The Côte d'Azur or French Riviera is the southeast corner of France, bordering on Italy, which you see on the right on the map.
The French Riviera starts with France's second largest city and largest resort town, Nice. Just to the west of Nice center is the Nice-Côte d'Azur Airport, close to town and convenient to several compelling tourist destinations marked on the map. If you're flying in or out of Nice airport, you may need to know: How to spend a day at Nice Airport.
Clustered around Nice are some compelling destinations for anyone who doesn't like traveling far from an airport or train station. The towns of Vence and St-Paul de Vence are adjacent hill towns, away from the sea for anyone tired of endless beaches. St Paul de Vence "is a charming hilltop fortified village in Provence, filled with art galleries, boutiques and sidewalk cafes. It's hard to find something ugly about this quaint village." (Pictures of St. Paul de Vence). St. Paul is also home to the amazing Maeght Foundation Modern Art Museum. A beach city, Villefranche sur Mer, is just minutes from Nice, and offers a wonderful beach and nice market. You can also get to it by train from Nice.
We had an enjoyable and quiet stay at the rural Hotel Marc Hely when we explored the area around St. Paul de Vence.
Near Monaco is the medieval hill town of Roquebrune, recommended highly as a place to spend a few days for folks interested in very old castles, great food and interesting countryside hikes. See our Roquebrune-Cap-Martin Illustrated Travel Guide.
Menton is near the border of Italy, and it's know as a flower town (and famous for its lemons), much like the Ligurian coast to the east. If you're craving Italian food and don't want to cross the border, you'll find it in Menton. Be sure to visit the Serre de la Madone Garden at Menton, as well as the museums outlined in our guide linked above. (Menton Hotels-Book Direct)
Grasse smells, according to Cinthia Blair in Indulge Your Senses, "Since this region is the perfume capital of the world, every South of France trip should include a stop in Grasse, the home of two perfume factories. Parfumerie Fragonard offers tours that demonstrate the magical process by which flowers are turned into perfume, soaps, and other scented products."
St-Tropez is a popular French Riviera vacation spot made famous by Brigitte Bardot in the 50s and home to the "jet set" ever since. Perhaps the most famous beach is Plage de Tahiti, a naturist beach where you can work on your all over tans with the beautiful people. (Plage de Tahiti Map | St-Tropez Hotels - Book Direct)
Côte d'Azur Travel Planning
You might want to rent a villa or country house on the Côte d'Azur (book direct) and live like a seasonal native. Who wouldn't?