The Côte d’Azur, the French Riviera,… These sweet, iconic names with global appeal. What is the historic and geographic reality and what sets the Côte d’Azur apart? At Riviera Holiday Homes we are intimately acquainted with this region and can tell you everything you need to know:
The history of the Côte d’Azur: The expression “Côte d’Azur” was coined by Stéphen Liégeard in 1887 in his book of the same name and was immediately associated with tourism and exclusive holiday resorts by the Mediterranean. It’s the mild climate, the exotic, abundant plant life and gorgeous landscapes which quickly won over the aristocratic families of Europe. The late 19th century saw the emergence of outstanding villas, mansions amidst palm groves and refined hotels.
The Tsar of Russia and Queen Victoria came to Nice, succumbed to its charm and set up their winter residences there. Little by little, from October to April / May the “winter tourist season” became established, and was particularly popular with the British (hence la Promenade des Anglais). Very quickly, the Côte d’Azur gained its well-deserved reputation as a welcoming, cosmopolitan place where everyone feels at home. The passion of certain artists (Matisse, Bonnard, Dufy, Chagall, etc.) for the pure light and dazzling colours of the Côte d’Azur added to its prestige.
By the way, what are the geographical limits of the Côte d’Azur? Hmm that depends: everyone is in agreement that the Côte d’Azur is the coastal strip that begins at the Italian border (Menton). For some, it ends at Mandelieu, for others at Hyères, in the Var region. Others still see the French Riviera as extending as far as Cassis, near Marseille. In fact, since it’s a literary expression and not a topographic one, we are free to give it the boundaries we want!
For us, at Riviera Holiday Homes, our Côte d’Azur extends well beyond Nice and a little up into the hinterland (Grasse, Vallauris, Eze etc.). In any case, everyone agrees that it’s a beautiful region that is made for holidays. Actually, is it the Côte d’Azur or French Riviera? Quite simply both.
What sets Côte d’Azur apart from the rest of the world?
As its name suggests, the Côte d’Azur is first and foremost a colour: blue, from cobalt to indigo, via sapphire (the Calanques) and turquoise (the Nice coastline). It’s the seabed that gives these variations in colour: the very light blue of the Nice coast is that of the pebbles themselves carried here by the Var from the Alps. Of course, this palette is topped off with the immense, deep blue of the Côte d’Azur sky.
Enchanting plant life: over time, the palm trees have become one of the symbols of the Cote d’Azur (although they originate from the Canaries), but they are not the only plant life to adorn our promenades. The Alpes Maritimes have the most diverse, rich plant life in France, thanks to the climate but also a variety of soils and altitudes. Everyone recalls the mimosas and carnations of Nice, but the bougainvillea, trumpet vines, camellias, hibiscus, Grasse roses, violets, jasmine…make for landscapes that are as scented as they are magnificent.
Peninsulas, bays, little islands, that are iconic spots: the Cap Ferrat and Antibes are scattered with idyllic villas: they are one-off places where stars come for their down-time. In summer, behind their umbrella pines the little islands of Lérins, Sainte Marguerite and Saint Honorat conceal tourists who have come to enjoy unspoilt nature. As for the harbour at Villefranche and the Bay of Cannes, they are renowned worldwide for their beauty and glamour.
Enchantment is the French Riviera or the Côte d’Azur’s raison d’être and it has not stopped revealing its charming coastlines and Franco-Italian towns to the world. You too can discover or rediscover it with your very own rental property as your base. Take your pick at rivieraholidayhomes.com