Visit these 6 Beautiful Cities in the South of France

The south of France has been a popular destination for tourists to visit for many years. Often called the French Riviera, the region is blessed with beautiful beaches and mountains, sophisticated large cities and picturesque small towns, great weather, and delicious food and drink.

Unfortunately, it can be an expensive and challenging region to visit. Hotels can be expensive, and it can be difficult and expensive to get around if you have to rent a car and pay for highway tolls and paid parking. In this article, we’re going to show you how to visit 6 beautiful cities in the south of France for less than for less than 500 euros, including private hotel accommodations, local transportation, and a range of interesting activities.

Visit these 6 Beautiful Cities in the South of France
A vintage travel poster from the 1920’s advertising the French Riviera

Where is the French Riviera?

The French Riviera is located in the southeast corner of France on the Mediterranean coast. You will most likely travel to the city of Nice to start your vacation in the French Riviera. If you choose to fly, Nice has a major international airport with many flights from European hub airports. If you prefer train travel, Nice has a train station with connections to many European cities. You can also get there by bus. We’ll describe your transportation options below.


Visit these 6 Beautiful Cities in the South of France

We recommend a one week itinerary visiting these 6 cities:

  • Nice, where you’ll enjoy the beaches, shopping, walking along the famous “Promenade des Anglais”, and seeing the old city
  • Cannes, where you’ll see the site of the world famous Cannes Film Festival
  • Grasse, where the modern perfume industry began
  • Eze, a beautiful mountaintop village where you’ll enjoy the winding streets and splendid panoramic view of the Mediterranean
  • Monte Carlo, in the principality of Monaco, where you will spend a day amongst the royals and the wealthy “jet set”
  • Saint Paul de Vence, a hilltop village where you may think you have travelled back in history
Cities in the south of France map
Highlights of your visit to the south of France include visits to Nice, Cannes, Monaco, Eze, St.Paul de Vence, and Grasse

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of these 6 cities……….


Nice

Enjoy the many beautiful beaches

Enjoy the sea with a stroll along the beach or a swim at 20 public beaches; the public beaches are free to visit. Your safety is assured, because the sea water is in conformity with national standards ( Pavillon Bleu or Blue Flag), the zones of nautical activities are clearly defined, and the beaches are supervised from Carras to Ponchettes.

Two of the public beaches are specially equipped to make access to the sea easier for the physically challenged; those are called Centenaire and Carras, and are marked as “Handiplage” beaches; there are buoys in the water to mark the safe areas for swimming.

Five beaches have the “beach without tobacco” label with the support of the League against Cancer: Centenaire, Voilier, Bains Militaires, Lenval and Sainte Hélène.

A word of caution: the beaches here are gravel, not sand, so bring some appropriate footwear!

beach in nice france
One of the beaches in Nice


cap3000 shopping mall rooftop patio
The rooftop patio at the CAP3000 shopping mall has panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea, the beaches, and the airport.

Do some window shopping at “CAP3000” seaside shopping mall

The “CAP3000” shopping mall offers more than 200 modern stores and dozens of restaurants.

This shopping mall is easy to get to and is free to visit. It has a rooftop patio with views of the Mediterranean Sea, the beaches, and even Nice International Airport where you can watch the planes taking off and landing.

Click here to visit the CAP3000 website.


Stroll along the Promenade des Anglais

The “Promenade des Anglais” is a wide boulevard that stretches seven kilometres from the Nice International Airport in the west to the old town in the east. It has wide sidewalks that make it ideal for a stroll.

Walking along the south side you’ll enjoy views of the beach, and on the north side you’ll walk past high end hotels, restaurants, and shopping.

It’s free to stroll and you will enjoy the beautiful weather, sea air, and people watching!

Promenade des anglais
You will enjoy a stroll along the “Promenade des Anglais” any time of the day or night.

vieux nice france
“Vieux Nice” (Old Nice) is worth a visit.
The old city has a number of beautiful markets.

Visit the old town with its’ narrow streets, old churches, parks, and markets

You are certain to enjoy walking around the old town in Nice. It has many buildings that date back to the 16th century, is quite compact and easy to walk, and is adjacent to the beach.

“Maison D’Adam et Eve” is a beautiful old church decorated with 16th century sculptures.

“Promenade Du Paillon” is a green park and walkway through the city with games for children, water mirrors and mist sprays to cool you off on a hot day.

The Cours Saleya is one of the liveliest areas of Old Nice where you will find markets selling flowers, food and antiques.

For more information on visiting Nice, click here to visit the official website of the Nice and Cote d’Azure Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Cannes

Pretend you’re a movie star and visit the scene of the Cannes Film Festival, one of the world’s premiere events for movies and celebrities.

The Cannes Film Festival, with it’s famous red carpet and celebrity watching, is held in May each year. The Festival is based in the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.

You can see the venue and pose on the red carpet for free!

Palais des Festivals Cannes France
The “Palais des Festivals” (Palace of Festivals) is home to the annual Cannes Film Festival and it’s famous red carpet.


