18 Enchanting Things to Do in Chamonix in Winter (For Non-Skiers)

Town of Chamonix in the winter

The French Alps are home to one of the world’s most iconic ski destinations, Chamonix.

In Chamonix in summer, you’ll find countless hikers on their Tour de Mont-Blanc or exploring the area on day hikes.

But it’s in winter that this small little Alpine town becomes absolutely bustling with activity — and there’s so many great things to do at this time of year even if you don’t ski!

⌛ Planning your wintery Chamonix trip in a hurry? Here are my quick picks.

❄️ Best Chamonix Tours & Experiences
1. Drive Your Own Dog Sled Excursion (mushed-led available)
2. Small Group Ice Climbing Lesson (suitable for beginners)
3. QC Terme Spa Day Pass (perfect for a day off!)
4. Winter Paragliding with Alps Views (the ultimate adrenaline rush)

🛏️ Best Chamonix Hotels
1. Hôtel Mont-Blanc Chamonix (5 star with spa & scenic heated pool)
2. Grand Hôtel des Alpes (chateau-styled luxury hotel with spa)
3. Heliopic Hotel & Spa (spa hotel on a budget)

Arriving by plane? Book your airport transfer from Geneva here.

Prefer to rent a car? I recommend reserving a car via Discover Cars as they search 500+ agencies for the best deal on your rental.
A beautiful snowy scene in Chamonix in the winter with lots of snow, a church, some of the town buildings, and the mountains and mist in the distance.

But Chamonix is more than just a ski resort: it is also a picturesque French city offering myriad things to do in Chamonix in winter, even for non-skiers.

Here are some excellent indoor and outdoor winter things to do in Chamonix from December to April.

Where to Stay in Chamonix in Winter

red train in Chamonix in winter

Outdoor Pool Bliss: Hôtel Mont-Blanc Chamonix

The stunning, 5-star Hôtel Mont-Blanc Chamonix is a fantastic choice for an upscale winter stay in Chamonix.

With an outdoor heated pool and hot tub with extensive views of the mountains around Chamonix, you’d be hard-pressed to leave!

Luckily, the rooms are just as cozy, with massive bedrooms with mountain views, complete with modern bathrooms complete with bathrobes and slippers. 

There’s also a delicious on-site French restaurant and luxe bar, and shuttles to ski slopes if that’s your thing!

Palatial Luxury: Grand Hôtel des Alpes

The beautiful palatial ski resort of Grand Hôtel des Alpes is a fantastic place to stay for a luxurious Chamonix getaway in the heart of town.

From the outside, the hotel looks like a chateau, and that feeling continues throughout the hotel. The rooms are decadently furnished in a way that makes you feel like a queen.

Luxury only gets better when you head to their on-site spa, with its indoor pool, salt room, sauna and steam room facilities.

Spa on a Budget: Heliopic Hotel & Spa

The lovely, budget-friendly Heliopic Hotel & Spa offers spa and luxury amenities with a much more affordable price tag than you’d expect, especially when compared to other hotels in the area.

It has two hammams, a Turkish steam bath, an ice cave, an indoor heated swimming pool, and a sauna: and yet it’s often a fraction of the price of similar hotels. Best of all, spa access is all included in your room price!

The design of Heliopic is a lot more modern, with clean lines and not a lot of frills, but it also has amazing common areas like a library complete with a chess board and a comfortable lobby.

Best Things to Do in Chamonix in Winter

Soar to the top of Aiguille du Midi.

The mountain site of Aiguille du Midi in the winter with people standing on a bridge between a mountain refuge and a rock with a tunnel

The easiest, fastest way to the top of Aiguille du Midi is by cable car.

There are two of them, one from Chamonix to the Plan de l’Aiguille (at 2,317 meters high) and a second one from the Plan de l’Aiguille to the Aiguille du Midi (at a whopping 3,777 meters above sea level). 

Once you reach the top by cable car, the summit area is easy to hike around and has beautiful views.

To avoid the lines, take the cable car early in the morning — and if possible, visit Chamonix in winter outside the main school vacation periods. 

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Price: 67€ for adults (ages 14-64), 57€ for young people (ages 5-14) and seniors (65 years and older). Kids 4 and under are free.
  • Opening Hours: Check here, but most recently, from 8:10 AM to 5:00 PM (5:30 PM in April onwards)
  • Departure Schedule: Roughly every 10-30 minutes, depending on fullness

While you can technically hike to the Plan de l’Aiguille from Chamonix, we don’t recommend it unless you are a seasoned alpinist or mountaineer, especially in the snow.

It is quite strenuous and dangerous and recommended only for highly fit, experienced and well-prepared mountaineers.

That difficulty is why using one of the cable cars for the trip to l’Aiguille du Midi is recommended — then, you can hike near the top in a more relaxed fashion, sacrificing neither views nor safety!

If you did plan to hike, it would take approximately 3 hours each way, with a difficult hike of 7km each way, with a whopping 1,312 meters of ascent and descent.

Not exactly a walk in the park!

Take a step into a glass box on the Skywalk.

Glass box over the landscape
Photo Credit: Mike Gibson via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Once you reach the top of l’Aiguille du Midi, you’ll notice a popular tourist spot: a glass box called the Skywalk.

The walls are glass on all sides, protruding off the mountain edge at 1000 meters with nothing below you!

Stepping into the glass box literally feels you’re about to fall through the glass beneath you!

Even if you have no fear of heights, you might find yourself a little shaky here! If not from the adrenaline, from the view, which is absolutely breathtaking. 

As in the above section, you will likely want to come early to l’Aiguille du Midi to avoid the long line that forms here.

Ride your own husky dog sleigh.

Photo Credit: Avoriaz via Manawa

Husky dog sledding is one of the most popular winter activities in Chamonix.

It’s a can’t-miss experience, something I fell in love with first in Abisko, Sweden, and then later experienced even more of while taking dog sledding tours in Tromso, Norway!

Huskies love people’s attention, but they enjoy running through the snow in the local mountain scenery even more!

You can either drive the sleigh or travel as a passenger with a musher. Either way, it’s a delightful way to glide through the winter wilderness in the Chamonix region. 

The best place to go dog-sledding is not in Chamonix itself but rather in Avoriaz, approximately an hour’s drive from Chamonix (you’ll want to have a rental car for this, or be prepared to also add on a pricy transfer).

The team at Avoriaz will help you learn to mush your own dog sled and go through the stunning scenery with your trusty team of dogs!

Book your dog sledding experience via Manawa here!

Ice climb in Bérard.

A person ice climbing up an ice wall in Chamonix area
Photo Credit: Manawa

If you’ve ever enjoyed rock climbing, ice climbing is a novel and invigorating way to climb in winter, traversing frozen waterfalls and ice walls instead of rock faces!

If ice climbing sounds like your kind of thrill, Chamonix is a great place to learn!

Under the guidance of expert ice-climber Sébastien Laurent, with over 16 years of experience, you’ll learn how to ice climb, even if you’re a beginner!

Sébastien will pick the right climbing route for you that is achievable and within your limits while still pushing what you think is possible for yourself.

His ice climbing groups are limited to four or fewer people, so that you are guaranteed the 1:1 attention you need to safely learn to ice climb.

Book your ice climbing small group excursion here!

Paraglide next to Mont Blanc

Person paragliding with a red paragliding umbrella over the peak of the Mont Blanc foothills

Paragliding in Chamonix is like a dream any time of year — and yes, you can paraglide in Chamonix in winter too! — because of its beautiful landscapes.

The take-off areas are easily reachable by ski lifts, and the paragliding schools in Chamonix are staffed by experienced paragliders who will ensure you are safe and comfortable.

Your first tandem paraglide flight will undoubtedly remain one of your most unforgettable memories — and Chamonix in winter offers no better setting for your first flight!

Paragliding tours depart from either Plan Praz or Plan de l’Aiguille and last around 15 to 20 minutes in flight length, depending on weather conditions.

With an average of 5 stars over 275+ reviews, this paragliding experience is the favorite among Chamonix travelers.

Book your paragliding experience on Viator here!

Discover the south slope of Mont Blanc from Le Brévent Cable Car.

View of the Le Brevent cable car passing in front of Mount Blanc mountain covered In snow

L’Aiguille du Midi is beautiful, but it is pricy — especially if you’re traveling as a family, those tickets can really add up.

A more affordable way to admire a beautiful panoramic view of Mont Blanc is to reach Plan Praz (2,000 meters high) from Chamonix with the gondola lift.

From there, you can then take a cable car to Le Brévent (2,525 meters high).

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Price: 37€ roundtrip for adults, 31.50 € for kids, 114.80 € for a family pass. Kids under 5 are free.
  • Hours: From Feb. 4th onwards, between 8:50 am and 5:15 pm.

Feast at Restaurant Le 3842, one of the highest restaurants in Europe.

A portion of tartiflette, a dish with potatoes, cheese, cured meat and onion

At Le 3842, you can lunch at an altitude of 3,842 meters — pretty epic, no?

Located next to the cable car at the top of Aiguille du Midi, this small, intimate restaurant offers high-quality French food served in traditional style.

The chef’s menu changes weekly, with cuisine based on the seasonal produce of the Alps.

Delicacies include traditional tartiflette (a local specialty), homemade soups perfect for Chamonix winter weather, and bruschette.

Tip: Request to sit by the large windows to enjoy the breathtaking view of the Chamonix Valley!

Marvel at the Mer de Glace.

View of the snow-covered peaks of Mer de Glace glacial area

The Montenvers train is a renowned historic railway leading from Chamonix to the more popular town of Montenvers, an alpine village at an altitude of 1,913 meters.

From there, you can take a cable car to admire the longest glacier in France, the Mer de Glace (French for “sea of ice”).

You’ll also be able to spot the nearby towering peaks of Drus and the Grandess Jorasses!

After admiring the Mer de Glace, take a fascinating tour of the Ice Cave.

Just know that once you exit the cable car terminal, you either have to descend about 580 stairs or walk for 20 minutes from the Montenvers train station.

Ice cave with blue tones and white snow in Chamonix in winter

The cave’s beautiful blue tones will leave you speechless as you admire this icy natural wonder, which is re-cut into the center of the glacier each year.

Inside the cave, you’ll learn about the people who lived here in this harsh mountainous region around the early 1800s, and how they survived under such brutal conditions.

You can also visit the Glaciorium, which is a museum dedicated to glaciers and the changes they are undergoing under climate change.

You’ll learn about the history of glaciers and how they formed as well as what’s next for these beautiful but endangered landforms during a visit to this well-orchestrated museum.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Ride Time: 20 minutes to Montenvers, extra time for cable car
  • Price: 38 € for adults, 32.30 € for children 5+ (children under 5 are free), and 117.60 € for a family pass
  • Inclusions: Price includes visits to the Ice Caves and the Glaciorium for no extra fee

Go snowshoeing in the Flégère area.

Snowshoeing in the Alps near Chamonix, two snowshoes sticking out of the snowy with an alpine snowy background

The hike starts at the Flégère gondola lift. To get there, you can take a cable car from Chamonix (Les Prez), which costs €21 roundtrip for adults, €17.90 roundtrip for kids over 5, and €65.20 for a family pass.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays in the 2023 winter season, you can go snowshoeing for free with a mountain guide.

This excursion starts at 10:30 AM and lasts about 1.5-2 hours, and is suitable for families with kids aged 12 and up.

The activity is free, but it must be reserved with a refundable deposit of €10 per person (which will be returned to you as long as you’re not a no-show).

Book your free snowshoeing excursion here!

Bask in the view of Lac Vert on a snowshoe trip.

A view of two snowshoers feet as they traverse the snowy landscapes with snowshoes and poles

The Lac Vert (“Green Lake”) is a relatively easy snowshoeing trail that is suitable for beginners to hike in the winter, given you have some elementary snowshoe or winter hiking experience.

This hike progresses from Servoz to the Lac Vert and is very easy, winding up to the lake and around it. 

Learn more about the snowshoe route here: it takes about 2 hours and only requires a 200 meter elevation gain/loss, so it’s a pretty easy snowshoe trail for beginners.

Discover exceptional precious gem collections at the Musée des Cristaux.

White-clear quartz crystals in a museum in Chamonix

From sapphire to topaz, the Musée des Cristaux is dedicated to fine Alpine mineralogy. 

Its exhibition features gems from the Alpine massifs (rock formations)  of France, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria.

It also showcases emblematic pieces from French mines or other international quarries.

The museum has guided tours every Thursday from 2pm to 4pm, by reservation.

The Nitty-Gritty:

Price: €7.20 for adults, €5.20 for kids, students, seniors, and others with discounted rates
Hours: 2 PM to 6 PM everyday (closed Monday), closed November 13 to December 3 of 2023

Fall in love with Mario Colonel’s photo gallery.

Photographer Mario Colonel was equally passionate about mountaineering and photography.

You can find his stunning work at the Mario Colonel Photo Gallery, which opened in downtown Chamonix 9 years ago.

Among his original series of prints, you’ll also find books and posters that make fantastic souvenirs.

Hop in a helicopter for dramatic winter views.

The winter landscape of Chamonix as seen from above

Weather permitting, you can even hop into a private helicopter for an impressive ride.

Imagine flying over the most beautiful summits of the Alps with a spectacular panoramic view of the Mont Blanc range from the sky!

You can fly with the Chamonix Mont Blanc Helicopter company located in Argentière, which offers flights from 15-30 minutes with prices starting around €110 per person.

Relax at the spa.

Wooden sauna with soft light and wooden pillow rests

Chamonix in winter is a resort town, and what better way to enjoy a resort town than by taking advantage of its spa offerings?

The resorts and hotels in Chamonix offers a wide range of spas, complete with saunas, hammam-style steam rooms, and heated indoor pools: all with beautiful views of the mountain scenery!

One of the most popular spas is QC Terme Chamonix-Mont-Blanc Spa, which offers indoor and outdoor thermally-heated pools, plus loungers, saunas, and relaxation areas.

Plus, you’ll also get a bathrobe, slippers, and a fresh towel to feel ultra-cozy during your spa day.

C’mon, how epic does soaking in a heated pool while contemplating the beauty that is Mont Blanc in winter sound?

Book your spa experience at QC Terme Chamonix-Mont Blanc here!

Ice skate on an Olympic-sized rink.

Red gloved hands tying an ice skate, white jacket and white skates

Chamonix is the home of multiple French ice hockey champions, and you can skate on the very same indoor rink they practice on!

Just 15 minutes by foot from the Gare de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc train station, you’ll find a wonderful ice skating rink with both indoor and outdoor skating options.

The Richard Bozon Sports Centre includes an Olympic-sized indoor rink (60 by 30 meters) as well as an outdoor rink (26 meters by 56 meters) that’s open only during the winter.  

The Nitty-Gritty:

Price: 6.60 € for adults, 4.90 € for children, 4.40 € for skate rental
Hours: 2 PM to 5 PM during the winter

Watch a hockey game.

Photo Credit: Guillaume Baviere via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Not much of a skater? Watch other skaters do their thing at the same place, the Richard Bozon Sports Center, where the Chamonix Ice Hockey Club plays!

This team is more than 100 years old and often holds matches featuring their local team, The Pioneers. Check out their website for more information.

Tickets cost 16 € for adults, 12 € for students and kids between 8 and 16, and free entry for kids younger than 8.

Wander the city’s center under holiday lights.

Christmas tree all lit up in the center of Chamonix town
Photo Credit: ʎɔ. via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The atmosphere of Chamonix in winter is truly cozy and even a bit romantic. You can wander the cobblestone streets while enjoying a mug of hot chocolate or mulled wine. 

If you’re on the lookout for souvenirs, there are little shops all over town selling high-quality winter flannels and local artist’s renditions of Mont Blanc scenery.

If you’re visiting on a Saturday, head to the Place du Mont Blanc Market (open 7 AM to 1 PM) for artisanal products and goods.

If you’re visiting Chamonix around Christmas, the Place du Mont Blanc Christmas Market is the place to be!

Eat raclette, fondue and tartiflette (anything with cheese, really).

Raclette being served in a French restaurant with potatoes and cheese

Raclette is an absolute must-eat if you’re in Chamonix during wintertime!

Although its origins are from Switzerland, raclette is now a holiday food in many French households, especially those in the Alps.

Raclette consists of melted cheese served with boiled potatoes, mini gherkins (small pickles) and local charcuterie — best accompanied by a hearty glass of red wine or crisp white wine to cut through the richness. 

To indulge in this heartwarming meal or any similar Savoyard specialties, head to a restaurant that features raclette, tartiflette, or fondue.

The three top-reviewed options for raclette in Chamonix are Le Manchu (1 Rue de Lyret), La Calèche (18 Rue du Dr Paccard), and Le Sérac (148 Rue du Dr Paccard)

2 Days in Lyon: Itinerary for a Culture-Filled Trip [2023]

Famous view of Lyon from the top of Notre Dame de Fourviere

Nestled between the Rhône and Saône rivers, the enchanting city of Lyon offers an exciting (and more relaxed) alternative to Paris. 

With its grandeur and historical splendor, culinary wonders and vibrant culture, the third largest city in France is a must-visit destination for urban lovers and cinephiles alike.

Yes, cinephiles — did you know Lyon is considered the birthplace of cinema? 

Lyon’s famous Lumière brothers are named amongst the first cinematographers!

They first presented their apparatus capable of projecting a series of photographs, thereby creating the first motion picture cinema, around the end of the 19th century.

The city is also a paradise for food lovers, with its number of Michelin restaurants rivaling the capital.

view of lyon over the river with a bridge and a church

The surrounding Rhône region is world renowned for its Côte du Rhône wine, which is the perfect choice to accompany hearty Lyonnais dishes such as coq au vin and andouillette

Once the capital of Roman Gaul, Lyon was a major trading center during the Renaissance and a hub of silk production in the 19th century. 

Its historic old town, Vieux Lyon, is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets, Renaissance-era buildings, and hidden traboules (passageways) that were used by silk traders as well as resistance fighters during World War II.

With just 2 days in Lyon to explore this gastronomic haven, prepare to embark on a delightful journey filled with beautiful sights, mouthwatering food, and a touch of bohemian charm. 

Our Lyon itinerary is your ideal companion to make the most of your time in Lyon, leaving no stone unturned and no taste bud unsatisfied!

