The French Riviera is one of the most famous destinations for European tourists in France. Located in the south-east of France, this area is approximately established between the city of Toulon and Nice (at the frontier with Italy- the city has belonged to Italy previously for long times).
The French name for the French Riviera is “Cote d’Azur” (The Blue coast). The weather is amazing all around throughout the year.
The summer is hot and dry and winter is sweet (bad and miserable weather is rarely impact on tourism). Ones of the most beautiful beaches in France are along this coast.
The main activity in French Riviera the ‘’farniente’’. It literally means ‘’doing nothing’’. It’s all about laying on the beach, drink something fresh, eat fresh products of the region like melons and others local specialities. But if you’re a sportive & active person you’ll find your pleasure as well.
Very famous for European families during summer, and seniors during winter, the area of Frejus/ Saint-Raphael. Those are two little cities (when you are a tourist you would not even know the difference between Fréjus and Saint-Raphaël.
I lived 3 years there, so I know French Riviera and surroundings well as much as local.
Saint Raphael was a well-known destination during the last century for therapies. The old name of the city is ‘’Valescure’’: The valley which cures. And if you stop there, you’ll find out that it’s truth, there are so many benefits and things to do, having holidays or living in those little places.
My favorite beach
During summer the beaches are really crowded, and it’s not really my idea of enjoying a day at the beach.
My favorite place to spend a day is not even a beach; it’s more like a cove. Drive from St-Raphael to the Dramont. The Dramont is a little town which belongs to St-Raphael.
Drive along the coast for around 10 minutes till a tiny harbour called ‘’Port du Poussai’’.
Sometimes it’s hard to find the bay, so when you’re on the path which goes to the harbour, do not hesitate to stop at the first CAR BAY you find instead of going further (especially between June and august).
On your left, there will be a little path, not really easy to access. Follow it through rocks and soon you’ll see a beautiful cove between the rocky cliffs. There is a narrow stair to go down.
You can climb up the rocks and do some cliff jumping. The water is generally around 20 and 25 degrees Celsius.
From the cove, you’ll see the beautiful ‘L’ile d’or’. It’s a small island, not far from the coast, with a tower on it. There is a legend about it: people say that it has been won at gambling.
Now it belongs to a fortunate family. You’ll be able to know if they are here: you’ll see the flag. This island has inspired the Belgian author Herge who wrote The adventures of Tintin.
You can’t miss the red rocks. This massif is the Esterel, known for its shades of orange and red and the contrast with the blue of the Mediterranean Sea.
Trails & walks
Now we are talking about the Esterel, you’ll be happy to learn that it’s also a great place to walk and hike. Ask for maps and information to the Tourism Office in the heart of Saint-Raphael, they are all very competent and know everything.
You can book for a guided hike (usually you have to pay for that but some of them are offered by the city). There is others massifs that you might like : ‘’le massif des maures’’, ‘’le Mont Vinaigre’’.
History and Culture
Frejus and Saint Raphael are full of History, as old as humanity. Discover the remains of the Roman Empire through guided tours. The tour I knew was ‘’Frejus, 2000 years of History’’. The guide knows everything about, he’s amazing and fascinating personality. During summer, you can do this tour during the night, with torch lamps. It’s really funny to walk through the old amphitheatre by night.
The old centre is full of details and stories that you will probably never know everything.
Saint-Raphael, in my opinion, is less interesting concerning history but it still worth a visit in the old centre ( there is an archeological museum in a medieval chapel). If you go on the top of this old chapel, you’ll have a very nice sight of the city.
If you like architecture and history, you may like the church in the heart of the city. This church ‘’ Notre Dame de Lepante’’ is actually a minor basilica. Built in 1887, it is recent comparing to many churches in France and in Europe). A basilica is a church estimated by the Vatican for two reasons : there are relics from a saint or from the wood of Jesus’s cross, and it’s a famous place for pelerinage (Saint Jacques de Compostelle).
You’ll like the golden dome during the sunset, the windows in the church and the paintings.
The contrast between the church and the modern constructions is interesting. 2 minutes walk from the church, there’s a park called ‘’Les jardins Bonaparte’’. Don’t miss it.
You’ll always find something to do in French Riviera and around: nautical sports, concerts, events, fun fair, nightclubs, extreme sports…
All around Frejus and Saint Raphael, there are so many place and cities to visit : Toulon and its military heritage, Cannes (the city of the most famous cinema festival in the world), Nice and its old city, Menton and it’s amazing colours.