With 2 weeks you can traverse the Côte d'Azur at a more relaxed pace. This tour begins in the west at St-Tropez and then takes you all the way east to Menton, on the border with Italy. Highlights include not only St-Tropez, but the chic resort of Cannes, bustling Nice (the capital of the Riviera), and elegant Monaco. You can take in stunning beaches along the way, but be sure to save some time to explore a few of the world's best galleries and museums -- the Riviera has both in abundance.
Days 1 & 2: St-Tropez
On day 1, arrive at the nearest rail station in St-Raphaël, making the rest of the journey to St-Tropez by boat or bus. For details, St-Tropez is all about beaches, the best of which include the Plage de la Bouillabaisse or Plage des Graniers. Following a day at the beach, drop into Café de Paris for a predinner drink. Enjoy a long, lingering dinner and take a stroll along the harborfront at night, inspecting the fleet of yachts from all over the world.
On day 2, before heading for another day at the beach, inspect the Musée de l'Annonciade, the first of the modern art collections that opened on the Riviera in 1955. Do some boutique hopping before heading to Plage de Pampelonne. Spend your final evening in St-Tropez at the harborfront in the center of town.
Days 3 & 4: Cannes
On day 3, rent a car and drive east 83km (52 miles) along the coast to Cannes, site of the famous international film festival. After checking into your hotel, take a long walk along the promenade de la Croisette to see what the excitement is all about. Find a waterfront restaurant for lunch and then head for the beach -- try Plage de la Croisette, extending between Vieux Port (Old Port) and Port Canto.
On the morning of day 4, take a ferryboat trip to Île Ste-Marguerite, the most famous of the Lérins Islands, where the mysterious "Man in the Iron Mask" was held prisoner. You can spend all morning exploring the island and have lunch here. You can also visit the second major island, Île St-Honorat, with its Abbaye de St-Honorat, or else return to Cannes for another afternoon at the beach. If you're a gambler, you can patronize one of the city's glittering casinos.
Day 5: Grasse, Mougins & Antibes
Leave Cannes on the morning of day 5, and drive north 18km (11 miles) to Grasse. This is the perfume capital of France, and you can visit its parfumeries (perfume factories); the best are Fragonard and Molinard. Instead of lunching in Grasse, head back 10km (6 miles) on the road to Cannes, and stop in the village of Mougins, which was a favorite spot for Picasso, for lunch -- Mougins has some of the best restaurants on the Riviera.
Head east toward the coast, and drive about 12km (7 miles) to Antibes. Picasso also lived here, as evidenced by the array of paintings he left to the Musée Picasso, one of the greatest collections of his work. After seeing the museum, drive along the chic Cap d'Antibes to see how the very rich live and have done so ever since F. Scott Fitzgerald dramatized the resort strip in his novel, Tender Is the Night. Overnight in Antibes and wander through the winding streets of the old town, finding a typical seafood bistro.
Day 6: Biot & St-Paul de Vence
On day 6, leave Antibes in the morning, and drive north 8km (5 miles) to the town of Biot, which is celebrated for its beautiful pottery. While here, visit the Musée National Fernand-Léger.
After lunch in town, head northeast 15km (9 miles) for a night in the hill town of St-Paul de Vence. After checking into your hotel, visit the Fondation Maeght, the most famous -- and the best -- gallery of modern art on the Riviera, and one of Europe's finest museums. Spend the late afternoon or early evening wandering the town's cobblestone streets.
Days 7 & 8: Vence & Nice
On the morning of day 7, drive 6km (4 miles) over to the neighboring hill town of Vence to see Chapelle du Rosaire, the chapel that Henri Matisse designed and decorated between 1949 and 1951. He viewed it as his masterpiece. After an hour's visit, drive southeast 21km (13 miles) to Nice for a 3-night visit, part of which will be devoted to excursions.
After checking into a hotel in Nice, stroll through Vieille Ville, the Old Town. Enjoy a snack of socca, a round pancake made with chickpea flour that's sold steaming hot by street vendors. Wander past the stalls at the colorful outdoor market in cours Saleya, then head for the promenade des Anglais, the wide boulevard along the waterfront. You can spend at least an hour strolling, perhaps stopping at one of the grand cafes bordering the water for a Niçois lunch. In the afternoon, head for one of the beaches. Head back to the Old Town for dinner at a typical bistro.
On day 8, visit some important museums: start with the Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain, one of the best modern art museums in the region, and then head to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, devoted to the masters of the Second Empire and the Belle Époque era. In the afternoon, head for the suburb of Cimiez to see the Musée Matisse. Return to Nice for the night, and see an opera or live music at one of Vieille Ville's many bars.
