Ultimate French Riviera Itinerary in 5 Days

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Is there anything better than a French Riviera itinerary in 5 days? With its beautiful beaches, colorful villages, and sunny weather, the south of France certainly does have a unique charm that brings in many visitors every year.

And while we all wish we could spend a long time on a French Riviera road trip, sometimes, 5 days in Provence is all you have. 

However, there is a way to condense the best French Riviera itinerary into just 5 days and have the chance to visit stunning beaches, explore fun cities, and eat delicious food. 

I’m here to show you how below! 

Festival du Plage in Cannes

Summary of the Ultimate French Riviera Itinerary in 5 Days

For a quick glance at the south of France itinerary in 5 days, I have a list below of where you’ll be each day. To find out how to plan your perfect trip, keep reading. 

  • Day 1: Cassis
  • Day 2: Cannes 
  • Day 3: Antibes
  • Day 4: Nice
  • Day 5: Choose a Day Trip From Nice

French Riviera Road Trip Map

Best French Riviera Itinerary in 5 Days

Harbor in Cassis France

To get the best of the French Riviera let’s dive into the perfect itinerary! 

Day 1: Get to Cassis and Explore

Cap Canaille views from the beach in Cassis

For the first day of your French Riviera road trip, you’ll be arriving in Cassis. Now, there are a few ways to get here. The best option is to fly into Nice or Marseille and pick up a rental car

As you’ll be ending the trip in Nice, it is a good idea to perhaps fly round-trip into Nice and then get a car at the airport. Then, at the end of your trip, you can return the car before you fly home. 

The drive from Nice to Cassis is about 2 hours depending on traffic, but once you get to Cassis, hopefully before lunch, you can explore this truly lovely smaller city. 

This is the furthest destination in your Cote d’Azur road trip, and, while most itineraries will have you staying between Saint Tropez or Cannes and Menton, I fell head over heels for this less touristy town of Cassis. 

Also, as a side note, Cassis is a great place to visit to go to Calanques National Park. It is easy to just pay for a ticket at the Cassis Port and hop on a boat to see the lovely Calanques. 

Calanques National Park in Cassis - Things to do in Cassis

Calanques are limestone cliffs with a deep valley below that makes a cove merging with the sea. And from the Cassis Port, you can choose how many you want to see and go via boat tour. You can also hike along the Calanques from Cassis, as well as kayak. 

It is a great opportunity to see this lovely geographical feature in the south of France. So after lunch, be sure to check out Calanques National Park

Aside from the Calanques, the port itself is absolutely stunning, as is the old town. If you happen to be here on a Wednesday or Friday morning, you can partake in the lovely farmers market. And you cannot leave Cassis without admiring the highest sea cliff in France, Cap Canielle

Then, to wrap up a day of exploring Cassis, you’ll want to enjoy its lovely beaches like Plage du Bestouan or Plage du Corton for time sunbathing or watching the sun go down. 

plage du Bestouan

Where to Stay in Cassis:

Budget: This VRBO apartment is lovely!

Mid-Range: Hotel Les Volets Rouges – Cassis

Luxury: Chateau de Cassis

Day 2: Visit Cannes

Musee de la Castre in Cannes

After a lovely day and overnight in Cassis, it is time to drive closer to the other places you’ll be visiting on your trip. 

On day 2, you’ll be heading to Cannes. This city is full of luxury shopping and lush beaches, but there is more than meets the eye here. So arrive in Cannes and get exploring! 

First up, you’ll want to walk along the Croisette Promenade to take in the Mediterranean views and witness all the luxury shops across the street. If you have the money, by all means, go shopping, but if not, window shopping is a lot of fun too. 

Beach in Cannes

After wandering around the Croissette Promenade, it is actually a great idea to enjoy some of the beaches of the Cote d’Azur. And what better way to do that than at a beach club, especially on a beach with soft, powdery sand?

Book a lounger at La Plage du Festival and enjoy cocktails beachside in your chair. Get a scrumptious lunch and a few Aperol Spritzes or glasses of Rose as you relax, frolic, and swim the afternoon away. 

Aperol Spritz in Cannes

In the summertime, beach chairs do cost about €40-50+ per day to rent, but if you show up in the fall, those prices actually drop to €25. 

After your beachy afternoon, it is time to get ready for the evening. Once you’re ready, it is time to head over to the Église Notre-Dame d’Espérance on top of the hill, where you’ll be met with stunning views over the city and sea. 

Catch a sunset here before going to get cocktails at a fun place in the Suquet neighborhood like Le Jardin Secret. Then, grab dinner at Restaurant Mickaella for great seafood before ending your night in Cannes. 

Jardin Secret in Cannes

Where to Stay in Cannes: 

Budget:  Novotel Suites Cannes Centre

Mid-Range: Hotel de Provence

Luxury: Hotel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes

Day 3: Antibes

Ramparts in Antibes

On day 3, you only have a short, 25-minute drive to Antibes, another lovely Cote d’Azur town. Once you get to Antibes, you should wander around the Old City for a bit. Full of lovely cobblestone streets and ramparts, Antibes has quite the charm. 

