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



The most photographed (and controversial) fountain on the French Riviera

Have you ever wondered what the most photographed fountain is on the French Riviera?

I have, so I set out to uncover which fountain is the most photographed in this region and it seems there are quite a few contenders that make the cut.

The winner though is far from a noble and gracious fountain with an unexciting past; quite the opposite – this marble and bronze masterpiece crafted in 1956 by Alfred Auguste Janniot has stirred up debate with Niçois residents since its inception.

The magnificent Fontaine du Soleil (The Sun Fountain) or Apollo’s Fountain as it is known locally, sits on the edge of Place Massena in Nice and has quite a controversial past.

About the Fontaine du Soleil

The fountain was unveiled in 1956 to a less-than-warm reception in Nice.  It seems that Apollo’s job was to carry the sun across the sky pulled by a chariot drawn by 4 horses – however, the Nice fountain didn’t have a chariot and the 4 horses were miniature statues atop his head.  Not off to a good start with the locals.

Fontaine du Soleil (The Sun Fountain), Nice

Fontaine du Soleil (The Sun Fountain), Nice

The bad news didn’t stop there.

Apparently, Apollo’s ‘manhood’ was deemed immoral and too large by some conservative Nice citizens, so the sculptor took to his glory to resize things.   This still proved to be inadequate to appease a local Catholic women’s league who gathered enough support to have Apollo (in all his nude splendour) and his naked bronze deities removed in the 1970’s.

Apollo was shipped off to a nearby location where he was less likely to offend anyone, and the 5 bronze statues representing Earth, Mars, Mercury, Saturn and Venus started to gather dust in a water treatment plant.

Many years later, a reporter was at the water purification plant and was intrigued by the statues.  Huge public interest followed and after a €90,000 facelift Apollo was reinstated in 2011 on his fountain to watch over Nice.

Where to find the Fontaine du Soleil

The fountain is centrally located on the edge of Place Massena and Vieux Nice.  It is easily found and the ground surface is flat and paved (baby stroller and wheelchair-friendly), and it is near to the tramway and main Nice bus hub.  Other nearby attractions are the Promenade du Peillon green area and children’s playground, MAMAC art gallery, Vieux Nice and Promenade des Anglais.

Here are 6 of the other most photographed fountains on the French Riviera:

The fountain at Casino de Monte-Carlo / Bulb fountain in Saint-Paul-de-Vence / Water fountain jets at Place Massena

The fountain at Casino de Monte-Carlo / Bulb fountain in Saint-Paul-de-Vence / Water fountain jets at Place Massena


Fontaine Clemenceau in Vieil Antibes / Fountain of the Sèvres garden at Villa Ephrussi de Rothchild / Florentine fountain at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Fontaine Clemenceau in Vieil Antibes / Fountain of the Sèvres garden at Villa Ephrussi de Rothchild / Florentine fountain at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Image credits:  Casino de Monte-Carlo (geolocation), Place Massena (Homeaway), Fontaine Clemenceau (Wikimedia). All other images Access Riviera


Villa Kerylos: A Greek dream in southern France

How a Greek dream began in southern France

Built in 1908 by archaeologist Théodore Reinach, Villa Kérylos is a reproduction of a wealthy 5th century BC Athenian home.

Villa Kerylos, Beaulieu-sur-Mer

Villa Kerylos, Beaulieu-sur-Mer

The Villa has a prime location overlooking the Bay of Beaulieu, Baie des Fourmis and St Jean Cap Ferrat with sea views from most rooms.

view across to St Jean Cap Ferrat

view across to St Jean Cap Ferrat

The gardens have herbs and Mediterranean plant and flower specimens, and are signposted with plant names.

The Villa is a time-capsule of Greece transplanted on the French Riviera – there are great examples of mosaics, ironworks including chandeliers, marble, ivory and bronze statues.


Layout and accessibility of the Villa

  • Entrance for ticket purchase: Contains a small gift shop and is flat, ground level and accessible.
  • Entrance to the Villa: This is via 5 large steps, see photo below
Entrance to Villa Kerylos - this photo is reproduced from paca.culture.gouv site as my own photos cropped out the stairs!

Entrance to Villa Kerylos – this photo is reproduced from paca.culture.gouv site as my own photos cropped out the stairs!

  • Interior of the Villa: The interior is laid out over a few levels. Ground level has the marble bathroom with sunken bath with mosaics, courtyard, library and salons and is entirely accessible for persons with reduced mobility.
sunken mosaic bath at Villa Kerylos

sunken mosaic bath at Villa Kerylos

patio / interior courtyard, Villa Kerylos

patio / interior courtyard, Villa Kerylos

  • There is a first floor which unfortunately is accessed via stairs only so not accessible for persons with restricted mobility, and this contains bedrooms, bathroom etc.



