Nightlife in the French Riviera: Best Bars, Clubs, & More

Aerial view of Cannes, France at night

Siripong Kaewla-iad / Moment / Getty Images

From the glamorous beach clubs of Cannes, St-Tropez, and Monaco to the intimate neighborhood bars and pubs of Nice and Toulon, the French Riviera offers something for everyone after dark. It may be mostly associated with champagne-heavy parties on yachts and red-carpet events, but it's also possible to settle in for a casual glass of wine or cocktail at a pub, taking in a more local and friendly version of local festivities. Whether you're looking for live music, a good cocktail bar, a free summer festival, or a trendy club where the region's best DJs spin until dusk, these are some of the best spots for nightlife in the French Riviera.

Bars

The bar scene in the Riviera is vast, ranging from waterfront establishments offering sweeping sea views and a traditional vibe to hip cocktail bars where expert mixologists whip up house drinks to casual neighborhood brasseries where you can grab a beer or simple glass of wine while settling in to watch a soccer match. Here are a few of our favorites in select Riviera cities and towns:

  • Les Toits, Hotel de Paris (St-Tropez): This rooftop bar and restaurant in one of the Riviera's most iconic resort towns is the stuff of cinematic dreams. Dramatic views over azure waters, a chic outdoor patio with a heated pool, house cocktails, champagne, and after-dark DJ sets are all part of the appeal.
  • Le Bar à Vin (Cannes): Cannes is world-famous for its exclusive beach clubs, but this wine bar is accessible to all while remaining as stylish as they come. Choose from some 100 French and international wines, nibble on cheese and charcuterie plates, and people-watch at this vibrant neighborhood bar.
  • Hotel Amour à la Plage (Nice): This popular beach bar on the legendary Promenade des Anglais in Nice is both laid-back and chic, offering a large menu of cocktails, wines, small plates, and snacks. Sea views, lounge chairs, sand in your toes: does life get any better?
  • Le Bar Americain (Monte-Carlo, Monaco): You may just feel like a Grace Kelly character in an old Hollywood movie during at night out at this legendary watering hole at the Hotel de Paris in Monte-Carlo. The 1920s jazz-age vibe is well and alive here, and the signature cocktails, nibbles, elegant patio seating, and sea views are all memorable, too.

Nightclubs

Nightclubs in the French Riviera can be a bit hit-or-miss. While some epitomize the elegance and relaxed fun of the Côte d'Azur, others feature mediocre DJs, rowdy crowds, and annoying faux-smoke machines that went out of style somewhere in the late '90s. It's a good idea to investigate a bit before heading out for a night of dancing and drinking. These are a few failproof picks across the Riviera, reputed for their quality sets, stylish vibe, and excellent drinks.

  • Jimmy'z (Monte-Carlo): Some of the best international DJs—from Mark Ronson to Fatboy Slim—spin at this stylish club in Monte-Carlo, which was fully renovated in 2017. With its floating summer bar, lush garden areas, and enormous dancefloors, this club is pure Riviera, and almost guarantees a memorable night out.
  • High Club (Nice): With three dance floors, several bars, internationally renowned DJs, and a snack bar offering late-night treats like hotdogs and crepes to fuel the dancing, this is Nice's favorite local "discotheque," with a program focused on hip-hop and electro sets.
  • Les Caves du Roy (St-Tropez): This club at the famous Tropezian Byblos Hotel is known as being one of the Riviera's best spots for partying until dawn-- with style and elegance, of course. Resident DJs spin electro, funk, house, and other genres to full houses and the palm-tree lined outdoor space is the place to see and be seen.
  • Le Gotha (Cannes): This trendy Cannes club is well-known for its lively parties helmed by well-known DJs. Located right on the Croisette, Cannes' famed beach boardwalk, this club affords breathtaking Mediterranean views along with excellent drinking and all-night dancing opportunities.

Live Music

There are a variety of excellent live music venues dotted around the Riviera, many of which have jazz-centric programs and performances. But no matter your preferred genre, it's relatively easy to find a venue for a musical night out.

  • Shapko Bar (Nice): Specializing in jazz, blues, and funk, this ultra-popular local bar is known as one of the best spots in the old Franco-Italian city for live music and drinks. Performances are staged until just after 2 am, and the terrace is an excellent spot for people-watching.
  • Drinkers Club (Antibes): Nestled in the old part of Antibes, near Cannes and Juan-les-Pins, this intimate wine and cocktail bar is also known for its superb live music performances, especially jazz.
  • La Note Bleue (Monaco): Situated right on the beach, this much-coveted lounge and jazz bar in Monaco is prized for its excellent live performances, relaxed yet elegant vibe, and people-watching opportunities. Sit out on a chaise longue and enjoy the sea air with a drink. There's also a tasty small plates and tapas menu.
  • Espace Julien (Marseille): While Marseille is located at the western edge of the Riviera (and some don't consider the old port city part of it at all), we'd be remiss if we didn't mention this live-music powerhouse, where performers in genres as diverse as funk, reggae, rock, jazz, and Afro-groove take to the stage most nights.

Festivals

The Riviera stages numerous annual festivals, especially in the warm summer months, that involve live music, cinema, performances, and pop-up events.

On June 21 every year, the Fête de la Musique sees the streets of Nice, Cannes, Marseille, and other Riviera cities and towns come alive with free music performances. In bigger cities, large open-air concerts from well-known performers are often part of the program. Meanwhile, in July, Nice hosts an annual jazz festival that attracts international talent and highlights the best of the genre, all in a festive, open-air setting.

Electronic music fans flock to Cannes in late summer (generally August) for Les Plages Electroniques, which sees the beaches of the Croisette (and yachts offshore) taken over by energetic electro dance parties. Also in Cannes, usually in mid to late summer following the famous film festival, open-air movie screenings are free for all at Ciné Quartier. This and other open-air movie festivals around the Riviera are budget-friendly ways to enjoy an evening out.

Finally, craft beer fans in the Riviera for a fall trip should consider visiting the Nice Beer Festival in October. Artisanal beers from local breweries, live music, and food stands are all part of the fun.

Tips for Going Out in the French Riviera

  • Larger cities like Nice, Cannes, Marseille, and Monte-Carlo have reliable public transportation systems (buses and trams) that operate later in the night, but smaller resort towns often lack such service. Make sure to plan your night out ahead of time, and avoid walking alone at night through unfamiliar streets (this is especially true for women traveling alone or in small groups).
  • Taxis are always a possibility if you miss the last tram or bus, and Uber operates in major cities including Nice and Cannes. If you do hail or reserve a taxi, make sure it has a meter and an official taxi sign on the rooftop. If in doubt, do not accept the ride.
  • Bars are allowed to stay open until 2 a.m. and clubs generally stay open until around dawn.
  • It's not necessary to tip bartenders or those serving drinks, though many in France round up the bill to the next Euro and offer the extra amount in cash. If you have table service, consider leaving a tip of between 10 to 15 percent.
  • While drinking in public is technically not illegal in France, you can be fined for public drunkennes or rowdy behavior. If you enjoy a drink outdoors as part of a picnic on the beach or elsewhere, enjoy alcohol in moderation and and abstain from rowdy behavior.
  • In the late autumn and winter, the Riviera can get very chilly at night, with temperatures approaching freezing in the early morning hours. Make sure to bring a coat, light scarf, and even gloves with you if you plan to walk back to the hotel after a night of clubbing or live music.
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