Summer or winter, the department of Alpes-Maritimes has so much to offer the visitor.
Famous for glamorous resorts such as Cannes with its “Belle Epoque” architecture, the stylish sun-kissed Cote d’Azur has been one of the holiday hot spots of the world since sunbathing became popular in the 1920s.
Villefranche-sur-Mer offers all manner of watersports and the Riviera golfer is spoilt for choice - 19 courses designed by international architects and 4 more in the mountains.
The holiday mood continues with the many Riviera festivals. Play spot the star at Cannes International Film Festival in May and hear Jazz in Juan-les-Pins in July, or make a winter visit to Menton’s Lemon Festival and Nice’s Battle of the Flowers.
The coast is the place for yachts, blue sea, pine-shaded beaches, great restaurants and nightlife. Nice, the capital of Alpes-Maritimes, has a daily market. Choose a restaurant and sample some of Provence’s “sunshine cuisine” which here has a decidedly Italian influence. Ratatouille originated in Nice and you’ll notice many pasta dishes.
The spectacular backdrop to this busy beautiful coastal strip is hillsides of scented Mediterranean vegetation attended by the singing of cicadas, vineyards, flowers and olive groves so typical of Provence, and beyond them the snow-capped Alpes d’Azur.
Picasso, Chagall and many other 20thC artists were captivated by the colour and intensity of the light in the Alpes-Maritimes. Today, their work is still seen in hilltop villages with amazing views of the sea, such as St-Paul-de-Vence, and in a range of galleries and museums.
Views are wonderful too from the hillsides of roses and jasmine surrounding sleepy Grasse, perfume capital of the world. Visit the Perfume Museum here and mix your own concoction!
From beach to Alpes d’Azur takes just an hour, offering skiing and snow sports in winter at resorts, such as Auron, and summer exploration by foot or on horseback. Rock climbing is excellent in the Parc National du Mercantour nature reserve -beginners should try the “via ferrata” safe climbing circuit at Brigue - and the tumbling rivers are great for white water sports.