Grave Ramblings: Dark Tourism and the Cemeteries of the French Riviera

My contribution to this month’s All About France blog link-up hosted by Lou Messugo is nothing at all to do with Christmas.  In fact, it’s as unfestive as you can get but I thought I would write about dark tourism and some of the famous people who lived and are laid to rest in the cemeteries on the French Riviera.

What is Dark Tourism?

Dark tourism is travel (and tourism) that involves visiting places connected to death, tragedy or disaster.   There is a growing interest in places that historically may have been off-limits to visit, but there’s no denying that people are attracted to sites like this.

War tourism – visiting battlefields and famous fortresses – has been firmly stamped on tourism sectors for decades, and now tour operators are expanding their tour itineraries to cater for dark tourism.  Everyone from National Geographic to the Economist is debating whether it’s the right thing to do.  Regardless, this market for tourism is here to stay.

Some of the world’s most popular dark tourism locations include visiting the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris to see the gravesites of Jim Morrison or Edith Piaf, seeing the Phnom Sampeau killing caves in Cambodia, visiting Chernobyl’s fallout zone or learning about the history of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps.

pere lachaise cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is one of the world’s most visited cemeteries

It does seem strange to say a location is ‘popular’ because of its macabre or sombre history, but you’ll find wherever there is death or tragedy a tour operator will be waiting in the wings to snap up income from keen tourists.

Dark Tourism on the French Riviera 

The sunny French Riviera doesn’t escape dark tourism.  While we always see promotional tourism here highlight the beaches, the Riviera lifestyle and year-round activities, there are many tourists who are visiting to catch a slice of history and follow in the footsteps of famous people who lived, and more profoundly died here.

It could be possible I’m the only blogger highlighting the region’s cemeteries as a tourism attraction?!   Undoubtedly, not only do cemeteries on the Côte d’Azur have famous ‘residents’, but many of them occupy prime real estate with some of the best views in south-east France!

cemetery in menton

You can’t deny this spectacular view! Vieux Château cemetery in Menton (image: Menton Tourism)

Here are some grave ramblings for the French Riviera:

Paul Ricard

The founder of Ricard pastis bought the tiny Île de Bendor at Bandol which is home to two museums – the Exposition Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux that houses thousands of bottles and glasses, and the Museum of Advertising Objects that is dedicated to pastis advertising.  Near Le Brusc, the Île de Embiez was bought by the Ricard Trust and is a tourist getaway from the mainland with no traffic jams, pleasant restaurants and walking trails.  Paul Ricard is buried there at the highest point on the island overlooking the sea.

paul ricard grave

The Île des Embiez is the final resting place of pastis icon, Paul Ricard

Roger Vadim

Roger Vadim was a director, producer, writer and actor and is perhaps just as well known for his many marriages (including to Brigitte Bardot and Jane Fonda) as his films such as And God Created Woman (1956) and Barbarella (1968).

He died in Paris in 2000 but is buried at the Cimetière Marin in Saint-Tropez – his tomb goes unnoticed to many visitors as it says ‘Vadim Plémiannikov’, not Roger Vadim. 

cemetery st tropez

The Cimetière Marin in St Tropez with sea views (image:  Axel Hupfelds)

This seaside cemetery in Saint-Tropez beneath the Citadelle has a host of interesting people buried there such as Alexandre de Paris who was a celebrated French hairdresser who created Elizabeth Taylor’s hairstyle for Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot’s’ parents, painter Henri Manguin and jazz figure Edouard Ruault (Eddie Barclay) who has a tombstone decorated with LPs.

cemetery st tropez

Eddie Barclay’s gravesite in Cimetière Marin in St Tropez (image: mapio)

Jean Marais

Jean Marais was a French actor, director, writer and sculptor who acted in over 100 films including Jean Cocteau’s 1946  Beauty and the Beast.  He received an Honorary César Award in 1993 (Césars are the national film award of France).  Five years later, he passed away in Cannes and was buried in the village cemetery in Vallauris.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso is one of the most recognised names in creative arts and was a familiar figure in Côte d’Azur art circles. He lived and worked in his villa Mas Notre-Dame-de-Vie in Mougins, nicknamed the Minotaur’s Lair.

mas notre dame de vie

Mas Notre-Dame-de-Vie in Mougins was Pablo Picasso’s last home (image: Christies)

The villa was previously owned by the Guinness family of Irish beer fame.  Picasso died at his villa in April 1973, but he isn’t actually buried in Mougins – he is buried in the grounds of Château de Vauvenargues.

