The Marseille locals have a saying when they want you to get lost, that you should “va te jeter aux Goudes” (literally, throw yourself to Goudes, i.e. go away). Les Goudes is a small fishing village at the outermost limits of Marseille. Traditional fishing families have lived here for centuries, there are Nazi bunkers dotted around the surrounding hills and the rocky coastline is blissful.
Head to the bar 20,000 Lieues (after the Jules Verne book, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea) that overlooks the beach where you can swim before Happy Hour. Hunt down an outside table, order a pizza and enjoy the sunset with a few beers. Delightful!
Restaurant 20,000 Lieues, 12 Boulevard Alexandre Delabre, Marseille, France +33 (0)4 91 25 05 24
This iconic establishment isn’t cheap but its unparalleled view over the iconic Promenade des Anglais is well worth the price tag. On the 10th floor of the hotel, you’ll find the pool terrace with bar and restaurant, where you can feel like a king or queen, watching everyone else like ants down below. The Lounge is open from 10am to 5pm after which you can head to the restaurant until late into the evening.
Le Meridien, 1 Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France +33 04 97 03 44 44
The Byblos hotel has been an institution in St Tropez since it opened 50 years ago; it’s one of the more chic hotels in the area. Its bar, Les Caves du Roy (literally, “the wine cellar”) is where people come to party when money is no object. It’s free to get in, but don’t let that fool you, as a bottle of champagne can cost close to €300. But it’s worth the budget for an impressive night that you’ll never forget, with resident DJs and a kitsch dance floor. Dress to impress.
The VIP Room is another institution in the small village of St Tropez, which pushes above its weight in star-studded club nights. Karl Lagerfield once described this place as “the best club in the world” and it regularly tops lists of Best Global Bars. It can be super sophisticated and very difficult to get into without a reservation, which is very difficult to make in the first place. Book a dinner reservation and you’re more likely to get in after. Check Facebook for up-to-date listings.
The Carlton Hotel in Cannes is where director Alfred Hitchcock famously shot his muse, Grace Kelly in To Catch A Thief in the 1950s. During the Cannes Film Festival, it plays host to lavish parties and A-list guests. The Carlton Bar is where you can go to relax and take in a little sophisticated history, rather than have a crazy club night. You might even find the odd jazz evening. It oozes southern French class and you might spot the odd star.
58 Promenade de la Croisette, Cannes, France +33 4 93 06 40 06
The Longchamp Palace is a local favourite and a place to have a spectacular night out without getting dressed up or experiencing over-the-top “bling”. It’s not that far from the centre of Marseille or the Cours Julien (where many other bars can be found), so it’s a great place to end your night dancing to the DJ or wolfing down food that you forgot to eat earlier. You might plan to just start your night here but you might not want to leave.
Longchamp Palace, 22 Boulevard Longchamp, Marseille, France +33 4 91 50 76 13
Nice – like other cities – has plenty to offer in the way of rooftop bars and like Le Meridien, Le Radisson offers their own alternative high-rise pool with a view. Go for the day to swim but end with an unforgettable night to watch the people going about their lives on the Promenade des Anglais below.
Le Radisson Blu, 223 Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France +33 4 97 17 71 77
Sun 7 attracts a hip crowd who know how to party, both in Cannes and Nice. It’s open until 5am where the crowd drinks cool cocktails and grinds their hips to the best DJs. Check out their Facebook page for listings.
Sun 7, 5 Rue Gérard Monod, Cannes, France +33 7 60 25 59 00
Sun 7, 36 Rue de France, Nice, France +33 6 77 99 56 27
Nice is a place for jazz lovers, and the Shapko Bar comes up time and again on lists of great bars in Nice. It’s unpretentious, full of locals and it’s a great laid-back alternative to the A-list shenanigans you can find elsewhere.
Shapko Bar, 5 Rue Rossetti, Nice, France +33 9 54 94 69 31
Most of St Tropez’s night life is over the top, full of bling and ostentatious displays of wealth. Chez Maggy, just behind the port, offers a different sort of night – where extroverts are encouraged, dressing up is “de rigueur” (required behaviour) and big crowds are a given. It’s popular with the LGBT crowd. You’ll find live music, Go Go Girls and theme nights.
5 Rue Sibille, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France +33 4 94 97 16 12