Boulevard de la croisette cannes france
Day or night, you will enjoy a stroll along the Boulevard de la Croisette in Cannes.

Stroll along the seaside promenade “Boulevard de la Croisette”.

Just like Nice, Cannes has a gorgeous seaside promenade that is ideal for a stroll.

The “Boulevard de la Croisette” is much smaller than the promenade is Nice; it is only two kilometres long, but you will see the beautiful beach, palm trees, and spectacular grand hotels along the way.

And it’s all for free!


Cannes’ old town is called “Le Suquet” and is located at the west end of the Croisette.

You can wander this traffic-free quarter with its narrow old staircases, pleasant courtyards, and interesting historic remnants, including the city’s ancient walls.

In the heart of Le Suquet you’ll find the old church “Eglise du Suquet” and the 11th-century tower “Tour du Mont Chevalier”. The old town’s main shopping streets is the Rue Meynadier, a bustling pedestrian street renowned for its specialty gourmet boutiques. Cannes beautiful old Port (“Vieux Port”) is adjacent to the Le Suquet.

It’s mostly free to visit, although the church and tower charge a small admission if you want to visit inside.

le suquet old town cannes france
Cannes’ “Old Town” is called Le Suquet. There are lots of hills to climb but you’ll be rewarded with views of an ancient church and tower.


zamenhof free beach cannes france
Zamenhof Beach in Cannes.

Enjoy the beaches

Cannes has a few free beaches and the good news is these are sandy beaches so you can go barefoot. We recommend two free beaches Macé Beach and Zamenhof Beach, which are located off the Boulevard de la Croisette and are open to the public.

For more information on visiting Cannes, click here to visit the official website of the Cannes tourist office.


Grasse

Grasse is a beautiful hillside town and is the birthplace of the modern perfume industry.

Grasse has several perfume museums and factories that you can visit. Some are free and some charge a modest entrance fee.

Fragonard Parfumerie is a museum “factory” and they offer a free tour of their facility. Musée International de la Parfumerie is a museum dedicated to the perfume industry; they do charge a modest 4 euro fee for admission. Parfumerie Molinard is another museum “factory” with free tours.

All of these are located in the town so you can easily visit all three in one day if you really love perfume!

Fragonard parfumerie grasse france
Fragonard “Parfumerie” in Grasse.

For more information on visiting Grasse, click here to visit the official website of the Grasse tourist office.

If you would like information on visiting Fragonard’s museum factories and museums in Grasse, Eze, or Paris, click here.

Click here to visit the official website for all of the museums in Grasse, including the Musée International de la Parfumerie.


Eze

Eze is a medieval hilltop village with spectacular views

In the newer part of the village (near the road and the bus stop), you’ll find another Fragonard perfume factory and shop. You’ll also find the start of the “Nietzsche Trail”, a walking path leading down towards the sea; it is named for the late philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who enjoyed walking there.

Walking south, you’ll climb the hill to the oldest part of the village with it’s narrow winding lanes and breathtaking sights. You may think you’ve travelled back in time to the medieval period.

Within the village, the “Exotic Garden of Eze” has botanical displays and a great view of the ocean. They do charge an entrance fee of €6.

When you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Mediterranean.

hilltop village eze france
Hilltop village of Eze
Exotic Garden of Eze

For more information on visiting Eze, click here to visit the official website of the Eze tourist office.

Click here for the “Exotic Garden of Eze” official website.


Monaco

In Monaco, you can spend a day rubbing shoulders with the royals and the “jet set”.

You’ll need money to play at the casino, but admiring the gorgeous facade and gardens is completely free! The casino has hosted everyone from royalty to James Bond.

Visit Saint Nicholas Cathedral, the resting place of several members of the Grimaldi royal family, including Princess Grace and Prince Rainier. From the outside, admire the cathedral’s Roman-Byzantine architecture. Inside, marvel at the Episcopal throne made of Carrara white marble.

Watch the daily “Changing of the Guard” ceremony performed by the “Carabiniers du Prince” in front of the Prince’s Palace. Held at precisely 11:55 am, the procession hasn’t been changed for more than 100 years.

Or you can just wander the streets of Monaco to see the millionaires’ and billionaires expensive cars and boats!

Saint Nicholas Cathedral
monte carlo casino monaco
Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco
Monaco Marina

For more information on visiting Monaco, click here for the “Visit Monaco” official website.


Saint Paul de Vence

Saint Paul de Vence is a wonderfully preserved medieval hilltop village with cobblestone streets and spectacular views.

The village is ideal for walking, with quiet streets (no cars!) and lots of artist galleries, shops, and restaurants to visit. If you prefer biking, you can rent a bicycle and pedal your way around town.

You might enjoy the new “Henri Layet Fortifications Discovery” walk which takes you alongside the ancient rampart walls that surround much of the village.

Another popular walk lets you follow in the footsteps of painter March Chagall, walking from his home in Vence through the countryside and ending in Saint Paul de Vence.

