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  • Writer's pictureJulie Prusak

Exploring Hidden Gems on the French Riviera: Beyond Monaco

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Welcome to the French Riviera, a captivating region known for its luxurious destinations and breathtaking landscapes. While Monaco's supreme location makes it an ideal base camp, visitors seeking unexpected experiences should consider venturing beyond its borders. Just a stone's throw away from Monaco, you'll find a collection of hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

With its ideal location, the Principality reigns supreme as a base for multi-country day itineraries. Visitors can literally breakfast in Monte-Carlo, lunch in Italy, dine in France, and finish back at the Casino with an exquisite nightcap.

Explore these lesser-known destinations on day trips that will add a touch of enchantment to your French Riviera experience.

Menton: The Lemon Town

Located near the Italian border, Menton is a charming seaside city worth exploring. Hop on a 12-minute train ride, and you'll find yourself in a Mediterranean paradise known for its picturesque gardens and the famous Museum Cocteau. Every year, Menton bursts with vibrant colors during La fête du citron, a lemon festival that captivates visitors from around the world. To make your visit even more memorable, rent an iconic convertible car for the day and arrive in style.

Eze: A Hilltop Village with a View

Just an eight-minute train ride away from Monaco lies Eze, a hilltop village offering an exceptional view of the Mediterranean. Immerse yourself in the enchanting ambiance as you wander through the exotic gardens and explore the site's medieval past. Eze is a hidden gem where history and natural beauty intertwine, providing a truly unique experience.

Saint-Paul-de-Vence: A Medieval Haven for Art Lovers

Step back in time and venture to Saint-Paul-de-Vence, one of the most beautiful medieval villages on the Côte d'Azur. This charming village is renowned for its art galleries, serving as a haven for artists and art enthusiasts alike. Within just an hour's drive from Monaco, you can explore the streets lined with vibrant artwork, soaking in the creative atmosphere that permeates every corner.

Nice: The Beautiful Jewel of the Côte d'Azur

Since the 18th century, Nice has been a top travel destination for the elite. Nicknamed as "Nice la Belle," meaning "Nice the Beautiful," this city lives up to its name. From the azure blue waters of the Côte d'Azur to breathtaking city views from Castle Hill, and leisurely strolls along the iconic waterfront Promenade des Anglais, Nice offers a myriad of experiences. Public beaches are interspersed between private seasonal beach bars and restaurants, open from April to October. Don't miss the opportunity to relax on the pebble-covered plages while enjoying a glass of rosé and taking in the stunning coastal scenery.

Nice's clear air and soft light have long attracted notable painters such as Henri Matisse, Niki de Saint Phalle, Arman, and Marc Chagall. The influence of these artists can still be felt in the city, adding an artistic touch to its vibrant culture. In nearby Aix-en-Provence, the birthplace of the renowned painter Paul Cézanne, you can explore provincial markets and delve into the world of art.

With world-class art, beautiful beaches, and a modern airport, it’s no wonder Nice attracts over four million visitors a year.

Marseille and Milan: Exploring Further Afield

While the French Riviera offers a plethora of experiences, don't limit yourself to one region. Marseille, a vibrant port city, is just a two-and-a-half-hour drive away. Immerse yourself in its rich history, picturesque coastline, and diverse cultural scene. If you're feeling more adventurous, take a road trip or hop on a train to Milan, which is reachable within four hours. Experience the cosmopolitan vibes of this iconic Italian city, indulging in world-class shopping, historical landmarks, and exquisite cuisine.

As a travel expert on the French Riviera, I encourage you to go beyond the glitz and glamour of Monaco and uncover the hidden treasures that lie just a short distance away. From the charming seaside city of Menton to the hilltop village of Eze, the medieval haven of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, and the vibrant city of Nice, the French Riviera offers a myriad of experiences that will enchant your senses. So, venture out and explore the unexpected, for it is in these hidden gems that you'll find the true essence of the Côte d'Azur.

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