Day 1 of Your Lyon Itinerary

Get a feel for the city’s splendor in Vieux Lyon.

Colorful alleyways of vieux lyon with painted building facades and bright blue and yellow pops of detail

Begin your adventure in Lyon’s atmospheric Old Town, Vieux Lyon, where the enchanting blend of cobblestone streets and Renaissance-era buildings creates a nostalgic setting.

As you wander through its charming alleys, lined with artisan shops and lovely cafés, you’ll be quick to understand what makes this French city so enchanting.  

Start your day off on the right foot with a visit to a local boulangerie, where the aroma of freshly baked croissants fills the air.

Indulge in a delicious pastry paired with a cup of strong café au lait (or espresso however you like it), and get ready to immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of daily life in Lyon.

Take a glimpse into the past at Fourvière Hill.

View of the top of the staircase, on Fourvière Hill in Lyon, with the Basilica our lady of Fourvière visible in the distance.

The iconic Fourvière Hill is a historic site that towers over the city, offering a glimpse into Lyon’s majestic past.

This part of the city dates back to Roman times when Lyon was founded as Lugdunum in 43 BCE. 

Many of the monuments on the hill are now part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, emphasizing Lyon’s historic significance in French (and also world) culture.

Fueled by your delicious breakfast in Vieux Lyon, ascend the hill’s summit for the breathtaking panoramic view just waiting to unfold before your eyes. 

From this vantage point, you’ll have an unobstructed view of Lyon’s landscape, with the Rhône and Saône rivers intertwining down below.

Take a moment here to soak up the view before you continue your walk to one of the crown jewels of Lyon’s architectural splendor.

Admire the stunning basilica.

triple arch of the marble white basilica of fourviere with two spires with crosses atop it and lots of detail in the marblework sculpted into the building

At the pinnacle of Fourvière Hill, the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière stands as a symbol of Lyon’s rich heritage. 

Go inside to admire the golden mosaics that adorn the walls and ceilings of the basilica, as well as the stained glass windows which create a kaleidoscope of soothing colors.

If you’re interested, you can take your time here to explore the various chapels before you begin your descent from the hill. 

Be sure to also take a look at the Roman amphitheaters nearby as you head back down!

Have lunch on the Presqu’île between the Saône and Rhône River. 

Narrow streets surrounded by historic buildings of Presqu'Ile, looking up to the church on the hill

Descend from the hill and head to the tongue of land nestled between the Saône and the Rhône for a leisurely lunch at a highly recommended restaurant.

The lovely Le Sud is an esteemed culinary establishment and a cherished part of the legacy left behind by the late Paul Bocuse, the revered high priest of Lyon’s gastronomic culture. 

Alternatively, you may have spotted one of the many bouchons, Lyon’s traditional restaurants, while wandering through the Old Town.

Not sure where to look? You’ll find an array of mouthwatering menus on Rue St Jean in this district. 

For a more specific recommendation, Daniel & Denise, located just a few steps further on Rue Tramassac, comes highly recommended for a traditional meal in a rustic-chic ambiance.

To be honest, though, you can’t really go wrong in a bouchon; this is the food capital of France, after all, and standards are high! 

Of course, when in Lyon, you simply have to try the ever-popular coq au vin or the regional favorite, the quenelle (a fish dumpling that tastes so much better than it sounds) at least once! So long as you’re not a vegetarian, that is.

Fish quenelle in sauce with red wine and water

Savor the rich flavors while sipping on a glass of local wine for a perfect feast.

For an incredibly sophisticated culinary experience, Restaurant Paul Bocuse awaits you just 20 minutes outside of Lyon.

Culinary experts will know: this restaurant is amongst the select few establishments to have ever received 3 prestigious Michelin stars! 

This isn’t your everyday lunch, but it is a must-do pilgrimage for the Michelin-obsessed.

Take a walk along the riverfront.

Classical view on Lyon over the Pont Bonaparte bridge, which crosses over the Saone river, as seen in summer with the famous basilica on the hill.

After a satisfying (and stylish) late lunch, it’s time to walk off the calories and embark on a leisurely stroll along Lyon’s picturesque riverfront.

You’ll find a blend of Renaissance and Gothic buildings and monuments as far as the eye can see. 

Cross the charming Pont Bonaparte, a bridge that connects the two banks of the river, and venture into the vibrant Presqu’île district.

With its lively streets and boutique shops, this district is the perfect place to spend an afternoon exploring — time passes a little too easily here. 

As you wander around, be sure to take in the grandeur of the Place des Terreaux, a magnificent square adorned with fountains and surrounded by architectural masterpieces.

The Terreaux square in Lyon, with a majestic fountain with marble sculpturework.

This cosmopolitan quartier is a great spot to mingle with locals in pursuit of fashion, culture, and culinary delights.

On the southern tip of the Presqu’île, the Confluence district proudly rises from the docklands, aspiring to propel the modern Lyon into a bright future. 

The heart of this district is the futuristic Musée des Confluences

The architectural design itself is a work of art, resembling a floating cloud or a spaceship in a distinctive shape with a reflective façade.

The museum creates a mesmerizing visual against the backdrop of Lyon’s urban landscape and rich cultural heritage. 

Embark on a late-afternoon adventure through the traboules.

A traboule, a small passageway that leads to a courtyard, with pink building in Lyon

Technically, it might be best to embark on this next adventure before sunset… unless you’re feeling really (really) adventurous. 

Lyon is riddled with a hidden network of covered alleyways, each one a fascinating architectural wormhole weaving its way through buildings, revealing glimpses of courtyards and leading to unexpected street corners.  

The answer to what purpose the traboules serve remains elusive – so, naturally, many urban legends have been told.  

What remains undisputed is the invaluable role these traboules played during Lyon’s occupation by the Nazis in World War II.

Like masterful magicians’ tricks, they provided a vital means of escape for resistance fighters. 

Now, they’re an interesting way to pass some time in Lyon.

Have dinner out, go on a food tour, or wine taste.

sampling different florence tuscan wines

When it comes time to eat dinner, return to one of the restaurants on the list recommended above for lunch.

Alternately, if you want a little more guidance, you can treat yourself to an evening food tour to get to know Lyon’s gastronomy scene even better.

For the wine lovers amongst us, you can also do a wine and cheese pairing with a sommelier before you dine!

There’s a 2.5-hour wine tasting of local wines hosted at 6 PM, spitting you out flushed and prepared for dinner at the respectably French hour of 8:30 PM.

Day 2 of Your Lyon Itinerary

Start your day in Lyon’s gastronomic heart.

Gourmet food sold at Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, at a cheesemonger who is preparing fresh cheeses

Remember the Michelin restaurant we mentioned yesterday? Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse is a legendary gourmet food market named in his honor.

A haven for foodies, this market’s aisles are a delightful tangle of fresh produce, aged cheeses, mouthwatering charcuterie, and irresistible pastries.

Savor eying everything and consider selecting ingredients for a picnic by the river or a late-night feast later that night.

Nestled amidst the bustling stalls are charming coffee bars, which invite you to pause, sit down, and savor as many patisseries and macarons in every possible shape and color as you can stomach.

Visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Institut Lumière.

Green patina of a bronze female figure sculpture in Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon, France (Beaux-Arts)

The esteemed Musée des Beaux-Arts, nestled within the walls of a former 17th century Benedictine convent, is a true temple for art lovers.

Mostly European art is showcased here, spanning from ancient times to contemporary works. 

Wandering through the museum, enjoy the feeling of traveling through history, taking in the works of artists such as Monet, Rembrandt, and Picasso.

The Lumiere brothers' house in Lyon (France) view of the detail of the ceiling

If you have some time to spare, or as an alternative to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the Institut Lumière celebrates Lyon as the birthplace of cinema, paying homage to the cinematographic legacy of the Lumière brothers. 

Housed in the former residence of the Lumière family, inventors of the cinematograph, the museum pays homage to the history of cinema through exhibits, film screenings, and an extensive collection of film-related artifacts. 

Breathe in the fresh air at the Botanical Gardens.

Garden tete d or  in the greenhouse section of the park with lush pond with lotus plants and lily pads

The Parc de la Tête d’Or offers a (much-needed) serene escape from the bustling city streets.

Considered the lungs of Lyon, the park invites visitors to unwind with its lush greenery, tranquil lakes, greenhouses, and botanical gardens. 

To further unwind, check out the paddle boats which are available to rent on the lake — you’ll feel like you’re in an Impressionist painting as you do! 

As though all that wasn’t enticing enough, there’s also a rose garden at Tête d’Or, for you to quite literally stop and smell the roses.

If you’re visiting Lyon in the spring, make sure to stop by the Jardin du Rosaire nestled on the Montée Saint-Barthélémy.

arches with red, white, pink roses looking up at the beautiful white basilica on the hill in lyon while in a garden

You’ll find beautiful archways adorned with a magnificent array of blooming roses, in a wild spectrum of hues, from striking reds to soft pinks and creamy whites.

Want another place to get some fresh air? You’ve got it, but let’s keep it between us. Le Jardin Rosa Mir is one of Lyon’s best kept secrets. 

This garden was designed by the Spanish worker Jules Senis Mir, who, after an illness, dedicated years of his life to creating this artistic oasis in his backyard.

The pathways are lined with sculptures, roses, lavender and thyme, creating an eclectic (and rather Spanish) haven in the middle of the bustling city.

Explore the bohemian atmosphere of Croix-Rousse.

Croix-Rousse houses in shades of pink, orange, and yellow pastel, all on a hillside

Once known as the weavers’ quarter, the district of Croix-Rousse retains a slightly rebellious and working-class vibe, while slowly emerging into one of Lyon’s most fashionable areas. 

At the heart of the revitalized La Croix-Rousse stands the Village des Créateurs, a 19th-century passage brimming with artisan workshops and boutiques.

From unique ceramic pieces to designer vintage clothes, you can find anything and everything here. 

With its fusion of old and new, La Croix-Rousse provides a haven for artists, start-ups, entrepreneurs and designers looking to bring Lyon forward. 

Of course, you’ll also find a variety of coffee shops, bistrots and restaurants. 

For a light and healthy lunch, head to MOMENTO, a very chic café inspired by Australian coffee shops.

This is where you’ll find your almond lattes and matcha teas, should you tire of French espresso!

mural called "Mur des Canuts" (1987) in the Croix-Rousse district of Lyon with realistic garden-like trailing flowers

The mural paintings in Croix-Rousse are an integral part of the neighborhood’s artistic identity and add to its vibrant atmosphere.

The paintings showcase the neighborhood’s history, culture, and social issues as well as historic moments and local legends. 

Keep your eyes open for the Fresque des Lyonnais and the Fresque des Canuts, two monumental murals depicting daily life, notable residents and the iconic steps. 

End your trip with a boat cruise along the Rhône River. 

A beautiful lit up night view on the water, from St Georges bridge in Lyon with Fourviere cathedral on a hill

As the afternoon sun casts a warm glow over Lyon, end your Lyon itinerary by cruising along the Rhône River — with a dinner option, too!

Drift past the city’s picturesque landmarks, such as the Hôtel Dieu and the iconic Place Bellecour, while savoring a glass of local wine or even one more delicious dinner. 

You can book a 2.5 hour guided tour including a dinner here.

Whether you opt for a dinner cruise or a simple 1-hour sightseeing tour, most boats will depart from the Quai des Célestins or the Quai Rambaud, both conveniently located in the city center.

11 Things to Do in Arles, France’s Provençal Charmer

aerial landscape of the city of arles france

Nestled in the beautiful region of Provence, Arles quickly entrances visitors with its timeless charm.

The combination of Roman history, delicious cuisine provençale and an endless love for the arts is an exquisite mix found nowhere else. 

With a myriad of experiences to offer, and a stunning landscape on the edge of the Camargue, Arles offers something to explore for every traveler. 

the rooftops of the city of arles with view of sky and buildings

Of course, the legacy of Arles is forever entwined with the legacy of Vincent van Gogh.

The renowned Dutch painter spent a significant portion of his life in the southern town, where he created some of his most iconic and influential works. 

His time in Arles was marked by a period of intense artistic productivity and personal turmoil.

bright yellow house with shutters in blue and purple blooming flowers.

Inspired by the vibrant colors and picturesque landscapes of Provence, he found solace from his troubled life in Arles, which forever remained his muse. 

A simple walk through the winding streets and colorful passages could very well ignite your own creative spirit.

As you wander through the narrow streets, a feast of visual delights unfolds before your eyes and it’s easy to see the magic that drew van Gogh to this gorgeous place.

colorful shutters and traditional houses in arles, france

Each house in the city boasts its own unique character, proudly displaying a palette of soft pastel details.

The shutters, painted in hues of lavender, sky blue, and sunshine yellow, all add a unique charm to the historic architecture of Arles. 

If you’re visiting during the summer, make sure to attend Les Rencontres d’Arles, the city’s renowned festival dedicated to photography and visual arts.

Many exhibitions are held in historic venues, reflecting the fascinating fusion of art and history that makes Arles so unique. 

The Best Things to Do in Arles

Explore Arles’ exquisite amphitheatre.

The Arles Amphitheatre, Roman arena in French town of Arles, with sunlight falling on it beautifully

Step back in time and discover Arles’ captivating history, the roots of which date back over 2,000 years.

Begin your explorations at the magnificent Amphitheatre, a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as one of the town’s most iconic landmarks. 

Inspired by the grandeur of Rome’s Colosseum, the French amphitheater in Arles was constructed just a decade after its Roman counterpart. 

Ever since the Roman Empire succumbed to the tides of history in the 5th century, the amphitheater has undergone constant transformation, reminding the Arlésiens that nothing is forever. 

Admire more ruins at the Roman Theatre.

Ruins of the old roman theatre in Arles - UNESCO heritage site in France

Continue your historical journey by visiting the ancient Roman Theatre, Théâtre Antique d’Arles, another testament to Arles’ Roman past.

Construction on this historical treasure was overseen by the Emperor Augustus. 

While the remnants of this once-majestic theater may appear modest today, the enduring presence of these ruins serves as a humbling reminder of the passage of time.  

Don’t forget to explore the Cryptoporticus, a subterranean gallery beneath the Forum Square offering a fascinating glimpse into the daily life of ancient Arles.

See through the eyes of Vincent van Gogh at the Place du Forum.

Detailed view of "Place du Forum" in Arles, Provence, France

Immerse yourself in the world of Vincent van Gogh, an artist who found boundless inspiration within the enchanting town of Arles. 

As you wander around the winding streets of this picturesque destination, you’ll soon discover scenes that have sparked the imaginations of countless artists throughout history. 

Take some time to admire the Place du Forum, forever immortalized in Van Gogh’s renowned masterpiece, Café Terrace at Night.

Step into the painting’s vibrant realm as you soak in the same charm and allure that once inspired the master himself. 

The square is lined by cafés and restaurants – perfect to wind down and take it all in. 

Visit the Van Gogh Foundation.

fondation van goh image with the word vincent painted in front
Image: Rolf Süssbrich – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re interested in Van Gogh’s creative process and would like to delve deeper into his artistic genius, a visit to the Van Gogh Foundation is an absolute must. 

This art center, established to honor his life and works, offers a captivating journey through the painter’s masterpieces.

Here, you can explore the interactive exhibits and engage with multimedia presentations that provide invaluable insight into Van Gogh’s profound artistic genius as well as his troubled mind. 

The fundamental principle of the Foundation intertwines the works of the Dutch master with those of contemporary artists, creating a thought-provoking dialogue between past and present. 

Learn more art history at Espace Van Gogh.

Patio with blooming flowers in the historic old house "Espace Van Gogh" in Arles, Provence, Cote d'Azur, France

Van Gogh’s legacy resonates from every corner of your artistic journey through Arles, with Espace Van Gogh being another must-visit. 

Arles’s former hospital, built in the 16th and 17th century, rose to fame when it hosted the troubled artist after a psychotic episode. 

While this period brought forth a multitude of paintings, it is also synonymous with his descent into depression.

To honor the painter’s genius and legacy, the Espace is now a cultural hub and important meeting point for contemporary artists. 

It’s also been giving an uplifting renovation, with a beautiful central garden with bright colors and flowers, honoring van Gogh.

Time your visit to make the most of Arles’s cultural experiences.

men on horseback during the festivities of the feria

Arles is a city brimming with cultural vitality, which truly comes alive during the summer months. 

Les Rencontres d’Arles, an internationally acclaimed photography festival, is an annual extravaganza captivating photographers, artists, and enthusiasts from every corner of the globe. 

Throughout the month of July, Arles is graced with a variety of exhibitions, workshops, and lectures that pay homage to the remarkable art of photography. 

This is a must-visit for anyone fascinated by photography, and a prestigious award is presented to a young talent every year by the House of Dior. 

If you’re looking for an authentic and exciting (though admittedly not PETA-approved) experience, plan your visit to coincide with the Feria d’Arles, an exuberant bullfighting festival that goes on in the city in both April and September. 

Between the tense atmosphere of the bullfights, the parade of horses marking the abrivado and bandido ceremonies (arrivals and departures of the bulls), the parades that paint the streets with vibrant colors, and the echoes of traditional melodies that infuse the air with fervor, this festival is not for the faint-hearted.

It is, however, a once in a lifetime opportunity to bear witness to the profound passion that the people of Arles hold for their cultural heritage.

You can actually preorder the bull arriving from the arena at the butcher shop in the Roquette neighborhood! 

The classic dish including bull is called Gardiane de Taureau. 

Dish Gardiane de Taureau, gardianne, or daube camarguaise bull slow cooked stew served with rice from Camargue with vegetables, tastes of Camargue, Provence

The Camargue AOC bull, raised locally, is marinated with onions, thyme, bay leaves, orange peels, and sometimes fennel and celery. It is then covered in red wine and a touch of vinegar.

After a night of marinating in the refrigerator, the gardiane is cooked in a large pot or cocotte, allowing everyone to add their favorite ingredients.

A few lardons are added to enrich the flavors, and the dish is served alongside Camargue red rice, creating a perfect culinary combination.

Indulge in Arles’ other culinary delights.

the dish of provence ratatouille

In Arles, you’ll taste the very essence of the Mediterranean, where dishes are crafted with an artful blend of fresh herbs, velvety olive oil, and sun-kissed flavors. 

