The French Riviera: An Introduction
The French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur as the locals know it, is a breathtaking stretch of coastline dotted along the South of France. The Mediterranean Sea spans the shoreline, providing the perfect backdrop to an array of iconic French towns and cities, including St Tropez, Cannes, Nice, and the principality of Monaco – each with its own unique character and charm.
For years, the rich and famous have flocked to these glamorous locations to embrace the sun-soaked beaches and dazzling blue waters. With a rich cultural history, solid culinary traditions, and unparalleled natural beauty, the French Riviera has become a top destination with travelers worldwide. The region is also a popular wedding destination for couples around the world dreaming of a destination wedding in the sun. In this article, I outline the benefits of having a wedding in the South of France, including the types of venues available for your big day and the legal requirements for a civil ceremony. Read on to learn more!
Benefits of having a destination wedding on the French Riviera
If you dream of a wedding with the perfect backdrop consisting of beautiful sea views, vibrant French gardens, and picturesque villages, the French Riviera might be the ideal destination for you! Whether you envision a beach wedding ceremony, a reception on a yacht, or an elegant soiree in the city, the Cote d’Azur has endless possibilities to bring your wedding vision to life. With a range of luxury wedding venues, including five-star hotels, private villas, and quaint churches, you’re sure to find the perfect place to suit your requirements and the needs of your wedding guests.
Finding a French Riviera wedding venue for your big day
Here’s my list of the best wedding venues in the South of France.
Nice is at the heart of the French Riviera and is renowned for its romantic ambiance, rich history, and traditional French hospitality. This beautiful city captivates visitors from around the world with its winding cobbled streets, incredible Baroque architecture, and iconic Promenade des Anglais, boasting stunning views over the Mediterranean Sea. Its beautiful beaches and charming Old Town make Nice the ideal location for couples wanting a classic wedding with contemporary touches.
Popular wedding venues in and around Nice include:
- Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild – learn more about Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild for a wedding
- Domaine du Mont Leuze
- Hôtel Cap-Estel
- Hôtel Château de La Chèvre d’Or
Saint Tropez is a chic seaside paradise known for its glamour and nightlife. French cobbled streets wind through the town’s character buildings and up to the citadel. The luxury hotels and pristine beaches of St. Tropez attract the global elite in search of the perfect blend of relaxation and sophistication. St. Tropez is a great choice for couples seeking a lavish wedding.
Popular St Tropez wedding venues include:
Cannes is for you if you’re looking for a glamorous destination that merges history, luxury, and cinema! The city is known worldwide for the Cannes Film Festival, which brings together some of the biggest celebrity names in the entertainment industry every year. But beyond the red carpet, Cannes is a city filled with charming places to visit, including pretty cobbled streets in the area of Le Suquet, the awe-inspiring Notre-Dame d’Esperance church, and the designer retail shopping district of Rue d’Antibes. It is also host to some of the most luxurious 5-star hotels in France, many of which boast gorgeous sea views, making it a dream destination wedding location.
Popular wedding venues in Cannes include:
- Hotel Martinez
- Carlton Hotel
- JW Marriott Hotel
- Hotel Five Seas
- Castellaras Castle
- Le Majestic Berriere
- Hotel Miramar
- Hotel Splendid
If you’re searching for a wedding destination fit for royalty, Monaco is the spot for you! Occupying a prime position on the French Riviera, with luxury yachts & supercars everywhere you turn, this independent principality has its own sovereignty and finance system, making it a popular choice for the affluent. Monaco comprises four districts, including Monte Carlo, Monaco-Ville, La Condamine, and Fontvieille, and is famous for the Monaco Grand Prix and Monte Carlo casino. The picturesque city-state boasts impressive views of the harbor and the Mediterranean Sea and an abundance of striking Belle époque architecture.
Popular wedding venues in Monaco include:
What legal documents are needed to get married in the South of France if you live in another country?
Getting legally married in France can be challenging, especially if you’re from another country. The process is lengthy and entails gathering official documents from various sources, including birth certificates, etc. Therefore, it’s best to prepare well in advance to ensure that all the requirements are met and that there’s enough time to complete the application process. If either partner is not a French national or resident, permission must be obtained from the local government, and the couple must stay in the area for 45 consecutive days before the wedding or elopement. You must also have documentation from your country of residence to prove you can legally marry.
Having a symbolic ceremony in the South of France
Due to the legal complexities involved with arranging an official marriage in France, many non-French nationals opt for a symbolic ceremony instead. For this, couples usually have a low-key legal ceremony in their home country, followed by a symbolic or non-legal ceremony in France. This way, they can still experience the beauty and romance of a wedding on the French Riviera without the inconvenience. The beauty of opting for a symbolic ceremony is that you can exchange your vows almost anywhere (with the correct permissions) – be it on a charming cobblestone street in the old town of Nice or against the stunning backdrop of a Mediterranean sunset on the beach in Cannes.
Finding a Wedding Planner in the South of France & your destination wedding vendors
Planning a wedding can be challenging, especially when you’re having a destination wedding abroad. I highly recommend hiring a professional wedding planner with experience working in the South of France. This way, they can help you find the perfect wedding venue and guide you through the legal paperwork. When looking for a planner, it’s essential to find someone you can communicate with effectively in English and who completely understands your vision for your big day. Trust is also crucial, as you’ll be working with your planner from a distance. Your chosen planner will have a reliable network of suppliers and can help connect with the right wedding vendors, including a floral designer, cake maker, officiant, and entertainment.
Choosing a photographer for your French Riviera Wedding
When it comes to finding the right photographer for your French Riviera wedding, it’s important to choose a photographer who can communicate with you effectively in English. This way, they are able to understand your needs and fulfill your expectations. You want to feel confident in your photographer’s ability to create beautiful images that represent your wedding vision and stand the test of time. Read more on What to Consider when Choosing a Wedding Photographer.
If you are searching for a wedding photographer in the South of France, I would love to hear from you.
I am Victoria Amrose, a destination wedding photographer based in Europe, and I cover elopements and weddings across France, including all of the French Riviera. Please get in touch for more information.
Getting to the French Riviera
For those traveling from abroad, the main airport for the region is Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, which welcomes flights from major cities around the world. From Nice Airport, all of the main towns are easily accessible. St Tropez is around an 80-minute drive, and Cannes and Monaco are both a 30-minute drive away. Nice International Airport offers a range of car rental services and private hire taxis, or you can arrange a private transfer from your hotel accommodation.
Having driven through the French Riviera, I can tell you it’s an enjoyable experience – It’s worth noting that it can get extremely busy in the summer months. The roads are well-connected and easy to navigate, allowing uninterrupted exploration of the breathtaking scenery. With each turn, you are met with spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea, chic French buildings, picturesque coastal towns, and vibrant floral displays. The only downside is that it may take you longer than expected to reach your destination, as you will want to keep stopping along the way to snap away at those gorgeous vistas for Instagram!
After exploring the beauty and charm of the French Riviera, it’s easy to see why it has become a popular location for destination weddings. With its stunning coastline, luxurious hotels, and picturesque towns, it offers the perfect backdrop for your wedding day. Before you start the preparations, I highly recommend enlisting the help of a professional wedding planner. They can help guide you through the entire process, including assisting you to navigate the marriage paperwork and find the perfect venue. Whether you’re planning an intimate elopement or a big wedding reception, you will find that the French Riviera is the perfect choice.
About the author: Victoria Amrose captures weddings and elopements across France and the rest of Europe. Learn more about Victoria’s WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY COLLECTIONS, or CONTACT VICTORIA AMROSE for a quote.