In the South of France, many hotels start opening their doors in spring before a season of star-studded events like the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix kick-off. Each year brings more than a coat of fresh paint as hotels up the ante with everything from new culinary concepts helmed by some of the country’s most lauded chefs to expanded suites, villas and spas.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet retreat in Provence’s postcard-perfect villages or prefer to be in the heart of the action along La Croisette in Cannes, these French Riviera hotels strike the right balance of city, shore and French countryside chic.
Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa
The hilltop hideaway is tucked in Luberon Valley on a 100-acre estate lined with vineyards, cypress trees and 300-year-old olive groves. Set in a restored 11th-century hamlet, Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa sports 63 rooms and suites, plus an 8,000-square-foot, six-bedroom villa located 15 minutes away in the village of Ménerbes.
Last summer, the resort reopened after a multi-million-dollar renovation that unveiled a new hotel bar and three refreshed restaurants, including Avelan, a Japanese-French fusion eatery by chef Thierry Enderlin, and vineyard-facing Les Vignes, which showcases seasonal cuisine and local produce from Luberon and Provence.
This spring, the hotel also introduced a new spa concept with lavender oil and grape-based products from the vineyards, as well as natural beauty brands like Tata Harper and French staple Biologique Recherche. And for those who’ve always dreamed of their own Tour de France, the onsite BMC Cycling Center offers bike rentals, gear and expert guides to help navigate the surrounding countryside.
Le Negresco’s terra-cotta-colored dome is not only a landmark on Nice’s seaside Promenade des Anglais, it’s also a symbol of the city itself. Counting the Beatles, Elton John and Princess Grace of Monaco as guests, the more than 100-year-old hotel is still a coveted address on the Côte d’Azur. Outfitted with an eclectic mix of 17th- and 18th-century sculptures and portraits, salons dedicated to Louis XVI and Napoleon III, and street art, the 128 rooms and suites showcase nearly five centuries of history (think neoclassical-style Marie Antoinette, with golden upholstery bearing a scroll motif inspired by Louis XVI’s library at Versailles).
Linger over live music in the evenings at the namesake Negresco Bar, whose deep walnut woodwork and gilded frames feel equal parts hunting lodge and Loire countryside château, or in the redesigned space at top-notch Le Chantecler, helmed by Meilleur Ouvrier de France (“Best Craftsman of France”) Virginie Basselot.
Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel
Everyone from Pablo Picasso to Elizabeth Taylor has been known to frequent this legendary hotel — which recently even had its own star turn as a backdrop in the popular Netflix series Emily in Paris. The location is certainly a draw — the peninsula village of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat sits seaside, surrounded by untouched pine groves — and while it feels somewhat secluded from the rest of the bustling French Riviera, the hotel is midway between Nice and Monaco. (It’s a 30-minute drive to either city.)
Rooms like the Four Seasons Pool Suite embrace indoor-outdoor living with expansive terraces opening up to a private pool facing the Mediterranean Sea. The centerpiece of the hotel, Club Dauphin’s saltwater pool, is often hailed as one of the most stunning in the world since it’s nestled in the cliffside and overlooks the sea below.
The private-home-turned-hotel in Provence’s hilltop town of Gordes — considered one of the prettiest in the region — is like a snapshot of another era. Terra-cotta tiles from the 18th century still line the floors, and more than 2,000 paintings and objets d’art add a museum-like quality to the refined, countryside escape, which looks over the Luberon Valley — perhaps best known for its lavender-lined hills. Suites like the Baron de Simiane open up to a winter garden, and ancient stone vaults frame the bedroom and fireplace. For something even more secluded, private villa Maison de Constance features five bedrooms (some with secret access to the village), plus a pool, garden and butler service.
While the 40-room hotel is on the intimate side, it offers a number of different dining options, from gastronomic L’Orangerie to Clover Gordes by Jean-François Piège, which spotlights local products in a vintage setting (everything from the cups to the chairs are antique) and unfolds on the valley-facing terrace. In June, the property will debut a pastel-hued tea salon and terrace from sweets purveyor Ladurée that will serve its famous macarons, pastries, ice cream sundaes and savory lunchtime fare.
Last summer, the same group behind London’s storied Claridge’s and The Connaught opened its first French property, The Maybourne Riviera, on the rocky peninsula of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Perched over the Mediterranean Sea, all 69 rooms and suites feature terraces and views of the water, as well as a distinctive design by the likes of revered artists and architects such as Pascal Goujon and André Fu.
Heralded chef Mauro Colagreco (of nearby Mirazur) is behind the fresh seafood and modern Mediterranean fare at the Riviera Playa beach club, as well as fine dining Ceto, which serves tasting menus highlighting what’s found in the surrounding sea and terroir (think langoustine tartare with caviar and asparagus with rhubarb and cuttlefish).
Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes
Arguably one of the best vantage points for watching the stars strut up the red carpet during the Cannes Film Festival, Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic sits on the famous main strip, La Croisette, with balconies looking directly at the Palais des Festivals. From the sea-view suites, you can spot the Lérins Islands across the bay, but if you want a full, 360-degree view of the sea and neighboring Estérel mountain range in the distance, book the sumptuous top-floor Suite Majestic, which is crowned with a heated pool on the rooftop terrace.
Decorated chef Pierre Gagnaire is behind Fouquet’s, a spinoff of the legendary Parisian brasserie, as well as the newer Paradiso Nicole & Pierre, a Mediterranean eatery in partnership with the chef and restaurateur behind Nice institution La Petite Maison. Spend the day lounging at Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic’s private pool or beach, whose iconic, lounge-chair-lined jetty is one of the largest on the Croisette.