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Centuries of Italian culture have seeped into France and its famous Baroque architectural style. The terracotta roof tiles of old town Nice might have you feeling like you're in Italy. In Menton, you can walk down the coast a bit to the city reflected in the waters, evoking the Italian city of Portofino.
Many of Nice's residents are ethnically Italian, and while you may never know where your pizza-maker hails from, taste buds don't lie: The saltiness of the pancetta, the Italian version of bacon, will be unmistakable. Feast on some savoury lobster bisque, or sample clafoutis – a creamy, custardy tart typically packed with cherries – in a local patisserie.
The French Riviera is hot most of the year, but getting out of the sun doesn't preclude opportunities for illumination. Visit museums dedicated to the work of French natives such as Marc Chagall and Henri Mattisse, or step into Nice's Musee Massena, which offers magical views of European paintings and sculptures from through the ages.
The details of the French Riviera are beautiful, but zooming out leads to spectacular sights as well. Take a day trip to Eze Sur Mer and enjoy the stunning view from its botanical garden, or walk up Nice's Castle Hill to see this outstanding city from a bird's-eye view.
If you're craving more time at sea, find a French captain to take you afloat. Just head down to the docks of cities like Cannes or Nice, and enquire about hourly boat hire. Set sail on Marseille's cliff-strewn Calanque des Goudes, or head out to secluded Ile Sainte-Marguerite off the coast of Cannes.
In the French Riviera, you don't have to go far at all to find paradise. From Nice's Promenade des Anglais to the rocky shores of Villefranche-sur-Mer, the urban beaches of the Cote d'Azur will make you forget that you're anywhere near a city.
If you're looking to explore the hidden wonders of the Mediterranean, set off for destinations further east of France. Whether you traipse through Croatian coastal cities like Dubrovnik and Split or admire the idylls of Greece's Mykonos and Santorini islands, you'll be en-amour-ed by the French influences throughout the Mediterranean.
While you're on the hunt for delicious local treats, why not head west to Spain and taste tapas for yourself? Visit bustling Barcelona to marvellous Malaga and destinations beyond the Gibraltar Strait (namely, the Portuguese Coast) and stop off at Le Havre port – from there, you can soak in the Gothic grandeur and quaint cafes of Paris.
There's no catch here – French fish is magnifique. Whether you choose a sumptuous tuna steak or enjoy bouillabaisse, France's world-famous seafood stew, a fish dish is always the right choice along the Côte d'Azur.
No time to visit Italy? No problem. Many of the best meals along France's southern coast are actually of Italian origin. Pop into a family-run spot in Provence for pizza margherita, the classic Neopolitan pie with basil, fresh tomato sauce and local mozzarella cheese, or pasta with fresh-caught local prawns.
Take a more adventurous approach to eating and try boeuf tartare, high-quality beef served raw and held together by egg yolk (also raw). If you're comfortable venturing on the uncooked side of the culinary spectrum, you'll discover one of the treasures of French cuisine, served simply with mustard, pickles and crusty bread or crackers to let the natural flavours of the beef shine.
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