As you explore the gastronomic landscape of Arles, be sure to experience the vibrant Saturday market at the Place du Forum, a lively weekly ritual.

For something savory, seek out the best tapenade, a savory spread made from olives, capers, and anchovies.

Alternately, sink your teeth into socca, a savory chickpea pancake that has a crisp exterior and a tender, melt-in-your-mouth center.  

And, whatever you do, don’t pass up the opportunity to savor the iconic ratatouille, a vibrant medley of seasonal vegetables simmered to perfection, all bursting with the true essence of La Provence. 

On the corner of Rue des Porcelets, Maison Genin is the neighborhood butcher, famous for an authentic Arles saucisson, unchanged in its traditional recipe for over three centuries.

arles saucisson for sale at a market

This culinary delight is meticulously crafted from pork, small lardons, a hint of garlic, and red wine. 

L’Epicerie du Cloître is another treasure trove for all the foodies amongst you.

While the restaurant serves delicious tapas on a small shaded square, you’ll also find a grocery corner selling vinegar, sauces, spices… as well as artisanal tins of food! 

Explore Arles’ great bistro scene.

Arles city, France. Outdoor cafe tables in Arles. with traditional black and white chairs and round tables.

For a truly unforgettable dining experience, venture into the heart of Arles and discover its charming bistros where the chefs effortlessly rival any northern Michelin-starred restaurant. 

Jardin des Arts is a great lunch spot while Le Gibolin serves hearty local dishes with a gastronomic twist.

Inari is the en vogue lunch/dinner spot for a sophisticated ambiance and gastronomic experience curated by Céline Pham. 

For a Michelin culinary extravaganza, La Chassagnette is the place to be. 

Le Galoubet is a favorite amongst artists and muses alike. 

Café Factory République is a great hang-out place for a coffee or a drink. At Mangelire, you can find your new favorite book while you get your caffeine fix. 

Whether you choose a traditional bouillabaisse or succumb to a delicate lavender-infused dessert, Arles will delight either way!

Get inspired at LUMA.

the famous building of luma in arles

LUMA Arles serves as a vibrant hub for artists, intellectuals, and creative minds from around the world, fostering collaboration, experimentation, and dialogue. 

The inception of LUMA Arles can be attributed to the vision and support of Swiss art collector and philanthropist, Maja Hoffmann.

With a genuine commitment to nurturing creativity and cultural innovation, Hoffmann transformed an expansive industrial site in Arles into a dynamic cultural campus. 

Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry (originally from California, Gehry also designed the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris), the LUMA Arles complex stands as an architectural marvel. 

Gehry’s design work here harmoniously blends the industrial heritage of the site with his signature organic and sculptural forms. 

gehry architecture in luma building in arles

The centerpiece of the complex is the striking 56-meter-high Silo Tower, a cylindrical structure that has been transformed into exhibition spaces, housing an array of contemporary artworks.

The LUMA tower is conceived as a fusion emerging from both the city’s Roman heritage and a distinctive futuristic style. 

This towering, twisting edifice, adorned with 11,000 gleaming metal panels, is reminiscent of fish scales and perfectly embodies the fluidity and aquatic forms that characterize Gehry’s designs. 

Shop your way through Arles.

shop selling its wares in arles, france

If you want to get a little chic shopping done, Arles is your place!

One option is Moustique, a concept store curated by Brigitte Benkemoun and Sylvie Demaiziere and a must-see destination.

Celebrating the region’s local craftsmanship, the store sells delicate fabrics, pottery, hats, colognes, soaps and decorative art. 

Book lovers will want to stop at Actes Sud, the book shop in Arles.

Aside from its extensive collection of French and foreign literature, Actes Sud has some beautiful rare editions and also hosts lectures and a variety of events. 

For the scent-obsessed, La Parfumerie Arlésienne is a treasure trove of scents, candles, colognes and delicate perfumes.  

Continuing on the fragrance theme, La Maison Fragonnard, originally founded in 1926 in Grasse, just recently opened a boutique hotel in Arles!

The shop features a curated selection of the brand’s scents, candles, decorative items and clothes, while the upstairs of the chic townhouse has been converted into a guesthouse. 

If you love treating yourself to some natural skincare, head over to Boutique Alyscamps Cosmétiques.

Founded by Julie Faivre-Duboz, a former pharmacist and doctor, the boutique specializes in delightful natural products created from local ingredients like olive oil and sunflowers. 

Catch an exhibition at Musée Réattu.

North facade of Reattu Museum in Arles, France, on the riverfront

Housed in a former 15th-century priory, the Réattu Museum showcases a diverse collection of artworks spanning different periods and styles, with a particular focus on contemporary art and photography.

The museum takes its name from painter Jacques Réattu (1760-1833), who was born in Arles. 

Réattu produced mostly neoclassical paintings. He started his work in honor of King Louis XVI before adhering to the ideals of the French Revolution. 

After a 20-year hiatus in his career, the artist rediscovered inspiration again in his later years, producing several masterpieces exhibited at the museum today. 

The museum hosts a dynamic, ever-changing series of temporary exhibitions.

Admire the scenery and wild horses of Camargue.

pink hued salt flats of the camargue in france

Arles is the gateway to one of France’s most beautifully unique regions: the Camargue.

Prepare to be mesmerized as you witness the otherwordly landscapes and encounter the magnificent wild horses that roam freely in this unique protected space.

The contrast of white and pink salt flats against the deep blue of the sky and creates a breathtaking spectacle on this terrain dotted with salt pans, marshes, and lagoons. 

white camargue horses with marsh scenery behind them

Camargue is particularly known for its white horses which you can observe in their natural habitat, grazing peacefully or galloping across the marshes, a symbol of the untamed spirit of the Camargue. 

Keep your eyes peeled for vibrant flamingos wading through the shallow waters, and a myriad of other bird species that thrive in this unique ecosystem!

The Camargue — a beloved bird sanctuary — preserves rare species through their remarkable ecological conservation work. 

French Riviera Road Trip: An Epic 5-Day Côte d’Azur Itinerary

view of the cours saleya market and the nice seafront and sand and palm trees

Imagine driving along the azure Mediterranean coastline, past charming hilltop villages, glamorous cities, and luxurious yachts bobbing on the glittering waters of glitzy harbors.

That’s the essence of a French Riviera road trip: a luxe yet quaint stretch of coastline in the southeastern corner of France.

This Côte d’Azur road trip takes about five days to complete, but you can adjust it to your pace — take a few extra nights in a destination to make this a weeklong itinerary, or skip a town or two to condense it to three or four days.

views from the vantage point with stunning waters

We’ll start in the bustling city of Nice before proceeding to the quaint old town of Antibes, then to Cannes, famed for its iconic film festival but worthy of a visit for its many other offerings.

We then wind our way to the glitz and glamor of Saint-Tropez, exploring the cobbled lanes of Eze, stopping by the perfumeries of Grasse, and venturing into the exclusive Monaco (and ticking off another country while we’re at it!).

We cap the trip off at the breathtaking peninsula of Cap-Ferrat, for an idyllic finale!

Getting Around the French Riviera

blue and white striped umbrellas on the beach

When looking for a rental car, I always use Discover Cars to search for the best deal for multiple reasons.

I also always search from the airport as my pick-up destination, because the prices are usually the best there.

For this French Riviera road trip, picking up at the Nice Airport would make the most sense.

It’s also best to plan to return to your original pick-up point via car to avoid hefty one-way fees!

Tip: Make sure you book your car rental with full coverage insurance for peace of mind — it starts at only $7 per day, cheaper than you’d get at a rental agency!

🚗 Best France Rental Car Prices: Discover Cars

This search engine not only looks at the typical rental car agencies (which can be $$$), it also looks at local, small French rental agencies that may offer better deals. Their pricing is straightforward (no bait-and-switches) and they offer free cancellation if you need it.

➜ Check rental prices for the French Riviera here!

Day One of Your French Riviera Itinerary

Start your trip in the sun-drenched city of Nice.

Nice France promenade with palm trees and fancy building

With a unique blend of French and Italian culture, Nice is the perfect starting point for your trip.

You can easily catch a flight to its international airport or travel down from Paris by train in just a few hours.

Walk along the Promenade des Anglais.

Nearly empty seaside boulevard with a bike path in Nice with palm trees and houses

To make sure you get to see as much as possible, start your day early with a morning walk on the famous Promenade des Anglais, the city’s most prestigious seafront boulevard.

Enjoy the stunning views and take the time to soak up the southern sun as you stroll the promenade.

Your eyes will be torn between the beauty of the azure waters to one side and the beautiful architecture, like the Nice Opera House, along the Promenade on the other!

You can stop and relax on the beach for a bit if you want — there are a bunch to choose from! — before moving onto your next stop.

Explore the beautiful Vieux Nice area.

narrow yellow building with cafe and outdoor seating and motorbike and a sign leading to le chateau

After you work up an appetite walking around, head to the old town, Vieux Nice, for breakfast.

With its colorful buildings, historic monuments, narrow streets and bustling markets, the old town of Nice is the perfect place to stroll around for a few hours.

A few sights in Vieux Nice that may be of interest: Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate, the Porte Fausse, and Lascaris Palais.

Stop by the local open-air market.

Cours Saleya Market outdoor market with striped umbrella stalls with fresh food and people walking around

While in the Old Town, be sure to stop by the Cours Saleya Market!

This beautiful open-air market is the perfect place to pick up a few delicious local delicacies or grab a coffee while immersing yourself in the lively atmosphere.

Seafood lovers, rejoice: the cuisine niçoise features some of the best fresh seafood in the country.

Don’t miss out on its Pan Bagnat, a delicious tuna sandwich and the famous salade niçoise.

Take a walk up Castle Hill for gorgeous views of Nice.

Beautiful mosaic design along the staircase leading to the site of the ancient castle on Castle Hill in the Mediterranean city of Nice

For a breathtaking panoramic view of the city and the Mediterranean, walk up to Castle Hill through the gardens and simply take a moment to admire the beauty.

There’s an artificial waterfall here that is simply lovely, and there are gardens, mosaics, and sculptures to admire.

But the real kicker is the incredible view of Nice you get from the viewpoint!

a woman sitting at the viewpoint on castle hill with views over all of nice, with beautiful sand and seaside towns

Walk down from the castle hill and spend the rest of your afternoon in Nice tying up loose ends and seeing anything you missed earlier.

For art lovers, the Musée d’Art Moderne is a must-see destination.

Inaugurated in 1990, the museum is home to a variety of French and international artists, most notably exhibiting works of Yves Klein and Niki de Saint Phalle.

Go on an artistic journey in Antibes.

the old town of antibes in france with beautiful doors and flowers and shutters

In the afternoon, drive to Antibes, a charming town located just 30 minutes from Nice.

This is where Fitzgerald found his place in the sun, fought endlessly with Zelda and wrote parts of Tender is the Night as well as The Great Gatsby.

The villas on the cliffs of Antibes were also home to a variety of major figures of literature’s ‘Lost Generation’, such as Jon De Pasos, Gertrude Stein and Dorothy Parker.

Yet another iconic creative figure who couldn’t resist the charm and tranquility of Antibes was Pablo Picasso, who spent many years on the French Riviera and created some of his most accomplished work here.

Visit the Picasso Museum, housed in an old chateau.

The main can’t-miss place in Antibes is the exquisite Musée Picasso of Antibes.

It’s housed in the impressive Château Grimaldi and was founded in 1966 with many of the works donated by Picasso himself.

Speaking of the château, the building itself is also impressive, beyond the legendary artwork it now houses — not least for its stunning view!

Originally a magnificent residence for the Grimaldi family, the castle has a fascinating history that dates all the way back to the 14th century.

Wander the ramparts of Antibes.

Old buildings and fortified walls of Antibes near the Mediterranean sea, French Riviera, France

Take a stroll around Antibes’ old town and wander along the ramparts that still surround the city to soak up its rich history.

The views of the Mediterranean and its sailboats and yachts, paired with the old-world beauty of the Old Town of Antibes, is simply breathtaking.

Take a dip in the sea.

Beatiful coastal path on the Cap d'Antibes, France.

If you’re in the mood for a refreshing dip, head down to Cap d’Antibes.

This beautiful peninsula is home to sumptuous villas and gardens along the majestic coast — and it’s also a great place to jump into some waters for a little swim!

Spend the evening in Juan les Pins.

Red and white umbrellas and chairs on the beach of Juan les pins

The spectacular beach of Juan les Pins is a must-visit, and it’s the perfect way to cap off the first day of this French Riviera itinerary.

Treat yourself to a drink with a view at the Fitzgerald Piano Bar, which pays homage to the artists who loved this small Riviera town.

The artists of the Lost Generation, with Francis and Zelda Fitzgerald presiding, made Juan les Pins the most en vogue place to be on the Riviera.

The champagne-filled decadence of a life lived at night is still welcomed here!

Where to Stay in Antibes:

Budget: In the old town near the Picasso Museum, Irin Hotel is a great budget-friendly choice. It’s not super fancy, but it’s a great place to lay your head for the night, enjoying comfortable and clean air-conditioned rooms. Breakfast is available at the next-door brasserie.

>> Check rates and availability here!

Mid-Range: In the Old Town just a few hundred feet from the port and the beach, Hotel Relais Du Postillon offers stunning rooms in a prime location. There’s a variety of room types, and the design is unique to each one.

>> Check rates and availability here!

Luxury: For a luxury stay, check into the Hôtel La Villa Port d’Antibes & Spa. Enjoy the inviting waters of the outdoor swimming pool, enjoy craft cocktails made by expert mixologists, or indulge at the “by Sothys” spa with its a serene hammam and sensory shower.

>> Check rates and availability here!

Day Two of Your French Riviera Itinerary

Grab something to eat at the Marché Provençal.

Bust of general Championnet located in front of a provencal market in Antibes, France

Before you hit the road again, make sure to stop at the Marché Provençal, the bustling local market of Antibes.

Soak up the vibrant atmosphere, indulge in some shopping or simply admire the colorful displays of fresh produce before you head west to your next destination.

Grab something hearty to keep you going for a bit — we’ve got a full day ahead!

Immerse yourself in the cinematic world of Cannes.

blue and yellow striped umbrellas on the beach in cannes with water, coastline, mountains in distance

Synonymous with its star-studded film festival, Cannes is one of the most glam cities on the French Riviera.

But even when it’s not festival time, Cannes is always worth a visit for its beautiful beaches, stunning views, and sophisticated style.

Admire the Palais des Festivals, a piece of film history.

futuristic architecture in downtown cannes where you can find the palais des festivals where the cannes film festival takes place

Make sure you stop by the Palais des Festivals where the Cannes Festival takes place every year.

This modern work of architecture is a marvel, so even if you’re not a film buff, the architecture is something to gawk at!

You can even walk up the famous steps to practice your red-carpet skills (you know, just in case…)

Walk the beautiful Croisette.

a sign that reads 'cannes' walking down the preomande

The Palais is located right on the Croisette, Cannes’ seafront promenade, lined with palm trees, luxury hotels, and designer boutiques.

Strolling through, it’s hard not to feel like a star!

This is also where you’ll find the public beach, Croisette Beach, which is a good place for a swim if you’re in the mood for a dip.

Explore the charming Le Suquet.

the old town of cannes with pink, yellow, pastel colored buildings

Once you’ve explored the modern part of town, it’s time to jump back in time a bit.

Cannes’ old town, Le Suquet, marks a beautiful contrast to the modern cinematic city.

The medieval quarter is filled with cobblestone streets, colorful houses and picturesque squares.

Marvel at the church and its views.

Notre-Dame Esperance church in Cannes city in French riviera, with sea views behind it

For magnificent views of the city and the Mediterranean, you can climb up to the top of Notre-Dame-de-l’Espérance, a 12th century church.

The views here are unparalleled!

Start heading back to the main town: while you’re strolling through the streets of Cannes, keep your eyes open and admire the ever-present street art.

You’ll find mural paintings celebrating famous actors, films, and cinematic masters.

Take a ferry to the Lérins islands.

Cannes, Lérins islands, Sainte Marguerite island, natural preserve

Another great fun thing to do while you’re visiting Cannes is to take a ferry to the nearby Lérins Islands.

The charming islands make up a small nature reserve with trails for hiking and beaches for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling.

The larger one, Île Sainte-Marguerite, is also home to a historic fort that was once used as a prison (I guess at least it didn’t have a bad view?).

beautiful peaceful Lerins Abbey Cistercian monastery on the island of Saint-Honorat on the French Riviera monastic community near Cannes France

Meanwhile, the smaller of the two, Île Saint-Honorat, is home to Lérins Abbey, a monastery that monks have inhabited since the 5th century.

This is a stunning photo spot and just an all-around beautiful stop on this French Riviera itinerary.

Get a taste of the exquisite glamor of Saint-Tropez

aerial view of the coastal town of st tropez on the french riviera

Glamorous Saint-Tropez is certainly amongst the most stylish (and scandalous) destinations in France.

This formerly tranquil oasis on the Riviera rose to fame in the 1950s when Brigitte Bardot came to Saint Tropez to film And God Created Woman with Roger Vadim.  

Following this experience, Bardot famously fell in love with Saint Tropez and purchased the villa La Madrague.

Boats in a port of Saint Tropez, France

Her love of Saint Tropez went on to make the coastal town a jet set paradise for the rich and famous, conveniently located just a 30-minute drive from Cannes.  

In 1968, Alain Delon and Romy Schneider starred in the French classic La Piscine, which was shot in a sumptuous villa on the cliffs of Saint Tropez. The beautiful scenery depicted in this film can still be seen today!

Visit the local cinema museum.

Musée de la Gendarmerie et du Cinéma

While Saint-Tropez is famous for its nightlife and luxury, the old town’s historic monuments are also worth a visit.

Movie fans may want to visit the Musée de la Gendarmerie et du Cinéma, which explores the city’s cinematic history. 

Before you set off on the road for the next city, a visit to the Old Harbor is also a must! 

Take a little drive to nearby Ramatuelle.

the hilltop town of ramatuelle

Make sure you drive up to Ramatuelle on the outskirts of Saint-Tropez to enjoy a magnificent view.  

This hilltop town is quaint and charming, and its views are hard to beat.

