Living the Riviera Dream: How to Make the Most of Provence’s Coastline

The area of Provence has long since been associated with luxury, laid-back living and of course, beautiful beaches. The Romans flocked to Provence centuries ago to enjoy the scenic coastlines, rolling hills and greenery; and since then, the steady influx of people visiting the area has never really ceased. Indeed, Provence remains firmly in the top three locations in France for people looking to invest in an additional property overseas, with many choosing to reside within the French Riviera area and enjoy the advantages of living beside some of Provence’s superb coastal areas. From the upmarket glamour of Cannes to the cultural, peaceful atmosphere of Nice, Provence’s coastal cities offer no less of a pleasing experience, with fine dining, excellent night life and many attractions for visitors to enjoy. The question on many a visitor’s lips, when faced with the myriad of appealing locations that make up Provence and the Riviera is, quite simply, where should I begin? Where are the best spots that best suit me? Thankfully, Provence’s coastal areas are plentiful and diverse, ensuring that, whatever your taste, there is bound to be the perfect beach-side spot for you.


Living the High Life in the Côte d’Azur

For many, the real appeal of the French Riviera is the sense of opulence and sophistication that comes with many of the resorts. Perhaps it is the thrill of rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, not to mention with the throngs of celebrities that regularly visit the region (especially during Cannes Festival); or perhaps its just the glamorous, luxurious atmosphere. Whatever the reason, it is undeniable that many of the more exclusive coastal towns and cities are a highly appealing prospect for visitors to the area. Of course, a great way to explore all of the main celebrity haunts is by boat; and many cruises will take you directly to the sun-soaked shores of Nice, Saint Tropez and Marseille to bask in the upmarket ambiance. As point out, “a fly-cruise in the Mediterranean allows you to experience many fantastic ports”; which is a convenient factor for individuals looking to experience the highlights of the area in one trip. If looking for a location to stay for a holiday break onshore, Saint Tropez remains one of the most fiercely elegant spots to base yourself, with a wide variety of excellent restaurants, boutique shops and sandy beaches to relax on. In recent years, Saint Tropez has also adopted a more child-friendly attitude, which as a result, has meant that it has seen a significant increase in families holidaying there.


Escaping the Crowds and Enjoying a Tranquil Break

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Jeanne Menj

If the excesses of the luxury lifestyle don’t hold much appeal, then be reassured with the knowledge that the French Riviera still holds plenty of surprises. There are still several coastal towns that remain relatively low-key, maintaining a real sense of their past and keeping a truly French sense of joie de vivre in their lifestyle. One such spot is Cassis, located a mere half an hour’s drive from bustling Marseille and its airport, yet with an ambiance that is completely removed from the energetic, sumptuous atmosphere of its other coastal counterparts. Cruise passengers will find Cassis easy enough to reach, as the town is only a short drive away, as will anyone looking to explore the region by road. Here, fisherman still fish using traditional boats, and the quaint restaurants and idyllic beaches remain wonderfully uncrowded.


Alternatively, for those eager to enjoy some of the excellent bird watching and wildlife spotting that is available within Provence’s coastal areas, head to Eze; a rocky spot 430m above the sea below, which is just perfect for relaxing with a pair of binoculars in hand; or for those with a more adventurous spirit, leaping off the rocks with a parachute to attempt a spot of parascending!


Variety in the French Riviera

One of the best aspects about Provence’s coastline is the sheer variety that visitors can expect to enjoy there. From picturesque fishing villages that seem to have changed little in two hundred years, to progressive, exciting towns that teem with activities, bars and restaurants, there is a huge diversity amongst the locations. The area remains one of the most popular in France, remaining a firm favourite of cruise liners and other holiday makers, and for good reason. Small wonder that so many people who visit the area then go on to invest in a property, with so many spectacular spots to enjoy.

Major Towns in Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur

Marseille – major town of Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur

Image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Elliott Brown

The largest cities in the region are Marseille, Nice, Toulon, and Aix-en-Provence, each with a population exceeding 100,000 inhabitants as of the 1999 census. The richest part of the Region is Nice’s metropolitan area.

