With a seemingly year-round holiday vibe, the French Riviera epitomizes the joie de vivre. You’ll no doubt feel for yourself the good-life spirit in the Riviera’s coastal resort towns and up high in the perched villages clinging to the foothills of the Alps. While the over-the-top luxury is hard to escape, authenticity is never too far away. Get lost in the maze of old-city alleys, see what’s fresh at the Provencal markets, and embark on road trips filled with panoramic views and that adoring summer sound of cigales. In this 5 days in the French Riviera sample itinerary, I’ll take you to the very best sites and sounds of the Cote d’Azur.
This French Riviera itinerary is a combination of three separate visits to the French Riviera, traveling as a couple during July, April, and October. On every trip, we re-visited the places we absolutely loved and explored new areas – to make this itinerary the very best possible, while keeping things doable.
Where to Stay in the French Riviera?
If it’s 24/7 action you’re looking for and the ‘city life’ – base yourself in Nice. As you’ll see later on in this guide, the city has a lovely boardwalk, plenty of dining and drinking options, and of course – casinos! Being the fifth largest city in France – Nice has plenty of accommodations to choose from that suit all budgets and tastes.
For a stay in a charming old town that still offers some action, nothing beats Antibes. With awesome views of the Mediterranean and the Alpes, Antibes has a charming walled old city and a more modern beachside section. Much smaller than Nice, accommodations in Antibes are limited, so booking ahead is essential. The town is well situated for exploring everything mentioned in this sample itinerary.
French Riviera Travel Tips
- Get the Lonely Planet guide to Provence & the Cote d’Azur before heading to the French Riviera. Along with this 5 Days in the French Riviera sample itinerary – it’ll be your best friend while planning your holiday and during your stay.
- The French Riviera is a year-round destination, best enjoyed during the shoulder seasons (April-May-June and Sep-Oct). During these times, the weather is pleasant, the crowds haven’t yet arrived (or have already left), and the roads are less congested. Summer can feel quite claustrophobic and muggy, not to mention a bit pompous.
- You can get around by foot in the Riviera’s main towns such as Nice, Antibes and Cannes, and even use the bus or train to get from one town to the other. However, having a car is a real plus, as it will open up the beautiful countryside for exploration.
- Keep in mind that French highways are heavily tolled, but there’s always a slower and usually scenic alternative available free of charge. Use the scenic route in the mornings, and the highways on the return leg to strike the best balance between sites-costs-time.
- The area’s museums are usually free on bank holidays and the first Sunday of the month.
- There’s plenty of excellent produce to bring back home with you (olive oil, jams, lavender etc.) so consider paying for a checked luggage for the return leg back home.
- Scuba diving in the French Riviera? That’s right! You’ll find quite a few dive clubs in and around Antibes. The water is a bit chilly even during the summer, but just off the coast lies a bizarre underwater miniature city that was used in a 1960’s film.
5 Days in the French Riviera Itinerary Map
Click on the image below to open an interactive Google Map containing all the highlights mentioned in this 5 days in the French Riviera sample itinerary.