The summer months are when tourists flock to Europe’s coasts. But one type of seaside area has been a favorite among travelers since the 19th Century: the Riviera. The word riviera is often used to describe the French Cote d’Azur but has a broader meaning that we all recognize. The Italian word “riviera,” which means “coastline,” is used to describe a region of lakes or seaside resorts that includes small towns and has a strong tourist industry. These regions are reserved primarily for the socioeconomic elites that can afford to live in these high-cost areas.
It also has certain other attributes. It is a word that speaks of comfort, quietness, and a great climate. We can imagine a riviera without needing to know its exact definition. Palm trees line the shore; there is a blue sky and magnificent casinos. It also has expensive food and drink and yachts that occupy marinas where there were once fishing boats.
Are you glamorous? Galerie Estampe Mode
The French Riviera, with its glamorous Cannes Film Festival and Monaco, a principality where one-third of residents are millionaires, epitomizes this vision. Holiday villas are located all along the Mediterranean coastline, from France to Italy. They host wealthy visitors who want to hide from the paparazzi.
The official summer residence of France’s president is situated on a private peninsula just off the French Riviera. , despite his desire to change things, the current president, Emmanuel Macron, intends to maintain this tradition. His plan to construct a private pool there caused controversy at the beginning of summer.
There’s more to the coast than meets the eye.
Any land that is near water could be called a river. Most lakeside and seaside areas share the same environmental attributes: holiday accommodation, leisure and tourism services, transportation infrastructure, and a generally good climate. A Riviera’s real definition is socioeconomic exclusivity. This is what makes a coastline more attractive.
The Riviera, as the coastline par excellence is viewed by many, captures the imagination of the public more than any other resort. Sipping an expensive spritz, you pretend for a moment that you are part of the stories, films, and social circles taking place here. This feeling is not available in every coastal town. It must be recognized by everyone and be on their mental map. This definition would not include the entire French Mediterranean coastline. Only the towns and cities located between Cannes and Monaco can truly be considered France’s most exclusive coast.
Super exclusive in Monaco. Nick karvounis Unsplash
Using this socioeconomic definition, more regions can now call themselves rivieras. Consider the Swiss Riviera, which is really just a handful of towns in and around Vevey & Montreux. Some of the characteristics of a riviera are completely lost by traveling a few more miles to the west or east. The Swiss have renamed this locality “Riviera – Pays d’Enhaut”.
You can’t fake feelings.
Others use it to acknowledge the touristic power that already exists in a particular region. Some use it to increase tourism. The English Riviera was first advertised in England in the 1980s after a popularity peak in the 1970s. Torbay, with its small coastal villages and palm trees, can sometimes resemble Nice or Cannes. The region has seen fewer visitors since the initiative despite concerted efforts to promote the label. Cornwall, which is a region that closely matches the definition of a riviera in many ways, has maintained its popularity even without using the title.
The tourism industry has changed, and rivieras now face a more dynamic level of competition. In the tourism industry, “Instagrammable” has become more than just a buzzword: It’s a requirement. Since the 19th Century, rivieras have offered a certain standard of visual appeal to tourists. In the advertising for Riviera holidays, the idealized scenes are almost an analog version of Instagram: a couple laying in the sun with a cocktail in hand on the hotel’s private jetty while yachts and palm trees are in the background. This scene is common in social media.
Inevitably, Instagram’s popularity will lead to other coastal areas catching up. They will become more visually appealing and less like they have been ruined by mass tourism. In turn, rivieras may lose their originality.
Sites like Airbnb make it easier and cheaper to get into these “exclusive” areas. This might not affect the price of food, drink, or social events. However, it could change the socioeconomic balance in rivieras – either for the better or worse.