Located in the South of France on the Mediterranean Sea, the French Riviera is well-known worldwide for its beaches and glamorous cities, from Cannes to Nice and Marseille. But that’s not all the iconic coast has to offer: here’s a guide to a number of local hidden gems that are well worth a visit, especially if you want to escape the larger tourist crowds.
Villefranche-sur-Mer, an authentic fishing village
Villefranche sur Mer is a charming fisherman village far away from the sparkling buzz of Nice or Cannes, built in the exceptionally beautiful Bay of Villefranche. Walk through the picturesque streets or visit the St Pierre Chapel, where you can admire the famous murals of Jean Cocteau, depicting the life of the saint and of local fishermen. By the way: The Villa Léopolda located on the surrounding hills was once the residence of King Leopold II of Belgium.
Lemon Festival, Menton
Every year at the end of winter in the second half of February the people of Menton come together for an annual celebration featuring large-sized sculptures which, surprisingly, are made out of fruits: lemons and oranges to be specific. The giant creations can be admired during lemon-themed parades.The Menton lemon has always been special: Ii’s a very bright yellow, elongated rather than round, and prized by chefs for its rich essential oil.
Perfume museum, Grasse
Did you know that contemporary perfumery first emerged in France in the early twentieth century? No wonder then that one of the most interesting perfume museums is located on French ground, in the so-called capital of perfume, Grasse. The fascinating museum boasts 3500 square meters dedicated to the world of perfumery, exploring its technical, aesthetic, social and cultural history.
Fondation Maeght, St Paul de Vence
The Maeght foundation, located in the picturesque village of St Paul de Vence, was created by Aimé Maeght, a well-known Parisian art dealer who had close relationships with many significant artists of the 20th century. Over the years she accumulated one of the largest and most important art collections of that time, featuring a multitude of iconic pieces by Miro, Giacometti, Chagall, and the likes.
Villa Kerylos, Beaulieu-sur-Mer
Yes, we’re still at the French Riviera, and not in ancient Greece. Villa Kerylos can take you on a trip there though: based on the idea of Théodore Reinach, an archaeologist and French statesman, this extraordinarily gorgeous mansion is an original reconstruction of an ancient Greek dwelling, perfectly located on the rocky tip of the Baie des Fourmis in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, behind which stand the monumental cliffs of Eze.
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