How to Get to the Esterel Area
You will most likely be arriving in France through the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport which lies 60 kilometers along the coast to the north-east.
Catch a Bus to l’Esterel
Bus #3003 from outside the airport terminals runs directly to Saint-Raphaël. You can also continue by bus to nearby Fréjus, but you can also walk it, as both towns blend into each other.
Ride to l’Esterel by Train
Bus #99 from the airport delivers passengers to Gare de Nice-Ville train station, from where you can take a direct train to Saint-Raphaël. Otherwise, you can walk from the airport to Nice’s St Augustin train station and travel to Saint-Raphaël with a train change in Antibes or Cannes.
The train station, Gare de Saint-Raphaël Valescure , is in the middle of town, a stone’s throw from Le Vieux Port and walking distance to the main sights of Saint-Raphaël and the local beaches.
This is the same, main railway line which provides access to well-known destinations along the Côte d’Azur including Cannes, Nice and Monaco. It’s the best way to travel on the French Riviera.
Traveling l’Esterel by Car
The most well known part of coastline is the so-called the Corniche d’Or, a road that follows along the red coastline below the Esterel massif (the red volcanic mountain range offering trails for hikers & cyclists, plus sweeping sea views). It is famous for being one of the most attractive stretches of road in France. From Cannes to St-Tropez the dramatic Corniche road offers glimpses down to small, sandy coves hiding between jagged rocks. The road passes beautiful landscapes with the deep blue sea to one side and the red cliffs to the other.
This is, above all, a place to take your time, stopping where fancy dictates.
Be aware that parking a car in many areas of the Esterel is notoriously difficult, and equally so in many surrounding areas of the French Riviera. People park everywhere, between trees, poles and sometimes even on sidewalks, and parking tickets are doled out like candy. Drivers routinely bump each other in order to get in and out of tight spaces.
The French Riviera has some of the worst traffic and one of the highest traffic accident rates in France, and the toxic mix of French car driving enthusiasm with many powerful motorcycles and youths on small scooters makes holiday motoring often an unrewarding experience.
Side Trip: St. Tropez
40 kilometers south of Saint-Raphaël is the former fishing village of St Tropez which became world famous in the 1950s after Brigitte Bardot appeared in a movie which was filmed there. To this day it remains a playground for the rich and famous which is home to a luxury marina which attracts some of the world’s most expensive superyachts during the summer months. Check out our guide to St. Tropez and the private beach clubs near St. Tropez.
A novel way to visit the famous tourist resort of Saint-Tropez is to take a boat trip from Quai Amiral Nomy with Les Bateaux de Saint-Raphaël. Their trips take about an hour each way and provide fabulous views of the coastline en route. If the Saint-Tropez route is sold out or inconvenient for your time in port (they only operate from April to early November) you can take a shorter trip along the coast to see the fjord-like calanques of the nearby Esterel coast.