Six things to do on the French Riviera that you’ll remember forever

The Riviera is all about slowing down: long lunches, lazy days on the beach, and sun-kissed evenings with a cold drink in hand.

But guess what? There are loads of really cool things you can do that only take an hour, cost under 20 euros, and will leave a lasting impression. Here are my favourite six, together with a LOAD of beautiful pictures, mostly from Augusta Sagnelli.

But first: The podcast episodes

Here are all four Earful Tower podcast episodes from this mini-series. You can also find them wherever you get podcasts.

1. Beachfront cocktails with F Scott Fitzgerald

Ah, the Hotel Belles Rives. We kept coming back to this place on the podcast series, there’s something magical about it. Located a little further along the beach in Juan-Les-Pins, this is the place where F Scott Fitzgerald spent time writing Tender is the Night. In fact, the beach out the front is where the book is partly set.

As for the hotel and its restaurant, it’s pure loveliness. The jazzy piano bar opens up to a sun-drenched panorama terrace that’s ideal for a sunset cocktail. Terracotta tiled floor, decorated with the emblematic Mediterranean colours of bright white and cobalt blue. Full disclosure: If you’re on a tight budget, maybe best to just take a look! The cocktails aren’t cheap.

2. Explore a mosaic paradise

The Villa Kerylos was built in the early 1900s by French archaeologist Theodore Reinach in an ancient Greek style. It feels you’re in a perfectly preserved Greek Temple, there’s a calm opulence, and the floor mosaics are exquisite.

And what’s more, you’re surrounded by the water on three sides, and just a stone’s throw from the charming village of Beaulieu-sur-Mer.

3. Hike a mystical coastline

If there’s one coastal hike to do in France – make it this one. It’s easy to see why impressionist painters like Claude Monet were drawn to this area. The walk stretches along the craggy coastline, with dramatic cliffs, crashing waves below, and luxurious mansions tucked away behind discrete fences.

Note: This isn’t an easy walk. There are narrow and steep staircases, uneven surfaces, and slippery stones. I wouldn’t say it’s a difficult hike either, but I just want to manage expectations.

4. Find the balcony hanging over the Mediterranean

Head inland from Monaco for the tiny village of La Turbie, which is perfectly charming itself, but don’t miss the ruins of La Trophée literally next door. For ten euros (or so) you can buy a ticket for access, then walk up the steps of a monument built in 6BC. That’s over 2,000 years old!

The monument was built by the Romans for Emperor Augustus to mark one of his victories. The local tourism board compares it to a balcony hanging over the Mediterranean and I couldn’t have said it better myself. With only a touch of imagination, you can practically see the monument in all its glory from the time of Augustus. If you can’t, there’s a small museum with a model of La Trophée.

5. See Europe’s most pristine Old Town

Monaco itself may not be for everyone, (and you do have to see the casino), but do not leave this part of the world without heading uphill to the Old Town. Spotlessly clean, absolutely decadent, and with views to die for.

There are chapels, museums, and palaces on offer… but you’ll be perfectly satisfied to just stroll the streets and enjoy the lookouts over the sea and harbours.

6. Have an Absinthe-fuelled singalong

When you’re in Antibes, seek out the Absinthe Museum in the Old Town for a drink you’ll never forget. You’ll enter through what seems like an unassuming souvenir museum but once you descend the stone staircase you’ll find yourself in a speakeasy where everyone is given a hat to wear as they sing along to music (live music in the piano bar on Fridays and Saturdays).

You drink the absinthe in the traditional (and proper) way… and given the small size of the bar, you’ll likely make some friends too! Be sure to get a glimpse of that antique cash register!

Absinthe bar address: 25 Cr Masséna, 06600 Antibes

And that’s it! A huge thank you to The Earful Tower’s Patreon members, without whom we could never have done this field trip! Join the gang here.

And lastly, here are the episodes again to dive deeper into the French Riviera.

One thought on “Six things to do on the French Riviera that you’ll remember forever

  1. Nice curated list. There is so much to see on both the French and Italian Riviera, and you’ve got some great recommendations. And with so much funding in Monte Carlo, there is almost always a great show or exhibit coming up. As I write this (August 2023), the Grimaldi Forum is wrapping up an exhibit of 100 Monet masterpieces, and the Opéra de Monte Carlo is planning for Phantom of the Opera in December. Life is good on the Riviera.

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