des Arts de Vivre
The Art of Luxury Travel
French Riviera

French Riviera
or the “Côte d’Azur”

Luxury travel to
the French Riviera

From a picturesque perched village atop the cliffs of the arrière pays, you have breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and, on an exceptionally clear day, you can see all the way to Corsica.  From the sea, you can see the beautiful coastline with mountains – and villages– perched behind.

The movie stars and celebrities, the palace hotels, the art…  On the French Riviera, no matter which way you look, there is something spectacular to see.

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Photo of South of France expert guide

Working with AAV for nearly 1 decade has been a real pleasure! They always provide their guests with very special treat & unique programs, « off the beaten tracks » itineraries, where every single detail, specially the smallest one (because it is, of course, the most important one)… is anticipated and taken care !
They are deeply specialized in luxury travel and tailor made holidays. Endless inspiration and creativity combining top quality stays, the greatest journeys together with unforgettable human experiences. Get real knowledge and true understanding of the destination and the people.

Frédéric S. Expert Guide

5 things you don’t know
about the French Riviera

The French Riviera are well known as the playground of noblemen and celebrities, where Grace Kelly fell in love and Bridget Bardot stole hearts.  As a result, few travelers realize that this region has a long, rich history, strong connections with artists and authors, and a wealth of local traditions.  It would be a shame to leave the Riviera without knowing…


The impressionist painter Auguste Renoir spent the last seventeen years of his life in Cagnes-sur-Mer.  At the time, the sea air was considered a good treatment for his rheumatoid arthritis.


The French Riviera hasn’t been French all that long, only since 1860.  Before, the region was part of the Duchy of Savoy.


Agatha Christie’s Mystery of the Blue Train takes place in a luxury train linking Paris and the French Riviera.


Grasse is the perfume capital of the world, producing fragrance and flavorings for the perfume, cosmetics and food industries.  It is the setting for the novel by Patrick Süsskind.


Before settling in Monaco, the Grimaldi family lived in Cagnes-sur-Mer.  The castle there pre-dates Colombus discovering the Americas.

The French Riviera
travel guide

Where to stay on the French Riviera?

Luxury holidays to the French Riviera are, perhaps, more luxurious than elsewhere because the hotels in the curated collection of AAV (Académie des Arts de Vivre) in this region are so very indulgent.
In the upscale village of Vence, the Chateau Saint Martin Hotel and Spa was once commandery of the Templar Knights (12th century).  It is now a 5 star hotel with palace distinction.
The Four Seasons  hotel, Grand Hotel Cap Ferrat, combines timeless elegance and glamor, with exquisite views from Nice to Monaco.  The hotel spa offers a luxury VIP suite for couples, the kind of pampering perfect during a romantic getaways.
The seaside resort Cap Eden Roc Antibes is unique—it has private a stretch of shore, pontoon, parkland,  and swimming pool which has been carved out of the rocks and refreshed with natural sea water.
La Reserve de Beaulieu, luxurious and discreet, is built like a luxury villa in Tuscany.  The “Restaurant of Kings” has actually served kings:  King Gustav of Sweden and King Leopold II of Belgium.

Michelin-starred chef Jacques Chilbois and his wife welcome you to the Bastide Saint Antoine, a 5 star hotel which is also their private home.  Located near Grasse, in an ancient olive grove, you will have majestic views of the Mediterranean, the Bay of Cannes, as well as the mountainous inland.
The Chateau de la Messandière is an authentic chateau which has maintained its original character.  All suites and rooms have breathtaking vistas over Saint Tropez and the bay.  The chateau regularly organizes art exhibitions with world-class artists.
Accommodations at these luxury hotels include guest rooms and suites – and even villas– with tailor-made options to make your honeymoon, family getaway, and luxury vacations unforgettable.

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Best luxury experiences on the Riviera

Cooking with your private chef
A rare culinary treat.  Escorted by your private chef, you will shop at one of the well-known local markets where you will choose the freshest seasonal fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and cheese. Back at the kitchen, the chef will teach you how best to prepare the produce, sharing personal recipes and those little tricks that make a big difference.  You’ll finish the class with lunch, the results of your morning. For more on our gourmet experiences.

Private cooking class with hands on cooking in a professional kitchen

Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco
The roar of the engines.  The glamor of the audience, VIPs from around the world.  Watch the legendary Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco from one of the best seats, a bird’s eye view from a balcony overlooking one of the turns on the course, above the crowds, with full, gourmet catering.