Enjoy the town before returning to Saint-Tropez for the evening.

Where to Stay in Saint-Tropez:

Budget: St-Tropez is quite pricy, so for a budget-friendly alternative, look at Hotel La Romarine just outside of the city, a short drive away. There’s a swimming pool, olive groves and palm trees, and beautiful rooms with balconies — but because it’s outside the main town, the price isn’t shocking.

>> Check availability and rates here!

Mid-Range: The charming La Bastide Du Port is a great mid-range property with exquisite design — without a shocking price tag. The rooms have a gorgeous Provençal design style, with lovely views from the windows offering either a sea or garden view. 

>> Check availability and rates here!

Luxury: The stunning 5-star hotel, Domaine de l’Astragale, has all you’d need to basically live there: huge lush gardens, four heated swimming pools, tennis court, the list goes on. There’s an on-site restaurant and bar, as well. The rooms are huge, most with a balcony or their own private garden, and some even have their own spa bath tub!

>> Check availability and rates here!

DAY 3 of Your French Riviera Itinerary

Scents and sensibility: Explore the perfume capital of Grasse  

Old town of Grasse, town in Provence famous for its perfume industry, France

In the hills above the French Riviera, Grasse is where the warm Mediterranean climate and fertile soil create ideal growing conditions for flowers.

Grasse and its surrounding region is particularly well-suited for growing jasmine, lavender and roses which are amongst the key ingredients in many perfumes. 

It’s no surprise, then, that Grasse has been a hub for the perfume industry since the 16th century.

Local artisans have been experimenting over centuries with techniques for distilling and blending fragrances, which led to the creation of many iconic perfumes, including perhaps most famously Coco Chanel’s N°5.   

There are lots of free things to do in Grasse, but one thing you really ought to set aside some time and money for is a perfume tour — it’s what the city is known for, after all!

Take a perfume tour in Grasse.

Old town of Grasse, town in Provence famous for its perfume industry, France

Since Grasse is home to several historic perfume factories, you should absolutely make the most of the chance and take a tour to learn about the perfume-making process and the history of this unique artisanal expertise. 

Some of the most famous factories include Fragonard (my personal fave!)you can book their perfume tour online here, as well as Molinard and Galimard.

Several museums and festivals are also dedicated to the town’s perfume industry.  

Wander around the Old Town of Grasse.

Idyllic market square in Grasse, France

Beyond its modern perfumeries, Grasse’s old town is a stunning maze of picturesque streets, cafés and shops.

Be sure to save some time to wander around and get lost here.

Explore some of the nearby towns.

The charming stone town of Gourdon nearby to Grasse

The town is beautifully located as well, nestled between majestic landscapes which make for great hikes in the surrounding natural beauty, carefully preserved by the regional National Park.   

Make sure to stop in a few smaller villages along the way.

Some of your options include Gourdon, Cabris, Tourrettes-sur-Loup and the town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, which features the awe-inspiring Chapelle du Rosaire, designed by Henri Matisse in 1940.  

Where to Stay in Grasse:

Budget: For a charming and affordable stay, look to La Bellaudiere, which is a converted 16th century house that is now a lovely guesthouse. Best of all, you can enjoy your breakfast either delivered to your room or eaten on the lovely terrace.

>> Check rates and availability here

Mid-Range: For a unique stay, there’s nowhere like Roulotte De Charme, a little wooden caravan with lovely blue-doors and shutters that you can stay in — set in a lovely garden with farm animals like donkeys! But don’t worry, it’s quite modern — you’ll enjoy WiFi and A/C, and there’s even a private little hot tub to enjoy!

>> Check rates and availability here

Luxury: The lovely Bastide Saint Antoine is part of the beloved Relais & Châteaux, known for its hospitality and gorgeous properties. In a building dating back to the 18th century, this lovely converted mansion has spacious Mediterranean gardens and an outdoor pool. The rooms are extremely elegant and lovely, some with clawfoot bathtubs and terraces.

>> Check rates and availability here

Day Four of Your French Riviera Itinerary

Visit the second smallest country in the world.

the exotic garden of monaco viewing the coastline in the distance on a sunny summer day

Why not tick off another country on this French Riviera road trip itinerary?

The tiny sovereign city-state of Monaco is famous for its glamorous lifestyle, high-end shopping, luxurious hotels and, of course, for its royalty.

The Grimaldi family has ruled Monaco for over 700 years, elegantly representing Monaco’s luxury as well as its rich history and culture across the world.

Channel your inner Grace Kelly walking along the beautiful botanical gardens or gamble the night away like James Bond at the Monte Carlo Casino. No matter your tastes, Monaco has a lot to offer.

beach in monaco with red umbrellas

Monaco is also a world ambassador for the arts as well as for humanitarian action.

It’s an easy mistake to make, but don’t think of Monaco as just a glamorous vacation destination, as the Monegasques are a very proud people with a long history.

Take a stroll around the Old Town, visit the Cathedral to pay your respects to Princess Grace of Monaco’s final resting place, and treat yourself to a royal meal in one of the many high-end restaurants.

The Oceanographic Museum is also a highlight.

Even if you don’t have time to visit the museum, don’t miss out on the majestic view.

And of course, no trip is complete without an afternoon spent soaking up the sun at the Larvotto Beach.

Spend the night in Eze.

the hilltop town of eze as seen from the bottom of the hill with a pink flower bush

Monaco is a very expensive place to visit, and there are extremely limited accommodation options, so head to the next place on your French Riviera road trip: Eze.

Located just 30 minutes from Monaco, it’s a short drive to end up in.

Where to Stay in Eze:

Budget: For an affordable and convenient hotel, check out Hôtel La Villa d’Eze, right in the heart of the town. The rooms are a little small, but it’s quite functional, with modern updated bathrooms and a lovely terrace to dine at. 

>> Check rates and availability here

Mid-Range: With a stunning infinity pool that melts into a Mediterranean Sea view, Les Terrasses d’Eze – Hôtel & Spa is a dreamy hotel you won’t soon be able to forget. Beyond its gorgeous pool, the hotel has an on-site spa with massages and even a float tank! The rooms are modern and clean-lined, some with balconies with sea views. 

>> Check rates and availability here

Luxury: Stay in an exquisite converted chateau at Chateau Eza for one of the most luxurious stays on the Riviera, part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World brand. The rooms retain a lot of the original detail, like stone walls, but with modern details like spacious soaking tubs and separate showers. The restaurant is simply breathtaking, with beautifully-plated fine dining.

>> Check rates and availability here

Day Five of Your French Riviera Itinerary

Unwind in beautiful Eze.

cobblestone street of eze with arch doorway and buildings

The picturesque medieval village of Eze is perched on a hilltop and its views of the Riviera are hard to beat.

This tranquil little village offers a great place to stretch your legs as we near the end of this French Riviera road trip.

Admire its beautiful architecture lining the cobblestone streets, savor the delicious and humble local food, and immerse yourself in the charming atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of the Riviera’s glitzier cities.

Admire the castle ruins and its views.

Ruins of the old castle on the top of Eze garden. Eze, renowned tourist site on the French Riviera, is famous worldwide for the view of the sea from its hill top and its women' statues.

Eze is also a great place to go for a hike.

You can even visit the Eze Castle ruins, which has been towering over the Mediterranean since the 12th century.

Some nearby hiking trails in the surrounding Alpes-Maritimes region are also worth checking out, if you have the time.

Admire the plants of the Jardin Exotique — with a view!

Cactus garden with views over the town of Eze

Make time to stop by the Jardin Exotique, a beautiful botanical garden which is home to a variety of exotic plants and flowers.

You can almost get lost in the gorgeous displays as you wander through these blooms and vines!

Admire the stunning beauty of Cap-Ferrat.

Harbour of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, Côte d’Azur, France

Another favorite destination amongst royals and celebrities, Cap-Ferrat is a small town located on the beautiful peninsula just a few miles from Nice.

Beautiful beaches, crystal clear water and extremely elegant settings make this gem the perfect last stop on your road trip.

Admire the pastel-pink Villa Ephrussi.

A visit to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is well worth your time.

Built in the 1900s, this elegant mansion houses some exquisite art. Go for a walk in the gardens and enjoy the breathtaking view.

Last, but certainly not least, head down to the beaches to soak up some last rays of glamorous sun before you drive back to Nice. Bon voyage!

Renting a Car in Provence: 11 Tips for a Smooth Ride [2023 Guide]

a road in provence with lavender fields as seen from a beautiful aerial perspective

With every curve in the road, driving Provence offers a panorama of scenic views in a rainbow of colors.

From the deep purple of lavender fields to the canary yellow of summer sunflowers to the turquoise waters of its lakes and rivers, Provence is full of natural and man-made wonders.

And traversing it by car is the best way to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

Allison Green, the article author, enjoying the views in Gordes in Provence, with sand-colored buildings and a hilltop view over the Provence area and Luberon valley
Enjoying the view in Gordes, after a particularly windy road!

Winding from countryside towns to town, the picturesque hilltop villages dot the landscape, with their honey-colored stone houses spilling down the landscape’s rugged edges.

Renting a car in Provence is not merely a means to an end, but the end itself.

Journeying from lavender fields to serene riverside towns to ancient hilltop towns to hidden monasteries on a Provence road trip, the moments on the road is part of the experience.

Allison Green enjoying the cold water of the Sorgue River
Pretending not to care that I’m up to my *** in 55 degree F water in the Sorgue River

That said, it’s not all lavender fields and good vibes — driving in Provence does come with some of its own unique challenges, especially in the hill towns, built long before the modern car was even a mental possibility.

Having made a handful of mistakes and had my fair share of surprises while renting a car in Provence, I hope you learn from me.

That way, your trip to this marvelous region of France is as smooth as a freshly paved road!

Tips for Renting a Car in Provence

Choose the right car.

Typical houses in a narrow street in city center of Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt, a small village in French Provence. Pastel colors of red, yellow, beige with blue window shutters on some of the buildings.
Try that in an SUV!

In general, both European roads and European cars tend to be smaller.

Whenever possible, consider the size of your group and your luggage and go with the smallest feasible car for your group.

Face it: the best parts of Provence require driving in narrow village streets, up steep hills, and wrapping around beautiful coastline.

A smaller car is the ticket to a less stressful trip — I get a cold sweat just trying to imagine an SUV down a Provençal lane.

a road in provence coastline with windy roads, seen from an aerial view
Trust me, if you’re not comfortable in a manual car, you aren’t going to want to get re-acquainted on roads like these!

Also note that manual cars are also more common in Europe and are usually cheaper to rent, so it’s easy for unsuspecting travelers to accidentally select a manual car.

If you’re at all uncomfortable driving stick shift, be sure to filter your search so that you are only looking at automatic cars (you can do this easy on Discover Cars, which has a very easy-to-navigate filter system).

Yes, you will pay more, but it’ll be worth every penny.

Consider the rental company.

view in a provence town with a road that is mostly empty and a small town
Check all agencies, not just the big names, when renting a car in Provence!

It may be tempting to go with well-known, international chains like Hertz, Enterprise, and Avis, which are pretty reliable and have offices throughout France.

That said, while these companies are pretty famous, they are not necessarily the most scrupulous.

I once dealt with Hertz forwarding me three different 45 euro traffic violations from renting a car in Italy… and charging me 50 euros per “processing fee”, more than doubling what I owed Italy for making a simple traffic error. (Yes, I’m still bitter).

However, local agencies can sometimes offer better deals (while also being less predatory than these big companies).

I use a search engine like Discover Cars to check out all available options (they search over 500+ companies, including local ones that other search engines miss.)

Whenever possible, book your car rental pickup at the airport, as these often are the most convenient rentals and have the best prices. Marseille and Nice will be your cheapest options.

Whenever I’m dealing with unknown local agencies, I always be sure to read reviews and check the terms carefully before I rent, to ensure I’m not renting something that has restrictive mileage limitations or a really insanely high deposit fee.

Luckily, Discover Cars is one of the more straightforward car rental aggregators, which lays out their pricing and inclusions quite clearly, which is why it’s my tried-and-true choice for renting cars in Europe.

Prepare your insurance documentation beforehand.

signs for different areas of the luberon in provence

Make sure to understand the insurance options offered by the rental company and what you need vs. what is offered.

When you rent a car in Provence (or anywhere in France), it is mandatory that you have third-party liability insurance — that will almost certainly be included in the price of your rental, but be sure to dig into the terms and check.

For Americans (and perhaps citizens of other countries, but I can only speak to my own experience here), most credit card companies offer supplemental rental car insurance.

Make sure your coverage applies abroad, and make sure you do what is required in order for your credit card to cover it.

For most credit cards, this means fully waiving the rental company’s policy, typically the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW).

a view on the road in provence with lavender on one side of the road and a town up ahead in the distance

I can guarantee you that no matter where you go in the world, the rental company either won’t understand how this works or will play dumb and try to get you to get their insurance policy.

This happened to me recently in Costa Rica, and I was able to get them to waive one part of the rental insurance, but they won’t budge on another part, one I later found out that my credit card should have covered.

In the case I mentioned above, they said I should have a letter from my credit card company with my name on it specifying the details of the policy and what policies I was waiving.

What I will recommend, though, is purchasing supplemental full coverage insurance when you book your rental car.

There are lots of little things that can go wrong with your rental — dents in the car, scrapes along the doors, windshield cracks, your car getting keyed (yup, this happened to me before too!) — full coverage covers everything that third party liability and CDW doesn’t.

That means minor cosmetic damage as well as big things like theft and vandalism are also covered.

Every single time I’ve rented a car in Europe, I’ve found it was cheaper to book my full coverage insurance with the rental car instead of at the counter.

It’s a difference of typically around $7/day with Discover Cars vs. $20/day with other major companies.

Book your Provence car rental in advance, especially in summer.

Allison Green and her friend sitting on a wall in Provence looking at the views at sunset
Visiting Provence in summer? Book ahead!

Summer is high season in Provence, whether it’s people visiting the French Riviera or the lovely Luberon villages or the many other scenic parts of this wide and varied region.

If you know you need to be renting a car in Provence in order to carry out your itinerary, don’t wait.

Renting your Provence rental in advance is almost always cheaper and ensures that you have a good selection of vehicles, which is essentially key for those who don’t know how to drive manual cars and need automatic transmission cars.

In peak seasons, the availability of rental cars (and particularly automatic small cars and sedans) can be scarce, so don’t waste any time if your trip is approaching.

Generally, you can have free cancellation with your car rental if you book through a company like Discover Cars, so book as soon as you know you want to go, and make changes or cancel as needed.

Check if you need an International Driving Permit (IDP).

road sign indicating that you are leaving valensole on the road in provence

France does not require an IDP for many countries, but it’s a good idea to check whether you might need one before you go, in case your country is an exception.

For Americans and British travelers, an IDP is not needed; for Australians, an IDP is needed.

Why? I have no idea, but you’ll want to google your specific country + France + IDP to see if it is required.

Generally, EU citizens do not need an IDP to drive in France (or anywhere in the EU) so long as they have a EU license.

Have your navigation system planned (and have it backed up, too!).

a car on the road with a beautiful lake in the background in provence

While renting a car in Provence, a GPS system can be quite helpful — luckily, that’s basically every smartphone these days.

Just remember to have an international plan set up for data usage so that you can use it on the road, or you can download offline maps on Google or Maps.me before you go.

I still always recommend having an international plan with data, though, as you’ll want to be able to check things and make calls in case of an emergency.

Familiarize yourself with parking plans before you go.

the town of Roussillon and its parking area
Many villages, like Roussillon, have a parking area outside of the main village

In many Provence villages, parking can be challenging and cars are not allowed in the main town center.

Research where to park in advance, especially in high-traffic tourist areas.

Generally, there will be a parking area outside of these car-free town centers, which generally are free but sometimes require payment.

Many towns in Provence have “Blue Zones” where parking is free but limited to a certain duration, which requires a disk (disque) indicating your arrival time.

The disk can typically be obtained from tourist offices or tobacco shops — learn more about the system here.

In Provence, as in the rest of France, parking rules can vary based on the city or town you are in, but here are some general rules and tips.

parking symbol in france

Blue Zones (“Zone Bleue”): These zones allow for free parking but have a time limit, usually an hour and a half. You need to display a blue parking disc showing your arrival time.

“Payant” Zones: In larger towns and cities, you often must pay for a ticket and display it in your windshield. The rate and maximum allowed time can vary. That said, it helps to read French here, as parking is free during certain hours (such as lunchtime or after a certain time in the evening, or on Sundays).

Yellow Lines: Yellow lines along the curb generally indicate no parking or stopping at any time, similar to a red line in the USA.

White Lines: Parking spaces are often marked by white lines, similar to the USA. If there are no colored signs or payment machines nearby, it’s usually safe to assume that parking is free.

Multi-Story Car Parks: In larger towns or cities like Aix-en-Provence or Avignon, it helps to use designated car parks, especially for longer stays such as if you’re spending a few days in the city and don’t want to use your car while you’re in the town. Rates are reasonable and they are easy to navigate.

Disabled Parking: As in most countries, disabled drivers with the appropriate badge can park for free and without time limits in most parking zones. Be sure to inquire with your rental agency if this applies to you, as you may be required to provide some form of documentation.

Be aware of the toll system.

a large road on the french highway where you likely have to pay a toll to use the road
Larger highways in France often require toll payment.

Many of the autoroutes (freeways) in France are toll roads where you have to pay to use the road.

Be prepared for this expense, and keep some cash on hand just in case a credit card reader doesn’t work with your card for some reason.

Some cars may come with a toll tag that automatically charges your credit card — you may want to ask about this, as it’s not necessarily included in your rental.

It’ll help you skip some traffic lines, too!

You can check to see what your tolls will be driving from one point to another using the Autoroutes.fr website.

For example, I calculated that going from Marseille to Aix-en-Provence would incur a 4.08 euro toll.

Get ready for Provence’s driving culture.

narrow road in provence with orange and red detail on the houses

While not common in some places like the United States, roundabouts are common in France.

It’s not too complicated: basically, cars already in the roundabout have the right of way, and you have to enter with the flow of traffic.

Always signal when entering and exiting a roundabout.

Plus, we can’t talk about Provence without talking about its narrow streets. While some town centers don’t allow cars, others do.

