How to experience the French Riviera by train

The French Riviera, known as the Côte d'Azur, is a glamorous holiday destination with sandy beaches, busy harbours, and ancient ruins. It's also perfect to experience by train.


Gita Simonsen

Stretching from St Tropez to the Franco-Italian border, the Côte d'Azur is one of the world's most luxurious coastal regions. Experience everything from mountains and beautiful islands to sandy beaches and wooded plains on the train running along the coast.

Travelling by train in France

France has a good railway network, and it takes just under three hours by train from Paris to Marseille. Further along the French Riviera, you can take a train from Marseille to Monaco, in about four hours. But there are a number of excellent stops you can make in between these two places. The train journeys are inexpensive, have frequent departures, as well as beautiful views and comfortable seats.

Plan your trip here

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Discover Côte d'Azur by train

France has a good railway network, and it takes just under three hours by train from Paris to Marseille.

First stop - Marseille

Marseille is the third-largest city in France, and, with its Greek origins, the city is considered France's oldest. The city has traditionally been a trading city and its history dates back to 600 BC. The port is named Vieux-Port and is the largest port in France. It was here that Marseille began its heyday as a trading port with the outside world. In Marseille, one can enjoy modern restaurants in a modern city, but also wander through a bygone era.

Artists and musicians have long come here for inspiration. Marseille is truly a great city for history buffs, and those interested in street art and urban lifestyles. The city also has a number of well-known and less well-known restaurants, both three-star Michelin-starred restaurants and cosy local pubs. Marseille has also had a green focus in recent years, working towards more climate-friendly solutions in the tourism industry. In addition, the city has a number of beautiful beaches on which to lounge.

You should definitely spend several days in this city.



The port is named Vieux-Port and is the largest port in France

Next stop - Cannes

Cannes is about 2.5 hours from Marseille. This city is best known for the Cannes Film Festival, which has been held annually ever since the very first film festival in 1946. Cannes is the symbol of prosperity, celebrities, palm trees – glitz and glam. Hop off the train here and feel like a movie star for a day or two.

La Croisette Boulevard - Cannes in a street

If you are only going to check out one thing in Cannes, then you need to visit the world-renowned street La Croisette. The street connects the city and the coast. Here, you really get the Cannes feel. Spectacular hotels such as the Carlton Hotel and Hotel Martinez, and luxury shops like Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Celine, line the street.

La Croisette also offers popular beach clubs and great restaurants. This area is at the high end of the scale in terms of budget, but is worth a trip if you want the Cannes experience. The street is also flat and nice for strolling on, and is good if you want to go for a run along the beach.

If La Croisette is just about window shopping for you, then cross the street with Rue d'Antibes, which is also a shopping street but is more affordable. Here, you will find all the international shops such as Zara, Mango and Intimissi, as well as several shopping centres.

Cannes is also home to markets, such as Marché Forville. Here, you can get a taste of the everyday life of the locals in Cannes - which can be a rarity in the star-studded city. Marché Forville is a market for flowers, herbs and food, except for on Mondays, when it transforms into a flea market.

The Old Town and Le Suquet

Cannes isn't just glitz and glam, and if you want to go back in time, the Old Town and Le Suquet are a nice place to start. There are many routes to the old town through quaint, winding cobblestone streets. Visit the Musée de la Castre, tour Carrée and its famous church, and enjoy views of the city and the beautiful harbour. At the foot of the old town, you will find the Marché Forville market.

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Hotel Carlton

Placed in the midle of the famous La Croisette boulevard.


Juan-Les-Pins is a quaint little town located halfway between Cannes and Nice, about 10 minutes from Cannes by train. It was here that famous artists and writers such as Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso settled in the summer. The city became famous in earnest when the Jazz Festival was launched in 1960. Since then, the festival has enlivened the city every summer. Juan Les Pins is quieter than Cannes and Nice, and also somewhat more affordable. The town offers cosy streets, restaurants and shops - and sandy beaches. Here, you can also rent sunbeds less expensively than in the bigger cities.

Juan-Les-Pins has small independent shops and restaurants. Along the beach, you find things that are more quintessentially south of France - beach bars and good food, as well as cocktail bars lining the street. The most popular beach club and restaurant is La Plage Keller.

If you want to indulge in some luxury and stay where Scott Fitzgerald did - Hotel Belles Rives is the place to go. It’s a small 5-star hotel with a venerable history. Legend has it that it was here that Fitzgerald was inspired to write The Great Gatsby.