Marseille, is the largest city in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
Major Towns

  • Aix-en-Provence
  • Antibes (includes Juan-les-Pins)
  • Arles
  • Aubagne
  • Avignon
  • Cannes
  • Draguignan
  • Fréjus
  • Grasse
  • Hyères
  • La Seyne-sur-Mer
  • Le Cannet
  • Mandelieu-la-Napoule
  • Marseille
  • Mougins
  • Martigues
  • Nice
  • Toulon
  • Villeneuve-Loubet

Our TOP LOCATIONS in Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur for overseas buyers:
Click on the town links for a selction of property in those areas …

Le Thoronet


Department of Alpes-Maritimes

Population: 1,022,710

properties in alpes-Maritimes

All the way down to the south east corner of France along the Mediterranean, and adjacent to the Italian border, are the Maritimes Alps and the world renowned coastal strip of the Côte d’Azur.

What makes this departement so beautiful is its rugged coastline with the Alps cascading in the blue sea. At certain times of the year you have the difficult choice of deciding whether to ski or to swim! The slopes and the sea are just an hour apart by car. The sun is shining for 320 days a year.

La Côte d’Azur or French Riviera

alpes Maritimes property

From Cannes to Nice onto Antibes and all the way to the Italian border, this location is not only beautiful but full of prestige. The coastline is dotted with early 19th C mansions or modern luxury homes, majestic designs, and a mixture of modern designs and refinement.

During the summer months when the Côte d’Azur is particularly lively you can find sun worshippers on the beaches of sand or pebbles and strollers leisurely promenade along the Croisette in Cannes or down the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

The quaint old quarters of Nice and the famous flower market are a delight to visit. All along the coast you are enchanted by the little fishing ports which remain important to the local culture and industry. There are world renowned events that take place here such as Mardi Gras in Nice, the Jazz Festival in Juan les Bains, and the Film Festival in Cannes.

Top Locations in Alpes Maritimes:

Inland (arrière pays)

As you leave the sea going inland the landscape changes dramatically. The roads wind through the hills and the mountains abutting high above the water. The vegetation changes too: its Mediterranean character showing through.

The hills are covered with thyme shrubs, pines, olive groves, flowering laurel trees, and giant cactus plants all accompanied by the constant singing of the cicadas.

The city of Grasse has grown into the perfume centre of France thanks to all of these aromatic plants.

Inland Locations:

The Alpes d’Azur

In the north of the departement we find the Alps with their snowy peaks and their sunny ski resorts. Some within an hour’s drive from the sea. 80% of this departement is covered by mountains, and offer fabulous skiing in the winter. There are 325 km. of navigable rivers attracting a great variety of water sports including kayaking and abseiling.

The Mercantour Park covers over 120 km. from the Col de Tende to Ubaye. It is a natural reserve sheltering many species of animals and plants and all in a magnificent countryside setting of 68.500 ha.

alpes maritimes properties for sale



Elegant Nice

nice property

Nice, the fifth largest city in France, is well known for its elegance and charm, and its exceptional year round climate. Very popular overseas property location for Brits – check out Nice Property.

The famous “Promenade des Anglais” (English walk) is always bordered with various flowers. You can view the Baie des Anges (Angels bay) and the beaches on one side, and on the other many luxurious hotels such as “The Negresco”.

You can stroll through the ochre coloured streets listening to the “Niçois” speaking their own language, and taste Nice’s best recipes (try the Pissaladières, Pan Bagnat, the Salad Niçoise or the famous Ratatouille). The main cooking ingredient is olive oil, of course, and many of the local dishes are garnished with the succulent little black Nice’s olives.

But do not forget Nice is also a city of art and culture. After Paris, Nice has the largest variety of museums in France.

In the summer you can enjoy the Nice Jazz Festival held in the arena, the gardens of Cimiez, and on the Promenade des Anglais.

Each quarter in Nice is alive with life featuring markets, boutiques, street cafes and restaurants making the whole city a “nice” place to live.

Check out some of the sights of Nice …..