The South of France has been on my bucket list forever, and I finally got to go there in October. My husband and I spent a glorious long weekend in the magical Cote D’Azure, and what follows are my best tips for discovering the Good Stuff if you have just four days in the French Riviera!
Disclosure: We may have received discounted accommodations, meals, or other experiences at the locations referenced in this review. As always, the opinions expressed in this article are wholly my own.
Four Days in the French Riviera Itinerary
We took a red-eye out of New York on a Wednesday evening, had a quick layover in Paris, and landed in Nice at about 10:00 a.m. Despite being warned against it, we opted to rent a car, and getting around was a breeze. One thing I love about the Cote D’Azure is how close everything is to the airport–as you’ll notice, we saw a lot with a trip of only four days in the French Riviera.
We spent our time as follows:
Day 1 (Thursday): We landed in the morning after an overnight flight, spent a few hours exploring Nice, and then headed to Cap Ferrat for dinner and an early bedtime.
Day 2: We enjoyed the outstanding services and amenities at the Grand Hotel, explored Cap Ferrat, and had a casual dinner in nearby Villefranche-sur-Mer before another early bedtime!
Day 3: We didn’t want to leave the Grand Hotel, so we lounged around all morning before heading to the hilltop town of Eze, where we explored the medieval village and then checked into the Château de La Chèvre d’Or.
Day 4: We drove the 45-minute route to Antibes for lunch, which was an unexpected delight. We then headed north for 30 minutes to check out Saint-Paul-de-Vence, before heading back to Eze to sleep.
Day 5 (Monday): Sadly, we had no time for anything besides breakfast and heading to the airport!
Note: While Monaco was within a 20-minute drive of where we were during our four days in the French Riviera, we scrapped it from our plans as you aren’t allowed to cross the border in a rental car.
I recommend just wandering around Nice, which is what we did immediately after getting off the plane. Most of our friends who have been to the French Riviera told us to skip Nice, but I thought it was totally worth at least a quick visit!
The market in the old town (along Cours Saleya) is open every day besides Monday, and was beautiful to browse.
We didn’t get a meal here other than a baguette in a random bakery, but I’ve heard amazing things about this organic/biodynamic wine bar, which serves healthful small plates.
We only spent a few hours in Nice, but I still feel we had enough time there. Some of the day’s highlights included:
Saint Jean Cap Ferrat Highlights
After strolling Nice for a few hours, we drove about half an hour to the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, which is now part of the Four Seasons group. Of all the places we saw in our four days in the French Riviera, Cap Ferrat was for sure the highlight, and this is almost entirely because of how much we fell in love with the Grand Hotel.
I wish we’d had more time to just enjoy the hotel itself, and if I were to go again, I would definitely stay at least three nights. Here is some of what we enjoyed most:
The tiny fishing village of Villefranche-sur-Mer is a very short drive from Cap Ferrat, and because options on the cape were limited (beyond the Grand Hotel), it was an obvious choice for dinner.
Unfortunately, it was raining the evening that we took our stroll around Villefranche-sur-Mer, but it was still charming.
We went to a small spot called Le Cosmo for dinner that I can’t recommend, but there were other restaurants that were probably better (L’Aparté looks promising!).
The hilltop village of Eze is impossibly charming, and definitely worth a visit. That said, I wouldn’t spend the night in Eze if I were to visit again—you can “do” the teeny-tiny town (it has only 33 permanent residents!) in a couple of hours.
We stayed at the highly-acclaimed Chateau du Chevre d’or, and it’s amazing how they’ve incorporated the hotel into the city itself. Still, this hotel just didn’t compare to the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, so I wish we’d reversed the order of our stay!
If you are in the South of France in the summer, nearby Eze Sur Mer sounds lovely. I was bummed that the healthful restaurant Anjuna was closed for the season during our four days in the French Riviera.
My photos hardly do justice to Eze’s charm, but you’ll see what we enjoyed most here:
We only spent a few hours in Antibes, but if (when!) I return to the South of France, I would stay a night or two in Antibes. It’s super close to the airport, and centrally-located for day trips to St. Tropez, Eze, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, and more.
Antibes is also smaller and more manageable than Nice, but still big enough to offer plenty of restaurants, as well as an excellent Picasso museum.
My favorite Antibes experiences are captured here:
I didn’t think this was possible, but Saint-Paul-de-Vence tops even Eze’s charm. There’s not much to do in this town besides shop for art (none of which was really my style).
Still, I think it’s worth the trip for the simple beauty of the town itself, which appears to be plucked straight out of your favorite children’s storybook.
The Maeght Foundation museum is also well-worth a visit, especially if you’re a fan of sculpture. (The museum houses an impressive collection for its size, including works by Miró, Chagall, Giacometti, and Calder.)
Aside from our visit to the Maeght Foundation, just walked around the village, as you’ll see here:
Have you been to the French Riviera? If so, please share your own recommendations for where to find the Good Stuff! And, if you have suggestions for what to eat/do/see in St. Thomas, Stockholm, or Copenhagen, please send them my way, as those are the next spots I will be visiting.