Nice is half an hour's train ride from Cannes. Nice is the capital of the French Riviera and is a very good base for travelling around by train. In addition, it is a fantastic city that offers a variety of experiences. Nice has been a popular resort for royalty and the nobility since the 18th century. Today, Nice is popular with everyone. 

Nice is famous for its beaches. In season, there are 20 public beaches along the coast, with several private beaches in between. Nice does not have sandy beaches, rather mostly pebble beaches. It is therefore best to wear water shoes when swimming on the beach.

What to eat in Nice

Nice has contributed a lot to French and Provençal cuisine, and there are a handful of local dishes you must try if you're in Nice. Salade Niçoise is a great start. It consists of hard-boiled eggs, green beans, anchovies, tomatoes and cailletier olives, and is great when paired with a Bandol's rosé wine or a white wine from Bellet. Both are winemakers from Nice. A more casual street food is Socca, a kind of cross between a flatbread and a pancake, made with chickpea flour. Ratatouille, made world famous by the Disney film of the same name, also comes from here. This famous vegetable stew is made with squash, aubergine, peppers, and tomato.



Antibes is in many ways the old town of the entire French Riviera. More traditional than its coastal siblings, it is still a lively and beautiful place on the Riviera.

Art and culture in Nice

There are a number of museums and activities in Nice you can spend several days on - if that is your passion. If you get saturated quickly with that kind of thing and just want to stop by a museum, you have to check out the Musée Matisse - a museum dedicated to Henri Matisse, the renowned artist who lived in Nice for decades. He is one of France's most famous artists, and the museum contains several hundred of his paintings, drawings and sculptures.

If you are interested in La Belle Epoque or "the beautiful epoch", the Musée Masséna is worth a visit. The entire museum is dedicated to this era. The museum offers art, architecture, furniture and artefacts that will transport you straight back to the Belle Epoque. This era lasted from the 1870s to the beginning of the First World War. The building is a work of art in itself, and the museum is located on the famous Promenade des Anglais.

If you thought the carnival in Rio is the only big carnival to be found in the world, think again. Nice Carnival started in 1873, and has been held every year since, except for a cancellation in connection with the corona pandemic in 2021. Documents have been discovered that indicate that the carnival in Nice was celebrated as early as the 13th century. The festivities last for two weeks in February, from morning until late at night.

Nice is also a paradise for shoppers. Check out our shopping guide covering luxury stores, major international chain stores, vintage and antique as well as the markets.


A 5-minute train ride, or 20-minute walk from Juan-Les-Pins, takes you to Antibes. Antibes is in many ways the old town of the entire French Riviera. More traditional than its coastal siblings, it is still a lively and beautiful place on the Riviera. Here, you get a more relaxed beach feel, while you can still see spectacular yachts in the harbour.

Luxury on show

This is one of the most expensive ports in the world, where it costs more than a million euros to dock. Antibes's old town consists of cosy cobbled streets, markets and cafés. The city is also known for being home to renowned Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. Antibes also features the Musée Picasso, located in Château Grimaldi, an impressive mediaeval fortress with lovely sea views. Picasso used the castle as an art studio, and the exhibition contains over 200 works by the artist. The museum also has a collection of famous artists, including Nicolas de Staël, Hans Hartung, Anna-Eva Bergman, Joan Miró, Germaine Richier, and Bernar Pagès.

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Monaco is the place to go for glitz and glamour. If you feel like trying your luck, you can spend some time in the casinos and cultivate your inner James Bond.


After an hour's train ride from Antibes, you reach spectacular Monaco, a small place but one that is big in terms of celebrity power. The city is surrounded by blue sea and the warm climate here is perfect for the palm trees that line the streets, and the exotic flowers and lush vegetation that colour the city.

One of the most famous areas of the principality is The Rock or Le Rocher, which is a large cliff, which is also home to the main part of the city called Monaco-Ville. Monaco is the place to go for glitz and glamour. If you feel like trying your luck, you can spend some time in the casinos and cultivate your inner James Bond.


The French Riviera, or Côte d'Azur, is pleasant to visit all year round. The best period is in the months between April and September, when the climate is characterised by long sunny days and pleasant temperatures. The area is known for having a typical Mediterranean climate, with warm, sunny summers and mild winters, thanks to its location by the Mediterranean and the protection from the cold northerly winds that the mountains provide.

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