The villa was sold by auction in October 2017 for €20.2 million.  Video : Picasso’s Mas Notre-Dame-de-Vie

Marc Chagall

‘When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is’ – Pablo Picasso 

Marc Chagall was born in Belarus and created works in many styles including painting, ceramics and stained glass.  His stained glass projects can be seen everywhere from the ‘Peace Window’ he created for the United Nations building in New York to the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Reims.

While he is best known for his art, he also worked as a theatrical designer including a commission to create the set and costumes for the New York Metropolitan Opera’s performance in the late 1960’s of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  His association with France was lengthy and he received France’s highest accolade, the Grand Medal of the Legion of Honor in 1977 and left a rich legacy of work.

The Musée National Marc Chagall is one of the top cultural attractions in Nice and is the largest public collection in the world dedicated to over 800 of his artworks, predominantly his art inspired by religion.

musee marc chagall

Musée National Marc Chagall in Nice is the largest public collection of Marc Chagall’s work (image: Musées Nationaux)

Marc Chagall is buried in the cemetery below the town walls in the hilltop town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence.  Aimé and Marguerite Maeght who founded the nearby Fondation Maeght art museum are also buried in this cemetery.

Yves Klein

You may be familiar with the striking artworks of Yves Klein who was born in Nice and remembered for the Nouveau Réalisme movement.

In particular, his vivid blue works are quite memorable – you can see his 1962 Venus Bleue at the Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins (Mougins Museum of Classical Art) where it is displayed beside Venus interpretations by Cézanne, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol.   There aren’t many places in the world where you can find artwork from these 4 artists in the same display cabinet!

Klein died in Paris and is buried in the cemetery in La-Colle-sur-Loup.  I’m sure he’d love tourists to the French Riviera to visit the Mougins Classical Art Museum because it really is a fantastic collection of interesting and rare pieces.   .

mougins classical art

The Venus cabinet at the Mougins Museum of Classical Art holds Venus Bleue by Yves Klein

Henri Matisse

Matisse lived in Nice for 37 years and it is here that his presence on the French Riviera is most significant.  He is well known for his work on the Chapelle du Rosaire in Vence, but the Musée Matisse is the crowning achievement of his legacy.

musee matisse

Musée Matisse is located at Cimiez and the neighbouring cemetery has Matisse’s grave

The museum is located in Cimiez and Matisse is buried in the neighbouring Cimetière du Monastère de Cimiez which also has the grave of artist Raoul Dufy.

Isadora Duncan

The Promenade des Anglais in Nice was where American dancer Isadora Duncan tragically lost her life in 1927 in a freak accident.  Known as ‘the barefoot dancer’, she was driving along the road and her scarf blew over the side of the car and wrapped around a wheel, dragging her from the car and breaking her neck.  A small street is named after her, rue Isadora Duncan, leading off Promenade des Anglais.

Emil Jellinek

The name may not ring a bell, but Emil (Emile) Jellinek had a firm influence on the automobile industry.  Born in Germany in 1853, he worked at Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) autos and proposed to car designers to create a lighter vehicle with a bigger engine.

The result was the Mercedes 35hp and it lead Wilhelm Werner to claim the first victory for Mercedes in a car race, the Nice-Salon-Nice in 1901.  Jellinek’s world-famous trademark he launched in 1902 was named after his daughter, Mercédès.  He changed his surname to Jellinek-Mercédès in 1903.

mercedes nice salon nice

The 392 kilometre Nice-Salon-Nice race in 1901 was won by a Mercedes car for the first time (image: Daimler Media)

