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  • khdeutmeyer

French Riviera in Fifteen Days... Cannes, Marseille, St. Tropez, and Nice...Amazing Trip!

Updated: Jul 3, 2022

Marseille, France on the French Riviera

The trip I always dreamed of taking was traveling along the French Riviera. We decided to take 15 days and do it!

“The coastline traveling along the French Riviera was unbelievable beauty! From Barcelona, Spain to Marseille, France to Nice and ending in Ventimiglia, Italy, the beauty, culture and the people were breathtaking! I could do this trip all over again and still not see everything!"

The trip started with us flying into Paris, France departing from Chicago. We used that as our point of entry into Europe because I LOVE Paris, and the airline tickets are much more affordable from Chicago. We rented our car for the entire trip at the airport in Paris and headed out from there toward Barcelona and Spain's coastline. We started our journey there because we had never been to Spain and wanted to see the entire coastline. We stayed south of Barcelona in Tarragona, Spain and took the train in to Barcelona and met up with a guided to tour on one of our first days of the trip. We also did a few day drives in the area of Tarragona and visited a small and very quaint cities such as Llorlet de Mar and Tossa De Mar. We didn't have much trouble with communication as many of the people in Spain spoke English too. We visited attractions in Barcelona such as Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, De Barcelona Cathedral, La Boqueria Market, and Mont Juic. We were even fortunate enough to see a Monk Parrott at Parc Cuell in Barcelona up in the palm trees. Since I love wildlife, that one one of the highlights of my day!

We also took a bus trip to Montserrat Monastery, located northwest of Barcelona on a mountain 1,236 meters high with magnificent views of Catalonia. Many of the tourists come to the Monastery because of the statue of the Black Madonna, patron saint of Catalonia. The 12th-century figure is enthroned above the high altar in the basilica of the monastery. In her honor the "Escolania de Montserrat", consisting of about 50 choirboys from the boarding school of the monastery church sings songs daily. It was a beautiful sight to see!

Tossa De Mar was one of the highlights of our time in Spain. We did a day trip to this lovely city. The vistas around Tossa de Mar are worth seeing even before you set foot in the town. Tossa de Mar is a charming village on the Costa Brava coast. Even before you step foot in the town, there are many things going for it. It is on a beautiful stretch of coastline and has clear turquoise water. The Old Town of Tossa de Mar is the only fortified town that remains on the Catalan coast. The castle was built in the 12th century and the stone walls enclosing its historic neighborhood were dated in 12th century too. A significant amount of the walls and towers remain and the views were magnificent from the castle. Play Gran is the most well-known beach of Tossa de Mar. The beach overlooks the medieval towers of the old part of Vila Vella. It is a definite eye-catcher and one of the most photographed beaches on the Costa Brava. Photos of the castle and Play Gran are below.

Another lovely city we visited was Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava in Spain's Catalonia region . It is known for its Mediterranean beaches. The medieval hilltop Castle of Sant Joan, to the east, offers views over the area, while the central Iglesia de Sant Romà church provides examples of both Catalan Gothic and modernist architecture. The beach photo below was our first experience stumbling upon a totally nude beach! It was a gorgeous beach but we didn't shed our swimwear! :-)

The Castle of Sant Joan (castell in Catalan) overlooks the beaches of Lloret de Mar and Fenals. All that remains today are a few vestiges of the original fortress that was built in the 11th century. At that time, the castle of Lloret de Mar consisted of walls, a chapel and a tower that can still be seen today. The views from the top of the castle are incredible and worth the walk to the top.

From Barcelona, Spain we drove the coastline to Marseille, France. It is a majestic city with a beautiful bay, surrounded by Fort Saint-Nicolas, and Fort Saint-Jean and the Castle of If, from Count of Monte Cristo fame. The basilica Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde overlooks the city and the bay area has boats and ships docked from all over the world. Marseille is the oldest city in France and the third largest city. The tourism mecca of Marseilles is the Old Port, the main port of Marseilles for over two thousand years. It is a large marina, surrounded on three sides by restaurants bistros cafés and shops. We took a boat tour from the port to see Marseille from the water. When visiting Marseille, a boat tour is a must! We also visited the basilica of Notre Dame, another must see when in Marseille. If I had known what a vibrant and beautiful Marseille was...we would have spent several days touring the city.

From Marseille to Nice, we stopped in Port Grimaud, Saint-Tropez and Cannes. Port Grimaud is called "French Venice" or "Mini Venice". It is fabulous town built like Venice. It has been built with all channels in a Venetian manner, but with the houses having French "fishermans" style similar to those in Saint Tropez. We have been to Venice and I would have to admit, Port Grimaud is NOTHING like Venice! While it is a quaint little village, it does not have the ambiance or classic style of Venice!

Our next stop on our travels to Nice, was Saint-Tropez. Now, I loved St. Tropez. Saint-Tropez is a coastal town on the French Riviera, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. it is popular with artists and the wealthy from around the world and is known for its beaches and nightlife. The cobblestoned La Ponche quarter recalls its past as a fishing village, although yachts now outnumber fishing boats in the Vieux Port (Old Port). If I do this trip ever again, I will definitely spend a few days in Saint-Tropez.

From Saint-Tropez we headed to Cannes, France, famed for the Cannes Film Festival. Cannes is lined with beautiful palm trees and sandy beaches. It is a very busy city with upper end shopping, hotels and restaurants.

After Cannes, we made it to Nice, France. My favorite city on the French Riviera. I LOVE Nice and would love to visit again. Located on the French Riviera, the southeastern coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of the French Alps, Nice is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast and second-largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azurregion after Marseille. Nice has a beautiful coat line, wide beaches, and many open air restaurants. Vieux Nice is the city’s vibrant old town, with narrow cobblestone streets and

pastel-hued buildings where shops sell Niçoise soaps and Provençal textiles, plus meats and cheeses. A daily market on pedestrian street Cours Saleya offers produce and flowers, and busy pubs and outdoor eateries serving specialties like socca crepes dot the area. It is a must see and eat while in Nice!

Nice is approximately 8 miles from the principality of Monaco and 19 miles from the French–Italian border. We stayed five nights in Nice and while there took a day trip to Monaco and also drove over the Italian border to Ventimiglia, Italy.

Below are photos of Nice, France.