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Cafe Noir on the Cote d'Azur

Lingering over a cup of perfectly brewed coffee is part of the ultra-posh lifestyle on the French Riviera. The game is to look busy and interested without being too busy or interested. Everyone is preoccupied and slightly disaffected. This might be on account of the extremely relaxed ambience, the mesmerizing views of the water, or the distracting task of people-watching.

Frivolities in France

In any case, drinking coffee or an aperitif al fresco is first on the list of Things To Do on the French Riviera. This is followed closely by sunbathing on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. And once you're in full relaxation mode, take a leisurely stroll from Villefranche-sur-Mer to Beaulieu-sur-Mer for some visually stimulating exercise.

You need very little time here to figure out that the smell of the sea barely outranks the smell of coffee, fresh bread, and provincial cooking. You'll definitely want to partake in certain dishes like the ratatouille, bouillabaisse, and salad Nicoise that are specific to the South of France. While traditional meals are readily available, you'll find that cookies, cupcakes, and muffins have also made their way onto the menu!

Caffeine Corners

There are many wonderful beachy cafés to be found in Antibes, Cannes, Juan-les-Pins, and elsewhere along the coast. Look for Choopy's (Antibes), Coffee & Cookies (Cannes), La Luna (Beaulieu), and Le Haricot Magique (Nice) to get an impression of what's bringing current Cote d'Azur clientele to the cafes. You'll find a good mix of coffees, light regional fare, and American-style desserts being offered.

Aside from traditional coffee houses, you can also get your caffeine fix from museum cafés. I am not suggesting you only visit for the house blend though! Nice is home to a couple museums that are on Must See lists for art and architecture, not coffee and crullers. Musee d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain houses a wonderful collection in a modern building with rooftop terraces.

Musee Chagall is located in a garden and has canvases portraying Chagall's "biblical message" as well as other paintings and sculptures bequeathed to the museum after his death. The museum comes complete with mosaics and stained glass windows in the concert hall; the whole place is perfect for spiritual reflection and a heavenly cup of coffee. You'll find other people using the grounds to unwind from otherwise busy schedules.

Au Contraire

The French Riviera also has a few tearooms catering to tourists (and locals) who prefer afternoon tea to café au lait. If you are one of these people, check out the following:

Biscuit & Biscuit in Marseilles (serves pastries; décor emphasizes pottery)
Altro Cose Cosi in Nice (serves breakfast and lunch as well as afternoon tea)
Book in Bar in Aix-en-Provence (good collection of British literature and magazines)
You will undoubtedly find your own favorite spots on the Cote d'Azur to shop, eat, and watch a gorgeous sunrise. Fortunately all of these activities can be accomplished while enjoying an aromatic cup of coffee. So… which café serves the strongest cup? Where are the nicest waiters? And what type of shop is most likely to have an English-speaking staff? Let us know!

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