Stretching from Cannes in France to La Spezia in Italy, the Riviera is famed for its sun-kissed beaches, chic resorts and the superyachts of the elite, but there’s much more to discover. Until the late 18th century, the area was known mostly for its fishing, olives and flowers for perfumes. Before long, the Riviera was transformed into a winter health resort for the British upper class. Magnificent gardens were developed by the wealthy, notably Lawrence Johnston, the creator of Hidcote who established the Serre de la Madone in the hills above Menton, and the Hanbury family who made the steep Italian cliffs of La Mortola an unparalleled collection of exotic plants. With the arrival of the railway in the mid-19th century, the Riviera became the preferred holiday destination of European royalty and aristocracy, such as Queen Victoria, who was so taken with ‘this paradise of nature’ that she visited nine times. The outstanding Mediterranean light and striking landscapes also attracted no end of artists and writers – Picasso and Monet lived in Antibes, Chagall settled in Saint-Paul de Vence, and Robert Louis Stevenson sought the air in Menton.
Beyond the coast, the French region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is home to remarkable hilltop villages and splendid mountain scenery, along with flower farms that feed the French perfume industry. Across the border, Italy’s well-loved crescent of the Mediterranean coast is characterised by dramatic twisting landscapes, where steep mountains cascade into the Ligurian Sea.
The cuisine, especially the seafood, is as legendary as the sunshine, but there’s also an abundance of unforgettable experiences here, from regal palaces to opulent Monaco, the millionaires’ playground whose streets host the legendary Formula 1 race, to eclectic art collections. Then there are ancient towns like Antibes, Dolceacqua and Seborga mixing with medieval villages, olive groves, world-leading perfumeries, yacht-filled marinas and chic shops selling everything from local crafts to luxury brands.
Our tour allows you to enjoy the highlights of the area, with plenty of free time to explore. Whether you’re passionate about art, food, perfumes or gardens – or you simply want to enjoy the good life – you’ll soon discover why the French and Italian Rivieras have become some of the world’s foremost holiday destinations.