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The French Riviera, Côte d'Azur, can loosely be referred to as the Mediterranean coastline from Cassis (east of Marseilles) to Menton and the Italian border; where the coastal strip becomes the Italian Riviera.

Although Cannes is probably the geographic centre of what most people regard as the Côte d'Azur - from St Tropez to Monaco - Nice is the coast's transportation hub.

Nice - Côte d'Azur

The Nice Côte d'Azur Airport is France's third-busiest airport, and the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse - fast train) brings rail passengers from Paris to the South of France in just five and a half hours.

Budget travellers might prefer the overnight train, to save on the price of accommodation.

Provence - Alpes - Côte d'Azur

Alpes-Maritimes (06), Var (83) and Bouches-du-Rhône (13) are the French départements that run along the coast of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur région.

This is the region a lot of people think about when they say the 'South of France'.

The French Riviera 80 Miles of Mediterranean Sunlight

The French Riviera, otherwise known as the Cote d’ Azur, is 80 miles of beautiful pastel buildings, Belle Époque architecture, seaside cafes and tottering villages strewn on cliff sides overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

The gin and turquoise colour of the Mediterranean and the unique sunlight in this part of the world has attracted everyone from artists and high rollers to ex-patriots and aspiring starlets.

Once home to Collette, Matisse and Grace Kelly, Nice, the fifth largest city in France, is the focal point of the Cote d’ Azur. If you book a cruise to the Mediterranean, then Nice will also be your home base to explore this famed stretch of French coastline.

The cruise ships dock on the Quai du Commerce; a twenty-minute walk to the centre of Nice.

Renting a car is the best way to see the French Riviera. Despite the fact that a convertible Alpha Romero would be ideal to traverse the windy, cliff side roads, chances are something more economical is the way to go.

However, before you take off for Monaco or St. Tropez there are plenty of things to see and do in Nice.

Nice - At The heart of The Côte d'Azur

Nice is awash in light and colour. Bright and vibrant hues are everywhere. Red tiled roofs and lemon coloured stucco buildings are crowded together on narrow, labyrinthine streets.

It's no wonder that Matisse took up residency in Nice, as everywhere you turn the view looks like one of his colourful paintings.

The best place to take in the splendour of Nice is on the Promenade des Anglais; a 7km seaside boulevard that curves above the city’s Bay of Angels.

The promenade is a popular spot to walk, eat ice cream, rollerblade or simply wander about in the sunshine or sit on a bench and people watch or look out at the luxury yachts and schooners strewn across the bay.

The Cimiez Quarter

The Cimiez Quarter of Nice refers to the large hill that overlooks the town.

High above the city centre you will find a seventeenth century Franciscan Monastery, complete with an ancient sundial.

The Cimiez Quarter is also the location of the Matisse Museum and the Marc Chagall Museum.

Furthermore, there are remnants of the Roman Empire on the Hill of Cimiez. A Roman bath complex and a 600-seat amphitheatre, which was later rebuilt and is currently used for festivals, complete the tour.

Italian Baroque architecture

A great example of Italian Baroque architecture, the Lascaris Palace is an excellent destination if you are interested in how the nobility once lived.

Elegant staircases, soaring balconies and seventeenth and eighteenth century furnishings create a posh showcase of the wealthy. Be sure to check out the murals and Delftware.

Nice is a compact town, but it is still difficult to see it all. After you reconsider the Alpha Romero, you are going to want to put Nice in the rear-view and head to Cannes.

Find great deals and offers on Mediterranean cruises at Virgin Holidays Cruises.

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Riviera Rental Guide - Holiday Rentals in France and Italy

Riviera Rental Guide - Holiday Rentals in France and Italy.

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