These streets can be a challenge, particularly for larger cars (remember why I told you to pick a small car!).

Take your time and be prepared to reverse or carefully maneuver your way around in tight spots. Be patient!

Respect alcohol limits.

a glass of wine with an out of focus landscape behind it

Despite its reputation for wine at lunchtime, France has strict drinking and driving laws.

The legal limit is 0.5 grams per literin your blood, (equivalent to the US metric of a 0.5 BAC).

For example, the US has a 0.8 BAC limit, so that’s quite a significant difference, where France is much stricter.

If you want to visit wineries, either have a designated driver or book a winery tour to avoid any issues with the law (and to keep everyone safe, of course).

Be prepared to pump your own gas.

french gas station pumps with yellow diesel 'gazole' pump' and two green pumps for regular gas

Many gas stations in France are self-service (people from states like New Jersey where you can’t pump your own gas… study up! Kidding, it’s really not that hard, but you do need to know how to do it).

Also, be aware that unlike in many countries, the color indicator for diesel is yellow, not green. In France, green pumps are actually for unleaded gas.

(We may have learned this the hard way on a family trip to France when I was 12; I am forever traumatized and am always super careful to inquire about what kind of gas the car takes from now on).

Diesel is known as ‘gazole’ and is indicated with a B and a number. Unleaded gas is indicated with an E (for ethanol, indicating the percentage permitted) followed by a number, and is green.

You’ll want to inquire with your rental car agency in Provence about what type of gas your car requires.

While you can sometimes pay with cash, many gas stations do not have an attendant and thus require a credit card with a chip.

If you have a chipless older model of credit card, or rely only on cash, you may have some trouble here.

Also, keep in mind that in small towns, gas stations might close at night and during lunchtime… or anytime they want, really, because this is Provence and life moves slowly here.

Best Places to Go with a Rental Car in Provence

Flamingos in Camargue, Provence
One of the best places to go with a rental car in Provence? Camargue Regional Nature Park, with its flamingos and wild white horses!

While public transportation can get you to many of the larger towns and cities in Provence, having a car can open up many more possibilities for exploration, especially if you want to experience some of the less crowded and more remote locations. Here are a few:

The Luberon Villages: This collection of hilltop villages, including Gordes, Roussillon, and Bonnieux, is quintessential Provence. While some are reachable by public transport, having a car makes it easier to hop from one to another at your own pace.

The Verdon Gorge: Nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of Europe” by some (though the Tara Gorge in Montenegro also gets this distinction!), this breathtaking part of Provence offers ample hiking, kayaking, and rock climbing for those with experience. It’s tough to get here without a car, but the drive is well worth it.

Plateau de Valensole: This is the place to go if you want those iconic photos of lavender fields. It’s quite remote and not easy to get to without a car.

Allison Green in a lavender field in Provence
Lavender fields in Provence are just one of many reasons to stop and enjoy the view!

Les Baux-de-Provence: This tiny village and its ruined castle sit atop a rocky outcrop and the views are breathtaking. You can get a bus here, but having a car gives you much more flexibility.

Camargue Natural Park: This large natural reserve is home to flamingos, wild horses, and bulls. There are some bus tours, but having your own car allows you to explore the area at your own pace.

Sénanque Abbey: This beautiful abbey is located in a rather remote valley and is most famous when its lavender fields are in bloom.

Cap Canaille, Cassis: The highest sea cliffs in France offer beautiful views of the Mediterranean. They’re most easily reached by car.

What to Wear in Paris in Winter: Female Packing List + Tips!

Paris is a gorgeous city any time of year, but in the winter, it’s a bit extra delightful.

The tourists are as gone as they’ll ever be, scared off by the cold temperatures and or lulled into Germany or Austria instead for Christmas Market fever.

Yes, winter in Paris is cold, and the weather in Paris in December through February isn’t exactly enticing, but getting to see the City of Lights as close to empty as it gets is not a bad trade-off.

view of luxembourg garden covered in snow in paris in winter

In order to enjoy your time visiting Paris in winter, you’ll want to pack appropriately.

Whether you’re visiting Paris on a solo trip or you’re going with a partner, friends, or family, you’ll need to know how to dress and what to bring for a winter trip.

I’ve nailed down exactly what to wear in Paris in winter to keep you bundled up and warm, yet looking as chic and feeling as comfortable as possible.

Paris Weather in Winter

the sacre couer with snow in winter

First of all, before you decide what to wear in Paris in winter, you should probably figure out just how cold it’ll be.

Luckily, Paris’s winter weather is not that cold: throughout the winter, we’re talking average highs of 46-48° F (8-9 °C) and average lows of 37-39 °F (3-4 °C).

However, that of course doesn’t account for extremes which are possible. Climate change means more volatility; France shattered its heat wave record this last summer.

Snow is possible but not necessarily likely during your winter trip to Paris. It really can vary — some months there’ll be no snow at all, other months, it can pile up. In 2010, there were 14 snowstorms that December in Paris with temperatures as low as -10 °C / 14° F and even lower in the surrounding suburbs.

I tell you this wide range not to be unhelpful, but to remind you to prepare for the worst weather and hope for the best when deciding how to pack for Paris in winter.

When it comes to packing for winter in Europe, I think it’s always better to be a bit overprepared than underprepared.

Otherwise, you risk having to spend a day of your trip looking for all your winter needs and buying some things impulsively that aren’t quite right, rather than preemptively bringing or buying things you love.

There’s so much to do in Paris — from visiting the Louvre and Catacombs to taking a day trip to the Champagne region to exploring a more unusual side to Paris, that there’s really no point in spending the time shopping for appropriate clothes just because you didn’t pack right!

Where to Stay in Paris in Winter

If you’re visiting Paris in winter, I suggest opting for an awesome place (perhaps with an Eiffel Tower view?) that takes advantage of the fact that you’re visiting in the off-season!

Whether that’s a chic Airbnb in Paris or a luxury hotel with an unbeatable view, it’ll improve your trip to Paris in winter drastically.

EIFFEL TOWER VIEW | For a chic hotel with an Eiffel Tower view that won’t totally break the bank, the Jardins Eiffel is a fantastic choice for a dash of luxury at a reasonable price. the rooms are quaint and lovely with a real Parisian touch to them. Prices from $250/night and up. Check details on Booking.

MODERN BOUTIQUE | citizenM is one of my favorite hotel chains as they offer all sorts of great modern amenities, incredibly vibrant styling, and well-thought-out rooms at budget prices. They offer a smaller footprint per room but designed in a way that doesn’t seem tiny, and passing on that discount to you. Prices from $200/night and up. Check details and availability on Booking.

LUXURY APARTMENT | For a lovely apartment-style stay, you’ll need to be careful to pick an apartment rental that stays within Paris’s short-term rental laws. Résidence Charles Floquet is a condo-hotel that does just that, offering all the apartment amenities with the confidence of a hotel, ranging from 1-bedrooms with courtyard views to duplexes with Eiffel Tower views. Prices from $400/night and up. Check details and availability on Booking.

What to Wear in Paris in Winter: The Essentials

Here is my complete list of what to wear in Paris in December through February, with product recommendations to things I love, as well as a few Paris winter outfit ideas along the way.

A winter coat

What coat you should pack for Paris in winter depends on how warm you like to be. I personally run cold in general and come from a magical place (California) where winter barely exists: where people freak out and pull on the Uggs and fleece jackets as soon as temperatures drop below 50 °F (that’s 10 °C for you non-Americans out there)

I struggled with winter a lot when I first moved to New York. It was a rough wake-up call. After two years of trying to make cute woolen peacoats work for me in sub-freezing temperatures Gossip-Girl-style, I eventually packed in it, called it quits, and invested in a proper winter coat. My life changed overnight, even if I definitely lost quite a few fashion points.

This is the exact North Face parka that I bought. I love that it comes down to mid-thigh, which makes a world of difference over a jacket that ends at the hip. You really have no idea how much heat you lose in that area until you wear a jacket that covers it!

While North Face gear is pricy, it will last you a lifetime, as North Face products have a lifetime guarantee (hold onto your receipt though just in case).

I tested this guarantee when my zipper came unstitched after two years of heavy use, wearing it every day including when I was biking to work in the winter.

North Face promptly fixed it up and sent it back as good as new. This isn’t sponsored, for the record – I’ve paid out of pocket for my North Face gear and would happily buy it again.

However, I know for some people, the idea of wearing a puffy winter coat in Paris in winter makes them cringe. And I get it — I mean, I suffered through two winters of being ridiculously cold for the sake of fashion as well.

So what instead I would suggest, if you really want to look cute without sacrificing warmth, is to buy an ultra-thin down jacket like this one (make sure it has no hood) and layer it underneath a cute wool peacoat – I love this one in red. Make sure the coat has a high neck so the layer doesn’t peep through!

Best Shoes for Paris Winters

Since Paris doesn’t really snow that often in the winter, you can safely leave the snow boots behind. What I do suggest is something waterproof, as Paris is quite rainy all winter and it’ll also work in case it does snow while you’re in Paris as well.

For me, the winter boot I can’t live without are my Blondo waterproof leather boots. I bought this pair in 2008… which means I’m celebrating my 10-year anniversary with them this year, which is longer than most of my friendships and every relationship I’ve been in so far.

In 10 years of heavy use, I’ve only had to get them resoled once, which set me back about $60 in NYC. However, for a pair of shoes I wear nearly every day for 3-4 months per year, it was 100% worth it. 

The traction is excellent, the look is sleek and streamlined, and I’ve tested their waterproofness in many a filthy slush puddle and emerged with my feet unscathed. They stand the test and that’s why they’re the only shoes I think you need to wear in Paris in winter.

Since it’s been literally a decade since I bought these boots, the exact original version I bought is no longer available, but these look exactly like the ones I have and are the same Blondo brand.

If you want a shorter Chelsea-style ankle boot rather than a knee-high look, Blondo also makes a really cute version here that I’m eyeing for this winter.

One last note: Be sure to pair your winter boots with proper wool socks. No matter how insulated your shoe is, it won’t do much good if you are wearing thin, crappy cotton socks (another thing that took me several years to learn… why do I suck at winter so badly? Oh yeah, California).

I invested in these Smartwool socks after much hemming and hawing about the price and I’m so glad I did. You don’t need that many pairs because you can actually re-wear them a few times before they get smelly because Smartwool is odor-absorbent and basically kind of magical. I’d bring 3 pairs for a week-long trip and give them a day to breathe in between wears.

Winter Hat

Winter accessories are really what make or break whatever you decide to wear in Paris.

As long as you have a hat, gloves, and scarf, you can almost get away with wearing whatever you want as your base layer – as long as you have the right jacket and shoes like I recommended above as well.

In terms of a hat, I recommend wearing a tightly-knit hat that fits firmly on your head and covers your ears completely — bonus points if it is lined with fleece!

I lose my hats constantly since I’m a hot mess of an adult, so I go through several each winter. I recommend a beanie knit hat with fleece, kind of like this one.

I like colorful ones with a pompom on it, because it adds a bit of color and interest to your winter photos (where you can otherwise just look like an all-black blob).

On warmer days where your ears don’t need to be covered, you can always try to be chic Parisian-style with a beret (here’s how to wear a beret and not look like a potato).

Touchscreen-friendly gloves

For gloves, look for something that is both touchscreen compatible and warm. However, you really don’t need something waterproof or crazy high-tech. I recommend a simple pair of gloves like these ones.

You’ll have your hands in your coat pockets most of the time anyway, but it’ll be nice to have touchscreen-friendly gloves so you can use your smartphone without having to take them off.

Plus, if you’re traveling to Paris with teenagers, they’ll definitely want easy access to their phones!

Winter scarf

For scarves, I recommend the biggest, most wrappable scarf you can find. I tend to go for something huge, chunky, and made of acrylic.

I like acrylic because it’s gentler on my skin than wool, which tends to make me itchy with when it’s in direct contact with my skin (with socks being the exception, since the skin on my feet is much less sensitive than everywhere else).

However, other people may be fine with wool, in which case I’d definitely say go for a wool scarf as wool can really trap in heat and keep you ultra-toasty.

I prefer an infinity style knit scarf for winter that I can wear super tight around my neck to keep in as much warmth as possible. Every bit counts!

I suggest at least one but better yet two scarves if you can fit it. Since it’s an outer layer, it’ll show up in all your photos, so choose a pattern or print you love that goes well with your winter coat, which you’ll likely only have one of, and adds variety to your photos.

Winter Leggings

Now, I’m going to let you in on my #1 secret weapon when it comes to what to wear in Paris in winter. Three words: fleece lined leggings.

These leggings are magic when it comes to surviving just about any winter. If you can tolerate wool, you’ll probably be even warmer with something like these merino wool leggings.

But since I can’t, I substitute fleece-lined leggings like these ones. On a cold day, I typically wear them underneath a pair of jeans and I am toasty and warm all day long. I prefer the ones without feet because they sag less during the day, and then I can wear my own warm socks with them. I generally pack 2-3 for a one-week trip.

What to Wear in Paris in Winter: Complete Clothing Packing List

If you’ve followed my advice up to this point — warm jacket (preferably down or faux down), waterproof leather boots, wool or fleece-lined leggings, and all the winter accessories — you can pretty much get away with wearing whatever you want with them.

I tend to choose a lot of sweater dresses because I am lazy when I travel and don’t like to pack a lot of different things that I have to mix and match, when just one dress will do perfectly. But you can also just wear jeans and sweaters on your trip so long as you have the appropriate winter accessories, shoes, and outerwear.

Here’s my complete Paris in winter packing list (well, clothing at least).

This list is assuming you’ll be in France in winter for one week.

Feel free to add or subtract clothing items as it makes sense depending on the length of your trip as well as your personal taste and style.

It includes the above-mentioned outwear accessories so you don’t forget it!

  • Several pairs of fleece-lined leggings. 3 pairs should do you well for 1 week.
  • 1-2 base layer thermal tops if you run cold. You can skip these if you don’t get cold easily or you’re used to cold temperatures.
  • 1-2 sweater dresses, picking colors that pair well with your leggings
  • 1-2 pairs of jeans (slightly loose is better; too tight will be hard to layer), which you can wear over leggings if it’s especially cold.
  • 2-4 warm sweaters. I recommend wool if you can tolerate it. 100% cashmere sweaters tend to be everyone’s favorite, but I find even cashmere itchy personally. I wear synthetic or acrylic sweaters with a base layer underneath.
  • thick jacket like the North Face parka I recommended, or a cute pea coat or something similar.
  • thin down jacket to layer underneath a less warm coat. You can keep this rolled up in a day bag, that’s how small it is, and add and subtract it as a layer as needed.
  • 3-5 pairs of wool socks.
  • 1 pair waterproof leather boots or similar boot that can withstand snow and rain.
  • 1-2 knit hat.
  • 1 pair gloves, making sure you pick ones that you can use with your smartphone.
  • 1-2 ultra big, cozy warm scarves. I especially suggest infinity style wrap scarves which trap in heat.
  • 1 large-ish cross-body purse or even a cute backpack for daily use.

What Else Should Be On Your Paris in Winter Packing List?

So, you’ve determined what to wear in Paris in winter – the last thing to decide is what other extras to bring.

Here are my essentials: however, you know what you need, so feel free to adapt as you see fit.

Toiletries & Personal Items

  • Lip balm: I tend to get dry lips in winter from the cold air and overheated buildings. I love this Aquaphor as it doesn’t dry my lips out the way many balms do (which trick you into continuing to use them!).
  • High-quality moisturizer: For the same reason as above – the combination of winter weather plus heat will do a number on your skin.
  • Sunscreen: Don’t discount the need for sunscreen even in the winter! I like this fancy Japanese Biore sunscreen for my face as my skin is quite sensitive and acne-prone, and this is really gentle on my skin.
  • Hand sanitizer: Perfect to use after getting off the metro, before eating, or any place with less than sanitary conditions. You don’t want to get sick on your trip! I always find I get way sicker when I pick up illnesses abroad, so prevention is key. I carry a mini bottle of Purell like this one with me.
  • Kleenex
  • Everyday make-up
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Hair brush & other hair accessories
  • Body wash
  • Body lotion
  • Deodorant
  • Prescription medicine, if needed
  • Other medicines (ibuprofen, Pepto-Bismol, etc.)


  • High-powered portable battery pack: Your phone battery will get run down very quickly on a cold winter day in Paris, so be sure to pack a portable battery charger like an Anker battery pack: this is what I swear by as a blogger who needs fully charged electronics at all times!
  • Camera: I personally use a Sony A6000 mirrorless camera, which is the perfect travel camera for producing professional-quality photos without taking up much space or weighing too much. I have several lenses for it but most people will be fine with the kit lens. Be sure to pack several extra batteries as well, for the same reason as above (winter weather = zapped electronics)
  • Adaptor, if visiting internationally: If you are visiting from continental Europe, North America, South America, most of Asia – basically, anywhere that doesn’t use UK plugs – you’ll want an international adaptor for sure. If bringing something that is reliant on heat, like a hair dryer or straightener, be sure to bring a voltage converter as well.
  • Smartphone and charger
  • Laptop or tablet and charger
  • Kindle, if you use one
  • Noise-canceling headphones, if you have them

Of Course, Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!

When planning any trip, especially a winter trip, be sure not to forget about travel insurance!

I use SafetyWing and its Nomad Insurance to insure all of my trips for its affordable rates and comprehensive coverage for all my travel needs.

Especially when traveling in winter in Europe, with its unpredictable weather and cold and flu season going strong, you’ll want to be covered!

SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance provides both travel insurance (coverage for trip delays, cancellations, interruptions — the likelihood of which increases in winter) and travel medical insurance (coverage for things like accidents, illnesses including Covid, etc. — also more likely in winter!).

Coverage is really affordable — for me, it costs roughly $11 USD for a week of coverage outside of the U.S., with a policy max of $250,000 after a deductible of $250. Not bad!

Check SafetyWing for a quote here!

Visiting the Louvre: Tips & 11 Mistakes to Avoid [2023]

Symmetrical views of the two pyramids in front of the Louvre, with the Louvre behind it

As the French call it, Le Louvre (short for Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre, quite a mouthful!) is perhaps the world’s most inspiring museum.

