The French Riviera Honeymoon Guide: Best Hotels & Things to Do

Here's why this glamorous stretch of the Mediterranean is a recipe for romance.
French Riviera, Europe
Photo: Pierre Longnus / Getty Images
Lane Nieset
by Lane Nieset
Updated Oct 31, 2023
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With its pastel-colored seaside towns and perched medieval villages, a French Riviera honeymoon is about as picturesque as it gets. Whether you plan to extend your trip with a cruise in the Mediterranean or turn your honeymoon into a two-part trip starting in Paris or road-tripping through Provence, the French Riviera is a relaxing, romantic addition that's easy to reach from both the US and other parts of Europe.

The French Riviera, or Côte d'Azur, stretches along the Mediterranean from Menton and the principality of Monaco to Saint-Tropez and up into the Alps. Home to tiny coastal towns and major metropolises, Roman ruins and medieval villages, Europe's "Grand Canyon" and plenty of châteaux (including the Prince's Palace of Monaco), the French Riviera is a dream for honeymooners since they'll be spoiled for choice. With so many options, where should couples start? We've pulled together a guide to help navigate the planning process for the ultimate French Riviera honeymoon itinerary.

French Riviera Honeymoon Tips in This Article:

    Is the French Riviera Good for a Honeymoon?

    Colorful houses on the seafront of Saint Tropez
    Photo: Giacomo Augugliaro / Getty Images

    Pros of a Honeymoon in the French Riviera

    The French Riviera is an easy flight from the US, so you won't have to spend a day and multiple connections to reach your destination. From the gateway airport in Nice, you can travel throughout the region by car, train or even helicopter (it's just a seven-minute ride with BLADE from Nice to Monaco, and it's sure to be a memorable start to your honeymoon). Spanning from the sea to the mountains, dotted with medieval towns teeming with history, this is a region that truly has it all. Whether you're looking for a glitzy resort, a seaside escape, active excursions or culture in the form of museums and festivals, the French Riviera really does have something for every couple.

    Cons of a Honeymoon in the French Riviera

    The region is a seasonal one, so if you're visiting in the late fall, winter or early spring, you may have less options in terms of hotels and restaurants—particularly in Saint-Tropez. But this is also the best time to snag deals on some of the iconic, year-round hotels and explore the natural beauty of the area by cycling or hiking. Rates rise around major events like the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix, and the summer months are teeming with tourists, so you may want to time your trip during shoulder season (May to June and September to October) to avoid the crowds. If you're visiting in high season, you'll want to book beds at beach clubs and restaurant reservations a week or two in advance.

    The Best Times to Visit the French Riviera

    Menton, Cote d'Azur,South of France
    Photo: Sylvain Sonnet / Getty Images

    June through August are when the weather is at its best, but it's also when the Riviera is at its busiest (and priciest). High season kicks off right after the Monaco Grand Prix and Cannes Film Festival, and there are tons of events in the summer like the Nice Jazz Festival and Monte-Carlo Summer Festival, which brings big-name acts like Seal and Norah Jones. But if you're visiting in fall, you can still catch events like the Monte-Carlo Jazz Festival, or join festivities in late winter like the Nice Carnival and Fête du Citron in Menton. The only downside about visiting in the winter months is you may face rain or, on the rare occasion, snow flurries. Since the French Riviera receives more than 300 days of sunlight a year—more than any other part of France—the weather won't be gray for too long.

