Think of the French Riviera – even the name is romantic – and you think Love, with a capital L (and a French accent). It’s the seaside playground of the country of amour, how can it not be romantic? So in the name of lurrve I thought I’d put together a little list of some of the things to do and places to go to enjoy romance here in this gorgeous part of France. Here are six romantic things to do on the French Riviera.
Explore ancient hill villages
Whether you prefer to wander the tiny twisting alleys of a deserted hill village or browse the art galleries of one of the more populated places, the hill villages of the Alpes-Maritimes are made for romance. Clinging perilously to cliff tops and fortified to keep attackers at bay, these medieval villages are labyrinths of narrow lanes perfect for exploring and getting lost in. Just when you feel completely disorientated in the dark alleys, catching glimpses into tiny courtyards through low doors you stumble across a dazzling vista – a view over the Mediterranean sea or the southern Alps that takes your breath away. These villages perchés are almost all car-free, silent and magnificently located. My favourites? Gourdon (for its location/views), St Paul de Vence (for its galleries and beautiful renovations), Châteauneuf de Grasse (for its hidden-ness) and Saorge (for its authentic state and lack of any tourist trappings). Read about the 13 best here.
Create your own perfume
What could be more romantic than creating a scent for you or that special person in your life, in the world capital of perfume, the city of Grasse? Guided by experts, you can find your own personal fragrance, a scent that is exclusively yours that distinguishes you from the crowds. You create your very own signature brand using smells and scents that remind you of fond memories, that seduce you and your lover. This magical experience can be had at three of the most well-known perfumeries in Grasse – Fragonard, Galimard and Molinard.
Visit the flower market in Nice
Take a stroll through the famous flower market in Cours Saleya in the heart of old Nice. Shaded by pretty stripy awnings the stalls explode around you in a riot of colour and perfume, for the flower market offers up fruit, vegetables, spices, olives, oils and soaps as well as cut flowers and plants. With the brightly painted buildings surrounding the square and the scent of hundreds of different blooms filling the air it really is an assault on the senses in the very best way. The market is open every day except Monday and mornings are best as most stalls pack up at lunchtime to make way for restaurants.
Watch the sun go down over the Bay of Angels on the romantic French Riviera
There are any number of romantic places to watch the sunset on the Côte d’Azur, but one of my favourites has to be from the Castle Hill in Nice, looking out over the sweeping Baie des Anges. From here you can see the whole of Nice, with the old town just below, the hills of Cimiez to the right, across to the airport and beyond. Other good spots can be found on any of the beaches along the coast and of course from hilltop lookouts such as Gourdon and St Paul de Vence.
Sip cocktails on a roof terrace restaurant
So your budget doesn’t run to staying in one of the luxury hotels on the seafront in Nice, Cannes or the Cap d’Antibes (and why would you want to when you can stay at Lou Messugo!) but an apéritif on a rooftop bar is a must for lovers. Enjoy the uninterrupted view of the beach and horizon from high above, away from the crowds and city noise.
Laze the day away on a luxury beach bed
…a double bed! Luxuriate in your own private nest right on the beach, indulging in waiter service for snacks and drinks. While this doesn’t come cheap, it’s an intimate, romantic and unusual way to spend the day on the beach. Available for hire in Nice. Other options include regular sunbeds with parasols and lunch included, or just the sun-lounger; on most beaches along the Côte d’Azur. Prices vary from beach to beach, with Cannes and Juan les Pins the dearest. The season for sunbeds runs from approximately late April to early October, but throughout the year the beach is always a romantic place to stroll, play and spend time with your chéri(e). Find out more about private beaches here.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg, it’s far far from definitive. There are so many more romantic things to do on the Côte d’Azur, I could never write about them all. But I’d love to hear from you. Have you been to the French Riviera with your love? Where is the most romantic place you’ve been?
Want more romance? Find out how romantic France celebrates Valentine’s Day
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Photo credits: thanks to Liz Denfeld who took the following photos while staying at Lou Messugo: the sunset over the Bay of Angels, the beach bed, the prawn cocktail and the couple on the beach.