Franse Riviera bezienswaardigheden
The tiny village of Eze is one of the jewels of the south of France which is probably why it is chosen as a holiday spot by royalty, the rich and the famous. Perched on a rocky hill above the sea, it could not get any prettier. With narrow cobblestone, pedestrian-only streets, wonderful views of the surrounding hills and the azure water below, it is just as it was centuries ago. One of the most famous inhabitants was Frederic Nietzsche who, in the 1880s, used to walk up and down a hill path to the sea thinking up his philosophy.
At the top of the hill, just above the village, is the exotic garden. Filled with statues of earth goddesses, cacti, winding paths and wonderfully relaxing contemplative spaces and lookout points, this is not to be missed.
The largest marina in Europe, with over 100 berths, Antibes’ ritzy Port Vauban is one of the most popular spots for yachts on the French Riviera. Originally a natural port run by everyone from the ancient Greeks to the Romans and the Barbarians, it wasn’t until the 15th century that the site was given adequate protection from raiders, when Louis XIV ordered military engineer Seigneur de Vauban to fortify the marina.
Port Vauban is home to the Yacht Club d’Antibes and has its own private heli-pad for all those superyacht owners like Roman Abramovich. Berths at Port Vauban don’t come cheap—each spot costs between 1 and 4 million euros. Each spring, the marina hosts the Antibes Yacht Show, which attracts more than 15,000 visitors every year.
Just behind the archway to Antibes’ Old Town on the western edge of the marina is a lively market that is open every day except Monday.
Nice Old Town (known locally as Le Vieux Nice) is a lovely honeycomb of narrow streets, dotted with beautiful Baroque churches, vibrant squares, shops and restaurants. Thronging with tourists eating the famous ice-cream during the day, at night it becomes one big party with bars and nightclubs spilling out onto the streets.
The key things to see are the Cours Saleya (the open air market), Chapelle de la Miséricorde (a wonderfully ornate Baroque church dating from 1740), Chapelle de l'Annonciation (known locally as Sainte-Rita), Eglise Saint-Jacques (dating from 1612 and built by the Jesuits, it has some excellent frescoes), the Cathedral Sainte Réparate (1699), and the Palais Lascaris (paintings and statues).
Built on the Var heights between Esterel and the Gulf of St Tropez, the Château Font du Broc is set amid lush vegetation overlooking the sea. The grounds of this impressive wine farm are sprawled out over 250 acres that encompass vineyards and olive trees – and even an Olympic-sized arena for horses.
Producing both wine and olive oil, the owner of Château Font du Broc, Sylvain Massa, insists on organic and traditional farming methods and restricts the volume of wine produced in order to ensure its quality. Although the beautiful surroundings and the building’s architecture are high points for some visitors to Château Font du Broc, for others it’s simply all about sampling the delicious wines. The tasting room welcomes visitors and sampling the local vintage is positively encouraged, either on its own or with locally produced cheeses, meats and other delicacies.
Only one street back from the seafront, Cours Saleya is a mainly-pedestrianized street/square which hosts a daily market. It is split between its famous flower market selling bucketfuls of blooms in the western half, and a magnificent food market at the eastern end, with long trestle tables displaying exotic spices, shiny fruit and veg, pastries, fruits glacés (glazed or candied fruits such as figs, ginger, tangerine and pears) and more. On Mondays from 6am to 6pm, Cours Saleya also hosts an antiques market.
Lined by restaurants and cafes, it is the perfect place for breakfast, to sip coffee and people-watch, or for after dark, when the market is closed and the outdoor seating from the restaurants expands to fill the square.
Le Chateau, the shaded hill and park at the eastern end of Quai des États-Unis, is named after a 12th-century château that was razed by Louis XIV in a fit of pique in 1706 and never rebuilt. There are some ruins but not really a chateau to speak of. In the one remaining tower, the 16th century Tour Bellanda, is the Musée Naval. The cemetery where Garibaldi is buried covers the northwest of the park.
From this 300 ft (92 m) hilltop park aslo known as Castel Hill, the glittering views of Vieux Nice spires and the Baie des Anges are mesmerizing. It's worth the walk up - especially as you pass waterfalls, pools and gardens along the way. Once at the top, sit and have a coffee under the trees; the cafe offerings are very much kiosk style but the view makes up for everything.
If you're spending an even remotely significant amount of time in Nice, then you'll soon become familiar with Place Massena. It's the massive, open square at the bottom of L'avenue Jean-Médecin; just a little bit past it is Vieux Nice and the Mediterranean. Walk under the porticos in foul weather, or enjoy the sun on its wide walkways. It ends in a gorgeous fountain framed by faded cherry-red buildings, a favorite with photographers of any ability.
