If you’re planning a trip to the French Riviera, chances are you’ve come across dozens of websites and hundreds of pages telling you what to do while you’re there. Now, would you like to know what NOT to do in the French Riviera? Excellent! Let’s get started then.
Do not schedule every hour of the day.
There certainly is a lot to see and do in the region, but the true allure of the Côte d’Azur is to take your cue from the locals and do a lot of nothing at all. If you simply must schedule, then pencil in a couple of hours each day to sit in a pretty square you’ve come across, or wind down your day with a drink somewhere with a view. It’s a crucial element of the true Riviera experience!
Do not go to Saint-Tropez in the off season, and don’t play a trip there “by ear.”
Off-season travel to the French Riviera can lessen the strain on your wallet, but when it comes to Saint-Tropez it’s a false economy. The town pretty much closes sometime after Halloween and doesn’t reopen until Easter, so you’ll be missing the whole point of being there if you go during that time. Wait til at least spring, and do it right!
As for playing it by ear, it’s important to note that Saint-Tropez’s location on a cape doesn’t make it the most convenient place to get to as it’s inaccessible by train – you have to go to Saint-Raphael, and then transfer by bus or boat. And if you’re driving, there’s only one road in and out, which as you can imagine becomes a parking lot in the high season. Go overnight for the best experience, or at the very least, arrive by boat.
Do not dine indoors if it can be helped.
Life on the French Riviera is lived outdoors, even in the winter. It’s where the action is. So, that’s where you should be! And many places don’t have air conditioning, so eating inside can become a sticky situation in seconds flat. Grab a table outside day or night, rub shoulders with the locals, and enjoy one of the few charms of the Riviera that doesn’t have a price tag – all that glorious weather.
Do not skimp on beach-going.
The French Riviera’s public beaches are clean, safe, beautiful, and a budget traveler’s dream. But even if it’s just for one day, splurge on a beach club. Your fee includes a day’s rental of a sun bed and umbrella, changing rooms/bathrooms, and table service. Prices can vary greatly but in general are not too outrageous, especially when you consider that you don’t have to lift a finger to have refreshing beverages or even lunch brought to your chair (and you can swim in the sea without having to keep an eye on your belongings). It’s the single best way to feel like you’ve really “done” the French Riviera.
- Contributed by Christine Cantera