Bonjour and welcome to the French Riviera! Known for its glamorous coastline, chic resorts, and gorgeous beaches, this region of southeastern France has been a destination for the rich and famous for centuries. But beyond the glitz and glamour lies a deeper, more nuanced side to the French Riviera, one that inspired French author Françoise Sagan’s seminal novel “Bonjour Tristesse.” In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through the places that inspired Sagan’s story, as well as the hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path destinations that make the French Riviera a truly unique travel destination. From the stunning beaches of Antibes to the charming village of Eze, we’ll show you how to experience the French Riviera like a true local, with a focus on culture, history, and of course, great food and wine. So pack your bags and get ready for a trip that will leave you saying “bonjour” to tristesse and “au revoir” to the ordinary.
About ‘Bonjour Tristesse’
‘Bonjour Tristesse’ is a novel that tells the story of a seventeen-year-old girl named Cecile, who is spending her summer holidays in a villa on the French Riviera with her father, Raymond, and his young mistress, Elsa. The villa is located in a beautiful setting on the Mediterranean coast, and the novel evokes the glamour and hedonism of the French Riviera in the 1950s.
Cecile enjoys the freedom of the summer holidays, spending her days lounging by the pool and socializing with friends. However, her idyllic summer is disrupted when Raymond’s old friend, Anne, arrives and threatens to upset the delicate balance of their lives. Anne is a sophisticated woman who represents everything that Cecile’s carefree lifestyle is not: she is serious, cultured, and intellectual. Anne also has designs on Raymond, and Cecile begins to feel jealous and resentful of her.
The tension between Cecile and Anne comes to a head when Raymond announces that he plans to marry Anne, which would mean the end of his relationship with Elsa. Cecile, desperate to maintain her carefree lifestyle and her relationship with Elsa, concocts a plan to break up the engagement. The plan ultimately backfires, leading to tragic consequences for all involved.
Throughout the novel, the French Riviera is portrayed as a playground for the wealthy and glamorous, a place where people go to escape their troubles and indulge in their desires. The setting is described in vivid detail, with lush descriptions of the villa, the beach, and the surrounding countryside. The novel also explores the contrast between the carefree lifestyle of the young and the seriousness of the older generation, as well as the destructive power of jealousy and selfishness.
Day 1: Arrive in Nice
“As soon as I arrived in Nice, I felt better. It was the first time that summer that I had felt truly alive. The sun was shining, the sea was sparkling, and the palm trees were swaying in the breeze.”Cecile, Chapter 1
The novel begins in Nice, a city that captivates Cecile from the moment she arrives. Start your trip by strolling along the Promenade des Anglais and soaking up the sea views. You can also visit the Musée Matisse, which features works by the artist who was inspired by Nice’s vibrant colors and light.
Day 2-3: Antibes
“In a few hours we were in Antibes, and as we drove along the coast road, past the creeks and the rocky beaches, I began to feel that sense of freedom and adventure that always came over me when I was by the sea.”Cecile, Chapter 2
Antibes is a town between Nice and Cannes that features in the novel as the setting for the main character’s idyllic summer spent in her father’s villa. Visit the Villa La Rêverie, which is said to have inspired the villa in the novel. The villa is now a luxury hotel, and you can enjoy a drink on the terrace overlooking the sea.
In Antibes, you can also visit the Picasso Museum, which is located in the Château Grimaldi, a medieval castle overlooking the sea. The museum houses an impressive collection of works by Pablo Picasso, who lived and worked in Antibes in the 1940s.
Day 4-5: Cannes
“Cannes was very different from Antibes. It was a glamorous, sophisticated place, full of wealthy tourists and celebrities. But it was also beautiful, with its long sandy beach and its picturesque old town.”Cecile, Chapter 5
Cannes is known for its film festival, but it’s also a beautiful town with a long sandy beach and a picturesque old town. In the novel, Cecile and her father spend time in Cannes attending parties and social events. Walk along the famous Croisette Boulevard, lined with palm trees and luxury hotels, and visit the Palais des Festivals, where the film festival takes place.
Day 6-7: Saint-Tropez
“Saint-Tropez was a magical place, a fishing village that had become a playground for the rich and famous. The port was filled with yachts and the beaches were crowded with beautiful people.”Cecile, Chapter 6
Saint-Tropez is a charming fishing village that became famous in the 1950s as a playground for the rich and famous. In the novel, Cecile and her father go to Saint-Tropez to attend a party. Visit the Place des Lices, where the locals play boules, and enjoy a drink at one of the many cafes and bars around the port. You can also visit the Musée de l’Annonciade, which houses a collection of works by post-impressionist artists who were inspired by the village.
Day 8: Departure
“On the morning of our departure, I went down to the beach to say goodbye to the sea. It was still beautiful, but now it seemed to me that it was hiding something, something that wasn’t quite right.”Cecile, Chapter 10
On your last day, take some time to relax on one of the beaches and soak up the Mediterranean sun before departing. The French Riviera is a magical place, but as Cecile reflects in the novel,
The idyllic summer that she had spent with her father and his girlfriend had come to an abrupt and tragic end, reminding her of the fragility of happiness and the inevitability of change.
As you depart, take a moment to reflect on the beauty of the French Riviera and the memories you have created on this trip. The region has inspired countless artists, writers, and travelers, and its allure is sure to remain with you long after you leave.