The French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur, is known for its glamorous cities, stunning coastline, and luxurious lifestyle. However, the region is also home to a collection of charming hilltop villages that offer a glimpse into the traditional Provencal way of life. These villages are perfect for those seeking a more relaxed and authentic experience. Here are the eight best villages to visit on the French Riviera, with Montauroux standing out as the ideal central village to make your base.

    1. Montauroux

    Nestled in the foothills of the Alpes-Maritimes, Montauroux is a quintessential Provencal village with stunning views, historical sites, and a warm community atmosphere. Its central location makes it the perfect base for exploring the French Riviera. The village is home to the beautiful Saint-Barthélemy Church, charming streets lined with artisan shops, and traditional Provencal markets.

    Montauroux offers easy access to both the coast and the inland attractions of Provence. The nearby Lake Saint-Cassien provides opportunities for swimming, fishing, and kayaking, while the surrounding hills are perfect for hiking and cycling. With its blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and convenient location, Montauroux is a must-visit destination on the French Riviera.

    1. Saint-Paul-de-Vence

    Saint-Paul-de-Vence is one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera and is renowned for its art galleries, historic architecture, and scenic views. The village’s narrow cobblestone streets, lined with art galleries and boutiques, are incredibly photogenic. The picturesque village square, with its ancient fountain and plane trees, is a perfect spot for capturing the timeless beauty of Provence.

    The town’s ramparts offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the distant Mediterranean. The blend of artistic ambiance and historical charm makes Saint-Paul-de-Vence a dream location for photographers. Be sure to visit the Fondation Maeght, an art museum with an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, for some unique cultural experiences.

    1. Eze

    Perched high on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the medieval village of Eze offers some of the most picturesque views on the French Riviera. The village’s narrow, winding streets, adorned with flowers and ivy-covered stone walls, provide countless photo opportunities. The jewel of Eze is the Jardin Exotique, a beautiful garden filled with exotic plants and sculptures. From the top of the garden, you can enjoy panoramic views of the coastline, which are particularly breathtaking at sunset.

    Make sure to capture the charm of the village itself: the quaint shops, the ancient church, and the mesmerizing sea views from different vantage points. The mix of historical architecture and stunning natural beauty makes Eze a must-visit for any traveler.

    1. Mougins

    Mougins, located just a few kilometers from Cannes, is known for its gastronomy, art galleries, and stunning views. The village has a rich history, having been home to Pablo Picasso for the last years of his life. The narrow, winding streets are lined with art galleries, boutique shops, and gourmet restaurants, making it a haven for food and art lovers.

    The Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins offers a unique collection that juxtaposes ancient art with works by renowned modern and contemporary artists. The village’s elevated position provides panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the Mediterranean Sea, adding to its charm and allure.

    1. Gourdon

    Perched on a rocky spur overlooking the Loup River, Gourdon is known for its dramatic setting and breathtaking views. The village is home to the Château de Gourdon, a medieval fortress with beautifully landscaped gardens and stunning vistas of the French Riviera. The narrow streets are lined with artisan shops selling local crafts, perfumes, and gourmet products.

    Gourdon’s elevated position offers panoramic views of the Mediterranean coastline and the surrounding mountains, making it a popular spot for photographers and nature lovers. The village’s charming atmosphere and stunning scenery make it a must-visit destination on the French Riviera.

    1. Tourettes-sur-Loup

    Tourettes-sur-Loup is a picturesque medieval village known for its violet cultivation and charming streets. The village is built on a rocky outcrop, offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the Mediterranean Sea. The narrow, winding streets are lined with artisan shops, galleries, and restaurants, making it a delightful place to explore.

    The village hosts an annual Violet Festival in March, celebrating its floral heritage with parades, exhibitions, and violet-themed products. The combination of historical charm, beautiful views, and a vibrant local culture make Tourettes-sur-Loup a must-visit destination.

    1. Biot

    Biot is a charming village known for its glassblowing tradition and artistic ambiance. The village is home to numerous glassblowing studios where visitors can watch artisans at work and purchase unique glass creations. The narrow streets are lined with art galleries, boutiques, and cafes, offering a delightful blend of creativity and relaxation.

    Biot’s historical center features beautiful stone buildings, a Romanesque church, and picturesque squares. The nearby Fernand Léger National Museum showcases the works of the famous artist, adding to the village’s cultural appeal. Biot’s artistic heritage and charming atmosphere make it a wonderful destination on the French Riviera.

    1. Ramatuelle

    Ramatuelle is a quaint hilltop village located near Saint-Tropez, offering a peaceful retreat from the bustling coastal towns. The village is known for its narrow streets, ancient stone houses, and stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding vineyards. The charming village square, with its cafes and restaurants, is a perfect spot to relax and soak in the Provencal atmosphere.

    Ramatuelle is also famous for its annual theatre and music festival, Les Nuits de Ramatuelle, which attracts artists and performers from around the world. The combination of cultural events, beautiful scenery, and a tranquil ambiance make Ramatuelle a delightful destination.

    Final Thoughts

    The French Riviera is home to some of the most beautiful hilltop villages in France, each offering its own unique charm and attractions. Montauroux stands out as the ideal central village to make your base, providing easy access to the region’s stunning coastline and inland treasures, and Haute Vue is our recommendation for a holiday home with panoramic views. Whether you’re exploring the artistic streets of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, enjoying the dramatic views from Gourdon, or immersing yourself in the cultural heritage of Biot, these villages offer a perfect blend of beauty, history, and Provencal charm.


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