He came to Nice and later worked as the Austro-Hungarian Consulate General owning properties on the Promenade des Anglais – Villa Mercedes at number 57, Villa Mercedes II at number 54 as well as hotel Le Royal.  The family yachts on the French Riviera were also not surprisingly christened Mercedes and Mercedes-Mercedes.   His daughter Mercédès supposedly married her first husband Baron Karl van Schossler in Nice, but I couldn’t find any record of where their huge wedding was held.  I’m sure the details are part of Daimler’s archives 🙂

Monsieur Mercedes as Emil (Emile) Jellinek-Mercédès was nicknamed, is laid to rest in the tomb of his first wife Rachel Goggman Cenrobert in the Cimetière Colline du Château at Castle Hill (Colline du Château) in Nice.

emil jellenik mercedes

Emil (Emile) Jellinek-Mercédès , Pioneer of Automobiles, is buried in the Cimetière Colline du Château in Nice

This cemetery and the adjacent Jewish cemetery have amazing views over Nice.  There are thousands of graves with some elaborate and beautiful tombstones and cenotaphs.

Many notable people are buried here including:

  • Writer Gaston Leroux
  • Director and screenwriter Georges Lautner
  • René Goscinny who was one of the creators of French comic book Asterix
  • Garibaldi’s mother Rosa Garibaldi
  • Alfred van Cleef of the Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery family
  • Caroline ‘La Belle’ Otéro who was a famous actress/courtesan/dancer whose breasts supposedly inspired the dome design of the Intercontinental Carlton hotel in Cannes
  • Menica Rondelly who wrote the Niçois anthem Nissa la Bella
  • The daughter of Henri Matisse
  • Polishman Baron Leon Wladyslaw Loewenstein of Lenval, who founded Lenval Hospital in Nice after the death of his son in Nice at 11 years of age

Cimetière Colline du Château has wide-reaching views over Nice (image: Tripadvisor)

To reach the cemeteries, you can take the stairs or elevator from the end of Quai des États-Unis up to Parc du Château or walk up Montée Menica Rondelly from Place Ste Claire in Nice Old Town.  The petit train (white tourist train) also goes up to the park.

Brothers in arms

War cemeteries are places of loss, remembrance and sadness but they also have an aura of calm.  One such cemetery that has a picturesque setting is the Belgian Military Cemetery that is located at Pointe Saint-Hospice on the St Jean Cap Ferrat peninsula with a chapel there having a lovely outlook over the sea.

King Leopold II of Belgium converted Villa Les Cèdres into a military hospital during World War I, however many soldiers succumbed to their injuries received from German gas attacks.  The cemetery is a dedication to 90 Belgian soldiers who lost their lives.   Sadly, the cemetery has graves of brothers who died just months apart so its a very poignant place to visit.  We won’t ever know if they got to appreciate the beautiful setting, but visitors to the peninsula can reflect and remember them here.

Video by Gralon:  Belgian Military Cemetery, St Jean Cap Ferrat (Cimetière militaire des Belges)

Princess Grace  

One of the most famous personalities that captured the hearts of France, Monaco and the world was Grace Kelly, an American actress, who became the Princess of Monaco in 1952 when she married Prince Rainier III.

Her global appeal and classic beauty transcended from life to death; even after she lost her life after a car crash on a road bend at Devil’s Curse above Monaco, over 100 million viewers watched her televised funeral.

grace kelly car crash

Contrary to popular belief Grace did not die on the road where she filmed the scenes in Hitchcock film ‘To Catch a Thief’. As you can see from this map, the accident site was miles away. Her life support was turned off a few days after the crash (map: Reel Reviews)

If you visit the Principality and are looking for things to do in Monaco, you can follow a free tour in Monaco with information about Grace, or visit her tomb beside Prince Rainier in the Grimaldi family vault inside the Monaco Cathedral, the same church where they wed.

Other well-known people who are laid to rest in Monaco include entertainer Josephine Baker, artist Jean-Michel Folon who was commissioned for murals at Waterloo station on the London Tube and designs for Puccini’s opera La Bohème, English writer Anthony Burgess who penned A Clockwork Orange and Iranian Princess Ashraf Pahlavi who are all buried in the Monaco cemetery near the Jardin Exotique.

Le Corbusier

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret was born in Switzerland and moved to Paris where he took the pseudonym he is best known for, Le Corbusier.

