Côte d’Azur

Côte d’Azur

Who hasn’t heard of the Côte d’Azur or French Riviera, which confusingly can also be broken down into the departments of Provence, Alpes Maritimes and the Var. We make the distinction by only listing houses that are effectively within 40 minutes of the coast, starting from the Italian border and going to just beyond St Tropez.

After Paris, this is the most visited part of France, and for good reason – it has a fantastic climate pretty well all year round. At Christmas, standing on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice surrounded by palm trees and even the odd person swimming, it is surreal to see the snow capped hills of the Alpes Maritimes in the distance! Spring comes early with the mimosa bursting into colour in early February. Summer builds in temperature from May onwards, peaking in August, and then September and October are lovely balmy months, perhaps the best time of year if you can get away.

There is dramatic scenery, deep gorges to rival the Grand Canyon, sandy beaches and rocky headlands all surrounded by the famous azure coloured sea. St Tropez shouldn’t only be thought of as the honey pot of glitz and glamour. The little lanes around the villages, and down to the beaches which made it so famous, intersect vineyards keeping the “presqu’île” alive and verdant and remarkably unspoilt. The vendage is as important here as it is in Bordeaux!

St Paul de Vence, Grimaud and Eze are a few of the famous medieval hilltop villages that are scattered along the coast, full of galleries and restaurants definitely worth a visit. Combine a trip to St Paul de Vence with a visit to the Fondation Maeght which has a wonderful collection of modern art, or the Cocteau chapel in Villefranche. Just some of the many excellent museums along the coast.

If you can drag yourself away from your poolside lounger, there are plenty of activities to enjoy from golf to all forms of sailing and water sports including white water rafting and horse riding. Head off early in the morning to a local market selling everything from cheese and olives to Moroccan pottery. Food of course is still one of the main ingredients to having a great holiday and, along with your market buys, you can enjoy meals at Michelin starred restaurants to simple beach food on this amazing coastline of the South of France.

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