The beautiful French Riviera sparkles with gorgeous ocean views, gleaming designer boutiques and their chic well-heeled clientele, lively street performances, and heady Provencal cuisine. Unless you just must be at the Cannes film festival, we'd recommend avoiding the latter half of May, when it usually takes place, as it drives up already pricey hotels. If you can, consider instead September, after the school holidays are over, the crowds have thinned and the extreme heat has passed, but weather is still generally sunny and pleasant. And where to stay? We thought you'd never ask. Here are our top picks, beautiful hotels that also offer excellent and attentive service, without the attitude of some Riviera luxury hotels:
Getting to the French Riviera with miles or points
You'll most likely fly into Nice (NCE) from another destination in Europe, as there aren't nonstop flights from the U.S. Here are our picks for at least getting the transatlantic portion in first class or business class. All mileage amounts are one way, simply double them for roundtrip.
1. Lufthansa First Class or New Business Class via Frankfurt or Munich for 67,500 United miles (First) or 50,000 miles (Business Class)
If you can book Lufthansa First Class 15 days before departure, this is a good option. You could build in enough time to experience the First Class Terminal if you fly via Frankfurt, but even if you fly via Munich, the Lufthansa Munich First Class Lounge is excellent all the same. Check out our recent review of Lufthansa's New First Class.
You can earn the United miles you need with these credit cards:
- Apply for the United MileagePlus Explorer (public offer is 30,000 miles, but also see this United Explorer Bonus Miles Reader Question)
- Apply for the Ink Bold Business Card – 50,000 points transfer 1:1 to United miles
- Apply for the Ink Plus Business Card – 50,000 points transfer 1:1 to United miles
- Apply for the Sapphire Preferred Visa – 40,000 points transfer 1:1 to United miles
2. Singapore Suites Class NYC-FRA for 57,375 KrisFlyer miles, then Lufthansa to Nice for 12.5K or 20K United miles
This is a pretty short flight and a night one at that to experience Singapore Suites, but the nice thing is that you can book it in advance; see Singapore Airlines Suites Award Tips and FAQ. From Frankfurt, you'll need to fly Lufthansa if you want a nonstop, and I'd opt for 12.5K miles in economy since the flight is only 1.5 hours.
3. First Class on British Airways NYC to London for 60,000 Avios, then cheap flight to Nice
There are high fuel surcharges on British Airways, so this option is mainly if you want to visit the UK anyway before or after the French Riviera, or if you have a companion ticker voucher you'ver earned with the British Airways Visa and want to redeem. The British Airways Visa is again offering up to 100,000 Avios points, but see our analysis at You can get a cheap flight from London to Nice on easyjet.
If you want to reduce the fuel surcharges, you could use British Airways Avios to fly Aer Lingus Business Class to Dublin (an especially good deal if you fly from Boston) with a cheap flight to Nice, or Iberia via Madrid or Barcelona.
- Apply for the British Airways Visa – Up to 100,000 Avios points
4. Business Class (Envoy) on US Airways for 30,000 Dividend Miles off-peak to Paris (roundtrip required), then cheap flight to Nice
While I'm not really a fan of US Airways, their offpeak business class awards are a good deal, for just 60,000 miles roundtrip from the U.S. to Paris. Keep in mind that US Airways awards are strictly roundtrip, so you won't be able to fly US Airways just one way (or rather, you'd end up paying the roundtrip award price). You can get a cheap easyjet flight from Paris to Nice.
If you've been to the French Riviera, what did you enjoy?
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