|Destination: French Riviera|
|Viewing French Riviera
Viewing French Riviera
Peace & Quiet
From Menton on the Italian border to the popular fishing port and resort of le Lavandou, the French Riviera packs a surprising amount into a small area, encompassing a string of smart resorts, beautiful peninsulas sprinkled with sumptuous villas amidst sub-tropical foliage, wooded islets temptingly close to the sandy shoreline and three mountain ranges: the Alpes-Maritimes, the brick-red Massif de l'Esterel and the ancient chestnut-forested Massif des Maures.
Ever since the poet Stephen Liégeard visited the Riviera in 1887 and exclaimed 'Côte d'Azur!', this dramatic stretch of azure coast with its chic resorts, fishing villages, sandy beaches, and craggy corniches has attracted a rich assortment of actors, artists, writers, film stars and royalty. For this is the home of the rich and famous, the cradle of impressionism, the home of the bikini and the world's most sophisticated holiday playground.
But what is so magical about the Riviera that it should draw millions of devotees back year after year for their annual fix of heady, Mediterranean joie de vivre? Is it the luxury hotels, designer shops, palm-lined promenades and terrace cafés of the exclusive resorts - Nice, Cannes, Monaco and St-Tropez - which bask in the scorching Mediterranean sun, with their 'see-and-be-seen' ports overflowing with millionaires' yachts; or perhaps the thrill of a casino; or the glamorous sun-soaked beaches?
For me, the Riviera is all this and much, much more. For there is another side to the region that is easy to miss - a douceur de vivre that is hard to imagine in the midst of the coast-courting tourist hordes. Head inland to the hidden valleys and wild Alpine scenery, where the air is fragrant with the perfumes of Provence, to discover a great wealth of sleepy villages among countryside painted with all the vivid colours of Picasso, Renoir and Matisse.
The Riviera is a region of great contrasts that caters for all tastes with an endless choice of enticing destinations, a robust local cuisine and an exceptional heritage. Combine all this with a climate that boasts 300 days of sunshine a year, and who can resist a holiday here?