4 Must-Visit Villages In The Côte d’Azur This Season

by | Jun 18, 2024

Travel to Côte d’Azur's most enchanting villages—St. Paul de Vence, Menton, Grasse & Èze—where luxury, history & stunning landscapes await this season.

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The Côte d’Azur, with its stunning Mediterranean coastline, renowned resorts, and a reputation for glamour, is also home to a collection of enchanting villages. This season, I journeyed to discover four of its most captivating villages. Each offered a unique blend of luxury, history, and cultural richness, leaving an indelible mark on my heart. Join me as I explore the charm of St. Paul de Vence, Menton, Grasse, and Èze.

1. St. Paul de Vence: An Artist’s Muse

Perched on a hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean, St. Paul de Vence exudes timeless elegance. This medieval village is a haven for history buffs and a luxurious retreat for those seeking a blend of art and heritage. The narrow cobbled streets, flanked by ancient stone houses, lead to quaint galleries, boutiques, and artisanal shops.

St. Paul de Vence has long been a sanctuary for artists, and this legacy is evident in its many art galleries and studios. The Fondation Maeght, a museum housing an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, is a testament to the village’s artistic heritage. The village also offers a plethora of luxury accommodations, from boutique hotels to high-end restaurants that serve gourmet Provencal cuisine.

The narrow streets of St Paul de Vence, image by Eddy Galeotti, shutterstock

The narrow streets of St Paul de Vence, image by Eddy Galeotti, shutterstock

Walking through St. Paul de Vence feels like stepping into a painting. The village’s picturesque beauty, with its panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the Mediterranean, evokes a sense of tranquillity and inspiration. Whether you’re exploring its historic fortifications or enjoying a glass of local wine in one of its charming cafes, St. Paul de Vence offers a luxurious escape filled with artistic flair and serene beauty.

2. Menton: The Pearl of France

Menton, often called “The Pearl of France,” sits on the Franco-Italian border and is renowned for its pristine gardens, elegant architecture, and mild climate. Its Belle Époque buildings and pastel-coloured houses make it a quintessential Mediterranean retreat, blending French sophistication with a hint of Italian charm.

Menton is famous for its lush gardens, such as the Jardin Serre de la Madone and the Jardin Botanique Val Rahmeh, which offer a riot of colours and exotic plants. The village is also known for its lemons, which are celebrated annually during the Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival). The local cuisine, infused with citrus flavours, and the exquisite Mentonese lemon liqueur add a unique zest to the dining experience.

View of Menton Provence Alpes Cote dAzur, image by Nella, shutterstock

View of Menton Provence Alpes Cote dAzur, image by Nella, shutterstock

Strolling through Menton’s gardens or lounging on its sun-kissed beaches instils a deep sense of relaxation and contentment. The vibrant colours, the scent of citrus in the air, and the gentle sea breeze combine to create a sensory experience that is both refreshing and rejuvenating. Menton’s serene ambience and luxurious charm make it an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful yet opulent escape.

3. Grasse: The Fragrance Capital

Grasse, nestled in the hills above Cannes, is the world’s perfume capital. This charming village has been the centre of the perfume industry since the 17th century and offers a luxurious sensory experience. The scenic drive through the lavender and rose fields leading to Grasse sets the stage for a journey into the heart of fragrance.

Grasse is home to several historic perfumeries, such as Fragonard, Molinard, and Galimard, where visitors can explore the art of perfume-making. These establishments offer guided tours and workshops where you can create your own signature scent. The International Perfume Museum provides a fascinating look at the history and science behind perfume.

The Fragonard perfume museum and factory in Grasse, image by EQRoy, shutterstock

The Fragonard perfume museum and factory in Grasse, image by EQRoy, shutterstock

A visit to Grasse is a journey into a world of sensory delights. The village’s intoxicating scents, coupled with its picturesque setting and historic charm, evoke a sense of romance and nostalgia. Crafting your own perfume amidst the rolling hills and blooming flowers is a luxurious experience that connects you deeply to the rich traditions of this enchanting village.

4. Èze: A Hilltop Haven

Èze, perched dramatically on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean, offers one of the most breathtaking views on the Côte d’Azur. With its narrow winding streets and stone houses, this medieval village provides a perfect blend of rustic charm and luxurious indulgence. The proximity to Monaco adds to its status as a high-end retreat.

Èze is famous for its exotic gardens, which feature a collection of cacti, succulents, and rare plants, all set against the backdrop of the azure sea. The Jardin Exotique d’Èze is a must-visit, offering panoramic views from the village’s highest point. The village also boasts several high-end hotels and restaurants, including the renowned La Chèvre d’Or, a Michelin-starred restaurant offering gourmet cuisine with a view.

View of Eze a small medieval village in Provence, image by proslgn, shutterstock

View of Eze a small medieval village in Provence, image by proslgn, shutterstock

Exploring Èze is like stepping into a fairy tale. The village’s dramatic location, perched high above the sea, provides awe-inspiring vistas that stir the soul. The blend of lush gardens, historic architecture, and luxurious amenities creates a sense of wonder and sophistication. Whether you’re wandering through its cobbled lanes or dining with a view, Èze offers an elegant experience filled with enchantment and grandeur.

The Côte d’Azur, with its blend of luxury and charm, offers a rich tapestry of experiences that cater to the discerning traveller—each village—St. Paul de Vence, Menton, Grasse, and Èze—provided a unique perspective on the region’s beauty and culture. My journey through these enchanting locales was a luxurious escape into a world of art, fragrance, and breathtaking landscapes. As you plan your next adventure, consider the timeless charm of the Côte d’Azur and let these villages captivate your heart and soul. ◼

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© This article was first published online in June 2024 – World Travel Magazine.

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