A French Belle Époque Travel Paradise: A Comprehensive South of France Travel Guide and Itinerary


Looking for a scenic vacation destination to larp as an old money artist from the belle époque? Nestled along the azure coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the South of France beckons travelers with its irresistible blend of timeless elegance, sun-kissed, painfully rocky beaches, and old town charm. Welcome to the French Riviera, a region steeped in history, brimming with picturesque landscapes, and exuding an undeniable charm that has captivated hearts for centuries.

This is a comprehensive guide to visiting the South of France, full of the best affordable hotels, beaches, museums, restaurants, photo spots, transportation tips, and more so you make the most of your stay in the French Riviera.

The Legacy of the French Riviera

To understand the allure of the French Riviera is to delve into its rich tapestry of history. Once a playground for European aristocrats and artists seeking inspiration, the region’s glamorous reputation took root in the 18th century. It was here that luminaries like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, and Coco Chanel found respite and creativity amidst the stunning vistas and vibrant culture.

What City to Stay and Hotels

Best to stay in Nice, France. Cannes is basically an uneventful, luxury shopping center and other smaller towns are too remote.

Hotel Simone Cannes is a relatively affordable 4-star hotel located in the restaurant and shopping center Rue d’Antibe. Located in front of the train station. It’s just 6 minutes away from the beach, and 3 minutes away from the train station.

I loved my French Riviera time so much, that I extended my stay in a Nice, France hotel, and canceled my flight to Italy.

Hôtel The Jay by HappyCulture

I highly recommend Hotel The Jay. It’s a four-star hotel with amazing service, beautiful, clean, ample rooms,  just a 5 minute walk from the beach. I even got a free upgrade to a spacious suite with a balcony, and all the staff were incredibly welcoming and nice. It’s the best hotel experience I’ve had in all my European travels.


Trains and Uber

The plane ride from Paris to Nice is about 1 hour and 25 minutes. We then headed to the Uber pickup area, and traveled 30 minutes from Nice to Cannes.

Cannes to Nice is about a 30 minute train ride. Buy tickets on the app or in the train station To get to the boarding stations across the rails, just go down the stairs.

Nice train station to Nice old town center is 30 minute walk.

The Cannes to Monaco train takes about one hour.


Monaco is a pretty quiet, uneventful place outside of the Formula-1 racing season. Monaco was part of France until 1215 when it became a colony of Genoa. The Grimaldi family settled in Monaco in 1297 and have controlled the principality for over 715 years now. Prince Charles III was the one who built the Monte Carlo district and casino. About 36,000 people abide in Monaco. 

Arriving to Monaco

The Cannes to Monaco train takes about one hour. Ubers are not permitted in Monaco, only outside the borders, so plan your trip accordingly. The train ride along the coast is quite scenic. 

Monte Carlo Casino

The walk from the Monte Carlo train station to casino Monte Carlo is about 13 minutes. You must show a passport to enter the Monaco casino and not wear beach attire or sandals. Bag check is to the right of the entrance. It is open to visitors daily from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. The gaming rooms and slot machines are accessible from 2:00 pm to 4:00 am. They include French and English roulette, Punto Banco, Blackjack and Texas Holdem’ Ultimate Poker. There are numerous slot machines in Europe, Renaissance and Americas rooms. 

Cafe Paris Monte Carlo 

Cafe Paris Monte Carlo has a nice selection of drinks and desserts outside with a restaurant inside.

Prince’s Palace of Monaco 

Princess Palace of Monaco area is about a 25 minute walk away from Casino Monte Carlo. The walk up is about 10 minutes. It mission costs for state apartments. Adults, 10 year olds, 6-17 years old. Students, 5 Euros. Princess Palace of Monaco. Pile du Prince is located on the Monaco Rock, right next to Monaco’s old town. They are separated only by the place du Pile, which overlooks the port of Hercules on one side and the district of Frontville on the other. The Princess Palace has been the official seat of the Grimaldi family for over 700 years. Frontville.

Basking in the Sun: The Best Beaches

The Nice, France ocean (Baie des Anges) is actually as mesmerizingly “gatorade blue” as social media tells you. The striking two-toned sea color is caused by the limestone pebbles (galets).

Best Beaches for Swimming

No journey to the French Riviera is complete without indulging in its sun-drenched beaches, where the gentle lapping of waves provides a soothing soundtrack to your vacation. From the glamorous shores of Nice’s Promenade des Anglais to the secluded coves of Antibes, each beach offers its own unique charm.

Nice, France has a beautiful blue shore, but if you’re looking for calm swimming waters head to Antibes, Villefranche-sur-mer and Saint Jan Cap Ferrat. For a taste of luxury, head to Pampelonne Beach near Saint-Tropez, where pristine sands meet crystal-clear waters, and beach clubs beckon with chilled champagne and gourmet cuisine.