Day 9: Grande Corniche & Moyenne Corniche
On day 9, while still based in Nice, head out for the grandest drive in the south of France: the Grande Corniche. Built by Napoleon in 1806, this 32km (20 miles) stretch of road drives past blue seas, verdant landscape, and attractive towns, and takes about 3 hours to drive, although many motorists stop for a series of grand views, stretching the trip out to at least 5 hours.
From Nice, head east along avenue des Diables-Bleus. From points along the way, you can look down 450m (1,400 ft.) to Monaco, stop for panoramic views at Eze, and appreciate the highest point along the Grande Corniche: the Trophée des Alps, a rock formation at 450m (1,500 ft.).
Stop for lunch in Menton before returning to Nice along the Moyenne Corniche or Middle Corniche, stretching 31km (19 miles). This superhighway, built during the 1920s, also runs from Nice to Menton and goes in and out of tunnels cut through mountains. Panoramic views, including some of Monaco, are possible to enjoy at many points along this grand highway. Return to Nice for the night.
Day 10: Villefranche-sur-Mer & St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
To save money because of its affordable hotels, you can still use Nice as your home base as you set out to see such highlights along the Riviera as Villefranche-sur-Mer and St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on day 10. From Nice, drive 8km (5 miles) east to reach Villefranche-sur-Mer. Walk its vaulted rue Obscure and visit its 14th-century Romanesque Chapelle St-Pierre, with frescoes painted by Jean Cocteau.
By late morning, leave Villefranche and head to posh St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a 15km (9-mile) promontory that lies 10km (6 miles) east of Nice. Here you will find one of the Côte d'Azur's most legendary villas, today the home of the art-stuffed La Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. Budget 2 hours for a visit and get in some beach time, perhaps at Plage de la Paloma, before returning to Nice for the night.
Day 11: Gorges du Loup
Again, with Nice as your hotel base, set out on day 11 to see some of the most dramatic scenery in the mountains above the Côte d'Azur by visiting Gorges du Loup. To get there, take a 13km (8-mile) drive filled with dramatic scenery such as waterfalls, rock spurs, and decaying castles.
For lunch, stop at the town of Tourrettes-sur-Loup, which lies 29km (18 miles) west of Nice to wander its ancient streets and explore its many crafts studios. The best of these are showcased along the Grand'Rue. Return to Nice in the afternoon, hopefully in time for the beach. Spend your last night in Nice.
Days 12 & 13: Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Eze & Monaco
Leave Nice on day 12, heading east along the Lower Corniche, or Corniche Inférieure. First stop: the resort of Beaulieu 10km (6 miles) east of Nice. The town opens onto the tranquil Baie des Fourmis, and you can walk its Boulevard Alsace-Lorraine lined with gardens. The seafront promenade is another idyllic place to stroll. The highlight of your visit will be Villa Kérylos, a replica of an ancient Greek residence filled with art.
After a visit, continue along the coast to the village of Eze, lying 11km (7 miles) northeast of Nice. Have lunch and explore the medieval core of this old town, which is filled with shops, artisan studios, and art galleries. Visit the Jardin d'Eze, which features cacti and offers panoramic views of the eastern Riviera.
From Eze, continue east to the principality of Monaco, 18km (11 miles) east of Nice, for a stopover of 2 nights. After checking into a hotel, head for Le Café de Paris.
On day 13, set out to explore the attractions of this principality, witnessing the changing of the guard and visiting Les Grands Appartements du Palais, where Prince Albert rules the Monégasques. Allow 45 minutes or so to see Jardin Exotique, filled with exotic plants. The other most visited attraction is the Musée Océanographique de Monaco. If time remains, take in Prince Rainier III's Collection de Voitures Anciennes (old automobiles). Spend yet another night in the principality, walking its seafront promenades before dinner.
Day 14: Roquebrune-Cap-Martin & Menton
On day 14, your final day on the Riviera, continue along the Lower Corniche until you come to the resort of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. You can explore the old village in 1 1/2 hours. Stroll its covered streets, which are filled with crafts studios, art galleries, and souvenir shops or enjoy panoramic coastal views from the 10th-century Carolingian castle Chateau de Roquebrune. After lunch, head to the coastline which lies 2km (1 1/2 miles) west of the old village. Here you can take one of the great walks along the Riviera, a 3-hour trek along a coastal path, Sentier Touristique.
After that, make your way to Menton for the night, a distance of 8km (5 miles) east of Monaco. After checking into a hotel, wander its old fishing town, and eat at a local bistro.
The following morning, drive back to Nice (26km/16 miles), the transportation hub of the Riviera.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.