Or simply enjoy a stroll through the village, visiting the “Porte de Vence” gateway, the ancient cemetery, and the main street “Rue Grande” where you can do some window shopping at dozens of tiny shops and boutiques.

saint paul de vence france
The narrow streets of Saint Paul de Vence

For more information on visiting Saint Paul de Vence, click here to visit the official website of the Saint Paul de Vence tourist office.


Practical Information

Here is some practical information to help you plan your trip to these six cities in the south of France. Later, we’ll show you a budget for your trip.

We recommend that you stay in the city of Nice for this trip. Nice is centrally located and has excellent public transportation to all of the other cities on the itinerary, so you can easily and inexpensively travel to all of the other cities as day trips. There are a number of affordable hotels in central Nice that offer clean, private accommodations at a reasonable cost. Nice also has excellent connections to Europe and the rest of the world. We’ll provide details on the hotels and transportation below.

Let’s start with a map to get you oriented:

cities in the south of France

Getting There

By Airplane

There is only one major airport serving the French Riviera and that is Nice International Airport. The airport code for Nice International Airport is “NCE” so look for destination “NCE” when booking your flight. Sometimes you will see the airport called “Cote d’Azur International Airport”, just make sure the destination code is “NCE” to end up in the right place!

Many of the worlds top airlines fly into Nice, as well as a number of “Low Cost Carrier” (LCC) airlines. Click here for a list of airlines currently operating flights into Nice International Airport.

By Train

If you’re traveling by train, you will arrive at “Nice Ville” (Nice City) train station which is conveniently located a short walk from the tourist area of town. This station is served by high speed “TGV” and “Ouigo” trains, regional “EC” and “TER” trains, as well as local train, tram, and bus services. Click here for information on timetables and in-station services at Nice-Ville station.

By Bus

If you’re traveling by bus, the main bus station is located at 14 Avenue des Diables Bleus, just north of the Old Town. There are at least two long distance bus services serving the French Riviera: BlaBlaBus (click here) and FlixBus (click here). Both operators provide services to Nice from all over Europe. They also have bus stops at Nice International Airport.


Where to Stay

Here are five inexpensive hotels in Nice where you could stay. These all offer clean, safe, private accommodations and you should be able to get a room for around 55 euros per night if you shop carefully.


Little Palace Hotel, 9 Avenue Baquis,  06000 Nice, France

cities in the south of France

Click here to visit the official hotel website.


Hotel Kyriad, 6 Rue Emmanuel Philibert, Place du Pin, 06300 Nice

Click here to visit the official hotel website.


Residence Adonis, 18 Avenue Jean Médecin, 06000 Nice

Click here to visit the official hotel website.


Hotel Wilson, 39 Rue de l’Hôtel des Postes, 06000 Nice

Click here to visit the official hotel website.


Hotel Antares, 5 Avenue Thiers, 06000 Nice

Click here to visit the official hotel website.


Getting Around

The French Riviera has superb public transportation systems which are safe, comfortable, and economical, so we recommend that you use their services to travel around the region. There are actually three operators serving the region.

Lignes d’Azur

Lignes d’Azur is the public transport operator based in Nice. Their large network of trams and buses covers the city of Nice and the surrounding region. You can travel by Lignes d’Azur bus to most of the locations we’ve described. You can also travel from Nice International Airport to your hotel.

Depending on the length of your stay and the number of people in your party, you can choose from several economical tickets and passes:
Solo Ticket (one trip): 1,50 €
7-day Pass (unlimited travel for 7 consecutive days): 15 €
10-trip multi-pass: 10 €


Envibus

Envibus is the public transport operator for the Sophia Antipolis and Antibes region. Their large network of buses covers the city of Antibes and the surrounding region. You can travel by Envibus bus to several of the locations we’ve described.

Envibus offers several economical tickets and passes:
Solo Ticket (one trip): 1,00 €
7-day Pass (unlimited travel for 7 consecutive days): 10 €
10-trip multi-pass: 8 €


Palm Bus

Palm Bus is the public transport operator based in Cannes. Their large network of buses covers the city of Cannes and the surrounding region. You can travel by Envibus bus to several of the locations we’ve described.

Palm Bus offers several economical tickets and passes:
Solo Ticket (one trip): 1,50 €
3-day Pass (unlimited travel for 3 consecutive days): 8 €
10-trip multi-pass: 12,50 €


SNCF Train

SNCF is the train operator for all of France. Their large network of trains covers the entire country. You can travel by SNCF train to several of the locations we’ve described. For longer trips, such as Nice to Cannes, taking the train is faster and easier than taking the bus.

The cost of a SNCF ticket depends on the time of day, type of train, and other factors. Please visit the SNCF website to price your ticket.


Budget

Here’s our budget for visiting 6 cities in the south of France. Including 6 nights accommodations, local transportation for a week, and a wide range of fun activities, you could spend as little as €414! That’s well under our budget of €500, so you could stay an extra day or splurge on some other day trips or fun activities.

budget spend a week in the french riviera

Wrapping Up

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our article about visiting these 6 great cities in the south of France. Happy travels!