What is there to do in the Alpes-Maritimes Department?

Whether you’re on holiday or just here for a weekend, there’s a multitude of activities to enjoy in the Alpes-Maritimes. Thanks to its diverse landscapes, you can enjoy both a swim in the blue waters of the Mediterranean and a hike in the hinterland. This department offers a variety of cultural and tourist outings: boat rides, visits to historic monuments, winter skiing… prepare your schedule with our ideas for visits.

06, the Alpes-Maritimes Department

Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, the Alpes-Maritimes Department enjoys nearly 300 hours of sunshine per annum. Known throughout the world thanks to events such as the Cannes Film Festival, this region attracts thousands of tourists every year.

The towns such as Nice, Antibesand Menton contribute to the fame of this part of France. Enjoy a festive atmosphere beside the sea, whereas the hinterland offers you a more relaxing setting. The magnificent villages of Saint-Paul-de-Vence or Grasse promise beautiful walks through cobbled alleyways.

This is also the opportunity to visit the local museums and admire the many art galleries. Even further up, Mercantour National Park comprises superb landscapes with its lakes and mountains.

In winter, Isola 2000 allows you to enjoy the ski runs while remaining close to the coast.

The geography of the Alpes-Maritimes

Between sea and mountains, the Alpes-Maritimes Department possesses undeniable assets.

Its proximity to Italy also allows it to enjoy a wonderful cultural diversity.

Its mild climate all year round, and the variety of landscapes make it a perfect holiday destination.

The coast extends from Théoule-sur-Mer to Menton, via the famous towns of Cannes, Antibes, Nice, and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

While each one has their own specific nature and drawing power, together they form what is known as the “French Riviera”.

The sublime beaches and coves reveal landscapes worthy of a picture postcard. Turquoise waters, pebble beaches, and craggy coastlines give the Côte d’Azur its charm.

The Provencal hinterland is not to be outdone.

Thanks to its hilltop villages, it offers an exceptional panoramic view of the entire coast. In the distance, you can see the Alps becoming one with Italy. At its highest point, Mercantour Park reaches an altitude of 3,143 m.

The heart of the park, measuring 679 km², houses protected flora and fauna, letting nature do its thing. Tents are sometimes allowed under certain conditions.

All around, the Vésubie, Tinée and Roya Bévéra valleys also shape the mountainous landscapes.

The geography of the Alpes-Maritimes

The coastal areas

Flagship tourist destinations, these are particularly popular in summer.

With an exceptional level of sunshine, water at 26° and famous locations make the Alpes-Maritimes a perfect place for a holiday.

Nice, Cannes, Saint-Tropez, and also Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, or Menton: all seaside towns.

The beaches are easily accessible. If you’d like to have a bit of comfort, you can hire a deckchair on a private beach.

In addition to boasting a remarkable coastline, these coastal areas are not to be outdone on a cultural level.

After spending the afternoon enjoying the sunshine, take a cool break to visit Vieux-Nice.

Extend this with a walk around the gardens at the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and take the boat to the Lérins Islands.

If you want to escape the crowded towns, know that there are beaches less known to the tourists.

Such as the one at Cap d’Ail, only accessible via pedestrian paths, allowing you to avoid the crowd.

The Plage de la Buse (Buzzard Beach) in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and the superb coves on the Esterel are also more discreet.

The geography of the Alpes-Maritimes

The mountains

Only an hour from the coast, the hinterland offers a completely different setting.

Here, the mountains rub shoulders with valleys and national parks, making it an ideal place to recharge your batteries.

Lesser known and more authentic, this destination has everything to win you over.

In summer, escape the crowded beach with a hike through Mercantour National Park.

This protected site extends over 1,801 km² and houses over 2,000 plant and 78 mammal species. Comprising eight valleys, Mercantour Park can be discovered while hiking for one or more days. Below, you can find our ideas for a route:

  • Mont Pépoiri: this walk, which takes about 4 hours, is perfect for families. Reach the summits of the Tinée and take a picnic break at the Millefonts lakes.
  • The Vens Lakes: this walk will meet the expectations of walking fans. Bank on about 6½ hours, passing via the Pra and the Col du Fer, and enjoy breath-taking views.
  • Mont Ténibre: for experienced hikers only, this route is a loop that takes about 2 days. With a difference in elevation of 1,900 m, you will pass by the numerous lakes in the Upper Tinée Valley.

