Vacationers the world over have been flocking to the French Riviera, or Cote d’Azur, for centuries. They come for health, for status, and most of all to enjoy the beaches. The turquoise waters of the Mediterranean lap on the Riviera’s shores for dozens of miles, and the sun shines to warm bathing suit-clad bodies for nearly the entire year. Make the most of your trip by enjoying yourself both in and around the clear blue water.
For the most breathtaking views of the coast, it’s best to get a bit of distance for a wider perspective. The Riviera is home to one of the highest densities of yachts in the world. Charter one for a couple of hours to get a taste for the good life, or live it up in luxury by renting one (complete with staff, of course) for several days and take a tour up and down the coast.
A lovely day trip from Cannes is to take a ferry to the Iles de Lerins, two small islands right offshore. On island are a monastery, remains of a fort and other ruins, a lot of eucalyptus and pine forest perfect for a hike, and a port. Around the port are some small cafes and restaurants. One of the best parts about a trip to the islands, though, is the view of the coastline. The other is the chance to get in the water. The beaches here are equally beautiful but frequently much less crowded than those on the mainland, and there is even some decent snorkeling. Rent a snorkel in town and bring it out to see what the Riviera marine life looks like.
If you just want to enjoy the beaches in front of the city, though, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Many of the beaches are the private property of the beachfront hotels along La Croisette, so the easiest way to go is to stay in one of these hotels and then take advantage of their prime real estate. There are a few public beaches as well, although they can get pretty darn crowded during tourist season. There is one near the Palais des Festivals, where the Film Festival takes place, and a couple more toward the western side of town. Or, if you’re willing to pay, many of the private beaches are available for public use – for a fee. Towels and chairs tend to be extra as well.
[photo courtesy of jamiejohndavies]