Be sure to stop by the Marché Provençal for fresh fruits and veggies, and perhaps admire the art at the Picasso Museum

Street in Antibes

Then, a visit to Fort Carre is a must to see a 16th-century fortress that was meant to protect Antibes. 

Lastly, you’ll want to visit the incredible beaches of Antibes. A few beaches to check out include Plage du Gravette, Plage du Ponteil, Plage de la Salis, or even nearby Plage de Jean les Pins

Beach in Antibes - French Riviera Itinerary in 5 Days

Where to Stay in Antibes: 

Budget: Irin Hotel

Mid-Range: Hotel le Ponteil

Luxury: Hotel du Cap Eden Rock

Day 4 of Your Ultimate French Riviera Road Trip: Nice

South of France Itinerary - Nice

On day 4, it is time to drive to Nice! Nice is only about a 30-minute drive from Antibes, so head over to the French Riviera’s most popular city and explore. 

This city has so much to see and do, but you’re really only going to spend 1 day in Nice. Start by strolling along the Promenade des Anglais along the Mediterranean coast for lovely views before continuing on to Cours Saleya Market

Socca at a market in NIce

This market sells delightful produce as well as local lavender products, soap, etc. Be sure to grab a socca here. That is a chickpea flour pancake made with olive oil, chickpea flour, and water. It is then topped with salt and is a perfectly delightful mid-morning snack.

After your stop at the Cours Saleya Market, be sure to trek up to the top of the Colline du Château. This offers some of the best views of the city and the sea. Also at the top are archeological ruins, a waterfall, a park, and views over the port. 

Views of the harbor in Nice from the Chateau - Provence Itinerary

If you have the extra time, be sure to check out some art museums like the Musee Matisse, Marc Chagall National Museum, Musee des Beaux-Arts de Nice, and even the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum

Obviously, you can’t see them all in a day, but pick one and enjoy. Also, Place Massena is a lovely area with the Fontaine du SoleilPromenade du Paillon, and Jardin Albert 1er.

Then, of course, to wrap up a day in Nice, you’ve got to watch the sun go down from the beach

Beach chairs and umbrellas on the beach in Nice

Where to Stay in Nice: 

Budget: Arome Hotel

Mid-Range: Hotel Palais Saleya

Luxury: Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée

Day 5: Day Trip From Nice

Views from Roussillon - South of France Itinerary

The day trips from Nice are seemingly endless, so this is a great day to pick a place to explore nearby to get a better feel of the French Riviera. 

If you want a lovely beach destination to wrap up your French Riviera itinerary, I suggest visiting Villefranche-sur-Mer. Less crowded than Nice’s beaches, you can even find a bit of sand here. 

For a stunning, sun-drenched town built into the hillside of the Mediterranean, then Eze is endlessly adorable. 

And if you want to get super close to the Italian border and love a colorful, vibrant town, then Menton is your perfect getaway. 

For those who want to check off another country, or love gambling, then you’ll definitely want to head into Monaco for the day.

And lastly, if you want to explore more of Provence outside of the beaches, then you can take a day to explore the lavender villages of the Luberon

The possibilities are endless. And if you want to just stay put, Nice is a fun place for relaxation on the beach as well. 

When to Visit the French Riviera

Cassis Harbor

Most people love to visit the French Riviera during prime summertime, or June through August/early September. This is because this is the perfect time for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying the weather. 

But, the French Riviera is lovely year-round! I mean sure, you can’t go for a swim in January, but the temperatures, while cool, are not freezing. 

If you would like to visit without a ton of crowds and enjoy the beach, I suggest mid-September through mid-October, as the weather is generally warm enough for a swim and the summertime crowds have begun dispersing. 

Also, early June is a good time to visit too before the hoards of summer travelers come in. 

Tips For Your French Riviera 5 Day Itinerary

Nougat at the market in Nice

Before your epic French Riviera road trip, here are a few key things to note:

  1. Learn a little French. I’m not saying be fluent (I’m still learning too!), but know a few words/phrases like how to order at a restaurant and ask where the toilets are.
  2. Always say “Bonjour/Bonsoir.” This is a France travel thing in general. It is important to greet people in shops and cafes with a simple “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” depending on the time of day. I typically start saying “Bonsoir” after 5 pm.
  3. Take it slow. There is no need to rush around when you’re exploring the French Riviera. They take it slow there, and so should you. You’re on vacation after all! 
  4. Know basic French driving rules. If you’re planning to road trip on the French Riviera, then you’ll want to familiarize yourself with basic French driving rules. I find this post to be helpful. As a side note, it is a good idea to get your International Drivers Permit beforehand as well. It is easy to get from a place like AAA. 
  5. Be sure to budget for tolls and parking. If you’re renting a car, you’ll need to budget for tolls and parking, as you’ll likely encounter the need to pay for both during your road trip. 
  6. Book ahead of time. Book everything ahead of time, especially if you plan to travel during the peak tourist season in the summer. Hotels and rental cars go quickly then.
  7. Have fun! The French Riviera is a lovely place to spend 5 days, so enjoy each and every destination you get to visit! 

This is how to see the French Riviera in 5 days from Cassis to Nice and in between! Which stop would you most like to visit? 

Want more French travel ideas? Check out these posts!

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