In the daytime, Place Massena is a busy pedestrian/tram intersection, and it can seem like barely controlled chaos as people scurry, stroll or simply hang out along its dizzyingly tiled surface. At night it's a bit less busy, but many are more distracted as the large human-like sculptures high atop poles change color like lava lamps! Place Massena is also the site for many of Nice's most popular events throughout the year, from Mardi Gras to Fete de la Musique concerts to summer outdoor markets.
Nestled east of the hill park, Colline du Chateau, is Quai Lunel in Nice’s Old Port, a great place to wander and find a restaurant for lunch or dinner with a view.
The Old Port fills with yachts at any time of the year and is a great place to soak up the maritime atmosphere and Nice, both past and present. To head out from Nice port and out onto the water you may hop on one of the ferries which can transfer you to ports on Corsica: Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi and Ile Rousse. The area just west of the Quai Lunel, Quartier Segurane, is known for its antique shops and flea market, where you’re much more likely to find an authentic antique bargain than in the center of Nice Old Town. To reach the Port of Nice from central Nice, walk around the waterfront on the balcony-style walkway or head through the Old Town to Place Garibaldi and along rue Cassini.
Since its founding in 1849 in the Grasse Province in the south of France, this world-class perfumery has been creating famous fragrances for men, women, dignitaries and even soldiers for more than 150 years.
Travelers can embark on a one-of-a-kind tour of Molinard Parfumery that starts with a film exploring the company’s history and ends with a trip through the 1930s where visitors can witness perfume-making in its most traditional sense. The guided tour loops through Molinard’s beautiful reception area and flows into the soap room, where years ago a single person created hundreds of soaps by hand. The distillery remains one of the tour’s most incredible stops, as it’s one of the few perfume factories in the world to avoid modernization. Travelers will pass by the cream room, where they’ll learn about packaging and production before the final sales room stop, where a well-curated exhibition showcases fragrance collections from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
Meer dingen om te doen in Franse Riviera
A monumental square made up of Baroque architecture, the late 18th century Place Garibaldi lies at the eastern end of the Old Town of Nice. Recent renovation has revitalized the beauty of the buildings.
Place Garibaldi has shops, bars and cafes including Grand Café de Turin, famous for its seafood and a great place to dine al fresco and people watch. On the weekends the square fills with stall holders selling antiques and bric-a-bracs. Many of the main streets of Nice cross the square: Avenue de la République, Boulevard Jean Jaurès, Rue Catherine Ségurane and the rue Cassini which leads to the old port. Tram No. 1 runs through Place Garibaldi and around the edge of the Old Town (Vieux Nice) and most of the square has now been pedestrianized. The square has a majestic fountain in its center with a statue of Italian hero Giuseppe Garibaldi who was responsible for unifying Italy in the late 19th century. He had hoped that Nice would become part of Italy.
Nice is full of interesting architectural delights, but perhaps none is as unique as the Russian St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral, which speaks to the history of Nice as a popular destination for visitors from all over the world. While the Promenade des Anglais is a nod to the English, who wanted to walk along the shoreline in the sun without being directly on the beach, the cathedral is a similar concession, this time to the Russian nobility – namely Tsar Nicholas II – who found the mild climate and beautiful location to be equally alluring.
The cathedral is one of the top sites to visit in Nice, although it isn’t remotely French. Even if it weren't commonly known as the Russian Cathedral, one look at its exterior would give it away; it looks as though it was shipped directly from Moscow, with its fanciful onion-shaped domes and brightly colored exterior.
The medieval era of French history can still very much be felt today, perhaps nowhere better than at the nearly perfect St Paul de Vence. About 12 miles from Nice and almost directly inland from the Nice Airport, this medieval hilltop jewel is what visitors dream of when they say they want to stroll through a charming village in the South of France.
From the 12th-century keep, which now serves as the town hall, to the 14th-century church, the 16th-century fortified walls and the cemetery, which stands on the original village land and is the final resting place of Marc Chagall, walking through St Paul de Vence is truly a walk through history. Travelers love the Choisy Gallerie, where it’s sometimes possible to find Christian Choisy himself at work. Combined with the stunning views and the town's 20th-century obsession with showcasing artists, it's a day trip you won’t forget.
Set on the serene Cap Ferrat cape jutting out over the Mediterranean, the picturesque Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild holds one of the most sought after settings on the French Riviera. The pink-painted villa, once belonging to wealthy Frenchwoman Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, was designed by Belgian architect Aaron Messiah and built in the early 20th century. Today, the striking seafront palazzo is maintained by the Institut de France and is open to the public, and also hosts the annual summer opera festival: Opera Azuriales.
