Most often, if there’s a longer distance, the fastest and most convenient way to get somewhere is to take the airplane.
But due to their nature, you cannot just take an airplane like you do with a bus and take off in the air.
Instead, you need an airport.
For many people, and for the vast majority of tourists, the fastest way to get to the French Riviera is to fly.
So in this article, we’re looking at the airports on the French Riviera, what airports are located on the French Riviera, and which are the best.
How many airports are there on the French Riviera?
Today, there are three airports on the French Riviera. There are also multiple Heliports, including the largest one which is the Monaco Heliport, which, as the name reveals, is located in Monaco, Monte Carlo. The Monaco Heliport offers, among other journeys, travel by helicopter to the Nice airport, so people in Monaco can effortlessly get to their planes.
There have been more airports over the years, one of which have been the airport of Frejus, but today, that airport is closed, and the grounds are used for sports activities instead.
The three public airports are:
- l’Aéroport Nice Côte d’Azur – Nice Airport (NCE)
- Cannes-Mandelieu Airport (CEQ)
- Toulon–Hyères Airport (TLN)
The airports on the French Riviera are listed based on size, with the Nice Airport being the largest airport on the French Riviera, and Toulon-Hyères airport being the smallest.
Now, we’re going to go more in-depth on each platform and present what you need to know about them.
The largest airport on the French Riviera is Nice airport. It is also the third largest airport in terms of travelers, after Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly.
In 2017, Nice airport had a whopping 13,304,782 travelers, which is a significant increase from previous years.
The airport is the largest of the airports on the French Riviera by far, and it is the airport that handles almost all of the tourists that come to the French Riviera. The airport is crucial for tourism as well as for business on the Cote d’Azur.
Certain destinations and companies are only operating during summer, when the intensity, and the number of travelers is dramatically increasing, and during summer, the Nice Airport directly connects 100 destinations in 32 countries through 55 airlines that currently operates on Nice airport.
The airport offers a number of different travel routes to your final destination on the Riviera, such as a helicopter, bus, bus de l’aeroport, train, and taxi.
The airport is located in the so-called Alpes-Maritimes region, and, as the name reveals, in the city of Nice. More specifically, the airport is located 7 km (4 mi) west of the city center.
The airport is located just next to the Mediterranean, making for the most wonderful view over the sea during take-off and landing.
As you can suspect, Nice Côte d’Azur Airport works as a hub for the French airline Air France and is an operating base for EasyJet.
Here’s a cockpit view landing in Nice airport:
Since the Principality of Monaco doesn’t have an own airport, due to its small size, the Airport of Nice works as the city-state’s official airport, and this is also an important reason why there is a helicopter service connecting Monaco and the airport.
The airport covers over 3.70 km2 (1.43 sq mi), with 2.70 km2 (1.04 sq mi), and has two parallel runways. It also has two passenger terminals (terminal 1 and terminal 2), as well as a freight terminal.
The airport has a ”theoretical” capacity of 13 million travelers annually, with 26 landings per hour. And with over 13 million travelers in 2017, it is certainly a very busy airport, most of the travelers coming during summer.
Terminal 1 of Nice airport has 25 gates, spread out on an area of 52,000 m2. Terminal 1 holds flight to domestic countries, including Schengen and non-Schengen destinations.
Terminal 1 has a yearly capacity of 4.5 million per year.
Moreover, on Terminal 1 is also a business center, which contains eight rooms, as well as a conference room which can hold up to 250 people.
Terminal 2 is the main terminal of the Nice airport, and it is also the newer and larger terminal of the airport. The terminal has 29 gates that are spread out on 57,800 m2. This terminal handle flights to all destinations. The terminal has close to double the capacity of terminal one, with a yearly passenger handling capacity of 8.5 million.
As per statistics from Wikipedia, the number of travelers from Nice Airport has increased since 2010, having the most major growth between 2017 and 2018. This is an indication that the popularity of the French Riviera is increasing, and more and more tourists are discovering the beauty of the French Riviera.
Cannes-Mandelieu Airport (CEQ)
As the name reveals, this airport on the French Riviera is located in Cannes-Mandelieu, close to Cannes – more specifically 5 km west of Cannes.
It is the second most important general aviation airport in France, with an extra emphasis on the customers’ needs, providing every convenience, including things like high safety standards, free parking, tailored and VIP services, professional staff, and fast passenger handling.
In other words, it is an airport which is almost solely focused on private aviation.
The president of the Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur (ACA) is Dominique Thillaud, and within the ACA is Nice Côte d’Azur Airport and Cannes – Mandelieu Airport.
The Cannes-Mandelieu Airport is located just next to the Mediterranean, similar to Nice Airport, however, this airport is a lot smaller, both in size and capacity.
The airport is considered a gateway to the French Riviera, giving close access to places like St-Tropez, Cannes, Nice, and Monaco.
Since the Nice airport takes care of almost all commercial flights, Cannes Mandelieu Airport is more focused on general tourist and business aviation.
According to themselves, the airport has three missions:
- receiving tourist and business aviation
- receiving emergency, forest surveillance and fire-fighting missions
- developing theoretical and practical teaching and training courses for the air transport professions.
The build of the airport was completed in 1930, built by private individuals. It was built in the exact same spot it is located today. Seven years later, in 1937, the airport became a government airport, managed by the Air Secretariat.
After taking over, the government expanded the surface of the airport to 155 hectares. Back then, it was the only airport for the whole Côte d’Azur, meaning
the airport was taking care of every flight coming to the Riviera and the area around it.
After the liberation, the airport was partially destroyed, and facilities were rebuilt. Moreover, a new runway, stretching 1,100-metres was built.
It was at this time the airport on the French Riviera go the name Cannes-Mandelieu airport.
Since the hills around Cannes made it tremendously difficult, and sometimes impossible for large carriers to land on Cannes-Mandelieu airport, a new site was looked up, for building a new airport on, and the site chose was located at the mouth of the Var plain.
In 1966, efforts to modernize the airport were made. The French government planned and developed the airport to handle business and tourism flights on the French Riviera, meaning a special focus on private aviation.
Toulon–Hyères Airport (TLN)
Toulon–Hyères Airport is an airport on the French Riviera, focused on serving Toulon, which is a commune in the Var department, located in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
The airport is not a major one, but still serves a considerable amount of passengers. In fact, the airport served 502,974 passengers in 2010. It is located 19 kilometers east of Toulon.
The airport on the French Riviera was first opened in 1966.
Here, you can see a cockpit view of a landing in Toulon-Hyères airport:
The airport is situated with an elevation of 4 m above mean sea level. The airport currently has runways which measure 2,120 by 45 meters 1,902 by 46 meters.
The airport is used by theFrench Naval Aviation, also known as the Aéronautique Navale, and multiple helicopters and aircraft have their base on the south-western side of the airport.