  • The basement level has an antiquities gallery and is used for ceramic workshops; once again accessed via stairs.



  • Villa grounds: The outdoor areas are flat (excluding a small area of steps by the garden to a lookout area over the adjacent port), and the ground surface is gravel chip so bear this in mind. The ground surface is manageable with baby strollers, but may be harder to manoeuvre in a wheelchair.



How to get to Villa Kérylos

  • By car: There is no onsite carparking at Villa Kérylos, and very limited carparking on rue Gustave Eiffel as it is used by residents in that street. The best option is to park at the nearest public carpark named ‘Place de la Batterie’ located on boulevard Maréchal Leclerc, and the Villa is then less than 5 minutes walking distance.
  • By bus: From Nice, with Lignes Azur take bus number 81 (click here for timetable ligne 81 current at July 2014) – there is a designated bus stop to get off at named ‘Kérylos’. From Monaco or Menton, bus number 100 (click here for timetable, Bus 100 Menton-Monaco-Nice current at July 2014), get off at bus stop ‘Gare SNCF Beaulieu’. You can also take bus 100 from Nice but get off at stop ‘Kérylos’ as the routing is different in both directions.
  • By train: Villa Kérylos is located less than 10 minutes easy stroll from the Beaulieu-sur-Mer train station.


My tips for visiting Villa Kérylos

  • Beaulieu Tourist Office is located right outside the Beaulieu-sur-Mer train station if you require maps or local information.
  • When you purchase your entry ticket at the Villa, ensure you receive the free audioguide (it is available in 7 languages.). It is excellent for providing history about the exhibits and rooms at the Villa and brings the Villa to life. The audioguide is a hand-held unit and it’s easy to use for any techno-phobes not confident with technology, and the best part is you can wander the Villa in your own time and listen to only the commentaries of exhibits you like or skip to the next commentary if a particular item is not interesting enough for you.


  • There is no onsite restaurant at the Villa so take your own food/beverages. There is however a coin-operated vending machine selling drinks at the entrance. The Villa has seating outside overlooking the bay, but please respect the Villa grounds and take any rubbish away with you.
  • If you are arriving by train, there is a Casino supermarket (a French-chain) on the way from the train station to the Villa that sells sandwiches, fruit, cold drinks. It is located on avenue des Hellènes.


  • There are accessible ground-level toilets at the entrance to the Villa. These are the only toilets at the Villa.
  • For families, there is a public playground located 5 minutes from Villa Kérylos at the park on avenue Fernand Dunan .
  • For a discounted entry price to Villa Kerylos, take advantage of 2 options:

1.  If you also intending to visit the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild you can purchase a combined entry ticket for both Villas at the ticket office which gives you a discount, it is called ‘2 Pass Villas’.

2. If you have arrived to Beaulieu by train using a local train (TER SNCF) from any origin along the Côte d’Azur using either an unlimited daily ‘Zou pass’, or a stand alone sector ticket, show them your validated train ticket at the Villa’s ticket counter and ask for the discounted entry price. You must visit the Villa on the same day as your train travel. More info here:


Have you visited Villa Kérylos before? If not, have you found my blog article useful for insider tips and local knowledge? Share these tips on Facebook, retweet on Twitter and leave your comments with your own travel stories.

Upcoming blog posts….

I am working on a number of blog topics which I will post in the next few months.  As with all my blog posts l try to include advice for families with children, and/or persons with reduced mobility but if you have any suggestions on anything else you would like to see included in future posts please do contact me.

I have had lots of constructive feedback that my blog is helpful for timetable links, playground locations and advice about public toilets (not always easy to find!).

Some of my recent blog posts include a review of an indoor playground in Antibes (Royal Kids), and a Painter’s Trail, with notes on accessibility, for Villefranche-sur-Mer.

I write all my blog posts from on-ground experience (or recommendation from others which I then review) – unlike many travel reviewers or sites, I do not forewarn the attractions or restaurants that I write reviews as I want to have an honest experience as a tourist.

In my past career in the travel industry, I conducted hotel inspections and when they knew I worked for a large travel company I was always shown the best hotel suite and best table at the hotel restaurant.  Something that is great for encouraging sales, but lacking in a true experience for 99% of people.

I hope you enjoy my blog and continue to follow my posts – there are some great posts coming up in the near future !

Upcoming blog posts:

– Villefranche-sur-Mer tourist advice including tips you won’t find on other websites including location of accessible public toilets, recommended routes when using buses/trains for both able-bodied and reduced mobility tourists, where to buy cigarettes/newspapers/postcards etc

– Painter’s Trail for Antibes and Cannes

– Heritage Trail for Juan les Pins including architectural landmarks and buildings from the Art Deco era, Jazz Age and Belle Époque

– Cap d’Ail walkway

– Villa Kérylos and Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild