 Hitchcock film ‘To Catch a Thief’. Spectacular views of the Gorges du Loup, and across to the Esterel coast. See the chateau which was completely rebuilt in 1610, having started life as a Saracen fortress in the 9th century. Also the beautiful lavoir, just below the chateau., is worth a look.
Sunday all-day market, recommended by previous tenants. Agricultural village, known for raising sheep and goats. 12th century church. Large meadow and recreation field - child friendly. Cave - Grotte de Baume Obscure. Druids' stone - la Pierre Druidique. Cinema. Restaurants and shops.
Speracedes – little hillside village that became independent of Cabris in 1911.
There are exceptional views of the Bay of Cannes and Lac de St Cassien from the Speracedes cross.
Taste locally produced olive oil at the mill, with its gigantic water wheel.
Eat out at the restaurant La Soleillade, 3 rue des Orangers – often recommended by previous tenants. Terrace with superb views. 04 93 60 58 46
Tanneron - small village on top of a hill surrounded by mimosa forests. Superb views. Three good restaurants.
Tourrettes sur Loup - Lively perched medieval village, famous for its violet production and its tarte à l'orange - try one from a local patisserie. Panoramic views. Good food at Chez Grandmère, Place Maximin Escalier, 04 93 59 33 34. Oriental and Provençale cuisine, cous cous specialities.
La Turbie - leaving behind the modern part of the village, which is based around the turn off for Monaco on the busy coastal road, climb up to the old village for some beautiful medieval architecture, narrow paved streets and wonderful Roman ruins.
Lac de St Cassien - “really tranquil, not quite as busy as the beaches and a lovely spot for a picnic".
Les Gorges du Verdon - the 'Grand Canyon of the South of France' - in fact, the biggest canyon in Europe - quite a drive from the Cote d'Azur, but recommended by previous tenants.
Parc National du Mercantour - lots of waymarked walking trails in superb countryside, and Lac d'Allos, the biggest mountain lake in Europe, at an altitude of 2228 metres.
For children - Aqualand at Sainte Maxime 04 94 55 54 54 is apparently smaller than the one at Fréjus, but less crowded, so no queues for rides etc.