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Cote d'Azur Monaco France Cote d'Azur

Cote d'Azur (Monaco) France French Holidays

It's not until you've paid your first €10 for a bottle of water in a newsagents on the Côte d'Azur that you will believe the rumours about the region's exclusivity. Celebrities (French and international) and the rich and famous abound, filling the most glamorous bars and beaches. Inhibiting though the prices and locals may seem, there is much to charm people back to the region year after year.

Cote d'Azur

Not all of them have an enormous private yacht moored at St Tropez either: there are plenty of humble campsites and decent hotels for normal people who are more captivated by the beautiful blue sea and the coastline than the shenanigans of the glitterati.

Still, it is always worth sneaking a look at what the darlings of stage and screen do when the sun comes out. Cannes and Monaco fit the bill for this purpose, with the casino in Monte Carlo, bars and restaurants, all spilling their glittering contents onto the private beaches and into fancy cars. At least, that is the myth. In reality there is as much grime as glitter, and you will either love or hate these towns.

Going to the beach at Cannes is an experience in itself. It is quite difficult to park, but if you are lucky with parking and get onto the beach, the hardest part is finding a spot to call your own. As the beach is about three metres wide at low tide, there is not much space. All is not lost: with the 40km of beaches along the Cote d'Azur and the deep blue water that often reaches 25 degrees centigrade, there are plenty of alternatives to Cannes.

Along the coast to the west is Antibes, and then St Raphaël and Fréjus. The most unspoilt coastline where there is a variety of cliffs and coves is to be found west of St Tropez, which is a fashionable seaside resort with the aforementioned yachts. About 10km offshore there are the Îles d'Hyères. Toulon marks the western edge of the Cote d'Azur.

Towns such as the capital Nice, and the old port town of Marseille make an interesting alternative to the round of sun, sea and sand along the coast.