For many travelers, a visit to the Louvre is something they simply cannot miss when in Paris!

Housing countless pieces of art and objects from ancient civilizations, visiting the Louvre can be overwhelming.

Having a visit plan for your trip to the Louvre will help you maximize your time within this impressive museum and admire the pieces you really want to see.

The glass and metal pyramid designed by IM Pei in front of the Baroque front facade of the Louvre, a former royal palace in Paris, on a clear sunny day.

Unless you have several days to dedicate to visiting the Louvre, there’s simply no way to see it all.

Spreading over an area of nearly 800,000 square feet, it is quite easy to get lost when looking for specific exhibition halls or pieces.

Since your time in the French capital may be limited — whether you have one day in Paris, four days in Paris, or more — you certainly don’t want to get frustrated looking for something specific and end up with a bunch of wasted time.

For this reason, in this Louvre visit guide, I will tell you everything you need to know about the museum — and, most importantly, I’ll clue you in on what mistakes to avoid when visiting the Louvre.

But first — just a few quick suggestions for best Louvre tours in case you’re in a hurry!

My Top 3 Picks for Louvre Tours


visiting the louvre with the glass pyramid that inverts into the floor

Masterpieces Tour with Pre-Reserved Tickets
✔️ 2-hour guided tour where you see the key words of art out of the 35,000 in the Louvre
✔️ Avoid overwhelm and see the most important pieces with context

↳ Book it


people with cameras trying to get a good angle of the mona lisa in the museum

Louvre Skip-the-Line Ticket with Guidance to Mona Lisa
✔️ Best for those who have Mona Lisa at the top of their bucket list
✔️ Explore the Louvre at your pace without a guide after

↳ Book it


people walking around the interior of the louvre with gray walls and marble details

Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Entry
✔️ 3 hours with a guide for the most comprehensive tour
✔️ Free time to explore the Louvre after the tour

↳ Book it

History of The Louvre

Exterior of the Louvre on a cloudy day, lots of Baroque detailing and fancy style of architecture that shows its roots as a former royal residence for French kings

Before your visit to the Louvre, it may be helpful to know a few things about this famous Paris landmark.

Once the former royal residence of the Kings of France as well as a royal fortress, the former Louvre Palace — now the Louvre Museum — is now one of the best-known museums in the world.

Its name recognition makes it perhaps the most famous museum in the world, alongside maybe the Met in New York City. Along with the Eiffel Tower, it’s one of the main icons of Paris.

The Louvre presents vast and rich collections of art. The museum’s collection numbers 38,000 masterpieces and antiquities, scanning multiple millennia, scattered through a real maze of massive galleries and exhibition halls. 

They say you would need about six weeks to quickly see every single piece exhibited, and even more time if you also wanted to take some time in front of each work to read the informative details!

Despite its practically inexhaustible permanent collections, the museum is perhaps the most visited museum in the world, attracting millions of visitors year after year.

Is It Worth Visiting the Louvre?

Ornate ceiling work in gold leaf on the ceiling of the Louvre, with angel sculptures and other detailing such as spirals, shells, etc. on the piece

It all depends on what you like! If art is something that interests you, then you simply cannot miss visiting the Louvre when in Paris! 

However, it is no sin to admit that you’re not interested in the Louvre or that you do not care much about it. There is a lot more you can do in Paris than just tick off supposed “bucket list” items you have no personal interest in.

Museums can be tiring, and even if you like them, museum fatigue is a real thing.

Especially if you’re traveling with kids or teens, a full visit to Louvre can be tiring for them, even if you’re catering to them in other ways like finding fun places to stay in Paris with teens or young kiddos.

view of the louvre from the exterior with very few people around in the winter weather

Besides just the sheer amount of walking or standing you do when you visit, remember that the museum is designed to preserve the works of art — and not for the comfort of the tourist! 

As a consequence, some halls in the Louvre can feel too hot or too cold, as certain paintings or objects need to be preserved under certain conditions according to the materials. 

Besides, museums can be crowded, and tiring, and — let’s face it — that special piece you might be looking for will always bee one floor up or one floor below where you are, necessitating backtracking.

So give it thorough thought. If art is not your cup of tea, or if you prefer modern art, or smaller, more focused exhibitions, there is nothing wrong about not visiting the Louvre… especially not when Paris has so many other amazing museums!

Paris has dozens of other incredible museums, many of them smaller, often not as crowded, where you could spend a much more entertaining (and shorter) time, leaving the Louvre for those who really care.

Having that clear in your mind, also remember that not every visitor is interested in many of the works at the Louvre.

A large crowd in front of the Mona Lisa, many people holding up cell phones or cameras to try to take a photo of the small Mona Lisa painting

The average traveler just visits the Louvre looking for three works of art, the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace…. often not even know anything about them, not even why they should see them! 

Unfortunately, more often than not, people just want to see what everyone else sees… and not out of real interest. Don’t be that tourist!  

Keep in mind that a museum is also a place that attracts art students from all over the world.

People who may have worked hard to maybe get a scholarship and to be able to spend hours sketching or learning about art, and the Louvre being crowded with otherwise uninterested tourists does them no favors.

If the Louvre calls to you, then absolutely go! But if you feel like you’re visiting the Louvre just to say you’ve visited, there’s no shame in skipping it.

Alternatives (or Additions to!) the Louvre

The old gold clock in the Musee d'Orsay a former train station turned into an art musuem, with beautiful light fixtures and an incredible interior architecture

We don’t mean to dissuade you from visiting the Louvre during your time in Paris — only to encourage you to ask yourself if it’s something you truly want to do, or something you feel you ought to do.

Here are a few other excellent art museums in Paris worthy of a stop, and which types of art lovers they will appeal to.

  • Musee d’Orsay: Housed in a stunning former train station, this is the best museum in Paris for fans of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist era. There is a large selection of art by Renoir, Degas, Monet, and more. While not as crowded as the Louvre, it still gets busy, so book skip-the-line tickets here.
  • Musee de l’Orangerie: Another must-visit for fans of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, Musee de l’Orangerie picks up where Musee d’Orsay leaves off. You’ll find art by Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse, as well as a large selection of eight of Monet’s ‘Water Lilies’ mural collection. A must-visit for Monet fans! This is also quite busy due to its central location in the Tuileries gardens in the heart of Paris, so booking skip-the-line tickets is advised here as well.
  • Picasso Museum: Big Modernism and Picasso fans should not miss this comprehensive museum with over 5,000 exhibits, including prints and paintings by one of the most famous painters of all time. Book your skip-the-line tickets here.

Insider Tips & Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting the Louvre

People in winter clothing visiting the Louvre, in a series of arches from which you can see the glass pyramids on the other end.

Having said all that, many people are truly interested in seeing the Louvre — drawn in by its main attractions and genuinely interested in seeing more — and would gladly spend 3 to 5 hours checking out at least some of the exhibited works!

Since the Louvre is really big and crowded, it is a good idea to keep these common mistakes in mind to avoid them and to make the most of your visit to the Louvre.

Dont overlook the building itself.

Male figure standing in front of the glass pyramids of the Louvre, one smaller pyramid and one larger one, and the former palace structure which houses the museum behind it.

We get it, you go to the Louvre for the stunning pieces of art, the magnificent jewels of the French crown, or for some of the most stunning antiquities, paintings, and sculptures.

However, overlooking the architecture and style of the palace in itself is something that you will regret!

Originally constructed as a military fortress, the structure was later turned into a royal palace and house of the kings of France.

The Louvre’s first iteration as a fortress began all the way back in the 12th century, and you can find some remnants of the medieval phases of its lifespan in the crypt — it’s truly impressive.

The building housed different French royal families until the royal family moved their residence to the to Palace of Versailles in 1682.

Later on, the palace was used as a residence for artists under royal patronage.

Additionally, several monarchs used the palace to store their acquisitions of paintings and other artworks throughout history.

As a result, many halls and rooms feature spectacular hand-painted ceilings, magnificent staircases and columns, vivid frescoes, and impressive windows with views over the well-curated gardens of the palace.

The palace is a work of art in itself, so don’t forget to look up, down, and around you as well!

Remember to tour the gardens (they’re free!).

Yellow flowers and other colorful flowers and green grass, with sculptures in garden, and the Louvre Palace architecture in the background, in the Tuileries Garden of Paris.

The Tuileries is a gorgeous park open to any visitor where it is possible to enjoy a stroll or even enjoy a picnic with a baguette and some cheese and charcuterie!

Besides, you can enjoy free admission to the Tuileries regardless of whether or not you buy Louvre tickets, and it is a great place to soak in the vibes and the beauty of the whole Louvre complex.

Plus, the Tuileries itself are massively historic: this green area has been standing between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde for almost 500 years! 

The Tuileries used to be the royal and then imperial garden of personalities such as king Louis XIII and Napoleon I — and unfortunately, it is another place that many tourists miss in their haste to squeeze everything into their first trip to Paris.

There are different sections of the garden you should consider — the garden, too, is large and overwhelming!

Fr example, the part of the Tuileries that is closer to the museum, known as Grand Carré, is probably the prettiest one.

This section of the garden features ponds, sculptures, and flower beds, and it was specially designed to be admired from inside the palace.

Another area worth a stop is the Grand Couvert, which gives the visitor the idea of a wilder wooded area, with symmetric tree groves and passages — it’s the perfect romantic place in Paris for a lovely walk.

In fact, the Tuileries Garden can be defined as an open-air museum of sorts, as it has been decorated with statues and vases from different periods!

Pick your entrance wisely.

Large crowd in the winter of people waiting in line to get into the Louvre at the popular Pyramid entrance... there are other entrances that are less crowded!

Everyone wants to access the museum by going through the glass pyramids.

Of course, they are not to blame!

The imposing modern entrance, in clear contrast with the style of the palace, soon became an iconic sight of Paris, where everyone wants to take a picture! 

The Pyramid is the Louvre’s main entrance, but of course, it is more than just that.

The large structure is located in Coeur Napoleon and dates back to 1988.

It’s designed by one of the most famous architects of the modern era, the Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei.

The main glass pyramid is made of metal and glass and is surrounded by three smaller pyramids. 

Despite being the most popular access to the Louvre, it is certainly not the most practical one, nor the least crowded.

There are several alternative places to enter the museum, some of them virtually empty.

The most obvious one is located in the underground mall known as Carrousel du Louvre. 

However, during peak times it is also possible to access entering through any of two alternative doors: Richelieu and Porte des Lions.

Either of these two entrances is a great way to help you to beat the crowds. You will easily find more details at the official website.

Book skip-the-line tickets in advance.

The famous Caryatids sculpture at the Louvre, where large human figures form pillars, that support a larger structure

This is the #1 Louvre tip, so pay attention!

Keep in mind as well that booking your ticket a few days (sometimes even weeks or months) before the visit is the best way to avoid the queue at the ticket booth!

This way, you will also be able to choose your time slot and even check out the museum during the late hours (Friday evenings, the museum is open until 9:45 PM), which often results in less crowded and more peaceful visits!

If you don’t mind seeing the museum late, this is the best time to visit for fewer crowds.

We suggest booking online tickets in advance, especially if you have a specific date in mind.

The cheapest option is a Louvre Museum Timed-Entrance Ticket which ensures you get in within 30 minutes and allows you to skip past the ticket line of people who didn’t read this article and know to plan in advance!

Alternately, you can pair your Timed Ticket Entry with an Audioguide or Timed Ticket With a Tour if you prefer your sightseeing with additional historical context.

Book your skip-the-line entrance, your ticket with audioguide, or your timed ticket & tour here!

The skip-the-line ticket can be used at the dedicated Priority Access line at the Pyramid main entrance, at the Porte des Lions entrance, or the Carrousel entrance.

Note that with any of these tickets, you’ll still have to pass through an airport-style security checkpoint; there’s no skipping the security line.

Please remember to bring your ID to enter the Louvre!

If museums are your thing, and the Louvre is not the only one you might want to check out during your time in Paris, then it can be a good idea to purchase a Paris Museum Pass to visit more than just the Louvre.

Starting at $55 USD for a 2-day pass that includes 60+ attractions, you will easily get your money’s worth with Paris Pass if you plan to visit at least four museums during two days in Paris, since most museums’ ticket prices are around ~$15-20 USD per ticket.

Book your Museum Pass here!

Forget about seeing everything in a day.

The famous armless Venus de Milo statue is one of the most visited pieces of art in the Louvre

If you’re a real art history lover, you might want to see a lot more than the regular traveler, and that would be a dream!

However, it is a good idea to keep your expectations at a realistic level. The impressive quantity of objects exhibited makes it impossible to see as much as your heart desires!

This is the largest art museum in the world (and one of the world’s largest museums, period)!

In my opinion, you should plan your visit around seeing three or four key works of art, plus a few wings or exhibition halls that have a particular interest for you.

Doing more than that, your Louvre visit can quickly get very tiring and time-consuming, especially if you have to spend half of the time trying to figure out where everything is!

Plan in advance! The museum has an outstanding website that helps you decide in advance what to see and where to find it.

Besides, it also tells you what rooms might be closed during certain days of the week (this is very common!) allowing you to plan the visit accordingly.

Grab a map before entering and read it!

One of the halls in the Louvre, featuring a lot of unique sculptures and urns and people taking photos of the works of art in there

Do not think that because you checked the site or read the Wikipedia page of the museum you are ready to visit. 

For real — the Louvre is as impressive as it is is overwhelming, so once you’re inside, grab a map of the premises in your language and take at least 15 minutes to read it.

This will help you orient yourself and understand what halls, wings, and exhibitions to check out, and where to go next. You might feel that you are wasting time, but you’re not. 

Refer back to the map every time you feel lost, read the signs, and feel free to ask the numerous staff — the wonderful museum staff speak several languages and are always ready to help with directions! 

Avoid rushing the visit.

A large crowd around the Winged Victory of Samothrace, a beautiful headless and armless statue with wings - but you will find fewer crowds in other areas of the museum!

Another common mistake is to move around the Louvre fast looking for just a few things to see (typically: the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory). That’s the worst thing you can do!

You will be ignoring impressive masterpieces that might even be more worth your time.

Don’t get me wrong, you should quicken your pace to check out some key pieces, especially at crowded hours, to avoid spending the whole day inside the Louvre, but don’t run around like crazy You will see very little, you will enjoy nothing, and you will end up frustrated and exhausted.

Visit with someone that knows best.

Interior photo of the Musee du Louvre with the pyramid that also reaches down below the floor level.

Organizing the visit on your own is totally possible and free to plan (besides the admission to the museum itself) if you have the luxury of tons of extra time before the visit.

There are tons of videos online explaining how to visit the Louvre, what to see inside, and where everything is.

But let’s be honest — the Louvre is one of the world’s largest museums, so even if you watch them dozens of times, once inside the Louvre, you’ll have no idea where to go first.

For that reason, it is a good idea to book a tour with an art expert or at least with a guide that can show you around and explain the pieces you will be admiring.

There are dozens of interesting visits available — most of them even include a timed entrance ticket, to save time and meet your guide once inside the Louvre.

If you’re not art savvy but are willing to learn or if – on the contrary – you know something about painting and sculpture, but want a deeper insight and a new perspective, then a tour with an art expert will be priceless!

Among the many options, I recommend checking out the following:

Louvre Museum Tour: This guided tour includes priority entry and an expert guide who leads you on a carefully-planned route of both the famous spots and a few less-crowded hidden gems. You’ll see the crown jewels of the French Monarchy, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, ancient Egyptian antiquities, and Greek and Roman antiquities as well: everything you’d want to see on your first visit. After the small group tour, you’re free to continue the visit on your own, adding on any spots that may intrigue you — or asking your guide what they suggest next!

Book your museum tour here!

Louvre Museum Entry Ticket with Guidance to Mona Lisa: This tour is perfect for those who know their priority is seeing the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and want to save time and energy finding it. Not only will you have skip-the-line entry to the Louvre, you’ll also have direct access to the Mona Lisa, then free time to explore the museum at your leisure.

Book your skip-the-line tickets and Mona Lisa guidance here!

The famous painting the Wedding Feast at Cana by the artist Veronese

Louvre Masterpieces Tour with Pre-Reserved Tickets: This 2-hour tour is perfect for the true art geek with time constraints: you’ll pass through 8 of the Louvre’s curatorial departments, guided by an expert who will bring you straight to the most important pieces and give you the history of them. Of course, you’ll see the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. But you’ll also get to see other oft-forgotten but equally impressive pieces, like the Coronation of Napoleon, the Caryatids statue, Venus and the Three Graces, the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Raft of Medusa, Liberty Leading the People, and Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss.

Book your Masterpieces tour here!

Louvre Museum Timed-Entrance Ticket and Audio Guide: A perfect option for budget travelers who don’t want to miss the highlights of the Louvre, this comes with skip-the-line tickets with full access to the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. There’s an additional fee for the official Louvre audioguide, but it’s quite a good deal nonetheless.

Book your ticket and audioguide here!

Wear comfortable shoes.

Person wearing white Nikes and green cuffed trousers

When visiting the Louvre, you will walk and stand for hours, from the moment you access the museum until you end your visit.

Therefore, it’s key to leave fashion trends behind for the sake of a comfy pair of shoes – and honestly, of all the things on this list, it’s probably the best suggestion I can give you!

Forget everything about being stylish — yes, even though it’s Paris!

Wear shoes that have been broken into, have supportive soles, and won’t cause blisters, especially if you plan to spend the entire day out and about.

Just in case, pack a few band-aids and some painkillers in your bag too.

Decide when to visit.

Lit up interior of the glass pyramid in the Louvre as seen at night - you can visit at night on Friday and the first Saturday of each month

As I’ve said already, pick your time wisely! The museum is closed on Tuesdays, so that’s out.

The rest of the week, the Louvre is open from 9 AM to 6 PM (last entry 1 hour before closing), and on Fridays, you can also visit in the evening, as the museum’s closing time is at 9:45 PM.

If you can do late nights, Fridays are one of the best days to visit, and night an especially good time.

This is a great time to visit (especially during the high season), as it’s not as popular as in the middle of the day, because not everyone knows about the late night opening hours!

It’s a good option if you want there to be fewer people in the museum with you during your stay.

Another great time to avoid a long line and crowded exhibition halls are in the early mornings.

