Find here a selection of French Riviera cruises - lines and ships leaving from or going to the French ports Antibes, Bandol, Cannes, Cassis, Marseille, Sanary-sur-Mer, St Raphael, St Tropez, Toulon, Villefranche-sur-Mer (Nice), Sete and Monte Carlo (Monaco). All these ports' itinerary schedules have arrival-departure dates/times and prices to compare. France Riviera cruise tour deals are usually all-inclusive, some with included pre- or post-sailing luxury hotel packages.
The Mediterranean coastline of France (its southeast corner) enjoys a pleasantly mild to warm climate throughout the year, despite being among the more northerly coasts on the Mediterranean.
During season 2019, the largest French Riviera ports reported 85 ship calls with 38,000 tourists (Nice), 88 ship calls with 207,000 tourists (Villefranche), and 46 ship calls with 455,100 tourists (Cannes plus Antibes).
French Riviera tourism facts
French Riviera tours are a major-fun-not-cheap activity, and the region itself is one of the top luxury Mediterranean cruise destinations for travelers from all parts of the world - the whole year-round. The following map shows all ports of call on Mediterranean cruises along the Cote d'Azur coast.
- The French Riviera is one of the first contemporary resort areas. It starred at the end of the 18th century as a health resort for the upper class of Britain. In the mid 19th century, with the railway's arrival, it became the vacation spot and playground of aristocrats, such as King Edward VII and Queen Victoria. In the summertime, it played home to members of the Rothschild family.
- Later, in the first half of the 20th century, the French Riviera was frequented by writers and artists, including Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Edith Wharton, Aldous Huxley, and Somerset Maugham, as well as wealthy Europeans and Americans. After World War II, Côte d'Azur became a popular convention site and tourist destination. Celebrities like Brigitte Bardot and Elton John, have homes there.
- Officially, the French Riviera shelters 163 nationalities with more than 84,000 foreign residents. Its largest city is Nice, with a population of 348,000. The city brings together 24 communes. Nice is home to the third-busiest airport in France - Nice Côte d'Azur Airport, after Charles de Gaulle Airport and Paris-Orly. The A8 autoroute and the old main road (known as Route Nationale 7 - DN7 in the Var and D6007 in Alpes-Maritimes) run through the region.
- The principality of Monaco, surrounded by the French Riviera, has a total population of over 2 million. It contains seaside resorts such as Antibes, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Cannes, Cap-d'Ail, Fréjus, Juan-les-Pins, Sainte Maxime, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Saint-Raphaël, Saint-Tropez and Villefranche-sur-Mer. It is home to a high-tech park or technopoly at Sophia-Antipolis and a technology and research center at the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis.
- As a major cruising and yachting area, the French Riviera boasts several marinas. According to the Economic Development Agency of Côte d'Azur, each year it hosts 50% of the superyacht fleet of the whole world, with 90% of all superyachts visiting the region at least once in their lifetime.
- The French Riviera benefits from 300 sunny days per year, 115 km of coastline and beaches, 3,000 restaurants, 14 ski resorts, and 18 golf courses.
Weather in the French Riviera
The region has a mild Mediterranean climate - neither cold in winter nor too hot in summer. Cold winds (Mistral) can blow through the French Riviera in winter, but the mountains by the coast are usually able to protect the harbor towns. Côte d’Azur has a warm and sunny summer, with average temperatures hovering around 80 degrees.
Spring comes early and by February brings the first mimosas into bloom. By April the days are sunny and warm, and all the gardens are filled with flowers. The climate is ideal from May to September/October, with plenty of sunshine and beautifully warm nights. July and August are very busy, so during this period advanced booking for camping sites, hotels, and even bed and breakfast is advisable and essential in many places.
French Riviera food and drinks
The French Riviera boasts traditional seafood dishes to indulge in. Taste the famous Marseille bouillabaisse, which is a delicious stew with various fish, shellfish, herbs, and spices. Or cool down with Salade Nicoise - a delicious combination of tomatoes, green beans, anchovies, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, new potatoes, and other vegetables over crispy lettuce.
