PUBLISHED: 15:59 12 October 2016 | UPDATED: 12:19 08 November 2016
CRT Riviera Côte d'Azur - Photographe : Pierre BEHAR
An insider's guide to Alpes-Maritimes in Provence-Alpes-Côte d´Azur, including the main attractions to visit on holiday, the best towns and villages to live in, the major festivals and events, and buying property in Alpes-Maritimes
Tucked up next to Italy in France’s south-eastern corner, Alpes-Maritimes is part of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d´Azur region, surrounded by the departments of Var and Hautes-Alpes. The glitz and the glamour of the well-known resorts of Nice, Cannes and St-Tropez have long attracted celebrities and holidaymakers alike, but there is much more to this diverse department.
From relaxing on the golden beaches along the Mediterranean coastline, exploring the department’s quaint villages inland or immersing yourself in the beautiful scenery around the Alps, its little wonder that Alpes-Maritimes is such a renowned holiday destination for French and foreign holidaymakers. Hot temperatures can be expected over the summer, and sunny days last throughout the year.
As a tourist hotspot, predictably property prices are expensive in Alpes-Maritimes. The department’s capital Nice is home to France’s second largest airport; so reaching Alpes-Maritimes and direct flights to various locations throughout Europe are incredibly simple.
Plane: Regular UK flights directly to Nice
By train: Eurostar to Paris and then jump on the TGV to Nice
By road: Nice is 1230km from Calais
Places to visit in Alpes-Maritimes
The infamous French Riveria boasts fabulously stunning coastline and vibrant towns including the department’s capital Nice. A distinctive Mediterranean town, which only became part of France in 1860, it boasts the elegant tree-lined Promenade des Anglais, a quaint old town, busy markets and a thriving social scene. The scenery and light have inspired many painters including Matisse and Chagall, whose work can be seen in the city’s many museums. The Musée Matisse in particular is worth a visit with the world’s largest collection of his modern art.
Make sure to visit the towns Cannes and Antibes too. Cannes, best know for the film festival where famous faces can be spotted at the start of the summer, is the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll in the Mediterranean air. The Promenade de la Croisette, shaded by palm trees, is lined with multi-starred hotels and boutiques displaying chic couture line the iconic walkway. Antibes rests between Nice and Cannes, a town steeped in history, exudes character with quaint cobbled streets, a provençal market and lots of places to enjoy a bite to eat or a few drinks. Visit the town in August for Antibes’ annual jazz festival, Jazz à Juan, where the big names of jazz will perform along the seaside.
Soak up the sunshine on one of the department’s many beaches – Cannes, Antibes and Menton to name a few. These popular seaside resorts are heaving with holidaymakers over the summer so expect a buzzing atmosphere when heading to relax at the beach.
Don’t miss the colourful festivals along the coast, the best include Menton Lemon Festival, Nice Carnival and Cannes Film Festival.
Things to do in Alpes-Maritimes
Learn to make scents in the perfume capital Grasse. Ever year some two million tourists travel from all over the world to visit the perfume museum, perfume factories and perfume shops. Why not enjoy a guided tour of the factories housing the perfume manufacturers Fragonard, Galimard and Molinard? The town itself is a wonder to explore: full of wonderful architecture, narrow winding streets and typical French boutiques to browse.
Enjoy the unspoiled nature at the heart of Alpes-Maritimes’ inland either in the peaceful Mercantour National Park bursting with colourful flora, wildlife and waterfalls or marvel at breathtaking views across the department as you walk into the hilltop villages of the Alps.
For those keen to participate in winter sports, the Alps mountain range boasts sunny ski resorts and great slopes. Enjoy snowboarding, skiing and sledging in the winter and canoeing and kayaking in the summer.
Probably the most famous local dish in Alpes-Maritimes is salade Niçoise, a platter of tuna, olives, anchovies and eggs on lettuce, but there is also pissaladière (a French take on pizza) and socca (a crêpe made with chickpea flour). Unsurprisingly given the long coastline, fresh fish can be found in most restaurants and markets here and ratatouille, a stewed fish dish originating from Nice, is also very common in the area.
Buying property in Alpes-Maritimes
With the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d´Azur region attracting many tourists, and Alpes-Maritimes boasting almost year long sunshine and luxury in stunning scenery, its no surprise that purchasing property here is expensive. With arguably France’s most famous stretch of coastline, plenty of holidaymakers and expats are attracted to Alpes-Maritimes despite the price. There are a wide range of property styles and prices; from Maisons Provençales, villa-like properties with large plots of land to accommodate a private swimming pool to studios and flats in tall apartment buildings ideal for holidaying.
The average property price in this department is around €425,500, significantly more expensive than the average property price in France (€157,600) and the most expensive department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d´Azur region by more than €100,000.
As you may expect property prices do vary throughout Alpes-Maritimes, with the most expensive being the department’s beautiful capital Nice with an average property price of €481,000 while the historic perfume town of Grasse has an average property price of €365 000.
You can find properties in Alpes-Maritimes for sale on the France Property Shop website.