The Cote d’Azur, or the French Riviera

The French refer to the French Riviera as the Cote d’Azur, and it basically comprises of the south-east corner of the country that backs on to the Mediterranean coastline. This has for centuries been the playground of the rich and famous.

The area spreads from the Italian border to Toulon and the coast is entirely within the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region.  The area is known around the world for its tourism and many regard the region as starting the resort areas.

As early as the 18th century English upper class families were spending their winters in the area and this trend accelerated once the railways started to serve the region. The Royal families from Russia and Great Britain stayed in the area, plus rich families such as the Rothschilds and artists such as Pablo Pacaso and Henri Matisse.

The crowded principality of Monaco

The region has never lost its close association with the rich and famous. There are many ports along the coast where many of the wealthier visitors moor their yachts before disembarking, to explore the pleasures that this part of France has to offer. The area receives more than 14 million tourists every year and the industry has created more than 75,000 jobs. Many people like the area so much that it is now home to almost 84,000 foreign residents that represent 163 nationalities.

One of the most famous areas is Monaco which is a separate principality. It only has an area of 2.02 square kilometres which makes it the second smallest sovereign state in the world. It has a population of 38,400 of which 30% of them are millionaires. There is no income tax so Monaco is a tax haven for many overseas people to take advantage of. One of the biggest attractions of the principality are the casinos. Originally it was just the Monte Carlo Casino, but in recent times other casinos have been attracted into Monaco and many people visit just to gamble.

The other major attraction is the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix. Held annually around the streets of the sovereign state the race is one of the most exciting, and eagerly awaited in the Grand Prix calendar. The rich and famous all come for the event and there are many social gatherings on the moored luxury yachts.

The vast beaches of St Tropez

One of the biggest festivals that is held annually on the French Riviera is the Cannes Film Festival. Each May the Festival is held at the Palais des Festivals et des Congres to preview many different genres of film. Actors, Actresses, producers, directors and anyone who is big in the film industry descend on mass to this invite only by ticket event.

One of the most famous resorts on the Riviera is St Tropez. The resort has an abundance of beaches to the south of the town, and is a popular place to visit for both celebrities and normal tourists. The resort emerged after the Second World War and was an appealing destination for the country’s artists and musicians.

This has influenced the resort, with it being home to many art galleries. The evening entertainments always have an abundance of live acts playing and the areas around the ports are popular destinations for wining and dining.

At the far western side of the Riviera lies the city of Toulon. The city has a population of 165,514 people and is the 15th largest inn France. It is home to the French Navy with the Navy Port docking the French Mediterranean Fleet.

The city has grown as a result of the Navy and also the strong Mediterranean type agriculture that is farmed in the region. The city is now home to numerous museums and art galleries and the nearby beaches play an important role in encouraging tourists to visit the city.

The city is the home of the ruby club side RC Toulonnais, who play in the French Top 14 rugby competition. After a number of years in the doldrums big money has been invested in the team in the past decade, with big money signings such as England’s Jonny Wilkinson and the All Black’s Ma’a Nonu among many others.

This has resulted in three European cup wins between 2013 and 2015 plus French Championship Titles in 2012 and 2014.