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The south of France is all beaches and crowds, right? Wrong! Explore a different side to Nice Côte d'Azur and discover new sensations in the middle of nature, as we guide you through how to have an unforgettable adventure holiday in the French Riviera.

Photo: Nice Côte d'Azur Tourism

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It's easy to get sucked into a stereotypical view of a place. And this can close our eyes to a whole range of new experiences. So it is with Nice Côte d'Azur. The French Riviera is famed for its beautiful beaches and beautiful people - and rightly so. But there's so much more to the region.

With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Nice Côte d’Azur is the ideal destination for outdoor activities, whether you're a hiker, cyclist or just want to get under the skin of this beautiful part of France. Both on the stunning coast and in the mountains inland a whole territory is open to be explored. 

Photo: Nice Côte d'Azur Tourism

As the capital of the French Riviera, Nice itself is the symbol of Mediterranean life - from its beautiful old quarter to the famous Promenade des Anglais. It's where you'll find great art, gourmet cuisine, glorious beaches and timeless architecture. But for those in search of an active holiday Nice Côte d'Azur has a lot more to offer. 

The coastline offers you its coves, beaches and seabed for sailing, paddling, surfing, water skiing and scuba diving. The middle country will charm you with its perched villages, authentic heritage, its numerous hiking trails and its hilly landscapes ideal for white water sports of all kinds. Finally, the high country is an all-season playground - perfect for hikers and bikers in summer and skiers in winter.

Photo: Nice Côte d'Azur Tourism

Where is Nice Côte d'Azur?

The capital of the Alpes-Maritimes department on the French Riviera, Nice sits on the pebbly shores of the Baie des Anges in the south-eastern corner of France, close to the border with Italy. It's easily accessible by plane, train or road.

Nice Côte d’Azur airport is only 15 minutes from the centre of Nice and now has a direct tramway link to the city centre. Regular bus and train links provide easy access to the other communes of the Nice Côte d’Azur. Fast and express trains connect the Côte d’Azur to all French regions and to all major European cities. The TGV Méditerranée, for example, does the journey from Paris in 6 hours.

If you fancy the road trip, it's a good 12 hours drive from Calais to Nice.

Photo: Nice Côte d'Azur Tourism

Highlights of the Nice Côte d'Azur region

Discover an exceptional heritage, gastronomic experiences, natural areas, cultural sites … all in a breathtaking landscape that starts along the Mediterranean and ends at an altitude of over 3000m.

Along the sparkling coastline, the iconic towns and villages of the coastal region, such as Cannes, St Tropez, Antibes, Eze and Nice - Nissa La Bella - itself promise you idyllic settings and lazy days beside the sea. You can walk the coastal path, or let the sea become your playground, with opportunities to try water-skiing, paddling and scuba diving.

But less than an hour from the beaches of the coast, sports enthusiasts and nature lovers will find numerous activities, including hiking, horse riding, canyoning, rafting, mountain biking, road biking, bike parks, mountaineering, Via Ferrata, climbing and hang-gliding… 

Head inland and you can visit picturesque mountain villages with their authentic charm, such as Gilette and its historic town, Utelle and its famous sanctuary of the Madonna, Levens and its medieval village or Vence and its cultural heritage. 

Finally, in the southern French Alps, explore the highland resorts of Auron, Isola 2000, or La Colmiane - a paradise of nature and vegetation, ideal for relaxing with friends or family. Stopover at an altitude of over 3,000m and be amazed by nature in all its forms. In the summer, get away from it all and discover the fauna and flora of the Mercantour Park or along the Vésubie Valley.

Six ways to get active in Nice Côte d'Azur

Discover these new sensations in the middle of nature:

Photo: Nice Côte d'Azur Tourism

Hiking the French Riviera

To walk the Nice Côte d’Azur hiking trails is to discover the richness of this territory and to marvel at the panoramas between sea and mountain. From day hikes to long-distance routes, from just a short stroll to sporty treks, you can climb to the highest peaks on a delightful walking trip or visit the most beautiful French villages in the mid-country. 

The six valleys of the Mercantour National Park - Roya-Bévéra, Vesubie, Tinée, Haut-Var et Cians, Haut-Verdon and Ubaye offer countless hikes, from day treks to a multiple stage walking holiday, with some of the best walking routes in Nice Côte d’Azur. One undoubted highlight is the Grande Traversée du Mercantour, a 220km, 17-day trek through the Maritime Alps, staying at refuges or gites along the way and enjoying some of the finest landscapes before finishing with a dip in the sea at Menton.

Or check out the Randoxygène circuits - a series of regional hiking routes, including climbing to the Cime du Mangiabo from Breil sur Roya, a trip to the Belvédère des lacs de Vens from Saint-Dalmas-le-Selvage or an excursion to the Fort de la Revère in the Pays Niçois.

If you want to discover Nice itself in a different way, the Lou Camin Nissart is a new long-distance hiking trail through the hills surrounding the city. You will go from hill to hill on a marked 42km circuit, to be covered at your own pace, in one go or in small sections! The tour ends at the foot of the city on the Promenade des Anglais.

If you fancy a shorter coastal walk, you can, for example, wander along the three footpaths around the peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. The longest is just under 5km and all are ideal for a leisurely family outing. 

