The Côte d'Azur: some think of the ritzy casinos, some think of the mega-yachts, some think of the you've-got-to-be-kidding-me real estate prices and some think of it as a place stuck in its 1950s heyday. Well, it's all of these—save the last one. Here are our top picks of the hot new players in the French Riviera.

By Tristan Rutherford
Chambre Vue Ville
Photo by Hôtel de Paris

New Views

Don’t call the panorama from Monaco’s freshly reopened restaurant Le Grill a “million dollar view”—that amount wouldn’t buy you a broom closet in Monaco, which has the most expensive real estate prices in the world. Instead, the seascape from this eighth-floor Alain Ducasse eatery atop the famed Hôtel de Paris, takes in enough superyachts to give an oligarch a heart attack.

Not that the seafood-focused cuisine at Le Grill is heavy on wallet or heart. The new €55 lunch menu (€80 with an accompanying medley of Côtes de Provence wines), mirrors the angelically light ethos of tennis star Novak Djokovic's new vegan eatery, Eqvita, across town. Alas, with the Hôtel de Paris’ rooms under renovation until 2018, smart money checks into its peerless sister hotel, the Hermitage, next door.

Nikki Beach Club
Photo by Nikki Beach Club

Smoke & Mirrors

For more views, hit Nikki Beach above Monaco’s Fairmont Monte Carlo. Guests can smoke a shisha and gaze at a 270-degree outlook that sweeps from Italy to St. Tropez. We recommend snagging one of the Fairmont’s new Twizzy electric cars for a bolt along the Côte d’Azur coastline. You’ll turn more heads than a Ferrari, which are a dime a dozen on these rarified streets. Monaco’s jeunesse dorée park at Cap d’Ail’s Eden Plage. It’s a barefoot bling beach club where the only nods to culture are a few salt-crusted copies of T Magazine.

Villefranche-sur-Mer
Photo by Shutterstock

Movie Star Looks

The winding Côte d’Azur coastal road loops around a century of film set locales. The perched village of Èze from Cary Grant’s To Catch a Thief. The Nice of Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight. Celebrities therefore flock to the least celebrated port of call, Villefranche-sur-Mer. In summer, Stéphane runs Dark Pelican, a boat hire joint that rents no-license-needed speedboats for €189 per day. 

Road to La Tonnelle
Photo by La Tonnelle

Yes We Cannes

Cannes is a quick ride down the coast by car, train or helicopter (yes, the Côte d’Azur has a scheduled chopper service). Hotels like Five Seas—which this year boasts a brand-new lobby evoking 1920s ocean liner chic, plus a new sharing menu concept on the rooftop restaurant—top the resort’s vibrant accommodation scene. Indeed, the only timeless attraction in Cannes is the island of Ile St. Honorat bobbing in the bay. Since the 5th century, it’s been home to a group of Cistercian monks who preside over gourmet oceanfront restaurant La Tonnelle. It’s an A-list favorite, if only because this silent religious order is forbidden from speaking to press and punters alike.