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The French Riviera, with so much to offer is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. People come from all over the globe to enjoy its fine climate, spectacular scenery and unique atmosphere.
Listed here are some of the things you may like to know before visiting us here on the magnificent Côte d'Azur .

Where exactly is the Riviera ? * Getting There. * Travel Essentials * Climate * Where to Stay * Eating & Drinking * Cultural Activities * Language * Getting Around * Sport & Activities * Money Matters. * Your Input. * Safety & Security.

Where exactly is the Riviera?
The French Riviera or Côte d'Azur (blue coast) is situated in the Provence region of France on the South east coast and on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Its total length is around 110 kms (70 miles) and runs from St Tropez in the west to the Italian border in the east. Major places of interest along the coast include - St Tropez, St Raphael, Fréjus , Cannes , Antibes / Juan les Pins , Nice , Villefranche sur Mer , Beaulieu , Monaco / Monte Carlo, Sophia Antipolis & Menton. Inland places of interest include Hyères , Grasse , Biot , Valbonne & Vence plus many more small towns & villages.

Getting There - Back to Listing
By Air . Nice International Airport now welcomes over 4 million passengers a year, with plenty of direct flights to and from most major destinations. No matter where you live access to the Riviera won't be difficult. Should you be travelling from Paris or any other major French cities the national airline Air France provide plenty of internal flights.
By Sea . If you're lucky enough to have your own yacht (as many do on the Riviera) this won't be a problem, however it may be advisable to book a berth in advance with the local Capitainerie , if you don't then you can always charter one. A huge choice is available to suit all budgets.(more details can be found in the Virtual Riviera Yacht Directory ). Many cruise ships also visit the Riviera, often calling in at Marseilles, Toulon, Nice, Cannes, Villefranche or St Tropez.
By Rail . The excellent French rail system (SNCF) provides fast and easy access to the Riviera from all over France, and it's now possible to travel here from anywhere in Europe on a single ticket. Once you've arrived the train is a great way to see the Riviera with several spectacular journeys available.
By Car . Fairly straightforward from anywhere in Europe. But don't forget that the fast French highways or payéage are toll roads so remember to carry some change.

Travel Essentials Back to Listing
All persons entering France must possess a current valid passport. And all persons entering France from outside the EEC must possess a visa, this includes the U.S & Canada. These can be obtained at any French Consulate and unless you have a shadowy background should be a formality. Visas must be obtained before departure.

Weather & climate Back to Listing
The Riviera/Provence area usually enjoys around 300 sunny days per year, the hottest months being June, July & August. The sun is immensely strong so be prepared with plenty of high protection sunblock as a bad dose of sunburn or sunstroke can ruin your trip not to mention your health permanently. During September, October & November the weather gets milder, but still remains very pleasant, and winter starts around December through to Febuary although temperatures only get down to about 45oF (7oC). March and April sees spring arrive (very pleasant) and May sees the beginning of summer. Local skiing is best between December & March, nearest slopes are about a 1 hour drive from the coast.

Where to Stay Back to Listing
An enormous choice of accomodation is available. You could spend a small fortune for one night at a luxury hotel, or next to nothing sharing with a friend for a week at one of the many campsites. As a general guide all hotels use the star rating system, 4 stars have the highest rating 1 star the lowest, it really does depends on you, however 1 star hotels are perfectly adequate and always have reasonably good facilities. The Virtual Riviera Hotel Directory lists some excellent hotels to suit most budgets. Holiday apartments are a good alternative to hotels. Some good deals can be found here .
Gîtes are another option, these are usually traditional Provençal houses or flats normally found close to farms or villages and provide an excellent alternative to the hotel circuit for those looking for the peace of the countryside. The Riviera has many campsites , again rated with the star system all providing decent and affordable accommodation. The many local tourist authorities are always willing to help with advice & details.
Youth hostels are another option, again the local tourist authorities can help here, or you can contact your local youth hostel association who will be able to provide you with a full listing.

Eating & Drinking Back to Listing
An endless choice of eateries awaits the Riviera visitor. Just about any dish is available always prepared to high standards. Local specialities include gigot de mouton (leg of lamb with provençal herbs), Daube (braised beef with spices & red wine), soupe de poisson (a delicious all liquid fish soup served with croutons and the spicy maionaisse 'rouille' the choice really is enormous so perhaps the best advice is to go and experiment - you will not be disappointed. Excellent local wines (whites rosés & reds) are available cheaply just about everywhere, some nice ones to try out include Châteneuf du Pape (red), the white Muscat from Beaune de Venise & any of the 'Côtes de Provence' rosés. The Riviera is also the home of the famous 'Pastis' an anise flavoured aperitif usually taken before meals. A good proportion of social activity takes place in the scores of cafés & bars found in every town & village in France. The cafés often have a light menu and are excellent places just to sit & relax with a coffee or a cold beer.
Nightlife . There are plenty of nightclubs & casinos along the Riviera, often open until dawn, check the local papers for details, or ask around.

Cultural activities Back to Listing
The Riviera offers a huge choice of year round cultural activities, museums, art galleries, concerts, exhibitions and the like. Again check with the local tourist authorities, a comprehensive listing of tourist offices can be found here . Or on the French Riviera cities list

Language Back to Listing .
Although not essential, it would be useful to learn some simple words & phrases. The small pocket books available at airports are good for this. Being an international area lots of people do speak some English but If you do get stuck the locals will usually help you out.

Getting Around Back to Listing
Plenty of public transport is available, buses run between most towns & timetables are available at the bus stations.
Trains are clean & comfortable and run at regular intervals between the major towns.
Car rental is straightforward enough, with most of the major rental agencies represented (valid driving licence required). Many of the smaller villages are only accessible by car or bicycle so for serious explorers personal transport is a must. Most major towns will have at least one bicycle rental shop - ask at the local tourist office for details.
On Foot . Certain parts of Provence have dozens of wonderful walking and hiking trails, the tourist offices can supply you with maps & details.

Sport & Activities Back to Listing
Something for everybody here. Just about all watersports are covered along the coast. With many watersport clubs offering condensed courses. Inland activities include skiing, cycling & mountain biking, rock climbing, golf , hiking & horseback riding. Tennis courts are everywhere and there is very good squash club in Antibes. Should you fancy watching a soccer game, the local French first division teams are Cannes, Nice & Monaco. Other spectator sports include horse racing & basketball. The Riviera hosts various sporting tournaments, car rallies are fairly regular and every May there's the Monaco Grand Prix.

Money Matters Back to Listing
The French unit of currency is the Franc, equal to 100 Centimes. Most newspapers give the current exchange rate. You can change money at any Bureau de Change, some tourist offices, most banks and the larger hotels. Credit Cards are accepted at most hotels and restaurants, and you can often use your card in bank cash dispensers. Travellers cheques are a good way to carry funds and can be used just about anywhere providing you have some form of I.D.

Safety & Security Back to Listing
The Riviera is an especially safe holiday destination, however, as with most tourist areas we would advise visitors with cars not to leave valubles, bags, cameras etc on display in your car. An opportunist theif could easily spoil what could be an otherwise fantastic trip.

What Info would you like to see here?
Any input from visitors is always welcome, please send your thoughts or ideas to dom@riviera.fr.
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