Le Corbusier changed the face of modern architecture and his furniture and buildings are contemporary studies for design and technology.   Seventeen of his works over seven countries are UNESO World Heritage-listed.

He drowned off the coast of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and is buried in the Roquebrune cemetery.  There is a lovely coastal walking path from Roquebrune-Cap-Martin to Monaco named after him, Promenade Le Corbusier, and you can visit his minimalist beach cabanon as well as Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027 by booking through Cap Moderne.

corbusiers cabanon

Le Corbusier’s Cabanon can be visited by booking through Cap Moderne

William Webb Ellis

Englishman William Webb Ellis was credited for creating the game of rugby and keen rugby enthusiasts will agree that his final resting place has one of the best views on the French Riviera.  The Vieux Château cemetery in Menton is worth a visit and has spectacular panoramic views over Menton and the sea.

webb ellis grave

William Webb Ellis’ gravesite in the Vieux Chateau cemetery in Menton

Interestingly, I already knew that the trophy awarded to the winner of the Rugby World Cup is named the Webb Ellis Cup but I didn’t realise that Menton has a rugby-specific trail that features 25 plaques about rugby starting at the Menton train station and leading to the cemetery.  Something I learned while researching this blog and definitely a potential blog topic for the future!

Thanks for reading my post.  I’ve researched a fair bit and learned a lot about famous lives and deaths on the French Riviera.  Have you been to any famous cemeteries or dark tourism sites in France or around the world?

Lou Messugo

Top 15 French Riviera viewpoints for amazing photos

Today’s post is my second attempt at joining the ‘All About France’ monthly blog link-up hosted by Lou Messugo (my first attempt was a rookie fail, I forgot to add my link!).

School returned from the summer holidays this week and with la rentrée out of the way what a great excuse to share some of my favourite locations throughout the French Riviera (and a handful in the Var) that are more than deserving of glory on Instagram..

I hope you enjoy reading about my Top 15 French Riviera viewpoints for amazing photos:

  1. Les Moulins de Paillas near Ramatuelle

Situated at an altitude of 325 metres, these old windmills are located on the D89 road at the top of the village of Ramatuelle towards Gassin.

Mills were built in Ramatuelle from the 16th century to grind wheat for flour, and five mills originally stood in this area – one mill was restored in 2002, two are ruins only, two are on private land.

The location gives excellent views of Pampelonne to the east, the Gulf of St Tropez to the north and La Croix Valmer in the south. In fine weather, it’s possible to see the Îles du Levant and Port Cros.

Les Moulins de Paillas near Ramatuelle

Les Moulins de Paillas near Ramatuelle

If you would like to visit, Ramatuelle Tourist Office gives guided tours by appointment, or you can visit for free on Saturday or Sunday mornings between 10.30am-12.30pm from April-October. Other mills in this area are Moulin à vent de Verdagne and Moulin Brulat.

  1. Mont Vinaigre and Cap Roux in the Esterels

The highest peak in the Esterels (614 metres), Mont Vinaigre is on a grande randonnée (GR) track so you must follow the red and white trail markings. The hike to the summit takes around one hour with wide views to the bay of Cannes. There is a vehicle barrier part way along where the trail changes to stones so baby strollers aren’t advisable.

Closer to the sea, the 3.5 hour hike to Cap Roux is doable with older kids (the paths require sturdy footwear but aren’t steep or dangerous) and an orientation map at the summit details main peaks and points of interest. On descent, the red rock of Saint-Barthélemy has a great view over the sea and afterwards I recommend a swim at nearby Calanque Maubois which is reached via stairs from the main road.

I’d suggest avoiding these hikes in summer (especially weekends) as they are very popular and parking is an issue. Also, when there is hot weather and mistral winds the paths may be closed due to fire risks; you can check in advance at this website:

Cap Roux and nearby calanque

Cap Roux and nearby calanque

  1. San Peyre in Mandelieu-la-Napoule

The volcanic cone of San Peyre overlooking Mandelieu-la-Napoule offers a medium-grade uphill walk through shaded forest path of the Parc du San Peyre, onto a paved walkway.

There are a handful of steps so it is not wholly wheelchair-accessible to the summit, however the park has picnic tables and flat walking areas for travellers with reduced mobility near to the carpark area.