    Best Things to Do on a French Riviera Honeymoon

    Fontvielle, Monaco harbour, Monaco
    Photo: Sylvain Sonnet / Getty Images

    Spend the Day in Monaco

    A quick train ride from other cities along the French Riviera, the principality offers plenty of romantic ways to spend the day—or night. In the summer, cruise to Club La Vigie Monte-Carlo and sunbathe on a beach bed while a DJ spins into the afternoon or go paddleboarding along the coast. Window shop or splurge on a special souvenir at the designer boutiques in One Monte-Carlo (now's the time to snag that Chanel you've been dreaming of!) or people-watch from the terrace of Café de Paris Monte-Carlo, catty-corner from the casino. Soak up views of Monaco from the rooftop of the Fairmont at Nikki Beach Monte-Carlo, a seasonal restaurant and beach club that sports a calendar of Michelin-starred chef residencies and DJ events. In the evenings, sip cocktails over live jazz at Le Bar Américain before heading up to the panoramic, Michelin-starred Le Grill for dinner overlooking glittering views of Monte-Carlo and Mediterranean-influenced wood-fired fare.

    Day Trip to the Gorges du Verdon

    The French Riviera is filled with fantastic day trip options, from the lavender and sunflower fields in Valensole to the Île Sainte-Marguerite off Cannes, known for its buzzy beach restaurant La Guérite. If you have time for only one excursion, explore the largest canyon in the continent, Gorges du Verdon, on a tour that also stops by Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, a village so stunning it's been officially declared one of the most beautiful in France.

    Bask on the Beach in Cap d'Ail

    Despite the French Riviera extending down a lengthy coastline, not all beaches here are created equal. Plage Mala in Cap d'Ail, near Monaco, is somewhat of a hidden secret that's only reachable by boat or via a winding path. Book lunch and a large beach bed to share at Eden Plage Mala. Plan to spend the day soaking up the sun and sipping rosé in between dips in the cove's jade-colored water.

    Hike to the Hilltop Village of Èze

    An easy, hour-long hike from the coast up to the perched medieval village of Èze is a great way to add something active into your itinerary—trust us, the views on the way up are worth the trek alone. Pass through the 14th century fortified gate and under the series of stone archways as you explore artisan shops lining the cobbled streets. Rest your legs with a coffee or a cocktail on the panoramic terrace of Château Eza built into the medieval city's walls (another great photo opportunity). You can also book a half-day tour that includes sightseeing around Monaco's highlights like the Prince's Palace and a visit to the French Riviera's famous perfumery, Fragonard, in Èze.

    The Best French Riviera Resorts and Hotels for a Honeymoon

    Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel

    Lounge area
    Photo: Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat

    One of the grand dames crowning the Riviera's rugged coastline, it's hard to get more glam than Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel, which has been a go-to for everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Winston Churchill for the past century (it even made an appearance in Emily in Paris). There's no better way to toast to your new nuptials than with rosé in a private cabana carved into the cliffs or from the terrace of your pool suite looking out at the pine groves.

    Airelles Château de la Messardière

    The château itself started as a wedding gift before it became the place for the Paris society in the Roarings Twenties. Today, the 99-room hideaway feels like your own private sanctuary in Provence. Unwind after all that wedding planning in the opulent Spa Valmont, relaxing with a treatment from the luxe Swiss brand. Airelles Saint-Tropez is also home to an outpost of world-famous Nobu, and the views of the bay from the restaurant terrace really can't be beat.

    Chairs over looking the ocean
    Photo: Airelles Château de la Messardière

    Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo

    Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo room
    Photo: Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo

    A favorite of Princess Grace, Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, perfectly frames the neighboring, world-famous Casino de Monte-Carlo. Sitting smack-dab in the center of Monte-Carlo, right along the F1 Grand Prix race track, suites are as sumptuous as can be (think Louis XVI-style decor mixed with antique mirrors, brass-lined mini bars, marble-clad floors and Murano glass chandeliers and lamps).

    Boasting one of the most extravagant rooms on the French Riviera, couples who really want to celebrate in style can post up in the two-floor Princess Grace Suite, whose terraces look out at the Mediterranean and Prince's Palace (there's also a heated infinity pool and granite jacuzzi, as if it weren't lavish enough already). While staying at the hotel, you'll have direct access to the over-the-top, multi-floor Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, an expansive spa and wellness center with a jacuzzi on the terrace overlooking the port; a heated indoor pool; and luxe treatments with products like La Prairie.

    Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo

    Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo lobby
    Photo: Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo

    A block behind the casino, the slightly more discrete Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, has long been a haven for the artistic and creative set (Josephine Baker is one of the many famous guests). At the belle époque beauty, breakfast unfolds under the umbrella-shaped glass winter garden created by disciples of Gustave Eiffel. Couples will find plenty of ways to celebrate their new nuptials, from Champagne and cocktails at the Crystal Bar to a gastronomic, Michelin-starred feast at Pavyllon Monte-Carlo, a restaurant by Yannick Alléno, whose terrace shows off one of the best views of the principality.

    Hôtel Byblos

    Hôtel Byblos front enterance
    Photo: Hôtel Byblos

    A quick stroll from the boutique-clad, crisscrossing cobbled streets of Saint-Tropez's old town and port, La Ponche, Hôtel Byblos was initially designed to feel like a village-within-a-village. One of the best hotels in the French Riviera for honeymoons (even Mick and Bianca Jagger celebrated theirs in one of the suites here), the boutique, 87-room property feels like you're tucked away in a charming town in Provence despite being near the heart of Saint-Tropez's buzzy nightlife. Book a romantic dinner on the terrace of Cucina under lantern-lit trees, dining on market- and farm-fresh fare, or spend the day at nearby Byblos Beach in Ramatuelle, one of the best spots in Saint-Tropez to see and be seen while eyeing yachts in the distance from a plush beach bed.

    Hôtel Belles Rives

    Hôtel Belles Rives patio
    Photo: Hôtel Belles Rives

    Crowning a quiet cove on the rocky peninsula dominated by Cap d'Antibes and Juan-les-Pins, the historic Hôtel Belles Rives exudes old world charm and has quite a storied history that includes tales of Picasso, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Newlyweds wanting to hole up somewhere away from the buzz in nearby towns like Nice and Cannes will love their home-away-from-home in the Hermès wallpaper-lined rooms whose terraces hang over the sea. Spend the morning strolling through the nearby market in Antibes before basking on a beach bed on Belles Rives' Instagram-perfect pontoon.

    Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo

    Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo, pool
    Photo: Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo

    Fashion and design lovers will have plenty to admire at Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, whose elegant, garnet- and gold-themed rooms were dreamt up by Parisian interior designer Jacques Garcia. Karl Lagerfeld was behind the stylish pool terrace Odyssey, which is one of the best spots to sprawl out with a cocktail in between sightseeing. Another place to relax and reset: the hammam at the Spa Metropole by Givenchy, one of only three spas in the world from the fashion house. Get a taste of the Mediterranean at the new fine-dining restaurant Les Ambassadeurs by Christophe Cussac, where the tasting menu includes decadent dishes like sea bream tartare-stuffed caviar cannelloni and lobster lasagne—plus the infamous bread trolley that rolled over from the hotel's former Michelin-starred Joël Robuchon restaurant.

    What to Pack for a French Riviera Honeymoon

    Villefranche-sur-mer village in France
    Photo: StockByM / Getty Images

    After packing honeymoon and travel essentials, now comes the fun part: the looks. This is the place where Grace Kelly met her prince and where stars strut the red carpet in Cannes during the annual film festival. Nautical chic is always a good way to go, so think breton striped shirts, high-waisted white trousers and tailored shorts. Pack a few swimsuits, cover-ups and plenty of resort wear for beach clubs and cabanas by the pool.

    During the day, you can dress more casually with comfortable footwear since the cobbled streets of the old towns aren't suited for heels. Some more formal restaurants and venues like the Casino de Monte-Carlo have a dress code, so be sure to pack a few dressier ensembles (that means a jacket for men). Winters are mild (and somewhat rainy), so layering is key. A cashmere sweater, a scarf or shawl, and a wool fall coat are great suitcase staples to pack.

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