A Girls’ Guide to the French Riviera

The pedestrian zone, commercial and cultural landmark with restaurants and shops in traditional houses in the French Riviera

When I got engaged a few years ago, I was beyond excited to plan the ultimate girls’ guide to the French Riviera with my closest girlfriends. I envisioned us savoring exquisite wine, strolling through boutique-lined streets, gazing at the azure sea’s shimmer, and indulging in delectable French cheeses and bread as we took in all that the enchanting French Riviera has to offer.

But COVID-19 disrupted those dreams. While I was unable to sip Champagne on the sun-kissed shores of Antibes with my girls, I visited this area a few years later. I discovered all the places that make for a great girls’ trip. If you and your closest entourage are looking for a location to create endless memories, here is my ultimate guide to the French Riviera.

Where to Stay in the French Riviera

Depending on the time of the year, accommodation can be expensive. But not to worry, there are a range of options to choose from.

If you and your girlfriends are looking for luxury on the French Riviera, opt to stay at the iconic Hotel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes, which is home to many celebrities during the prestigious Cannes Film Festival annually held in May. During the off-season, when the Boulevard de la Croisette isn’t buzzing with tourists, the hotel gives way to stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and is deeply regarded for its elegance and impeccable service. Plus, at the hotel’s Bar du Fouquet, you and your group can sip edible perfume cocktails prepared especially by veteran mixologist Emanuele Balestra, who creates the concoctions from an in-house garden and lab.

If instead, you are looking for a more intimate experience that is steeped in history, consider a stay at the Le Castel Enchanté. Situated in the hills above Nice and accessible via a private road, this boutique B&B offers an outdoor swimming pool, a lush garden and a buffet breakfast daily. The best part is that it’s close to the airport and accessible to public transport.

If you prefer something a bit more relaxed and cozier, you can find villas, AirBnBs and houses to rent.

What to See and Do in the French Riviera

One of the best things about the French Riviera, besides the sunshine of course, is how walkable the area is. Pack your comfiest shoes and start by exploring Nice by foot. Experience the Promenade des Anglais, a charming seafront boulevard lined with palm trees, where you and your girls can also take Instagram-worthy photos. For some retail therapy, head to Avenue Jean Médecin, Nice’s main shopping street. Here you will find a mix of shops, including trendy boutiques supermarkets, restaurants and cafes.

Be sure to take an evening stroll through Vieux Nice (Old Nice). This vibrant maze of narrow streets, colorful buildings and bustling markets has restaurants, shops and local art galleries. You can buy everything here, from Provencal spices to handmade jewelry. The famous Cours Saleya Market is at the heart of Old Town. Locals and tourists come here to do their shopping—everything from fresh produce, flowers and local specialties. Keep an eye out for the Flower Market, held Tuesday through Sunday, and don’t miss trying out local favorite socca, a traditional Niçoise pancake made from chickpea flour.

No trip to Nice is complete without enjoying the beautiful beaches. Choose one of the private beach clubs like Blue Beach or Ruhl for a luxurious experience, or opt for the public beaches like Castel Beach or Opera Plage. Soak up the sun, take refreshing dips in the Mediterranean and unwind with a cocktail on a sunbed.

For a low-key escape, take a day trip to Antibes, a picturesque town just a short distance from Nice. Visit the historic old town and wander through its charming streets, lined with quaint shops, cafes and galleries. Explore the Picasso Museum located in the stunning Château Grimaldi, which houses an impressive collection of Picasso’s works. Be sure to stroll along the beautiful Port Vauban, one of the largest marinas in Europe, and admire the luxurious yachts. Better yet, rent a yacht for the afternoon and enjoy making memories as the wind courses through your hair!

What to Eat

All that walking will leave you and your friends ravished, but thankfully France has many gastronomic delights and is a paradise for food lovers. The local French cuisine includes a delectable sample of the famous Salade Niçoise, a refreshing salad with fresh vegetables, tuna, anchovies and olives. You must try the Pissaladière, a delicious onion and anchovy tart, and the Ratatouille, a classic Provençal vegetable stew. For a sweet treat, savor the delicate flavors of lavender- or rose-flavored ice cream, or good old gelato.

There are endless restaurants to pick from whether you are in Old Town Nice or Boulevard de la Croisette. Chances are you won’t be pressed for lack of food options. Some favorites are Mumbai Cafe, an unassuming Indian restaurant offering refined dishes in an aesthetic environment, and Chai Dee, a solid option for Thai food lovers, offering good portion sizes, a range of vegetarian options and a beautiful outdoor seating area. If you are craving Italian, then you must stop by L’Altro for modern Italian food in a charming terrace with high arched windows. As the sun sets, head to Le Ghost for delicious cocktails and a lively atmosphere. For a more sophisticated evening, enjoy a cocktail at the lobby bar of Carlton Cannes.

Prepare to be enchanted by the breathtaking scenery. Indulge in the delicious cuisine and shop till you drop all while creating lasting memories with your girls! Need more inspiration? Follow these 10 Black female travel bloggers.