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Looking for a unique French Riviera itinerary to have an amazing holiday in the South of France? This travel guide has got you covered!
The French Riviera is still a dream destination for many and it’s not hard to figure out why. With its beautiful towns that have been beautifully maintained in their original state with cobblestone streets, terracotta roofs and a dozen flowers and plants covering their walls. The South of France truly speaks to the imagination.
Add to that its warm Mediterranean climate, azure blue coastal water perfect to take a refreshing dip and delicious local cuisine.
Since I’m a big fan of the smaller towns along the French Riviera due to their unique charm I will also skip over the bigger cities like Nice, Cannes and Monaco. While these 3 are for sure worth a visit they’re a little too bombastic for my taste. But hey, if you like an expensive shopping spree be my guest and add them to your personal travel itinerary.
Instead my French Riviera travel guide will have you discovering the beautiful hidden gems of the Côte d’Azur and strolling through the most beautiful towns in the South of France.
The Perfect French Riviera Road Trip Itinerary – South Of France Travel Guide
Below you’ll already find a perfect overview of this French Riviera itinerary. It’s built in a way that you can have a relaxing holiday as well. But if you’re a little short on time you can also combine some of the villages of day 1 through day 4 and day 5 through day 8. You’ll still have plenty of downtime and since a lot of these villages in the South of France are pretty small you don’t need much time to explore them.
How to reach the French Riviera
🚗 By Car
We drove all the way from Belgium to the South of France which takes around 11 hours, depending on traffic. We driving on the highway in France you’ll pass by a lot of toll booths called “payage”. Here you will either need to grab a ticket and pay a fee later at the next toll booth or you’ll have to pay a fee from the start.
For our route leading from Antwerp to St Tropez we payed €67 in toll for driving one way. ✈️
🛫 By Plane
The Aéroport Nice Côte d’Azur is the main hub for the French Riviera and the second busiest international airport in the country after Paris.
Getting around the French Riviera
I’m a big believer that the best way to travel is by having your own car cause of all the freedom it comes with. Especially if you want to stay in Saint Tropez and use it as a base to explore other places in the area then this is the way to go!
While the public transportation around Nice is pretty solid, this is not the case in the area of St Tropez. In this area your best and easiest way of getting around is definitely by car.
🚘 Renting a car? I recommend getting a car from SunnyCars as they work with local car rental companies. When booking through Sunny Cars, the price already includes all insurance.
Book your rental car here.
Parking – Every town that we visited had a designated parking lot but I will mention it as well for every place separately.
Navigating – I recommend downloading the map of the South of France already when you’re home on Google Maps. This way you don’t need data while navigating. And you can also pin several locations already to your map like points of interest, hotels, parking lots, restaurants, etc…
Where to stay when traveling the French Riviera
We based ourselves in two places, we started in Ste Maxime and ended our trip in Villefranche-sur-Mer.
While staying Ste Maxime is cheaper, especially in high season it does mean you will always have to drive a lot further if you want to visit St Tropez, Ramatuelle, Grimad and Bormes-les-Mimosas. In the very early hours traffic is still okay but once 9am it can sometimes take 45 minutes simply to drive from Ste Maxime to St Tropez.
That’s also why I don’t really recommend staying there but rather around the area of St Tropez.
Below you’ll find my top recommendations for both St Tropez and Villefranche-sur-Mer.
Best stays in St Tropez
- Pan Dei Palais is a household name on the French Riviera nestled within the colorful streets of Saint Tropez and located on 5 minutes walking from Place des Lices.
- The Byblos Palace Hotel is a luxury location in the heart of Saint-Tropez and invites you to enjoy a magical and timeless getaway between Provence and French Riviera.
- The Mirage is nestled in the middle of Mediterranean vegetation, between mimosas, palm trees and agaves. It is a quiet and relaxing place in a unique setting in Bormes-les-Mimosas.
Best stays in Villefranche-sur-Mer
We stayed at the beautiful Welcome Hotel, which is really the best place to stay if you base yourself in Villefranch-sur-Mer.
Situated at the boardwalk of the historic town all rooms come with a balcony offering incredible views over the bay of Villefranche.
They offer in-room breakfast, which you can enjoy from your private terrace, while looking at the sun glistening on the turquoise water.
Make sure to book well in advance cause this place tends to sell out for the summer.
The Perfect French Riviera Road Trip Itinerary
The iconic town of Saint Tropez is definitely one of the best towns to visit on the French Riviera. It is known worldwide as the epitome of glitz and glamour and you can most definitely feel that vibe when walking around. The main streets are lined with designer boutiques and here you’ll find anything from Hermès to Celine and all that’s in between.
Highlights of St Tropez
- Have dinner at La Ramade for the perfect romantic evening.
- Go for a walk along La Ponche and admire the more quiet side of Saint Tropez.
- Grab an ice cream from Barbarac
- Enjoy brunch at Dior Des Lices
- Visit the market on Places de Lices
🚗 PARKING – There are three parking lots to choose from when visiting Saint Tropez. There’s the parking located near the harbor, parking Place des Lices and parking Foch. All of them are paid parking lots.
Grimaud is a small village only a few kilometers from Saint Tropez and should not be confused with Port Grimaud.
Grimaud has a history dating back to the Gallo-Roman age and because of its strategic position the castle of Grimaud dominated the whole area until the 17th century. Actually, what is now known as the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, used to be the Gulf of Grimaud until the end of the 19th century.
