Also known as the French Riviera, this area of the French Mediterranean coast is one of the world epicenters of tourism. Luxury, tradition, culture, leisure, beach and mountains meet on the Côte d’Azur to make it a special place for the visitor. To get to know it in depth, it will be necessary to travel through numerous towns and cities, all of them with a distinctive and distinctive touch. Traveling from west to east, the traveler will discover cities such as Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, or Nice.
The route begins in Arles, a small town in Provence that is located on the banks of the Rhone. The town was founded many centuries ago, during the years in which the Roman Empire dominated Europe. To certify its vast imperial past it is only necessary to walk the city on foot and visit the Roman amphitheater which, built around the year 90 BC, is the best preserved in France next to that of Nimes. Arles also has an interesting Roman theater, worse preserved than the amphitheater, yes, but they are both worth the visit.
The city, in addition to its notable Latin influence, is famous because at the end of the 19th century it welcomed Vincent Van Gogh among its streets and cafes. The renowned Dutch painter lived in Arles for more than a year, between 1888 and 1889. In the city of Provence he painted some of his best-known paintings, such as The Yellow House, The arresters in Arles or Cafe Terrace at night. To learn more about the figure of Van Gogh and the imprint he left on him and in his painting the city, the traveler can make a fun walk through 10 places in Arles where the artist planted his seeds.
We would continue the road trip and reach Aix-en-Provence, the city that was the ancient capital of the historical region of Provence. Aix-En-Provence, with its old colored facades, its fountains, gardens and ancient-looking streets, has many similarities with Arles: it is of Roman origin and is also known for its close relationship with a famous 19th-century artist, Paul Cézanne. However, in this case Cézanne did not travel to Aix looking for new influences as Van Gogh did with Arles, but the French painter was born, spent part of his life and died in this Provencal city.
Closer to the coast we find Marseille, a city much larger and with a much higher population than the previous ones, as it is the second with more inhabitants of France after Paris. Some interesting places to see are the old port, the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde (on top of a mountain that offers spectacular views of the city) and the Calanques National Park, a spectacular natural route that combines cliffs, vegetation and coves with crystal clear waters.
Saint-Tropez is a small town that, at first glance, seems quite traditional. However, this town is famous worldwide for being one of the European centers of luxury, gigantic yachts and lavish sports cars. Located to the east of Marseille, a two hours distance by car, the city owes much of its success to Brigitte Bardot and the movie ‘And God Created Woman’, filmed in Saint-Tropez, released in 1957 and which made Bardot a sex symbol for a whole generation.
In Saint-Tropez, two very different lifestyles coexist at the same time. On the one hand, fame, wealth and ostentation are concentrated in the port area, where large ships, Ferraris and luxury stores predominate. On the other, the town also has a quiet, quiet area, where a a more tranquil lifestyle reigns. They are the neighborhoods where the locals live.
Continuing east, but moving away remarkably from the coast and tourist agglomerations, we reach Grasse, a city at the foot of the Alpes-Maritimes that is known for being the world epicenter of the production of perfumes and fragrances.
The history of Grasse and perfumes began in the seventeenth century, when the city began to produce this type of products thanks to the lavender and mimosa fields that surround its territory. The location of Grasse plays a fundamental role in its subsequent success in the production of fragrances. The proximity to the Alps originates in the area a mild microclimate that favors the cultivation of roses, jasmine, lavender and other flowers.
On the border with Italy, next to Monaco, is Nice, the largest and most important city in the area. Its proximity to the country of the Renaissance makes the city a cultural mix between France and Italy. An example of this is the Fontain du Soleil, a place that because of its classic appearance could perfectly be found in Rome or Florence.
Nice, which is like a Cannes but on a larger scale, it has many interesting places to visit, in addition to a varied cultural offer and a promenade, known as Promenade des Anglais, full of luxury hotels with spectacular facades, Le Negresco; casinos and the building of the Opera of Nice. The beach of Nice is made of pebbles which are a symbol of the area, but enjoying a dip in its clean waters and a characteristic blue, with the city watching in the background, is an unbeatable experience.
Carmen Caballero is Founder of Exotik Traveler. Exotik Traveler is a luxury travel design and consultancy firm which creates unique experiences for luxury travelers, tailored to their needs.