Cannes is the only city with sandy beaches. 

Buy water shoes—the pebble beaches are no joke wall.


 French beaches don’t really offer seaside entertainment. What a liveliness that popular tropical sandy beaches do. But they’re still relaxing to visit if you’re in France. The most entertainment you can find is a restaurant with live music, or one of the few local bars. It’s not a very adventurous place.

Beach Club Recommendation:

Ruhl Plage – This beach club has a restaurant, changing rooms, lounge chairs and chair side drinks and snack service. The food is good, but a bit overpriced. I had a  r pina colada which I don’t recommend and the roasted cod with mashed potatoes and olives, which was delectable. Good but overpriced lunches. Don’t recommend the pina colada though. Had the cod with mashed potatoes and olives which was delectable. It’s open: 9:00-7:00 €23 sun beds, terrace, & restaurant friendly service right on the promenade des anglais. 

Culinary Delights: Restaurants to Savor

Prepare your taste buds for a culinary odyssey through the flavors of Provence and the Mediterranean. From quaint bistros tucked away in cobblestone alleyways to Michelin-starred establishments overlooking the sea, the French Riviera boasts a gastronomic scene that delights and enchants in equal measure. Indulge in freshly-caught seafood at La Mère Germaine in Villefranche-sur-Mer or savor traditional Niçoise cuisine at Le Safari in Nice. For a truly unforgettable experience, book a table at La Colombe d’Or in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, where art and cuisine converge in perfect harmony

Most restaurants serve dinner starting around. 7pm.

Ruhl Plage – Good but overpriced lunches. Don’t recommend the pina colada though. Had the cod with mashed potatoes and olives which was delectable..

Across from Castle beach are restaurants, souvenir shops and the evening market.Food options are pretty repetitive long promenade de anglais. There’s a lot of Italian food and basic French food. While taste is subjective, beware that French food is simply flavored, lacking seasoning

Nice also has delicious gelato.

Photo Spots Not to Miss

With its breathtaking scenery and timeless beauty, the French Riviera is a photographer’s paradise. From the pastel-hued buildings of Menton to the cliffside village of Èze, every corner offers a picture-perfect moment waiting to be captured. Climb the winding streets of Old Town in Antibes for panoramic views of the Mediterranean, or stroll along the iconic Croisette in Cannes, where palm trees sway against the backdrop of luxury yachts and azure waters. Don’t forget to wander through the enchanting gardens of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, where meticulously landscaped grounds provide the perfect setting for a memorable photo shoot.

Castle Hill 

Castle Hill is about a 20 to 30 minute walk up. Castle Hill of nice, fun. It’s about a 20 to 30 minute walk up. Castle Hill of nice, fun. From 92 meters above, and used to be a military citadel. Castle Hill of nice, fun. Promenade this angly. Descent down Castle Hill is via some short stairs. Co-tip, there’s a hidden elevator if you want to avoid the hike.

Monaco Casino

Villa Ephrussi 


Iconic Attractions: Must-See Destinations

Immerse yourself in the cultural heritage of the French Riviera with visits to its iconic attractions and landmarks. Explore the opulent halls of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes, where the world’s biggest film stars gather each year for the renowned Cannes Film Festival. Discover the rich history of Monaco at the Prince’s Palace and marvel at the grandeur of the Monte Carlo Casino. For a taste of old-world charm, venture inland to the medieval village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, where cobblestone streets and art galleries transport you back in time.


Immerse yourself in a world of artistic wonder and cultural intrigue as you explore the museums and galleries of the French Riviera. From the vibrant streets of Nice to the historic squares of Antibes, the Riviera is a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces waiting to be discovered. Lose yourself in the enchanting halls of the Musée Matisse, where the works of the legendary painter come to life amidst the lush gardens and serene atmosphere. Marvel at the eclectic collection housed within the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC) in Nice, where contemporary art takes center stage in a stunning architectural setting. And don’t miss the chance to wander through the Musée Picasso in Antibes, housed within the walls of a medieval château and home to one of the largest collections of Picasso’s works in the world. Whether you’re a seasoned art aficionado or simply seeking inspiration, the museums of the French Riviera promise a journey of discovery and delight that will linger in your heart long after you’ve bid farewell to this enchanting corner of the world.

Across from Castel beach are restaurants, souvenir shops and the evening artisanal market. Just don’t get scammed, some of the items they sell can be found in souvenir shops.

While the French Riviera may exude an air of luxury and sophistication, it’s kind of overly-glamorized as a beach destination. As you journey through the sun-drenched landscapes and vibrant cities of the French Riviera, you’ll discover a world of beauty, culture, and romance unlike any other. From the glittering shores of Cannes to the historic streets of Nice, each moment spent in this enchanting region is a testament to the timeless allure of the South of France. So pack your bags, set sail for adventure, and prepare to fall under the spell of the French Riviera. Bon voyage!


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