In winter, enjoy the Isola 2000 and Auron resorts to devote yourself to your favourite sport.
The 15 ski resorts in the Alpes-Maritimes offer a total of 660 km of pistes.

The main towns in the department

Discover the most emblematic towns of the Alpes-Maritimes, known throughout the world:

  • Cannes: undoubtedly the most famous of the southern towns.
    The Cannes Film Festival takes place here every year.
    Actors and directors come to present their films in the competition.
    Chic and glamourous are therefore the watchwords on La Croisette.
  • Nice: its old town, its port, and its wonderful Promenade des Anglais gives the fabulous town of Nice its charm.
    It is also recognized internationally for its Sophia-Antipolis technology centre.
  • Grasse: this was the world’s perfume capital in the 19th century.
    Even today, the Fragonard and Molinard houses produce their fragrances in the town’s factories.
    They open their doors to visitors who want to know all about the process to manufacture these perfumes.
  • Menton: this is the last French town before crossing the Italian border.
    The port, the coloured houses and the bay enhance the town of Menton.
    Add to this a gentle way of life and a rich historic heritage and you get the perfect place for your next holiday.

If you’ve got time, we also recommend visiting these towns, which are just as delightful: Antibes, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Mandelieu-la-Napoule, or Saint-Paul-de-Vence.

Cultural activities

With a rich history developed over the centuries, the Alpes-Maritimes Department is brimming with cultural outings:

  • The Matisse Museum: located in the gardens of Cimiez Hill in Nice.
    A true homage to the painter, the museum groups together one of the biggest collections of his works in the world.
  • Tourrettes-sur-Loup: discover this charming medieval village and its local artisans.
    Stroll through its stone alleyways, admire its violets and don’t forget to make a stop at the Chateau de Villeneuve.
  • The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild: an essential visit during your stay in the Alpes-Maritimes.
    This sumptuous palace in the Italian Renaissance style contains Meissen porcelain, 18th century tapestries and paintings by Fragonard.
    Then lose yourself in one of the nine sublime gardens, extending over nearly 7 hectares.
  • The Merveilles Departmental Museum: this wonderful museum allows for understanding the origins of the tens of thousands of cave paintings found in the Merveilles Valley.
    An ideal activity for sharing with the family.

Throughout the year, you can also enjoy events organized by the various towns.

Open-air concerts, jazz festival, temporary exhibitions… discover all the dates on the calendars of the towns concerned.

Tourist activities

The diversity of landscapes allows you to discover the Alpes-Maritimes from different angles.

Mountain, forest, sea, and even from the air, discover all our activity suggestions:

  • Trek with flippers: departing from Mandelieu-la-Napoule, discover the Mediterranean sea beds.
    Accompanied by your guide, you will learn about protecting the underwater flora and fauna.
  • Take a boat ride to the Lérins Islands: just a few minutes from Cannes, the islands of Sainte-Marguerite and Saint-Honorat house historic monuments and wild animals.
    Stroll through the state forest and take a guided tour of the vines with the monks.
  • Auron bike-park: try downhill mountain biking at the Auron resort.
    Equipped with a mountain bike and protective gear, you will discover the mountain via the 50 km of trails.
    Just as with skiing, you will have the choice of several difficulty levels, designated by colours (green, blue, red, or black).
  • Discover the Cians Gorges: located north of Nice, these superb ochre-colour cliffs, shaped by erosion, offer an astounding spectacle.
    Take a walk through the gorges and their falling rocks, and take in all the beauty.
  • Paragliding: admire the Côte d’Azur from the sky.
    Take flight from Mont-Gros, to land on the superb Golfe Bleu beach in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.
    The view and the sensations will take your breath away!

Find even more suggestions for cultural and tourist activities on our website.