St Tropez glamour or parisian chic, provençal simplicity or Monaco glitz – la belle France offers a degustation of cultural and culinary delights. Strung out between beach and mountain along the slender curve of the corniche, the towns and villages of the Côte d’Azur and the exclusive principality of Monaco have never lost their iridescence or allure.
The historic hilltop village of Mougins nestles above Cannes, cloaked by forests of pine, olive and cypress trees; its beauty once a persuasive muse for Picasso and Cocteau. Village squares bustle with outdoor life, characterised by chattering locals deftly rolling boules along sandy pitches. Heady scents of lavender imbue Provençal villages, aromas of café au lait and freshly baked croissants fill the air whilst the simple flavours of a world-renowned cuisine are there to be savoured. Eze perches precipitously above the crystalline sea whilst further along the coast, the sophisticated enclave of St Tropez and the irresistible chic of Monte Carlo await. Here, the harbour is dotted with luxuriant yachts and the streets are dressed with designer boutiques and opulent casinos. Cannes is star-lit each May with the annual Film Festival, Nice’s Mardi Gras is awash with colour and Monaco hosts the glamorous Grand Prix. Paris, as ever, exerts its magnetic appeal, drawing the culture seeker to its array of world-famous attractions. Delve into the art collections of the Louvre, discover the treasures of Versailles and splash out in the fashion house boutiques. Alluring and captivating, France is an eternal love affair.
And then there’s Corsica, a land of wonderful contradictions. The mountainous Mediterranean island is a place where glitzy bays exude 1960s charm, the sand feels almost Caribbean, dense forests line verdant valleys and winding coastal roads thread through forgotten villages. Holidays here are filled with opportunity for everyone; from gourmands and the glamorous to nature lovers and history enthusiasts, and with reliable weather, safe beaches and plenty to keep little ones captivated, it’s a wonderful choice for families too.
The southern regions of France and the Côte d’Azur tend to experience more of a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and cool winters, whilst the northern region of France has a temperate climate with warm summers and cold winters. May, June and September are good months to enjoy the warmer weather yet avoid the crowds.
Whilst the soaring temperatures of July and August can be tempting, it can make outdoor activities like hiking more challenging. September is a delight; the moderate heat is much more comfortable for basking on the beach – which, along with the roads, will be much quieter than during the peak months. May and June are also pleasant, when the maquis shrub covering the lowland is in blossom and the sea is just about temperate.
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