If you think about the French Riviera, you’ll probably immediately think of fast cars, beautiful people and glamorous locations. Here you’ll find great cities, stunning French restaurants, casinos, sublime beaches and of course a little celebrity culture. Thousands of people flock here every summer, but does that leave anything hidden? You’d actually be surprised what you can find if you head away from the crowds and do a little of your own exploring.
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So much of the French Riviera is about the beaches, so that’s where we thought we’d start. Just west of Monaco is the delightful small town of Cap d’Ail, and about ten minutes walk from the Cap d’Ail train station is the delectable La Mala beach. There is a coastal walk going from the Marquet beach to the Mala beach which is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. There are also many detours in between where you can explore and find your own little secluded coves. This is a great spot and well away from the crowds.
The islands located off the south coast of France – Porquerolles, Port-Cros, and Ile du Levant – are truly a gem hidden away from the tourism of the French Riviera. The largest of the islands is Porquerolles and it’s also the most developed with a population of 350. Cars are not allowed on the island, which has large areas of wild and untouched land. Here you’ll find vineyards, forests and fruit groves which are ideal for exploring on foot or by bike. Don’t worry if you’ve come to France without a bike as there are a few bike hire shops on the island.
The island isn’t just about wild and untouched areas; there are also some breathtaking beaches. If you’ve got a little time here, it’s well worth making the trip to Notre Dame beach or Galere beach.
The islands can be reached by boat from Hyeres, although it’s worthwhile to do a little research as to how busy the islands are getting as often the ferries will stop running once a certain number of people have made the trip across.