Formula One Ferrari racing in Monaco Grand Prix

The Island of Porquerolles
An excursion to the Island of Porquerolles, an island just off the coast whose white sand beaches are reminiscent of Tahiti.  Tour the coast aboard your private yacht, hike in the island’s national park, snorkel (Porquerolles is said to have the best snorkeling and scuba in all of France), or simply relax on the enchanting beaches.

The island of Porquerolles just off the coast of the south of France

Art from the French Riviera
Discover the many artists inspired by the Riviera:  Picasso, Renoir, Chagall, Matisse, and Cézanne, among others.  A chauffeur will pick you up for a day trip to visit the workshops, villages and collections of these artists.  The Maeght Foundation in Saint Paul de Vence houses an unparalleled collection of contemporary art.  The garden showcases art by Giacometti, Calder, Braque and Miro. For more on our art experiences.

The Maeght Foundation in Saint Paul de Vence

When is the best time to visit the French Riviera?

What is the best thing about the Riviera?  The glamour?  The glitz?  The weather.  Whatever the season, you can expect more sunshine than anywhere else in France.

The French Riviera in winter:
Winter here is extremely mild and sunny, which is why so many of Europe’s aristocracy wintered here. Winter is the best time to appreciate the Riviera’s wealth of museums, particularly art and ancient history. Ski resorts are only an hour’s drive from Nice, which means you can easily ski during the day then dine on the beach– the ultimate luxury.

The French Riviera in spring:
Spring arrives early on the Riviera, with the extravagance of Menton’s yearly street festival and parade, complete with floats, marching bands and dancers from Rio. A favorite with children. The end of spring is marked by the celebrated film festival in Cannes. And in between, the many gardens come to their full glory, in Eze, Monaco, Napoule, Cap Ferrat…

The French Riviera in summer:
Summer is the obvious season for the French Riviera. Since much of the region is along the coastline, summer is the time for relaxing on the beautiful beaches, boating, and swimming. The long days are perfect for gourmet dinners on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean and for indoor or outdoor concerts at one of the region’s many summer festivals.

The French Riviera in autumn:
The crowds of tourists are gone. The water is still warm—so swimming, sailing and other boating activities are fun. Since the days aren’t as hot, it is much more pleasant to hike, explore the perched villages inland, and to golf. In autumn, this spectacular region is even better, like a blossom fully bloomed or wine which has reached its maturity.

Travel tips about the Riviera

Luxury travel on the French Riviera means seeing sites which are off the beaten track, having local experts share their expert insight into local history and culture, and personal tour guides who have access to people and places of which others only dream.  With AAV a luxury trip is a unique experience, tailor-made for you with your dreams, your likes and dislikes all taken into account.  You will have private, exclusive encounters designed just for you.


The other festival in Cannes

Cannes hosts the film festival in May and also a fireworks festival in summer.  Once a week for six weeks, world-famous pyrotechnicians compete with one another to dazzle and delight you with the latest in fireworks technology choreographed to music and launched from barges near the beach.  Breathtaking!


Street food in Nice

Foodies should try socca, a flat bread made from chick peas, often available from street vendors in the historic center of Nice.  Another traditional snack is pissaladière, a delicious cross between a tart and a pizza, made with caramelized onion.


Christmas surprise

At Christmas time, be sure to visit Lucéram.  Residents of the tiny hilltop village handmake nativity scenes which they display outdoors for passersby—last count, there were over 450 nativity scenes, some big enough to fill an entire room, others so small they fit on a narrow window ledge.


The Sails of Saint Tropez

This annual regatta in Saint Tropez showcases classic sailboats, some of the most beautiful ever made.  Many of the boats are over one hundred years old.  Others have competed in the America’s Cup and the Olympic Games.  The event attracts up to 300 yachts every year.


A place of beauty

For a moment of relaxation, visit the Chapel of the Rosary in Vence, whose stained glass windows were designed by Matisse.  At certain moments of the day, the light streams through the blue stained glass turning the interior blue.  The result  is enchanting.

Unique family holidays
in the South of France

children having fun on paddle board

Family holidays for all to enjoy

The south of France is a great destination when travelling with your family.  The region has it all:  luxurious hotels, fabulous local cuisine, sports, shopping, kilometer after kilometer of beautiful coastline, and the best weather in all of France.
If you’re traveling with children, we will create special experiences for them, too. Depending on their ages and interests, we can arrange special outings. We will ensure that everything runs like clockwork so that you are free to create beautiful and lasting memories with your family. 

More on family holidays in the south of france

your trip

If you wish to schedule a time to speak about the trip you have in mind, please click on the “Tailor my trip” button and fill in our form. We will get back to you very shortly after reception of your request. 

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