The villa’s grounds are the real attraction with a collection of nine exquisitely landscaped gardens. These gardens, listed by the Ministry of Culture as some of the ‘notable gardens of France,’ feature Spanish and Japanese themed gardens, a colorful rose garden, and a ‘stone garden’ decorated with ornate ‘musical fountains,’ with water features synchronized to music.
Cruise ships dock in the bay and tenders take you to Le Vieux Port (the Old Port) from where you turn right and it is an easy walk to the main promenade along the beachfront and into town, or you can catch a taxi. The train station is also an easy walk. Local buses along the coast are also a good option for day trips as many destinations are reached for only 1 euro.
Cannes is a lovely place to spend the day if you like to stroll the beachfront promenade, shop or eat in lovely surroundings. French bakeries are famous so pop in there for a light lunch. If you fancy more sumptuous surrounds, head to the hotels along the front, such as the Sofitel Mediterranee with its top floor restaurant with lovely views. Or have a cocktail at the famous domed Hotel Le Carlton.
Up the hill in the old quarter of La Suquet is the Gothic church Notre Dame d’Esperance and 12th century Saint Anne’s Chapel plus panoramic view of Cannes Port.
Villefranche-sur-Mer sparkles on the French Riviera with the Alps in the background and nearby the famous resorts of Nice and Cannes. The deepest natural harbor in the Mediterranean, the port was used by Greeks and Romans in their travels and still hosts visiting naval fleets. The gorgeous scenery of this Cote d'Azur town has featured in many movies, from Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, the James Bond film, Never Say Never Again, The Jewel of the Nile and The Bourne Identity.
The dazzling landscape features the 16th-century Citadel and historic medieval buildings right along the coast. This quaint fishing town is a wonderful location from which to experience the unique lifestyle on the Riviera, visiting Nice, Monaco and Cannes.
The Musée National Marc Chagall houses the largest public collection of of the Russian-born artist's seminal paintings of Old Testament scenes. Be sure to peek through a plate-glass window across a reflecting pond to view a mosaic of the rose window at Metz Cathedral. Chagall (1887 – 1985) is buried in St-Paul de Vence, a town not far from Nice.
The main hall contains 12 huge interpretations (1954 - 67) of stories from Genesis and Exodus. In an antechamber, an unusual mosaic of Elijah in his fiery chariot, surrounded by signs of the zodiac, is viewed through a plate-glass window and reflected in a small pond. Five paintings based on the Song of Songs (1960s) form the most startling series, an explosion of passionate red (in contrast to the sea greens, deep purples and blues of the main room) dedicated to his wife Vava.
Known by locals as the Gateway to Verdon Gorge, Castellane is home to four mountain passes and a popular that make it the ideal destination for hikers and wanderers looking to explore scenic trails and take in picturesque views.
The steep trek to Chapelle Notre Dame du Roc, which rises more than 900 meters above the Verdon, is one of Castellane’s most popular stops and one of the area’s most incredible overlooks. White water rafting on the roaring Verdon River tends to attract the more adventurous set and lovers of old-world architecture find the historic churches and ornate municipal buildings well worth the stop.
There are three Corniche roads of the Cote d'Azur, each with spectacular views.
Forged by the Romans and shored up by Napoleon, the Grande Corniche is the highest of the roads along the coast, and also the most dangerous. But not only is it the least safe driving-wise, its altitude also often means a whitewash of fog, which does a driver no favours. Confident drivers wishing to see the Cote d'Azur at its most unspoiled will want to take this road.
This road goes along the coast, often side-by-side with the train line – thus its name, which translates to the Low Cornice. Exits for all of the French Riviera towns make this a convenient route for road trippers, but this can also mean extreme congestion on the weekends and during the high season.
The Moyenne Corniche is the newest of the routes along the Mediterranean, and it sits in altitude between the upper Grande and the lower Basse. Eze, the popular inland destination, is accessible via the Moyenne.
Tourrettes, a hilltop village in the Var department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, consistently makes every list of day trips from Nice. It's exactly what visitors dream of when they talk about “discovering” a place in the South of France that seems like it's all their own.
The pedestrian-only and oldest part of the town is a warren of narrow streets lined with stone homes, many with ground-floor shops that could empty the wallet of even the most budget-conscious traveler. With brightly painted doors and perfectly grown creeping vines and flowering plants that would make Martha Stewart swoon, even an hour spent in Tourrettes provides plenty to take in. The intoxicating smell of violets is everywhere, and there are also the outer roads, which offer borderline-vertiginous views of the valley below and the neighboring hills. It's nothing short of stunning.
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