The department of the Alpes-Maritimes is located in the far south east of France on the border with Italy. The Alps meet the Mediterranean creating one of the most stunning landscapes to be found anywhere in France. The coast is densely populated and it is hard to know where one town stops and the next begins. There really is something here for everyone, whether you are looking for a hedonistic beach holiday or quiet relaxation. The department is also a great place for culture lovers having more museums than anywhere else in France, apart from Paris, and there is a year round calendar of concerts, festivals and other events.
The Alpes-Maritimes begins in the pretty town of Theoule sur Mer just west of Cannes. Cannes is one of the most famous resorts in the world, renowned for its annual film festival and its palatial hotels. The Boulevard de La Croisette which runs along the seafront is a people-watchers' paradise and also has excellent beaches, many of which are owned by the hotels that dominate the seafront. Heading east, one finds the beach resort of Juan Les Pins, the luxurious peninsula of Cap d'Antibes and the town of Antibes. Antibes has the largest marina in Europe and is home to many of the world's largest yachts. The beautiful old town is interesting to explore on foot, with its Provencal market, cathedral and the excellent Picasso Museum.
Inland are villages such as Mougins, well known for its fantastic restaurants and St Paul de Vence, home to many of the region's artists, both past and present. The surrounding countryside is incredibly beautiful with amazing views to be found wherever one looks. In complete contrast to the old fashioned way of life in these medieval villages, the huge technology park of Sophia Antipolis is the European base of many of the world's computer and high-tech companies. It is this contrast between new and old that makes this department one of the most interesting in France.
Heading east of Antibes, we come to the city of Nice. Nice is the capital of the department and the fifth largest city in France. Once a winter retreat for wealthy British and Russians, Nice is now a fully functioning metropolis with the second busiest aiport in France. East of Nice, the town of Villefranche sur Mer with its stunning bay is a stop off for many cruise ships. The peninsula of Cap Ferrat has some of the most expensive real estate in Europe. The tiny, independent Principality of Monaco is incredibly glamorous and is home to many of the world's celebrities due to its status as a tax haven. Once a year, Formula 1 cars race around the streets of Monaco for the Monaco Grand Prix. Menton is the last town in France before reaching Italy. The town has only been part of France for just over a hundred years and feels very much like Italy with its stunning Italianate architecture and relaxed pace of life.