The Best French Riviera Films To Watch Now

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The sapphire blue of the Mediterranean, beaches dotted with palm trees, and grand boulevards lined with glittering boutiques make the French Riviera irresistible. Days spent soaking in the sun on super yachts, before partying long into the night, it’s no wonder visitors from the 1920s to now have found it captivating. And ever since then, the unparalleled beauty of this coastline—which stretches from the gilded casinos of Monte Carlo, down to the lavish beach clubs of Saint-Tropez—has been immortalized on film. Just think of Grace Kelly driving Cary Grant up to a picturesque hilltop for a picnic in To Catch a Thief; Jane Birkin laying poolside in La Piscine; and Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina locking lips in Pierrot le Fou—an image so iconic that it adorned the official poster for the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival, the storied showcase that draws the world to the Côte d’Azur each spring.

Ahead of its 77th iteration, which kicks off on May 14, we look back on seven films which capture the dreamy, dazzling spirit of the French Riviera—and will have you booking a flight, stat.

To Catch a Thief (1955)

There’s perhaps no film that better embodies the glamour, heat, and alluring, illicit dangers of the South of France than Alfred Hitchcock’s sun-drenched tale of a charismatic jewel thief (Cary Grant) who becomes the prime suspect for a string of robberies on the Riviera—except he’s retired, and the real culprit is a fleet-footed copycat. Cue an elaborate plan to catch the latter red-handed, which involves befriending a wealthy widow (Jessie Royce Landis) and her razor-sharp daughter (a luminous Grace Kelly). Dressed in chiffon ball gowns and monochrome linen separates, she swans around ritzy restaurants, sunbathes, swims, attends opulent galas, and speeds down cliffside roads in her convertible. Kelly herself certainly understood the appeal of life on the Côte d’Azur—by this point, she’d already met Prince Rainier III, and would soon become the Princess of Monaco (and an enduring symbol of the region).

How to watch: Stream on MGM+, Paramount+, or Prime Video.

And God Created Woman (1956)

The film that established Brigitte Bardot as the bombshell of her era, Roger Vadim’s scandalous romp casts the cat-eyed, tousled-haired fashion icon as a wild young woman with a voracious sexual appetite who breaks hearts and wreaks havoc across Saint-Tropez. Watch it for that dance sequence, as well as for the bicycle rides through picturesque ports, the frolicking on pristine beaches, and wandering through idyllic cobblestone streets—all scenes that helped to put this once sleepy fishing village on the map for tourists the world over.

How to watch: Stream on Max.

Bonjour Tristesse (1958)

With her gamine crop and wonderfully laid-back holiday wardrobe—think boatneck tops, linen shorts, and starched button-downs with rolled up sleeves, tied at the waist over square-necked bathing suits—Jean Seberg’s mischievous teenager, Cécile, lives the Riviera dream in Otto Preminger’s ravishing adaptation of Françoise Sagan’s seminal novel of the same name. But then, her long days of wild swimming, lounging in her palatial villa, and engaging in a summer romance are interrupted by the arrival of a worldly new love interest (a swan-like Deborah Kerr) for her rakish father (David Niven), one who threatens to turn our young heroine’s world upside down. While this landscape of verdant cliffsides and shimmering waters is filmed in glorious Technicolor, Cécile’s melancholic existence in Paris a year later plays out in subdued black and white—fitting, considering that once you leave the Côte d’Azur, everything else seems to pale in comparison.

How to watch: Stream on Prime Video or Tubi.

Pierrot le Fou (1965)

In Jean-Luc Godard’s madcap road movie, a verified French New Wave classic, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina are reckless lovers on the run from Paris to the Mediterranean, escaping the staid cocktail parties and mindless consumerism of the capital for the wild, lawless promise of the coast. The views are sweeping, the satire biting, and Karina’s collection of cherry-red frocks and baby blue knits simply to die for.

How to watch: Buy on Blu-Ray or DVD.

Two for the Road (1967)

Several sojourns to the South of France over the course of a decade, as recalled by a dysfunctional married couple (Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney), are spliced together in Stanley Donen’s wistful, bittersweet rom-com. As their relationship blossoms, frays, disintegrates, and is eventually repaired, the chemistry is palpable and the laughs plentiful—to say nothing of the spectacular costumes. (Come for Hepburn’s showstopping Paco Rabanne paillette minidress, stay for her PVC suit, psychedelic prints, and Space Age sunglasses.)

How to watch: Stream on Apple TV, Prime Video, or YouTube.

La Piscine (1969)

From Jane Birkin’s louche shirting, gingham minis, crochet separates, and basket bags to Romy Schneider’s scintillating swimwear and printed cocktail dresses, Jacques Deray’s steamy thriller is a sartorial masterclass: the tale of a stylish couple (Schneider and Alain Delon) whose trip to a friend’s villa near Saint-Tropez is disrupted when an old acquaintance (Maurice Ronet) shows up with his always-impeccably-dressed young daughter (Birkin) in tow. Cue jealousy, obsession, raucous parties, and an endless supply of holiday style inspiration.

How to watch: Stream on Max.

Priceless (2006)

The opportunity to see Audrey Tautou shed Amélie’s severe bob, kooky ensembles, and childlike wonder for low-cut dresses and stilettos to take the part of a chain-smoking, cocktail-swilling, world-weary gold digger? Truly priceless, in Pierre Salvadori’s charming romance, which sees her mistake a humble bartender (Gad Elmaleh) for a millionaire at a glitzy Biarritz hotel. They spend the night together, but once his true identity is revealed, she flees to the Riviera and he chases after her, determined to make it right. A flood of glittering parties, lavish dinners, and poolside flirtations follow, before enmity finally gives way to friendship and, later, love.

How to watch: Stream on Prime Video or Tubi.

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