The French Riviera, also known as the Cote d’Azur, is the famous coastline stretching along the Mediterranean Sea in the south-eastern corner of France. The nickname the Cote d’Azur or Azure Coast was created by the renowned poet Stéphen Liégeard.
Today it’s regarded as an ultimate holiday destination, offering glimmering turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, bustling nightlife and world-class shopping and dining. But what else should we know about this breath-taking coastline? Is the Cote d’Azur only a playground for the rich and famous? To experience some of its fanciness read these fun facts about the French Riviera… and prepare to be amazed!
1. How long is the French Riviera?
The French Riviera covers around 550 miles or 885 kilometers.
2. It’s a superb vacation spot.
With its amazing beaches, private, pebbled coves and vast coastline the French Riviera is just perfect for a city-beach holiday.
3. Monaco is a popular spot on route.
Situated on the French Riviera, between Cap d’Ail and Menton, Monaco is the second smallest country in the world.
Monaco is home to the Monaco Grand Prix and enjoys a tax-free lifestyle since the 1870s. The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the most famous formula one race circuits and races in the world of F1.
4. The GP’s been a staple for a long time.
Since 1929, the Monaco Grand Prix has been organized every year.
5. Visitors only!
Monaco citizens are forbidden to enter the iconic Monte Carlo Casino.
6. A casino under a hidden guise!
When the casino in Monaco was built, it was called a health spa, since gambling wasn’t allowed by the church.
7. The casino helped to save Monaco.
The casino was built in the 1800s to save the country from bankruptcy.
8. Small, yet packed!
Monaco welcomes a staggering 7.5 million visitors a year.
9. It’s nice in Nice!
Nice is the biggest city on the French Riviera. Nice airport is the 3rd largest airport in France after Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and Paris-Orly.
One of the most celebrated carnivals in the world alongside Venice and Brazil is the carnival in Nice. It has become one of the most important events on the French Riviera.
10. It’s a big sporting region.
In 2017, Marseille was awarded the title European Capital of Sport.
11. A world famous film festival takes place here.
Cannes Film Festival, one of the most prestigious and oldest film festivals in the world is hosted every year in Cannes. The 2 km red carpet used for the festival is changed 40 times over 12 days.
Cannes film festival was first envisaged in the 1930s by Jean Jay.
12. It’s a region well known for perfume, too.
Grasse is a commune in the French Riviera that has become better known as the world’s capital of the perfume industry since the Renaissance period.
13. More people live here than you might imagine!
Over 2 million people live on the French Riviera.
14. The names of the seasides here are very particular!
The seaside coasts in France are named after precious stones. Some examples are the mother of pearl coast, the jade coast, and the alabaster coast.
15. The French Riviera pulls in a lot of money.
Close to $5 billion per year is the amount the tourists spend while visiting the French Riviera.
16. There’s lots of history here.
If you visit the prison on Île Sainte-Marguerite, an island located just right outside of Cannes you can see the cell where the “Man in the Iron Mask” spent 11 years of his life.
17. It’s also a capital for jazz!
The oldest jazz festival in Europe is Jazz-à-Juan, set in Juan-les-Pins.
18. It was once a health retreat.
The French Riviera started off as a winter health resort for the British higher class in the late 18th century.
19. It slowly grew in popularity.
In the mid-19th century, as the railway was built along the French Riviera, it became even more popular for British, Russian, and other aristocrats.
Today, the railway is located in the same place but it has been modernized for faster transportation.
20. It was an artists’ retreat.
Famous French artists and writers such as Picasso, Matisse, Edith Wharton, and Aldous Huxley frequently visited the French Riviera.
21. Post-war, visits exploded.
The French Riviera became a popular tourist destination and convention site after World War II.
22. The Rocketman has a home here!
Elton John bought a humungous luxury villa, located next to a castle, on the French Riviera.
23. Two months without sunny weather – not half bad!
There are about 300 days of sunshine per year on the French Riviera.
24. Grace Kelly put the region on the map.
The region became a lot more popular after Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III on the French Riviera.
25. There’s a house here that’s almost unattainable.
Villa Leopolda, on the French Riviera, is the most expensive house in the world. The property costs $1.2 billion!
26. Lots of pillows, then!
150,000 beds are the total accommodation capacity of the Côte d’Azur.
27. It’s big for business travel.
One out of five visitors coming to the French Riviera is traveling “on business or for a conference”.
28. Grab your poles!
Skiers, get ready! There are fifteen ski resorts on the French Riviera.
29. It’s extremely popular with short term travelers.
On the French Riviera, there are a total of 70 million overnight stays per year.
30. Most people take to the road.
26% of tourists who come to the French Riviera arrive by airplane, while 56% of tourists arrive by car.
31. Who’s counting them?
On the French Riviera on average, there are always 200,000 tourists present.
32. Peak season is, of course, summer.
The peak month on the French Riviera is August accounting for 14% of the stays.
33. Satisfaction is high.
Nine out of ten tourists say they are very satisfied with their stay on the French Riviera.
34. Tourism makes big money here.
A total revenue of €10 billion is generated from the tourists who stay on the French Riviera.
Between 2014 and 2015, 16 casinos on the French Riviera, including 4 in Monaco, generated a gross profit of €264 million.
35. It’s great for employment, too.
75,000 jobs are related to tourism on the French Riviera and if you include indirect employment, the total number of jobs generated by tourism on the French Riviera could be 150,000.
36. It’s a Parisian dream.
Three out of ten French tourists to the Côte d’Azur are from Paris.
37. Big on Bond?
To Catch a Thief, An Affair to Remember, James Bond movies Diamonds are Forever and GoldenEye, The Life Aquatic, Oceans Twelve, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are some of the famous movies filmed on the French Riviera.
38. Follow the flock!
Every year, 14 million tourists visit the Côte d’Azur. Are you one of them?
FAQs about The French Riviera
Which cities are part of the French Riviera?
The French Riviera plays host to cities as varied as Saint-Tropez, Monaco City, Nice, Cannes and Antibes.
Do people speak English in the French Riviera?
English-speaking people tend to work in tourism here - however, it’s not as fluently spoken amongst the over-40s.
Is the French Riviera safe?
While it’s relatively safe from violent crime, theft and pickpocketing are problems in the French Riviera, so make sure to keep a close eye on your valuables.
Do you know any fun facts about the Côte d’Azur? Share them in the comments below!