Hop on a flight to Côte D’Azur – 2012′s essential holiday destination

Often referred to as the French Riviera, the beautiful Côte d’Azur extends along the coastline of the south-east corner of France, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Having no specific beginning or end, it stretches roughly from the Italian border in the east via the principality of Monaco to various locations in the west, up to the town of Cassis. Eminently accessible, visitors can find flights to a number of luxury resorts, including Sainte-Maxime and Saint-Tropez, Monaco, Cannes and Nice.

Playground for the rich

Undoubtedly this stunningly beautiful area has an aristocratic pedigree. It was one of the earliest 18th century health resorts for upper-class British people; then a favourite holiday destination for royalty, including Queen Victoria, and Russian nobles in the 19th century. Artists and writers, including Picasso, Matisse and Somerset Maugham, swept in during the early part of the 20th century, along with wealthy Europeans and Americans.

Popular tourist destination

After the Second World War, tourism flourished and the Côte d’Azur became increasingly popular – visitors included world famous celebrities, some of whom set up homes in the region. The establishment of the Cannes Film Festival, in 1946, boosted interest in the area and visitor numbers increased dramatically. With both inland and seaside resorts, and a Mediterranean climate, the French Riviera has much to offer the visitor year-round. There are museums, historic buildings and superb national parks. A centre of yachting and cruising, many privately owned and expensive yachts can be spotted at the marinas.

Getting out and about

The Côte d’Azur benefits from having many things to do and see very close together. Those who find flights at Expedia to Nice have a whole range of excellent attractions on their doorstep. One of the most popular is a trip to the shady hill of the Parc du Château, for fabulous views of the ‘Bay of Angels’ and the spires of the Old Town. Culture vultures thrill at the superb works displayed in Nice’s Musée des Beaux-Arts, which include paintings by Monet and sculpture by Rodin. For breathtaking architecture there is little to beat the Gothic cathedral at the heart of Le Groupe Episcopal in Fréjus and Saint-Raphaël.

Entertainment and nightlife

Opportunities for music and dancing in the chic nightclubs along the coast include the intimate club Les Trois Diables in Nice, dedicated to trip-hop, electro and house. The hottest DJs are found in the more exclusive clubs – the ultra-trendy Le Bâoli, for example, where the way to gain entry is to look as glamorous as possible, and the Palais Club, where electronic music and a rooftop lounge attract the wealthier clients – both of these are in Cannes.

Dining out

The Côte d’Azur is truly international and this is reflected in the wide range of cuisine available in local restaurants. French, Provençal and Mediterranean dishes are abundant, and there are also fabulous Indian restaurants, such as Delhi Belhi in Nice; an exotic beach experience at the health food restaurant Z Plage in Cannes; and exciting fusion food at the busy brasserie Le Sporting in Saint-Tropez, where reservations are essential.

The popularity of the Côte d’Azur has never waned, making it an essential holiday destination in 2012.