Wonder what the drink of choice is? Of course, Champagne from up north. But nice chilled rose wine, pastis, and kir made with creme de Cassis are always welcomed all over the region at tables and dinner parties.
French Riviera Cruise Club
In 2016, FRCC ("French Riviera Cruise Club" /local tourism network) released a tourist guide designed specifically for cruise ship crew members on vessels stopping in the ports of Antibes, Bandol, Cannes, Cassis, Marseille, Sanary-sur-Mer, St Raphael, St Tropez, Toulon, Villefranche-sur-Mer (Nice) and Monte Carlo (Monaco). The new guide provides information on local stores, banks/ATMs, pharmacies, tour agencies, and car rental companies, restaurants, and bars (all located within walking distance from the terminals), plus public transportation and other information.
Why targeting the ships' crew? FRCC states that the crew represents at least 1/5th of the ship’s capacity. Statistics also show that 80+ percent of the crew goes ashore to tour the port destination individually - which means more money for local economies.
French Riviera resort cities
The glitz and glamor of Côte d’Azur are rivaled by few places on the globe. Known mainly for its warm weather, pristine blue waters, high rollers, and crowded beaches, the French Riviera is also famous for the giant yachts of St.Tropez, the star-studded Cannes film festival and the high-end resorts of Monaco. However, this expensive and overly crowded area is to be loved for a reason - it’s chic and it's beautiful, with great weather and even better food. While there is no place to avoid people and high prices totally, there are some lesser-known yet equally spectacular destinations.
The most spectacular part of French Riviera and the most upmarket in terms of tourism is East of Nice - from the Italian border to Nice. The mountains come almost down to the edge of water and old towns like Villefranche Sur Mer or Menton are crowded in between. The most famous of these is Monte-Carlo.
Monte Carlo is situated in the tiny Principality of Monaco - an independent state, surrounded by France on three sides, and by the Mediterranean on the fourth, ruled by the Grimaldi family since the 13th century.
Most famed for its casino, Monte-Carlo is a micro-state, with the highest per-capita GDP in the world. It's also among the most densely populated states. Its residents don't pay any income tax, so it is a tax-haven. But not a tax-free country - VAT is the same as in France. However, Monaco offers fantastic shopping opportunities with its prestigious luxury shops, with the most famous brands in jewellery, designer clothing, and other luxury goods.
Eze and St Jean Cap Ferrat
Eze is a little The village overlooking Cap Ferrat. Clustered on the small peninsula St Jean Cap Ferrat are some of the most expensive homes in France. In the past, St Jean was home to princes, rich businessmen, and actors from Switzerland and Paris. Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, now open to the public, is a beautiful vestige of a bygone age. Nowadays St Jean is home to international jet set.
Nice is the sixth city in France and the biggest resort on French Riviera. Nice offers historic quarters, long seafront, a beautiful flower market, famous sites, and sights, including Chagall museum, Matisse museum, and the Russian Orthodox basilica. Nice is well endowed in hotels and boasts five-star palaces like the Negresco, as well as backpacker hotels situated away from tourist quarters. Most of the Nice beaches consist of stones, and taking a swim in the Mediterranean waters is popular among the visitors here. Because Nice is a major port in France, there is an abundance of fresh seafood, great shopping, fine restaurants, as well as plenty of things to do.
Cagnes Sur Mer
With a historic old quarter, this town is also famous for its racecourse for horse racing, and the Renoir Museum. The old village of Saint Paul de Vence lies inland from Cagnes and is known as 'The artist's village', famous for the art galleries, the most important of which is the Fondation Maeght, with its remarkable collection of art and sculpture of 20th century.
