The spectacular scenery and glamorous vibe found along the coast in the southeast corner of France has been drawing royalty, artists, writers, and movie stars to the area for hundreds of years. We think the best way to explore the French Riviera is from behind the wheel, without a deadline—this itinerary will take you through some of the most romantic spots along the Côte d'Azur.

DAY 1: NICE

From the airport, follow the signs to Nice while taking in the the stunningly clear blue water and rocky cliffs. Check in to the Palais de la Méditerranée (low season from €160; high season from €605), a historic five-star property overlooking the sea that was completely renovated in 2004. Most of the 188 guest rooms feature balconies with views of the city or the sea, but the luxurious junior suites, with their expansive terraces overlooking the Mediterranean and sizeable living rooms, walk-in closets, and marble bathrooms, are worth every penny.

Begin your adventure by walking along the Promenade des Anglais to the Castle Hill, and make the short hike up to the Terrasse Frederic Nietzsche to take in the exceptional views. Back at street level, browse the markets and shops of the Old Town. Stop by the Cave Bianchi for a wine tasting, then visit one of the many small cafés to sample local dishes like socca, a savory pancake made from chickpea flour. Return to the hotel for a dip in the pool (pictured). For dinner, walk to La Petite Maison, where the excellent people-watching rivals the to-die-for menu of authentic Niçoise specialties (reservations are a must).

Photo: Courtesy of Palais de la Méditerranée

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