The path to the summit isn’t steep – our eldest son managed to walk up most of the way with us when he was a toddler, however do be warned the path is not fenced and there are some steep rock cliffs.

The walk to the summit from the carpark itself takes just 10 minutes uphill leading to some small fenced chapel ruins, and an orientation table in the old donjon (keep) with views to Cannes, Tanneron, the Lérins Islands, Théoule sur Mer and of course over Mandelieu, the port and the Château de la Napoule.

My son (2 years old in this photo) walking to the summit of San Peyre / view to Cannes / Château de la Napoule

My son (2 years old in this photo) walking to the summit of San Peyre / view to Cannes / Château de la Napoule

  1. Musée de la Castre watchtower in Cannes

The summit of Le Suquet (including the small wall rim reached by stairs near the church) give great panoramas over Cannes and to the Lérins Islands and Esterels, however the best view on a clear day is from the watchtower at the Musée de la Castre.

Great views from the top of Le Suquet (Cannes Old Town)

Great views from the top of Le Suquet (Cannes Old Town)

  1. Chapelle de la Garoupe in Antibes

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve walked up the rocky, santon-lined chemin du Calvaire to the terrace in front at Chapelle de la Garoupe (also known as Église Notre Dame de la Garoupe / Chapelle Notre Dame de Bon Port).

If you don’t fancy the walk up, there is a sealed public road (the surface is fine for baby strollers and wheelchairs but be warned there are no pavements) that leads to the church. Recognising the site’s potential they are building a caféteria; in the meantime there are plenty of snack kiosks at plage Salis for an ice cream or cold drink afterwards.

You can’t access the lighthouse there, however the church is decorated inside with ex-votos giving thanks from sailors and worshippers for protection from shipwrecks, weather, and disease. The church is also the starting point for the annual Fête de Notre Dame du Bon Port parade that you can read about here.

The reason I trudge those rocky steps is the view is lovely at the top – from under the umbrella pines your line of sight reaches from Golfe Juan to Juan les Pins to Antibes and beyond, and plane spotters would love it here as it sits on the coastal flight path. Take some cheese and wine and enjoy the view at sun set.

chemin du Calvaire is the rocky, santon-lined path to Chapelle Garoupe

chemin du Calvaire is the rocky, santon-lined path to Chapelle Garoupe

  1. Gourdon

Gourdon, a medieval village built at the summit of a cliff above the Gorges du Loup, is reached via a drive along some hair-raising roads fringing waterfalls and treacherous drops. Outdoor enthusiasts love the area with hiking (including the chemin du Paradis track), paragliding and canyoning popular.

The village is deemed one of the ‘Plus Beaux Villages de France’ and it features on most tour itineraries in the region – partially for the shops selling souvenirs such as perfume bottles, honey and gingerbread, but mostly for the outstanding views that reach from nearby Pont-du-Loup below at the mouth of the Gorges, to the Esterels and Nice.

One of the highlights of Gourdon is the Château de Gourdon and its underrated gardens. The gardens include an Apothecary Garden devoted to medicinal plants used in the 17th century, and the main terrace area was designed by Le Notre who also designed the gardens at Versailles. Sadly, the Château and gardens can no longer be visited unless by prior arrangement in groups of 10 (it housed a Historical Museum and Art Museum that are both now closed).

Birds-eye views from Gourdon

Birds-eye views from Gourdon

If you want to linger in the village for lunch, head to La Taverne Provençal at place de l’Eglise – the coq au vin is delicious and the view from the terrace is worth it.

  1. Colline du Château and Mont Boron in Nice

It’s a tie for top viewpoint in Nice – the easily accessed Colline du Château (Castle Hill) or forested (and less busy) Mont Boron.

One of Nice’s major tourist spots, Colline du Château (Castle Hill) is my ‘go-to’ place in Nice to take any visitors. Reached via steps from rue du Château or rue Ste-Claire, an elevator next to Tour Bellanda (small fee payable) or the petit tourist train, there is actually no castle there however there is a playground, snack kiosks and numerous vantage points for superb views of Nice Old Town, the seafront and Nice Port.

views from Colline du Château (Castle Hill) in Nice

views from Colline du Château (Castle Hill) in Nice

Mont Boron, further east, is set in a national park forest with paths interspersed with fitness equipment, pine trees and picnic tables. Offering a shady respite on warm days, the views are more wide-reaching than Castle Hill and spread across Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula.