Situated a few miles south of Cagnes, it is one of the classic French Riviera resorts, with an old town, marina, 48 beaches, and rocky headland. Antibes offers a number of museums, including Picasso museum, with the best collections of Picassos in France. Once the home and inspiration for Picasso, the town is now a favourite spot for vacationing French families. In the evenings, the old port outdoor restaurants are truly flooded. You can relax on the beach or shop in the covered market for meat, fish, cheese and fresh vegetables. West of Antibes lies Juan Les Pins, a very small but smart Mediterranean resort, popular for the film stars and actors who visit it.
Also to the west of Antibes, lies Cannes, another main city of French Riviera, and of course, the most famous for its Film Festival - the biggest annual event in the film world after the Hollywood Oscars ceremony. The city is also popular for trade fairs, including the Midem, music industry fair, taking place every January. During the events, Cannes attracts visitors who hope to get a glimpse of favourite film-stars and musicians. Anyone who thinks of visiting the city at the time of the festival should book accommodations months in advance. There are a few free attractions in Cannes - admiring the fancy yachts in the harbor, checking out Palais des Festivales, strolling the winding streets of Old Town, or visiting the two islands in Cannes bay.
St.-Tropez has become an international tourist Mecca since the days when Brigitte Bardot started enjoying its beaches. The port city has a lot to offer in terms of sites and activities. The city has a great yacht (and people) watching. Sit at a sidewalk café in Old Port and watch as Parisian jet-setters, tourists, and international playboys pass by. Don't miss the huge yachts line up in port, where the famous and rich, dressed in their finest, dine on deck at night. However, the best time to visit the glitzy port town is in the off-months, when you can appreciate the nature of Saint-Tropez.
The third-largest city in France is Marseille - notoriously diverse because of the location. Once a destination for immigrants from Spain and Italy, today the city is home to many people who come from Turkey and Northern Africa. Marseille offers a lot to visitors - from the unique markets and delicious seafood to the busy shopping districts and scenic Calanques.
Situated close to the Italian border, Menton is as much Italian as French. It has its micro-climate, milder than the rest of French Riviera, perfect for the plants in the many famous gardens of the town. The resort is also pedestrian-friendly, and it makes the city great for tourists who travel the Riviera. Every February Menton hosts the "Lemon Festival", interesting for the citrus-themed decorations and live music all over the city.
Famous for the sheltered inlets and cliffs that drop into the ocean, this charming town is great to stop along the Mediterranean coast of France. Cassis is less expensive and less crowded than Cannes and Saint-Tropez, however, it's just as picturesque. Scenic cliffs, pastel-colored buildings, charming beaches, and perfect local wines make the town a must-see on Côte d’Azur.
French Riviera cruise ports
Mediterranean cruise ship travel deals are the best as experiences and cheapest as prices among all European cruise vacation options. Mediterranean Sea cruises have some of the highest price-per-value ratings. These are also often rated as "absolutely best" among sea voyages involving love, romance, and history. History and romance are blended perfectly in all Mediterranean uniquely special itineraries connecting picturesque Europe, exotic Asia, and the so mysterious Africa.
In comparison to the best ships to Alaska or the Caribbean Sea, Mediterranean ship cruises offer the same Sun, hotel amenities and onboard activities, but adds also luxurious beaches, the charm of old cities (sophisticated experiences with feature architecture, museums, markets), the traditional Mediterranean gourmet cuisine (with top selections of French and Italian wines).
- We list here again the France Riviera ports linked to their pages with location maps, port information and current cruise ship schedule - Antibes, Bandol, Cannes, Cassis, Marseille, Sanary-sur-Mer, St Raphael, St Tropez, Toulon, Villefranche-sur-Mer (Nice), Monte Carlo (Monaco)
- Some big cruise ships may offer longer itineraries (cheaper per day prices) with Mediterranean back-to-back cruise deals (aka B2B), which along with the French ports of call also visit ports in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (Greece / Greek Islands and Turkey).
- You can read more about France's Riviera region at the following Wikipedia link.