French Riviera Secrets

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Cities and towns on the French Riviera

Looking at the Côte d'Azur from above, you realise how densily populated the region actually is. In fact, Nice and its surroundings have recently (October 2011) received official "Metropolis" status.
The region's towns and cities have a lot to offer in terms of history, culture and arts, and not just in the city of Nice.
Theatre, opera, museums, music festivals, carnival, sporting events, and much more is being offered.
You can visit these at any time of the year of course, even in summer;low humidity, wind and the proximity of the sea usually mean it does not get as hot and sticky as in many larger, more inland located cities.


Nice

Nice is the undisputed capital of the French Riviera. It has a long and rich history, and for several periods in the last two millennia it did not even belong to France. Instead, it was part of County of Savoy (from 1388 to 1718); in 1718 Nice became part of the kingdom of Sardinia, until 1793, when it was returned to France, only to become part of Sardinia again in 1814...
Finally, in 1860 Nice became part of France again, and has remained so until today!
There is still a strong Italian influence, and Nice remains very popular with Italian visitors.


Antibes

The tiny fortified town of Antibes, over 2000 years old, is one of the best known places in the Côte d'Azur. No wonder, it boasts beaches, museums and night clubs, so it's bound to cater to all tastes.
It was founded as a Greek / Roman settlement some time in the 4th century BC. The original name of Antipolis was given due to it's position opposite to Nice, across the bay.
Situated between Nice and Cannes, and adjacent to Juan-Les-Pins, it is well known for its medieval ramparts, the luxury yachts moored in its harbour, and its lively town centre.
It's a beautiful place to for a leisurely stroll on a summer's afternoon, and evening.


Cannes

Cannes used to be only a small village of about 4 thousand inhabitants, up until as recently as the 19th century. Since then, it has become very popular with especially the English, who have a long-established presence in Cannes.
These days, Cannes has a population of around 70 thousand and is known around the world thanks to the Cannes Film Festival, taking place every year in May in the Palais des Festivals.


Grasse

Grasse is where we first settled down upon arrival in France.
It's a city with at least as much character as Cannes, but without the prestige and pretensions of its neighbour.
A lot of people working in the Sophia Antipolis technology park nearby live in this area, although not in the town centre itself but rather in the surrounding villages of St. Antoine, St. Jacques, Plascassier and others.
Grasse is best known for its perfume industry;  its perfume factories are open for the public and are a major tourist attraction. These perfume factories produce the base materials (essences) for the big perfume brands in Paris.


Monaco

The Principality of Monaco is a sovereign state, and lies between Nice and Menton. Best known for the Monaco Grand Prix, its casinos and status as tax haven, it is also an integral part of the French Riviera, and has many beautiful things to show its visitors.


Menton

Menton sits right on the beach, tucked in between Monte Carlo and Italy. The French Riviera as a whole has of course its own regional climate, but Menton has got its own micro climate, characterised especially by the mild winters, favouring the growing of citrus fruits.


Saint Raphael

St. Raphael is a popular tourist destination, at about 1 hour's drive from Nice. It has got some reasonable beaches, and a number of attractions of architectural and historical interest.
Just like its twin town, Frejus, St. Raphael is built on an ancient Roman settlement, and there are plenty of reminders of this around, especially in Fréjus.

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