Many of the paths are paved, and while the ground surface is hard dirt and rocky in many places it is still manageable with a sturdy baby stroller or wheelchair. Take a picnic with you as there are no shops or restaurants and the toilet facilities near to the carpark midway to the summit are often locked!

You can also wander around the outside of Fort Alban fortress, though you can’t go in unless you’re part of a guided group.

To drive to Mont Boron from Nice Port, follow boulevard Carnot uphill and near the top turn left at the traffic lights by Carrefour Market into boulevard du Mont Boron. Drive along for 200 metres before turning right into route Forestiere du Mont Boron – this road is very narrow where the houses are but continue on and it leads to the top. If you don’t have transport bus 14 leaves from place Garibadi in Nice; get off at stop ‘chemin du Fort’ which is near the picnic tables.

Check out this drone video (by Drone in Nice) that provides the best aspect of the panorama from Mont Boron and Fort Alban:

  1. Villa Ephussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

One of the French Riviera’s top attractions, this glorious villa is a testament to the eclectic collections of Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild that include antique furniture, china and art.

The pink-hued villa occupies prime real estate on the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula which affords it amazing views from the villa and expansive gardens to Villefranche-sur-Mer, Beaulieu-sur-Mer and as far as Monaco.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

If you visit Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in conjunction with either Villa Kérylos at Beaulieu-sur-Mer or the Jardin Exotique at Eze you can receive a reduced entrance price – ask at the ticket offices. For a detailed explanation, read my tourist tips for visiting Villa Ephrussi de Rothchild.

  1. Jardin Exotique in Eze

The crowning glory of Eze is this unexpected garden planted at the top of this perched village (429 metres). The garden is filled with cacti, succulents, agaves and various warm-climate plants and offers one of the best panoramas over the tiled roofs along the whole coast, with Corsica being visible on clear days.

Due to the nature of the village, accessibility for baby strollers and people with reduced mobility is quite restricted.

Kids get free entry to the garden, and my tip for one of the best times of the year to visit Eze is late July when Eze hosts the annual Eze d’Antan Festival, a medieval celebration with a falconry display and stalls with craftspeople making pottery, jewellery and weapons worthy of any knight or crusader. The festival also holds a medieval banquet if you fancy sharing barrels of wine and eating platefuls of spit-cooked meat until your belly is full.

While the Jardin has the highest views, some other Eze locations that are just as superb for photo opportunities are the Château de la Chèvre d’Or, the chemin Nietzsche walking trail that leads from Eze village to Eze-sur-Mer and Château Eza, particularly from the terrace.



  1. The Moyenne Corniche (N7) and Grande Corniche (D2564) roads

While the Basse Corniche (low) weaves from Nice to Menton via the coastal towns, the real views are found along the Moyenne (middle) and Grande (high) Corniches.

Immortalised in Hitchcock’s 1954 classic film ‘To Catch a Thief’, these roads have hair-raising bends and more than one vertiginous view of the sea, Riviera towns and stunning real estate.

The Moyenne and Grande Corniche roads / 'To Catch a Thief'

The Moyenne and Grande Corniche roads / ‘To Catch a Thief’

Still popular as film locations, it was along this stretch that Princess Grace of Monaco met her untimely death in 1982 when the car she was driving with Princess Stephanie swerved off the N53 leading from the Grande Corniche to the Moyenne Corniche.

The actual bend of the road where the accident occurred has a simple stone marker – if you are a fan of Grace she was much revered in Monaco and there are 2 statues of her there (one near the Forum by Larvotto; the other at the memorial Princess Grace Rose Garden in Fontvieille), her tomb is found at the Monaco Cathédral plus the Direction du Tourisme & des Congrès (2 boulevard des Moulins, 98000 Monaco) has maps for a free 5.5 kilometre walking trail that covers 25 spots in Monaco that were significant to Grace with accompanying photos – ask them for the ‘Parcours Princesse Grace’.

