Everyone knows it as a holiday destination in the South of France where it is always lovely and warm. But the Côte d’Azur is also full of jewels perched on the slopes of its hills, overlooking the sea, and valleys – their stones embodying the wealth of regional heritage. Between the sea and mountains, these hilltop villages create the unique character of the Côte d’Azur: a harmonious blend of culture, art and festive pleasures in an exceptional natural setting. Discover the most beautiful hilltop villages on the Côte d’Azur.
An eagle’s nest overlooking the Mediterranean, Eze is one of the most beautiful hilltop villages on the Côte d’Azur!
Like an eagle’s nest (or rather a Phoenix, the emblem of the village), sitting on a rocky outcrop, Eze will impress you as soon as you arrive. The old stones tell of its medieval past. The narrow streets lined with vaulted houses with their many artists and craftspeople give this hilltop village a special atmosphere imbued with authenticity and tradition. Atop the ruins of the old fortress, its famous exotic garden plunges into the sea, offering an exceptional view of the landscape on the Cap Ferrat peninsula and the Côte d’Azur.
Artists’ village par excellence, you’ll fall for the charm of this hilltop village!
Facing the shimmering Mediterranean below and backed by the Southern Alps, the medieval village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, perched on its promontory and sheltered by its ramparts is one of the most beautiful villages on the Côte d’Azur. If all this isn’t enough to explain St. Paul’s fascination, there is its cultural and artistic influence. The village attracts both artisans and artists. A diverse range of sensibilities and talents have settled there and meet in the numerous art galleries. In the middle of the countryside, the Maeght Foundation, an open-air museum, is a showcase of modern and contemporary art.
Located 800 meters above sea level, the hilltop village of Sainte-Agnès is nicknamed the “Balcony of the Côte d’Azur”!
Just take a look at the coast of Menton to understand how it earned its nickname. The view is magnificent from Sainte- Agnès. A whiff of the Azur coast! It adds to the charms of a place which, besides its title of “the highest coastal village in Europe”, is officially among “the most beautiful villages in France”. A title that it owes as much to the panoramic views as to its cobbled alleyways, century-old houses grouped around the glazed tile tower, and the abandoned fort – the southernmost bastion of the famous Maginot Line. Don’t forget to visit to its medieval garden clinging to the rock and the ruins of the castle which offer a breathtaking view of the Mercantour and the Mediterranean.
Ranked among the “most beautiful villages in France”, Gourdon offers a panoramic view of the whole Côte d’Azur!
Gourdon enjoys a nickname describing its exceptional situation: the “Eagle’s Nest”. A village perched more than 700 metres above sea level, Gourdon offers an exceptional point from which to view some 80 kilometres of the coast, from Nice to Estérel. Formerly, it was usually accessed by the mule track from Bar-sur-Loup. Its name is evocative: the Paradise path! And deserved. With its medieval houses, its Romanesque church, its Provençal feel and its thousand year old castle, surrounded by gardens created by Le Nôtre, the hilltop village of Gourdon really has the fragrance of Eden.
Clinging to the cliff, the village of Saorge is a striking example of medieval town planning!
Saorge is undoubtedly the most spectacular hilltop village in the Roya valley. It was rebuilt after a great fire in the 15th century. A former stronghold, Saorge never fails to impress visitors when they arrive. The old buildings and troglodyte streets take you back in time. From the Franciscan monastery to the Bain du Sémite natural pool in La Roya and the baroque Saint-Sauveur church, everything is different. Please note you will have to leave your car at the entrance to the village, because cars are not allowed.
Villages in the Pays de Fayence
A stone sentinel, the alleyways in Fayence will propel you to the heart of the Middle Ages!
Discover this hilltop village in the Var: the clock tower with its magnificent view over the red-tiled roofs of the village of Fayence, the Sarrazine gate dating from the 14th century, the remains of the watchtower, its fountains and wash-houses. Take advantage of the tour offered by the Tourist Office which will help you explore the village’s heritage. Near Fayence, don’t miss the hilltop villages of Seillans, Mons, Caillan and Montauroux. All have rich cultural and natural heritages.
Village of the sun listed as one of the “most beautiful villages in France” — and the Côte d’Azur!
Overlooking the Paillon valley 650 meters above sea level, the village of Coaraze is nicknamed “Village of the sun”. Sloping cobbled streets, vaulted passageways, stone houses, blue, yellow, pink, Italian-style houses and flower-filled squares have attracted many artists and well-known figures, some of whom, such as Jean Cocteau and Ponce de Léon, designed the sundials scattered around the village.
A hilltop village on the Côte d’Azur with panoramic views of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez!
After having walked up the flowery alleyways with their pastel-coloured walls you’ll be able to take advantage of the exceptional view over the Gulf of Saint-Tropez and the Maures massif from Place Deï Barri. The orientation table will position you in relation to one of the most beautiful views over the bay of Saint-Tropez. Far from the summer bustle, treat yourself to a pleasant break in the hilltop village of Gassin. A few kilometres away, the charming village of Ramatuelle is also well worth a visit.
Like a citadel, Mougins will offer you a breathtaking panorama of the Côte d’Azur and the Pre-alps!
Coiled like a shell with narrow alleyways, the hilltop village of Mougins has a geometrical discipline imposed by its fortifications. Artists as prestigious as Picasso, Picabia, Paul Eluard, Jean Cocteau, Man Ray, Edith Piaf, Fernand Léger and many others have left their mark there. There are more than 30 workshops and artists’ galleries to discover. The Musée d’Art Classique with its unique private collection is an essential part of your visit. Mougins also owes its fame to its many Michelin starred restaurants. For golf lovers, discover Mougins the famous golfing destination with its two prestigious golf courses.
Surrounded by the mountains of Mercantour between the skies and Vésubie, welcome to the “Little Switzerland in Nice”!
At the gates of the Mercantour National Park, between the Boréon and Madone de Fenestre valleys, the picturesque village of Saint-Martin-Vésubie invites you to discover the charms of Nice’s high country with its exceptional natural sites, cultural and architectural heritage and many leisure facilities. The village retains traces of its medieval origins: the main street, with a small canal running along its length, called “Béal”, has all the charm you would expect from its old stone houses. Nearby sites: the Vésubia Mountain Park, Madone de Fenestre, Boréon, the Parc Alpha -not to mention the many hiking routes in the heart of Mercantour.
Surprising is the right word to describe this discreet hilltop village just 20 kilometres from Nice!
Worthy of its place among the most beautiful villages on the Côte d’Azur, Peillon is an eagle’s nest offering its visitors a journey back in time with its winding streets crossed by vaulted passageways and wide staircases. Its tall stone houses grouped together in a circular pattern literally form one with the rock. In particular the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs and the Eglise de la Transfiguration at the top of the village (visits offered by the Tourist Office) are worth seeing. Don’t forget to climb up to the orientation table!
Surrounded by mountains between the skies and Roya, the village of Tende will surprise you with its Himalayan feel!
Tende is on the border with Italy. The maze of narrow streets will completely confuse you: this picturesque village is wonderful – both in the colours of its facades, its round tower, and the priory church of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption with its unusual bell tower. Old trading city on the Route du Sel, you will love the mix of Gothic and Baroque architecture. Also visit the Musée des Merveilles. And when you visit this hilltop village on the Côte d’Azur, why not take the “train des Merveilles?
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL
HILLTOP VILLAGES ON THE CÔTE D’AZUR3>
Residents and visitors to the Côte d’Azur, discover the selection of places, recommendations and favourites of the Côte d’Azur France community of ambassadors.
By Côte d’Azur France Ambassadors