Get in the ticket access queue around 8:30, about 30 minutes before the museum opens, to enjoy at least the first hour of your museum tour with almost no crowds.

If you happen to be in Paris on the first weekend of a month, know that there is free entry between 6:00 PM and 9:45 PM on the first Saturday of each month. It was formerly the first Sunday of the month, but has since changed.

If that coincides with the day of your visit, it’s a good way to save some money on your Paris trip! Just know you will be with larger crowds, and there’s no way to skip the line if you are entering for free.

In terms of time of the year, there’s not a huge low season in Paris, but in general, visiting Paris in winter will have fewer crowds, as long as it’s not the week around Christmas and New Years.

Pick which wings to dedicate your time to.

The sphinx statue in one of the lesser-visited sections of the Louvre

The Louvre features three main wings. Here is what you’ll find in each and why they might be interesting!

  • Denon Wing: You can’t miss this wing because it has the three most important pieces of art in the Louvre: The Monsa Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and The Venus de Milo. But there are many other pieces also worth your time, that’ll be less crowded! You’ll also find other da Vinci paintings like La Belle Ferronniere and Portrait of an Unknown Woman. This wing also houses some frescoes from Botticelli, as well as the famous Wedding Feast at Cana, as well as the crown jewels, some antiquities from Greek, Roman, and Etruscan times, some sculptures from Michelangelo such as the Dying Slave (found on the ground floor in the sculpture gallery)
  • Sully Wing: The oldest part of the Louvre, this is where you’ll find the medieval Louvre walkway taking you past the old city walls and the aspects of the Louvre that recall its history as a fortress. You’ll find a sphinx and other Egyptian antiquities, French paintings up until the Impressionist era (from Impressionist onwards, you’ll find in museums like the Musée d’Orsay and de l’Orangerie), art from Ancient Iran and the Levant, and decorative arts from the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Richelieu Wing: The least-crowded part of the Louvre, this wing features the apartments of Napoléon III (although it should be noted he never lived here). You’ll also find a sculpture garden, decorative arts from the Middle Ages through the 19th century, older French, German, Flemish, and Dutch paintings, and Islamic arts. You can access this wing directly through the Passage Richelieu, one of the many Louvre entrances.

Nice Itinerary: How to Make the Most of 2 Days in Nice!

architecture of nice with brilliant colors

Nestled on the luxurious French Riviera, the vibrant city of Nice charms visitors with its turquoise waters, stunning beaches, and an overall artistic allure.

While you could easily spend a whole week wandering around the streets of this coastal gem, our 2-Day itinerary is your perfect guide if your time on the Riviera is limited.

Nice really began to boom during the Belle Epoque period in the 19th century, and this is reflected by its beautiful architecture.

iconic buildings of nice with palm trees around it

Many Nice landmarks, like the iconic Promenade des Anglais, were built during this time.

Over centuries, this unique city has attracted renowned artists and thinkers including Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, and Friedrich Nietzsche: all finding inspiration in the vibrant colors and captivating landscapes of the region.

This cultural legacy is preserved in museums, galleries, and the artistic ambiance that defines Nice and the French Riviera in general.

With just two days in Nice to explore, follow our guide to experience the essence of Nice’s southern chic.

From strolling along the iconic Promenade des Anglais to immersing yourself in the vibrant Old Town, this article is your guide to experiencing the best of Nice in a limited timeframe.

Getting to Nice

vibrant view of the cours saleya market from a more birds-eye-view angle so you can fully see how colorful it is

Nice is well-connected by transportation, with the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport (NCE) just 4 miles away from the center of Nice.

If you’re flying into Nice, you can rent a car, take public transportation, or take a taxi to get to Cannes. The drive takes about 10-15 minutes, depending on traffic.

If you need a taxi, I recommend booking an airport transfer through Welcome Pickups.

It’s competitive with local taxi prices, but having it pre-booked gives you peace of mind upon arrival — especially since you know your driver will be waiting for you at the airport!

Book an airport pickup from Nice airport here!

If you’re renting a car during your time in Nice, I recommend looking for the best rental car deals on Discover Cars.

They search over 500 agencies (including small local ones other car rental search engines skip over) and make pricing clear and easy, with no bait and switches.

Check rental car prices from Nice here!

That said, I recommend waiting to rent a car until you’re ready to leave the Nice area and explore more of Provence or the French Riviera.

Parking in Nice is a hassle and you won’t need a car for this Nice itinerary, as everything is within walking distance!

Train station in Nice, with blue train arriving at a train track in the semi open air train terminal

There are easy train rides to Nice from all over France, as this city is a major transportation hub for Southern France.

Navigating different countries’ rail service websites can be difficult, so I make it easy on myself by booking train and bus tickets via Omio — it’s one interface for all European train companies!

If you’re arriving by train, it couldn’t be easier as the train station is right in the heart of town.

If you have a lot of luggage, you may want to take a taxi rather than walk or take public transportation.

Day 1 of Your Nice Itinerary 

Get a feel for the city wandering along Promenade des Anglais.

a stop along the promenade anglais with a sea view

Stretching for 7 km (that’s just over four miles) along the azure waters of the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels), this picturesque promenade offers breathtaking views, lined with stunning Belle Époque architecture and Grand Hôtels

Taking a leisurely stroll and basking in the sun on La Prom’ (as the locals call it) is one of the favorite activities of the Niçois, and just a few steps should be enough to explain why! 

As you wander, marvel at the iconic landmarks, such as the Hôtel Negresco, a Belle Époque masterpiece.

view of a building on the nice waterfront promenade

Be sure to admire the stunning Place Massena, adorned with ornate fountains and charming gardens, all with a fresh sea breeze to start your perfect first day in Nice.  

The Promenade des Anglais owes its name to the predominantly English tourists who came to Nice in the 19th century in search of wellness, health and leisure on the beautiful Mediterranean Coast. 

the promenade of the nice riviera

Today, la Prom’ is still a favorite amongst tourists and locals alike, who like to jog or cycle along the promenade, all while admiring the architectural masterpieces of this unique avenue.

Opulent balconies, intricate moldings and colorful façades all make this part of Nice a sort of open-air museum, showcasing architectural excellence. 

Immerse yourself in the historic heart and soul of Nice.

historic building in the center of old town nice, cute and narrow streets

The Promenade des Anglais will lead you from the airport in the west to the old town in the east.

Le Vieux-Nice is a well-preserved historic neighborhood. Although quite a touristy area, the Old Town is beloved by locals and visitors alike.

What’s not to love about its vibrant labyrinth of cobblestone, narrow and winding streets, beautifully lined with colorful façades and hectic market stalls?

colorful houses of old nice with painted shutters

Dotted by charming boutiques, artisan shops and trendy cafés, this area boasts a variety of historic landmarks and monuments.

It’s no wonder Nice was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021!

Below, I’ll list some of the most important landmarks you shouldn’t miss in the Old Quarter.

You can also take a tour of Old Nice so you don’t have to visit each of these landmarks independently.

There are different themed tours of Vieux Nice, such as this 4-hour food and history walking tour of Old Nice, and this 2-hour history walking tour of Old Nice and Castle Hill.

Book your Vieux Nice food tour or walking tour here!

Admire the Fontaine du Soleil.

statue of a boy in a fountain with red architecture all around

First, you should admire the Fontaine du Soleil, a monumental fountain located in Place Rossetti.

The fountain depicts Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, surrounded by mythical sea creatures.

The plaza itself is lovely too, with its brick red painted architecture.

Stop by Maison Auer for delicious chocolates.

Another must-visit is Maison Auer on the very picturesque Rue Saint-François de Paule, which offers a variety of exquisite chocolates.

Five generations of chocolatiers, combined with an enchanting interior styled in Florentine fashion, make this quaint gem a local favorite!

Take in the beautiful Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate.

a beautiful historic cathedral in nice with a belltower and red architecture around it

Another worthy stop is the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate.

It was officially built in the 17th century, though its primitive structure however dates back to the 11th century.

Inspired by the Church of Saint Susanna in Rome, the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate features a dome adorned with vibrant, glazed tiles in the Genoese style.

Wander through the vibrant Cours Saleya.

view of the cours saleya market and the nice seafront and sand and palm trees

Be sure to stop by the bustling Cours Saleya, which runs parallel to the sea and cuts through the heart of the Old Town, one of the most important arteries in the historic center.

This iconic street is home to a bustling daily food and flower market every morning. Be sure to look for the art dealers if you’re visiting on a Monday!

To enjoy a drink on this lively street, locals recommend Le Bateleur.

Admire the architecture of the Palais de la Préfecture.

historic palace in light pink or light red architecture with white detailing and molding and many arches in the facade of it

Keep your eyes open for the Palais de la Préfecture, an impressive architectural masterpiece dating back to the 16th century.

Once belonging to the Dukes of Savoy, a dynasty that ruled Nice from the 13th century through the Renaissance until the city was finally ceded to the French Republic — not until 1860!

Peruse the museum at Palais Lascaris.

Explore the Palais Lascaris, a splendid 17th-century Genoese palace that now houses a museum.

Step inside to admire the opulent decor, intricate frescoes, and an impressive collection of musical instruments.

Stop by the Chapelle de la Miséricorde.

the famous chapel of nice with its beautiful but fading facade

A few steps further, be sure to visit the the Chapelle de la Miséricorde.

This stunning Baroque chapel adorned with intricate artwork and gilded details is considered one of the most beautiful chapels in Nice.

Visit Nice’s historic fish market.

Heading north from Old Nice, you’ll come across Place Saint-François.

This is where the iconic fish market, a cultural institution in Nice, has taken place around the Fontaine des Dauphins every day (except Mondays) since 1930.

Climb for the clock tower for an epic view over Nice.

the famous clock tower of nice on a clear blue sky day

Another place to visit is Tour Saint François, which was built as the bell tower in the 13th century before being transformed into a clock tower after the French Revolution.

Those brave enough to climb the 288 steps will be rewarded with a magnificent 360° view of Nice. Note that the admission fee is €6.

Savor the delicious local cuisine Niçoise.

hand holding a bowl of seafood stew

To truly get to know a city, you have to taste it! Immerse yourself in the flavors of Nice and savor a variety of traditional dishes.

Treat your taste buds to the iconic salade Niçoise, a refreshing salad of fresh vegetables, tuna, anchovies, and olives, drizzled with olive oil.

Of course, there’s the famous seafood stew, bouillabaisse.

Another must-try is socca, a chickpea pancake originating from Liguria that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Its earthy flavors and unique texture make it a beloved local favorite!

If you’re craving a comforting and flavorful summer dish, you can’t go wrong with the iconic ratatouille.

ratatouille with red pepper, tomatoes and green beans, served in an orange cocotte ceramic bowl, with fork, spoon and bread

A hearty, chunky vegetable stew with a summer-ripe medley of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and bell peppers — how can it go wrong?

To complement your meal, don’t forget to pair it with a glass of local rosé — French wine geeks know that Provence is known for its exceptional rosé wines, light and delicately fruity!

If you want someone to do all the legwork of finding the best restaurants for you — and getting to taste a small portion of all the food that makes Nice so distinctly Provencal — you can take a food tour!

This food tour takes 3 hours and covers many of the dishes mentioned above, like socca, local olive oils, pissaladière, tapenade, rosé wines, and also some local Nice sweets like lavender biscuits!

Book your Nice food tour here!

Take a hike up the scenic Castle Hill.

the castle hill area of nice with mosaic and beautiful foliage

After that lunch, it’s time for a (short) hike up Castle Hill, locally known as La Colline du Château.

It’s worth the walk once you reach its summit and witness a breathtaking panoramic view of Nice that’s like a postcard come to life!

From this elevated vista, you’ll be treated to a mesmerizing vista of Nice’s cityscape, stretching out before you in all its splendor.

The city is framed on the other side by the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea provide a stunning backdrop, with a clear view of the busy port.

view of nice from the castle hill

However, don’t be fooled by the park’s name into searching for an actual castle!

Fun fact: the château was actually destroyed by King Louis XIV in 1706, before the city of Nice was ceded to France!

Still, while wandering through the grounds, you’ll come across a few scattered remnants of the ancient citadel that once stood proudly on Castle Hill.

fake waterfall in nice's castle hill area

One of the most lovely places on Castle Hill is the artificial waterfall, which emerges from Nice’s main source of drinking water, the Canal de la Vésubie.

Be aware! Every day at noon, a cannon (a fake cannon, to be precise) is fired, but don’t be alarmed.

The Niçois just have a thing for keeping traditions, and this one dates back to 1862.

Catch the sunset at Promenade du Paillon.

the lovely promenade de paillon at dusk with the light slowly fading

As the sun begins its descent to the west, head to the Promenade du Paillon, a beautiful urban park that stretches from the Old Town to the more modern part of the city. 

Take some time to unwind here surrounded by the gardens, lush lawns, and fountains. 

When you’re ready, stroll down the boulevard and the Jardin Albert I towards the beaches to find a serene spot to relish the kaleidoscope of colors as the sun sets over the Mediterranean, casting a golden glow upon the city.

Have a delicious and hearty meal.  

nice france restaurants in old town street

In the evening, it’s time to continue your foodie journey through the culinary treasures of Nice! 

Chez Acchiardo, an esteemed establishment that has graced the culinary scene since 1927, comes highly recommended.

Enjoy the mouthwatering robust flavors of daube niçoise, a beef stew simmered to perfection with red wine and a delicate infusion of Mediterranean herbs.  

At Lou Balico you’ll have the pleasure of savoring their exquisite rendition of merda de can, green gnocchi adorned with a pistou sauce crafted the Ligurian way, without pine nuts.  

Day Two of Your Nice Itinerary

Skip the crowds at one of the city’s prestigious museums  

the red painted exterior of the musee matisse with mint green shutters

Nice has a variety of world-renowned museums to offer and you should try to include at least one in your Nice itinerary.

It’s well worth it to get up early to be the first in line and skip the crowds, saving you some precious time! 

Here are the top museums we recommend.

  • Musée Matisse is a tribute to the renowned artist Henri Matisse showcasing a remarkable collection of his works, from his early works to his later masterpieces.

    The museum is situated in the beautiful neighborhood of Cimiez, in a splendid 17th-century Genoese villa surrounded by a serene garden.
a sign leading to the famous. musee marc chagall a famous french painter
  • Musée Chagall is dedicated to the life and works of the renowned Russian-French artist Marc Chagall, an influential Impressionist artist.

    Housed in a distinctive building design by architect André Hermant, Musée Chagall is also located in Cimiez.

    Chagall’s works are known for their vibrant colors, dreamlike imagery, and rich symbolism.

    His art often draws inspiration from his Jewish heritage, Russian folklore, biblical themes, and personal experiences. 
  • Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC) is the place to be for art enthusiasts who want to have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in contemporary art.

    It offers a sometimes-captivating, sometimes-confusing journey through the ever-evolving world of modern and contemporary art.

    The museum building itself is a striking architectural masterpiece, designed by Yves Bayard and Henri Vidal. 
the historic musee massena with a villa like structure and palm trees in central nice
  • Villa Masséna serves as a museum dedicated to the history and art of Nice, with works and artifacts related to the city’s past.

    Situated on the famous Promenade des Anglais, the villa is among the many iconic symbols of the city’s rich heritage and tendency towards opulence. 

Visit the Russian Orthodox Cathedral. 

the onion domes of the russian orthodox cathedral in brilliant teel colors while there is lots of gold and pink or salmon painted exterior of the church

Don’t miss the magnificent Russian Orthodox Cathedral, an architectural marvel with its gilded domes and ornate interiors.

Step into a realm of tranquility as you admire the Byzantine-style frescoes and intricate iconostasis. 

The cathedral provides a fascinating glimpse into Nice’s historical ties with the Russian aristocracy.

Also known as Cathédrale Saint Nicolas, this is the largest Russian Orthodox Cathedral built outside of Russia, and an important place of worship for the local Orthodox community.   

Have lunch at the Quartier du Port.

the port area or marina of nice with brilliant colored building sin the background and hill

The Quartier du Port, or the Port District, is a vibrant and charming neighborhood, offering a unique blend of historical charm and maritime ambiance. 

Originally constructed in the 18th century to serve as a liaison for the Duke of Savoy with other kingdoms, the port nowadays primarily serves leisure, ferries to Corsica, nautical sports and yachts. 

You can enjoy a beautiful walk from Negresco Hôtel on Promenade des Anglais to the yacht club. 

The port is also a popular area for a drink or a meal, with numerous bars and restaurants offering views of the boats.

For a truly luxurious meal, make sure to book your table in advance at Le Plongeoir.  

Take a boat ride somewhere luxe.

While you’re in the port area, why not explore somewhere else on the Riviera by boat from Nice?

There are countless Nice boat tours that take you to various places along the Riviera in different kinds of boats, from everything from speedboats to RIB boats to sailboats!

Here are a few suggestions:

Spend the rest of the day tanning under the blue striped umbrellas.

blue and white striped umbrellas on the beach

What better way to end your 2 days in Nice than basking in the sun the city is so known for?

While you can absolutely could a few hours on one of the city beaches in Nice, why do that when there’s an even better option?

We recommend heading to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, the picturesque peninsula just a few minutes’ drive from Nice.

Known for its natural beauty, extravagant villas, and stunning coastal views, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat offers secluded coves, crystal-clear waters and pristine beaches far from the crowds.

You won’t regret the small detour!

Where to Stay in Nice

architecture of one of the villas of nice in the ornate style

Budget: Résidence Lamartine

For an affordable but still lovely hotel, check out Résidence Lamartine.

This elegant home has been converted into a selection of apartments perfect for those who want less of that traditional hotel feel.

It’s great for a short visit to Nice, since it’s just a 5-minute walk from the Nice-Ville Train Station, yet it’s still only a 10-minute walk from the Promenade des Anglais and the beautiful Nice beaches.

This is also a great budget choice because it has a small kitchenette (microwave, a stove hob, and a small fridge) so you can buy local Nice produce and self-cater during your stay!

Everything was renovated in 2017, so expect modernity furnishings and details — but then be wowed by the old-world charm, like its floor-to-ceiling doors that open up to a wrought-iron balconette!

There’s also a small garden area as well as a lounge area where you can relax on plush green velvet sofas or play a round of pool.

Check availability, rates, room types, and reviews here!

