Marseille, France Is The Perfect Home Base For Exploring The French Riviera

For many of us, just the name of the French Riviera is enough to evoke an image of beauty and elegance that applies both to the landscapes and the people alike. The Côte d'Azur, as it's known in French, runs along France's Mediterranean coast and is home to glamorous towns like Cannes and Saint-Tropez, the thriving city of Nice, and picturesque beaches like those at Gigaro.

While there are no official borders defining the French Riviera, Go South France writes that it extends from Cassis in the west to the border with Italy in the east. And, as we're sure you already know, the French Riviera is pretty expensive, as France Travel Blog explains. But you don't need to own a private yacht or dress head-to-toe in Chanel in order to visit (although those who do will be warmly welcomed). There is a place you can stay on the Côte d'Azur that won't start to drain your dollars before you've even said bonjour.

Where to stay on the French Riviera

Marseille is the perfect place to base yourself to explore the French Riviera, according to The World Pursuit. Located at the western end of the Côte d'Azur, it's well-positioned for those driving and is connected all the way to the eastern end of the Riviera by public transport. But before you go haring off towards the glitz of Cannes, you'll want to spend some time exploring Marseille.

Travel blogger Nomadic Matt puts Marseille in his top three things to do in the whole of France. He recommends a variety of things to see in the city, including a visit to the Old Port, where you can see old fishing boats butting up alongside mega-yachts, and a walk along the seaside La Corniche. The Planet D also suggests heading to the Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean, and a trip up to the hilltop Basilique Notre-Dame De La Garde. The Planet D loves the energy of Marseille and the long history that infuses the city and its port, as well as the cafes and restaurants that line the streets. These eateries are where you'll return to after a long day exploring the French Riviera.

Exploring the French Riviera

After spending a couple of days in Marseille, you'll be ready to head out along the miles of coastline that make up the Côte d'Azur. As a first stop, you might want to go just along the coast to Cassis, where Go South France says you'll see an impressive coastline of steep cliffs and azure waters. Go South France also recommends a stop at nearby Hyéres to connect with the area's literary past and see where Edith Wharton wrote "The Age of Innocence."

Further along the coast, you'll come to Saint-Tropez, Cannes, and Nice, and just a little farther than that, you'll find one of Salt in our Hair's top picks for the area: Villefranche-sur-Mer. In this picturesque and colorful town, you can wander the cobbled streets and swim in the clear waters. And finally, there's Menton, the so-called "pearl of the French Riviera," right on the Italian border. Le Long Weekend adores this scenic village with its balmy climate and slower pace of life. Even from here, it's under a three-hour drive back to Marseille for a nightcap at the lively port.