Highlights of Grimaud
- During the summer months there will also be a couple of events hosted here. For instance an open-air cinema that returns every year with showings of Moulin Rouge, The Greatest Showman, West Side Story and La La Land.
- Visit the ruins of castle Grimaud
- Wander through the old town of Grimaud
- Have dinner at Fleur de Sel
🚗 PARKING – Parking Chateau Grimaud is an easy to get to parking lot and can either take you straight up to the castle or if you walk around you’ll arrive in the heart of Grimaud.
The historic village of Bormes-les-Mimosas was one of my favorite towns to visit in the South of France. It’s a little further from Saint Tropez compared to Grimaud and Ramatuelle but definitely worth the 50 minutes driving!
Highlights of Bormes-les-Mimosas
- The best thing to do here is simply stroll through its myriad of small alleys lined with beautiful flowers and colorful houses.
- Follow the Boulevard de la République to discover a beautiful viewpoint over the town of Bormes-les-Mimosas.
- Visit the market at Bormes-les-Mimosas every Wednesday morning
- Have dinner at Le Jardin and dine underneath the oleander trees. Their menu changes with the seasons to offer you the best the region has to offer.
🚗 PARKING – Park your car at Parking St François for free.
The charming village of Ramatuelle is perched on top of a hill overlooking the bay of Pampelonne. It’s about 20 minutes driving from Saint Tropez but during the summer months it can become incredibly busy here during the day.
We explored Ramatuelle in the early morning and while most shops and restaurants were still closed, we did have the town pretty much to ourselves which was incredibly nice.
Highlights of Ramatuelle
- Every Sunday and Thursday morning there’s a traditional market held in the centre.
- Grab a romantic sunset dinner at in the main street of Ramatuelle
- Spend an afternoon at the beach at Plage de l’Escalet
- Enjoy the truffle pasta at La Pomme de Pin.
🚗 PARKING – There’s a small parking lot at the top of the village. From here you just need to take some stairs down and you’ll find yourself in the centre of Ramatuelle.
St Jean Cap Ferrat
St Jean Cap Ferrat is a small peninsula about 15 minutes driving from Villefranche-sur-Mer. In fact the hamlet of Saint-Jean was, until the end of the 19th century, a fishing and farming village forming part of the town of Villefranche-sur-Mer.
Highlights of St Jean Cap Ferrat
- Grab breakfast in the old harbor of St Jean Cap Ferrat
- Enjoy a day at the public Paloma Beach
- Walk along the coast from Paloma Beach the Sentier du Littoral
- Visit the beautiful Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild – €16 per person and you can get a free audio guide upon entering the villa.
🚗 PARKING – You can park alongside the road right above the beach or park at the parking lot in town. Both are paid parking.
The beautiful coastal town of Villefranche-sur-Mer is a must visit when you’re traveling along the Côte d’Azur. This gorgeous seaside village pretty much has everything: cute colorful streets, a picturesque harbor, crystal clear turquoise water and the perfect beach to relax for the afternoon.
Highlights of Villefranche-sur-Mer
- We had dinner at Le Trastevere which is an excellent option for price/quality. During the day you can make a reservation and request a table by the waterfront.
- While the main street can be pretty busy it’s best to wander off to the smaller alleys where you’ll find a lot less tourists.
- Spend the afternoon at the beach called Plage des Marinieres
- Discover the Rue Obscure
- Watch the sunset from the marina
- Enjoy an aperitivo at Welcome Hotel
🚗 PARKING – There are two main parking lots in Villefranche-sur-Mer. If you arrive in the morning you should opt for Parking Wilson which is right next to the harbor and town. If you’re only arriving in the afternoon or evening this parking lot will probably be full, then simply drive along the waterfront towards Parking Plage Villefranche-sur-Mer. From here it’s about 15 minutes walking back to the town but the entire way you’ll have stunning views of the bay.
The small hilltop town of Eze is located in the South of France is located between Nice and Monaco. The village is famous for its spectacular views, impressive architecture, and stunning geographical location above the French Riviera.
Highlights of Eze
- Walking the narrow streets of this town is like being transported back to the Middle Ages. But you don’t need much time to explore Eze since the town is very small.
- Have dinner on the terrace of Chateau Eza for one of the best views and sunset experiences.
- Make a stop at the “Bella Vista” viewpoint for a stunning view over the hilltop town.
- Visit the Eze Church
- See The Best Views in Eze from the Jardin Exotique for €6 per person.
🚗 PARKING – There’s only 1 small parking lot so I can’t emphasize enough to start your day early here!
Because of its close proximity to Italy, Menton can sometimes even feel more Italian than French. but its shuttered houses and terracotta roofs are what Riviera dreams are made of.
Despite the fact that it’s so close to overabundance of Monaco, Menton has retained its original flair and way more affordable prices.
Highlights of Menton
- Spend a day at the beach
- One of the best views over Menton is from the rocks at the end of the Quai Impératrice Eugénie
- Grab a pizza at La Belle Escale and take it with you to the hrabor to enjoy the sunset over Menton with a slice of pizza.
- Visit the Jean Cocteau Museum
- Visit the Saint-Michel Basilica
🚗 PARKING – Park your car underground at Parking Old Town – Sablettes.
Absolute favorites of this trip
- Having dinner at La Ramade for the perfect romantic evening in St Tropez
- Spending a day at the beach in St Jean Cap Ferrat
- Visiting the beautiful Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
- Sunset dinners in Villefranche-sur-Mer
- Wandering the streets of Menton
- Visiting the hidden gem Bormes-les-Mimosas
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