  1. Monaco / Monte-Carlo

I had difficulty pinpointing the best view in a principality shadowed by high-rise buildings and towering hotels because there are ample locations for spectacular vistas. However, if I whittle down to a handful that I feel cover the awe-factor, here are a few suggestions:

  • The rooftop of the Oceanographic Museum (Musée Océanographique de Monaco) for good views and there is a terrace restaurant, play area for kids and a turtle enclosure to keep the little ones amused.
  • La Chaumière restaurant terrace (next to the Jardin Exotique) for views across to Port Hercules and the Palais Princier.
  • L’Horizon Deck on the top floor of Hotel Fairmont Monte-Carlo is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner but I think it’s best for a sundowner when you can enjoy a glass of champagne.
Great views from La Chaumiere and L'Horizon Deck

Great views from La Chaumiere and L’Horizon Deck

  1. Vista Palace Hotel in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin

The exterior façade is stuck in a time warp and the interior décor of the hotel is ‘80’s chi-chi and chintzy (thank goodness for the current renovations and revamp until December this year) however the Vista Palace precariously jolting out of the cliffside has one of the best locations for unobstructed views over Cap Martin and Monte-Carlo.

The pool area and Restaurant Vistaero have great views, and if you want to bag one of the best room panoramas in the hotel ask for a Corner Suite with a Monte-Carlo view.

views from Vista Palace Hotel

views from Vista Palace Hotel

  1. Auberge de la Madone in Peillon

Far from flamboyant, this traditional hotel-cum-restaurant serves tasty Nissart dishes (the kitchen is run by Milo and his sons, one of whom trained under top chef Alain Ducasse) but I’m recommending it as a getaway for a romantic lunch or dinner and it gets top points for close proximity to Nice, easy car parking, a lovely outdoor dining terrace with flower-filled urns and an unbeatable view of Peillon village.

Auberge de a Madone, Peillon

Auberge de a Madone, Peillon

  1. Castle ruins in Sainte-Agnès

Sainte-Agnès is 20 minutes’ drive from Menton and at an altitude of 800 metres above sea level it is the highest coastal village in Europe. From the top of the village, you can follow a steep path to the castle ruins and a medieval garden where there are excellent views of the mountains, the bay of Menton and Italy.

Sainte Agnès, the highest coastal village in Europe has superb views from the castle ruins and medieval garden

Sainte Agnès, the highest coastal village in Europe has superb views from the castle ruins and medieval garden

The village does not throb with tourists as you would expect being so close to Menton and the Italian border so it makes a nice trip for families, and if you have children aged 5 years and older the Tourist Office has a treasure hunt they can follow and find 15 clues throughout the village (ask for the ‘Jeu de Pistes’).

One of the town’s attractions is the Fort de la Ligne Maginot that was built in the 1930’s to protect the bay of Menton. This series of concrete bunkers can be visited where you can see machinery, communications equipment and barracks where 350 men were stationed – recommended for anyone interested in military history but check opening hours before visiting as the hours fluctuate seasonally.

  1. Couvent des Franciscains (Franciscan Monastery) in Saorge

Listed as a Historical Monument in France, the Franciscan Monastery located at Saorge in the Roya Valley has passed through centuries of use as a monastery, military quarters and a hospital.

Today, it is used as a retreat for artists and writers and is open for public visits (check opening hours as they close during the day).

Monastère de Saorge

Monastère de Saorge

Other places of interest to visit in Saorge include La Madone del Poggia, and Église St-Sauveur with a colourful interior. If you love churches, make the detour to La Brigue to see Notre Dame des Fontaines – enjoy a picnic on the riverbank then enter this small off-the-tourist-circuit church where you’ll be overwhelmed by the incredibly detailed frescoes on the walls and ceilings, some of the best in southern France.

If you would like to find more of France’s ‘Plus Beaux Villages’ click here:

Have you visited any of these locations? Do you have any other recommended viewpoints in the region? Please comment and share this post on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!

Image Credits: Access Riviera, TripAdvisor, Trover, Flickr, Voyages a Deux, Cycols, Active French Riviera, Decidela,

Lou Messugo