The Côte d'Azur: not only for the rich and famous

If you think it a little strange to find the French Côte d'Azur on a BBC Travel list of ‘Top Ten European Seaside Escapes’, think again. With a careful choice of dates, this playground of the rich and famous can be seen in all its charm, without the glitzy pack. Late September is the time to go, when the weather is still warm and the crowds have dwindled.

This sparkling stretch of coastline includes such intimidating names as Antibes, Cannes and the evocative St Tropez, associated with the very, very rich and lots of bling. Its capital must be Nice, which is amongst the most sophisticated destinations in the world. If you’re into celebrity spotting, then this is the place for you.

But you don’t have to have bags of money to enjoy the wide seafront boulevards, the chic shopping streets and the pretty squares. Nice is well served by budget airlines Easy Jet (from Liverpool, London and Newcastle), Ryanair (from Dublin) and flybe (from Southampton).

And away from the limelight, the coastal roads between Nice and Monaco offer some incredible scenery. Visit the terracotta-hued fishing port of Villefranche-Sur-Mer, which was a favourite of Jean Cocteau’s, who painted the frescoes in the 17th-century Chapelle St-Pierre, and wander around the steep cobblestone streets that weave through the old town. Beyond the port is a sandy beach with great views of the town where you can chill out and watch the world go by. Bon Voyage!

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