And if you don't have a car, many wonderful walks are accessible via public transport. Trams, buses and trains have many stops in the metropolitan area allowing you to access the starting points of hiking trails.

Photo: Nice Côte d'Azur Tourism

Cycling the French Riviera

This year, for the first time in its history, the Tour de France will finish somewhere other than Paris, when the race concludes on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice on 21 July. But you don't have to be a pro-rider to enjoy cycling in Nice Côte d'Azur. Whether you are an experienced cyclist or a one-day cyclist, a cycle tourist wanting to get off the beaten track or simply planning moments of relaxation with the family, Nice Côte d'Azur is a great playground.

The region offers tailor-made itineraries for road cycling, mountain biking and family rides. Long-distance highlights include the Route des Grands Alpes - a legendary 720km route from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean via the most famous of the great Alpine passes in 14 stages - and a stretch of the EuroVelo 8, the extraordinary Mediterranean coastal route from southern Spain to Greece.

In complete contrast, not far from Nice, between sea and mountains, the pretty village of Levens offers  mountain bikers 80km of marked routes for all levels, including mountain trails on Mont Arpasse and Mont Férion.

Alternatively, from Nice, head up through the Tinée and Vésubie valleys, taking in the Col de la Couillole, Isola 2000 and the Col de la Lombarde. It's a route with 4 major passes to climb, and can be done in its entirety, with stages, or broken up at your convenience.

MTB riders can also discover the downhill trails offered by five bike parks in several resorts and towns of Nice Cote d'Azur.

If that sounds like just a bit too much effort, a new 261km route specifically designed for e-bikes has been created between Auron and Nice. Spread over 7 stages and 16 towns, it crosses the Col de la Bonette and passes through the heart of the Mercantour park.

When investigating places to stay on your cycling holiday look for the Accueil Vélo label which ensures the availability of facilities and services specially designed for you and your bike.

Photo: Nice Côte d'Azur Tourism

Travel to dizzy heights in Nice Côte d'Azur

Trying ziplining or paragliding for a unique perspective on the landscapes of Nice Cote d'Azur. In solo or duo flight, the La Colmiane zip line (80km from Nice) will will transport you at 120 km/h, at 2,663m and 100m above a grandiose mountain landscape, slicing through the sky like a bird as you feel the air whipping your face... 

Or try a tandem paragliding experience at Valdeblore in the high country, flying over the Tinée and Vésubie valleys.

Slightly nearer the ground - but only just - the Baus de la Frema via ferrata will test your head for heights. This route in La Colmiane, built on rock walls is one of the most spectacular in the Alpes-Maritimes. With its footbridge suspended between needle points, its rope bridges and its ladders, this route will certainly thrill you. One of its attractions lies in the ascent of Baus de la Frema (2,246 m), a remarkable viewpoint over the entire Mercantour massif and the green Valdeblore valley.

Photo: Nice Côte d'Azur Tourism

Discover the laid-back slow tourism of the French Riviera

Slow tourism could have been invented for Nice Côte d’Azur. This growing form of travel consists of discovering a destination quietly, taking care to observe every detail, immersing oneself in the local culture, and also being respectful of the environment.

So, rather than visiting Nice Côte d’Azur on your own, hire a guide (or meet a Greeter) and discover together sites that are little known to the general public. Hidden places, unusual anecdotes, shops that only the locals go to… Greeters give up a few hours of their time to offer a uniquely personal perspective on their home region - it's the antithesis of the usual 'guided tour' experience.

Slow tourism also means living new experiences. So why not book yourself into a tree house, a bubble under the stars, or a yurt. Get away from your daily routine and experience a hitherto unknown sensation, far from the traditional hotels, gites, and tourist residences. These new types of sustainable establishments also offer you all the comfort you need for a break based on well-being, pleasure, and disconnection. 

Horse riding in Nice Côte d'Azur

Vence in the middle country is a renowned venue for horseback riding. Whether novice or experienced riders, you can head out on trails between maritime pines, olive trees, cysts, broom and other Mediterranean plants, and enjoy the idyllic setting and admire amazing views. On one side the warm Mediterranean sea, on the other the Southern Alps.

After your horseback riding, take the time to visit the pretty medieval city of Vence. Perched on the Balcons d'Azur and just above the sea, it is an unmissable tourist site.

Water sports in the French Riviera

Diving, water-skiing, windsurfing, paddling … the Mediterranean Sea is a fabulous aquatic playground. Top activities include an introduction to diving and snorkeling at Villefranche-sur-Mer. Board a boat for a short sail towards the majestic harbour of Villefranche-sur-Mer. Once the anchor has been dropped and your equipment is on, throw yourself into the water and spot the wonders of the Mediterranean seabed.

Be prepared to meet moray eels, lobsters, sea breams, dentis, schools of anchovies, wrasses, groupers, corbs, octopuses, pomfrets, starfish and sea urchins... A festival of shapes and colours awaits you... 

In addition to first-time diving, specialised dive centres also offer snorkeling trips at shallow depths. Ideal for introducing the family to the aquatic environment.

To find out more about the outstanding adventures you can find in Nice Côte d'Azur, go to


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