French Riviera (Côte d’Azur)

The Côte d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera, is the Mediterranean coastline situated in the South of France.

It became popular in the 18th century, when the British upper class went there to spend their winter holidays.

It has always been considered as an exclusive holiday destination, much loved by aristocrats, artists and celebrities. It is funny though to think that before it was urbanised, the French Riviera was nothing but a long stretch of deserted land, without any attraction.

The first wealthy English moved who moved over there settled quite far from the beach, to enjoy the variety of the vegetation offered in the region.

In the first half of the 20th century, great figures like Picasso and Matisse grew very affectionate towards this tiny, yet amazing land strip, which sandy beaches and turquoise water combined with the most beautiful and colourful vegetation in the whole of France, will steal anyone’s heart.

After the Second World War, the French Riviera became a very popular tourist destination for wealthy people and, today, it is home to nearly 90 000 foreign residents who speak different languages and add a multicultural touch to the region.

The pearl and largest city of the whole Côte d’Azur is Nice. With a population of around 350 000 people, where you also will find the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, France’s third busiest airport.

Although most fashion shows and glamorous events are held in Nice, the French Riviera includes the beautiful seaside resorts of Cap-d’Ail, Cannes (known for its film festival), Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Fréjus, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Antibes, Juan-les-Pins, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Saint-Raphaël, Sainte Maxime and Saint-Tropez.

Even though the French Riviera is mainly known for its amazing sandy coastline, it is home to a technology and science park, and to a research and technology centre in the north of Antibes, at Sophia-Antipolis.

The Côte d’Azur, however, remains one of Europe’s major yachting marinas and, because it is kissed by the sun all year round, the influx of tourists is therefore almost constant.

And, with the many golf courses, ski resorts, fancy restaurants, hotels, clubs and discos that are spread throughout the whole region, visitors are definitely spoilt for choice.

However, that’s not all. Some of the must-see places you should not miss are the Promenade des Anglais, a beautiful walk along the sea whose construction was proposed by the wealthy Englishmen who first inhabited the region, the Zone Pietonne, a large pedestrian zone close to the Promenade des Anglais, where tourists can find a wide selection of restaurants specialising in foreign cuisines.

What you also shouldn’t miss, are the beautiful public beaches that are spread out over the Southern French coastline, such as Antibes, Cannes (La Croisette), Menton, Nice, Juan les Pins, Villeneuve Loubet and Cap d’Antibes.

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