Mid-Range: Hôtel Apollinaire Nice

For a luxurious but not wallet-breaking stay, Hôtel Apollinaire Nice is an excellent option.

A short walk from Old Nice, Castle Hill, and the Promenade des Anglais, this boutique hotel in the prime Carabacel neighborhood will give you a memorable stay.

Vintage-meets-modern is the design aesthetic here: just check out their bar area, with its upholstered and steel bar stools against a tiled geometric bar counter

Inside, the rooms are spacious and modern — think subtle animal-print floors, minimalist white-linen beds, and funky lighting details — all with ingenious up-to-date details like USB sockets for your electronics! 

Some rooms, like the King Suite, even have a deep soaking tub with a window in case you want to soak in some views from the tub!

This is another hotel where each room is rather personalized with its own aesthetic, so look through the different room types available to find the one that matches what you want best.

Check availability, rates, rooms, and reviews here!

Luxury: Hotel Le Negresco

The famed Hotel Le Negresco is as iconic inside as it is from its exterior! 

Entering the hotel, you’ll immediately be greeted by grandeur appropriate of the building’s standing as Belle Époque masterpiece.

Exquisite candelabras and chandeliers, original gilded crown molding, a marble floor so shiny you can see your reflection in it… and we haven’t even reached reception yet.

All the public areas are this intriguing — from the sitting room with its entirely glass dome to perfectly let in the light to its library-chic warmly lit bar area to its its quirky carousel-inspired restaurant — but now let’s move onto the rooms.

There’s a variety of room types: pick between a mid-century modern inspired one, with a unique headboard and velvet cushy chairs, or a more old-world luxury one, with floor to ceiling curtains, wicker chairs, an upholstered seating area — all with a Mediterranean view!

The rooms are very unique, so I suggest looking through the room types available on Booking to be sure you find the one that matches your aesthetic desires.

And of course, don’t forget its private beach club area!

Check availability, rates, rooms, and reviews here!

Cannes Itinerary: How to Make the Most of 2 Days in Cannes!

The area of Cannes patch of coastline with blue waters and high rise buildings along the sand and boats around the marina area

Since its inception in 1946, the Cannes Film Festival has been a symbol of cinematic excellence and a haven for film artists around the world.

Each year, film industry luminaries gather for a captivating array of screenings and red-carpet events that are every cinephile’s fantasy!

But even. beyond the festival’s glamor and grandeur, Cannes itself is refined, with an aura of sophistication even in its day-to-day life.

The enchanting atmosphere of its historic streets, charming boutiques, and elegant cafés seamlessly blends with the intoxicating scent of the Mediterranean, a destination loved by cinephiles and travelers alike.  

the beach in cannes with umbrellas and coastline

Of course, Cannes offers more than glamor; it has long provided a sanctuary for those seeking inspiration and escape. 

Its sandy shores and tranquil Provençal surroundings invite visitors to retrace the steps of their favorite writers and artists on a quest to find the beauty that inspired masterpieces.  

Cannes is a living testament to the transformative power of art: a place of pilgrimage for cinephiles, as well as chance to witness the inspiration for countless artists and writers.

This unconditional love for film and art, paired with an exquisite taste for le luxe, is deeply rooted in the city’s DNA. 

Our 2 day Cannes itinerary is specially curated for cinephiles and travelers seeking to cover all the best parts of Cannes in limited time. 

On y va!

How to Get to Cannes

blue and white striped umbrellas on the beach

Cannes is well-connected by transportation, with the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport (NCE) at its backdoor, just 17 miles away.

If you’re flying into Nice, you can rent a car, take public transportation, or take a taxi to get to Cannes. The drive takes about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on traffic.

If you need a taxi, I recommend booking an airport transfer through Welcome Pickups — it’s competitive with the price of a local taxi, but having it pre-booked takes all the stress out of it, plus you know your driver will be waiting for you at the airport.

If you’re renting a car, I recommend looking for the best rental car deals on Discover Cars — they search over 500 agencies (including small local ones other car rental search engines skip over) and make pricing clear and easy, with no bait and switches.

If you’re already in France and you’re traveling around by train, Cannes has its own train station (Gare de Cannes) which is well-served by the SNCF, France’s national railway.

Your Two Days in Cannes Itinerary: Day 1

Immerse yourself in the luxurious splendor of La Croisette.

a view along the boardwalk of cannes, called la croisette, on a sunny day with palm trees and blue skies

Start your first day in Cannes by setting off on a leisurely stroll along La Croisette, Cannes’ iconic promenade that stretches along the sparkling Mediterranean Sea.

As you step onto this famed avenue, you’ll be transported to the world of elegance that defines Cannes.

The breathtaking panorama of azure waters and sandy beaches, mirrored by sublime façades, grand hotels and luxury boutiques, all exude the opulence of both Cannes and the French Riviera in general.

The boutiques lining the promenade showcase the newest fashion from renowned French and Italian houses, enticing fashionistas with their latest collections.

From haute couture to elegant accessories from smaller boutiques, La Croisette offers a paradise for fashion enthusiasts.

La Croisette is also the perfect place to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

Indulge in a café au lait, treat yourself to a delicious pastry in one of the many cafés along the promenade, and just sit back and watch as the world passes by.

Stop to admire Le Palais des Festivals.

the cannes palais of festivals which is where many films premiere

As you near the end of La Croisette, you’ll see one of Cannes’ most famed and familiar buildings at the end of the promenade: Le Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.

This iconic building serves as the heart of the festival, hosting film premieres to create and celebrate unforgettable moments in cinematic history.

While the building itself is not accessible to the public, you can access the steps of the Palais des Festivals (and its iconic red carpet!) for free.

It’s an architectural marvel absolutely worth admiring, so make sure you stop by before heading onto the next spot on this Cannes itinerary, Le Suquet.

Discover the historic quarter of Le Suquet.

the charming neighborhood of le sequet with its cobblestone floor and colorful houses and inclined walkway

Leaving the glitz and glamor of La Croisette behind, venture into the heart of Cannes and immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of the historic neighborhood of Le Suquet.

Nestled on a hill, the picturesque narrow streets climb through the city, winding around in an array of quaint houses with colorful façades and blooming balconies.

While in Le Suquet, don’t miss the Notre-Dame de l’Espérance Church, a splendid example of Gothic design.

With its intricately detailed stained-glass windows and soaring arches, the church dates back to the 16th century, though it may have been worked on earlier.

The view from here is pretty great, too!

the notre dame church of cannes with a beautiful view behind it

After visiting the church, make your way up to the highest point of Le Suquet.

Here, you’ll find where the ancient castle (Château de la Castre) proudly stands, offering panoramic views of the city and harbor.

Once the town’s fortress, the historic castle walls nowadays house the Musée de la Castre.

This small but interesting museum showcases a diverse range of art and artifacts from around the world, with several exhibits dedicated to Cannes’ rich history and culture.

Spend the afternoon basking in the beauty of Île Sainte-Marguerite.

water of ile st margerite in the lerin islands with beautiful tranquil water

After a fresh and delicious lunch in Le Suquet, it’s time to escape the bustling city of Cannes with a short boat ride to Île Sainte-Marguerite.

You can book your roundtrip ferry ticket online in advance here, to avoid any disappointments.

This island is one of the captivating Lérins Islands nestled just off the Riviera coast, an idyllic oasis haven for those in search of tranquility and natural beauty.

It has unspoiled and pristine beaches, where crystal-clear waters invite you to jump in for a swim (and the tranquil waves also make it a great spot for families).

The island is also abundant with Mediterranean flora – why not embark on a scenic walk across the island?

Keep an eye out for the wildlife that calls the island home while you search for the best view point.

In addition to its undeniable natural treasures, Île Sainte-Marguerite also has its own historic significance.

A particular highlight of any visit is the historic Fort Royal, a fortress dating back to the 17th century with an imposing structure which once served as a prison off the coast of Cannes.

Book your roundtrip ferry ticket to Île Saint-Marguerite here!

A boat moored in front of the shoreline of the Lerins islands, with turquoise clear water all around

For a more exclusive experience, you can take your own private boat to the Lérins Islands for a 4-hour tour.

Accommodating groups up to 6, you can enjoy the turquoise waters encircling the Lérins Islands while enjoying wine and snacks. 

If you prefer to get a little active, you can snorkel or stand-up paddle board — it’s all included with the boat experience.

But if you just want to lounge, the foredeck of the boat has room for three to sunbathe (and there’s some shady areas too if you want to take a break from the sun). 

Note: There is an additional fee of 100 euros to be paid in cash to the skipper when booking this tour, that is not included on the online price.

Book your private boat ride and snorkeling tour here!

Alternately (or additionally!) visit Île Saint-Honorat.

the beauty and serenity of lerins abbey with an arch leading to the gardens of this peaceful monastery on an island near cannes

The neighboring island Île Saint-Honorat is renowned for the Lérins Abbey, a medieval monastery that is still active today.

Unfortunately, while the two islands are close together, there is no direct transportation between the two (this is on purpose, to keep the monastery from overcrowding).

The abbey is inhabited by a small community of monks who maintain the island’s traditions and produce renowned wines and liqueurs.

The liqueur is highly regarded for its quality and craftsmanship, and it has gained international recognition as a symbol of French liqueur excellence.

It only takes 15 minutes to get from Cannes to the Lérins Islands, so it is possible to see both in a day, if you don’t mind returning to Cannes and then visiting Île Saint-Honorat.

You can book a return trip ticket here to visit the island from Cannes.

Your Two Days in Cannes Itinerary: Day 2

Explore the charming Old Town (Le Vieux Port).

the scenic vieux port (old port) area of cannes with a view of the castle and the clocktower of the church from a distance, and a white and red striped lighthouse in the foreground, and boats and marina and houses.

Start your morning by exploring in the enchanting ambiance of Le Vieux Port, the picturesque old town of Cannes.

This charming neighborhood invites you discover a world of old-world charm and hidden treasures, all located in a former sleepy fishing village.

As you wander through its labyrinthine streets (all of which are beautifully adorned with colorful buildings and charming façades) keep your eyes peeled!

There are many artisan shops here offering a delightful array of handmade goods, from intricate ceramics to unique jewelry and traditional crafts (and they’re a good deal cheaper than anything you’ll find along La Croisette!)

Explore the local market, Le Marché Forville.

the fruit market in marche forville  in Cannes France on a sunny day with people enjoying the weather

A visit to the bustling Marché Forville is essential for food enthusiasts. This vibrant market is a feast for the senses, with an abundance of fresh local produce, regional delicacies, and aromatic spices.

Words can hardly do this experience justice, so be sure to make time to stroll through the lively stalls, interact with friendly vendors, and indulge in the flavors of Provence.

From fragrant herbs and sun-ripened fruits to artisanal cheeses and freshly-caught seafood, the market offers a delightful selection of local, seasonal foods.

Have an unforgettable lunch.

a man holding a cup of bouillabaisse seafood soup wearing jeans and blue sneakers

Drawing inspiration from the bountiful land and sea, the cuisine provençale offers a harmonious blend of the most local and fresh produce and seafood, complemented by aromatic herbs, flavorful olive oil, and just a few well-picked spices. 

From the famous ratatouille and bouillabaisse to the exquisite flavors of tapenade and pissaladière, these dishes truly captures the essence of Provence.  

Cannes offers a tantalizing array of culinary experiences for all palates and budgets, offering a chance for all to enjoy the flavors of Provençal in one of the many brasseries and restaurants. 

But where this small city on the French Riviera particularly excels, however, is seafood! (No big surprise, right?!) 

For a taste of delicious local oysters, head to Poissonnerie Forville, a terrasse just a few steps away from the iconic market.

oysters and white wine

Here, you can savor a platter of exquisitely fresh oysters served with a crisp white wine. 

L’Assiette Provençale is a great place to savor classic Southern French cuisine and Le Fouquet’s is a go-to for French cuisine with a glamorous twist.  

If the hearty Provençal cuisine is not your favorite, you’ll find a delicious taste of Italy at Da Laura Trattoria

For a luxury meal with a breathtaking view, head to the Israeli restaurant Bella by Eyal Shani, located on the rooftop of Hôtel Belle Plage.  

Option One: Explore the calanques of Esterel Natural Park.

beautiful sunny day in cannes seeing the calanques of the esterel natural park

If you’re in the mood for a little adventure, why not head on RIB boat tour of L’Esterel, a beautiful natural park close to Cannes?

The Esterel is a beautiful, underappreciated part of the French Riviera: dotted with sea caves and tranquil bays and surrounded by crystal clear water, it’s a mystery why it isn’t more well-known.

By small RIB boat, you’ll explore caves and arches, heading towards the Esterel Natural Park with its deserted beaches and pristine coves that you can only access by boat.

Due to the limited capacity of the boats, you’re guaranteed a small group size, so it’ll be a peaceful day out on the water.

You’ll have plenty of time to hop in the water and enjoy quiet places to swim, away from the crowds elsewhere along the Riviera.

Book your boat tour through Esterel Natural Park here!

Option Two: Treat yourself to a day at the spa    

generic hands on back massage photo

Not in the mood for another day out on the water? Then relax on shore!

If you’re not staying at one, the best way to take advantage of the many Grand Hôtels of Cannes is treat yourself to a special afternoon at a luxury spa.

The Art Deco and Belle Epoque decor of these exquisite hotels will only add to the atmosphere!

For a holistic approach to wellness, try Villa Belle Plage, a rising star among the city hotels.

Designed by the renowned architect Raphael Navot, the spa at Villa Belle Plage offers a minimalist approach to wellness, and the clean-lined design of the spa is an experience in itself.   

Not a fan of the less-is-more approach?

The five-star Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic offers a luxurious spa experience in a very majestic style, mirroring all the glitz and glamor of the Riviera, with treatments by Sisley Paris, a high-end beauty brand.  

Unwind at the pristine beaches.

beach clubs with white and tan umbrellas in cannes, france

With its spectacular beaches, Cannes has earned its well-deserved reputation as a coastal paradise.

Any visit to this enchanting cinematic city would be incomplete without experiencing the blissful combination of sun-kissed sands and the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea!  

Whether you prefer the exclusivity of a private beach or the authentic ambiance of a public beach, Cannes offers a range of options along the promenade of La Croisette, where you can find your own idyllic oasis. 

For a luxe private beach experience, Mademoiselle Gray is a renowned establishment owned by the Barrière Hotel.

An unspoiled view across the Cannes Bay, delicious cuisine and a vibrant DJ set at night make this spot a favorite for those seeking the ultimate luxury experience! 

the public beach of cannes with people enjoying the soft sands with cannes city at your back

If this type of luxury is not for you (or it is, it’s just out of your price range), don’t worry.

Just join the sun worshippers and beach enthusiasts as they gather to soak up the Riviera’s radiant energy on one of the many public beaches!

On marked stretches along the promenade, you can simply spread your towel on the soft golden sand and let the sun hit your skin or take a dip in the warm waters!  

Where to Stay in Cannes

The area of Cannes patch of coastline with blue waters and high rise buildings along the sand and boats around the marina area

Budget: Hôtel Cannes Centre Univers

While budget is a relative term in Cannes, Hôtel Cannes Centre Univers offers good value for your money, with an unbeatable location and good design.

The beds are a little small, but the rooms themselves make up for it with great vintage-inspired design and even some cheeky flair in some of the rooms (think: a bathroom that says “yes you Cannes!”)

All the shared spaces like the lobby, hallways, and restaurants have been given a refresh to match the aesthetic.

Check availability, rates, and reviews here!

Mid-Range: Hotel Splendid

With rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and doors opening up to seafront views… can it get much better than the views at Hotel Splendid?

This lovely hotel overlooks the harbor and enjoys a great location near the beaches, restaurants, and everything else you’d want to see in cannes.

The rooms are spacious and roomy, though not necessarily the most modern in its design, but it’s still an excellent hotel nonetheless!

Check availability, rates, and reviews here!

Luxury: Five Seas Hotel Cannes

As a member of Design Hotels, the Five Seas Hotel Cannes promises to do everything a step above compared to its other 5-star competitors.

With a focus on design and personalized hospitality, Five Seas Hotel is the modern idea of luxury — not just the big name players, but a quietly luxe experience.

The rooms are spacious and refined, minimalist in their aesthetic yet luxurious in their furnishings.

Enjoy Mediterranean fine dining at SeaSens Restaurant or take in the views from the rooftop Terrace Bar with excellent views and expertly crafted cocktails.

Oh, and speaking of rooftops? It’s got its own rooftop pool.

If you’re looking to get pampered, the hotel’s spa offers tranquil treatment rooms, a sauna, and a hammam.

Check availability, rates, and reviews here!

Have More than 2 days in Cannes?

view of the town of antibes with its ramparts and beautiful town coastline

If you can, plan an extra day for an escapade artistique to Antibes!

Beyond the beaches of Cannes, a short journey along the picturesque coastline will take you to the charming town of Antibes.

The secluded oasis of Cap d’Antibes has welcomed artists like Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald who sought inspiration and found solace within the embrace of clear waters and beautiful Provençal landscapes.  

the picasso museum is housed inside a chateau once owned by a famous family. the chateau is made of stone and is perched on a hill

While visiting Antibes, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Musée Picasso, housing a truly exceptional collection of his works, in a setting just as exception — the magnificent Château Grimaldi.

Once the residence of the famous Grimaldi family, the castle dates back to the 14th century and has a panoramic view that will leave you in awe of Antibes’ natural beauty and the surrounding azure waters. 

Immerse yourself in the charm of Antibes with a leisurely stroll through its old town and along the historic ramparts that encircle the city. 

the rugged coastline of cap antibes in the summer

To experience the refreshing Mediterranean waters, venture to Cap d’Antibes, a stunning peninsula adorned with luxurious villas and picturesque gardens.

Here, you can take a dip in the sea and revel in the beauty of the majestic coastline. 

As the evening sets in, make your way to Juan les Pins, a vibrant neighborhood that once captivated the artistic souls of the Lost Generation. 

At the Fitzgerald Piano Bar, you can savor a drink while enjoying a mesmerizing view.

This legendary spot, frequented by the likes of Francis and Zelda Fitzgerald, still exudes the champagne-filled decadence and bohemian allure that made Juan les Pins the epitome of Riviera chic!