The French Riviera is filled with intriguing towns to explore along its coastline and into its countryside, but take the time to get to know your home base. For us, that was Cannes for the first part of our trip.

For a quick city tour, you can board the efficient yet cheesy, gleaming white tourist train on La Croisette that takes you on an abbreviated tour. Instead, we made our own tracks. A nice way to start the day is a walk to the Forville market. It’s open every day except Monday, when it converts to an antiques market. Find a cafe there or along the way for a coffee and light bite to eat. You’ll want to save room for bigger food plays later in the day.

After visiting the covered, open-air market of artfully displayed veggies, fruit, flowers and pastas, head up toward the town’s medieval castle to get a better view of Cannes and its harbor. Along the way, check out one of the flea markets set up around town. It feels as if you’re getting an intimate glimpse into a French family’s life as your peruse the odds and ends.

Upon reaching the top of the castle, we watched what we assumed was a maintenance worker scaling its clock tower. The views from the square are hard to beat.

If you’re interested in seeing a collection of musical instruments from all over the world and other art from the area, visit the castle’s new resident, Musée de la Castre. We were more interested in spending our time among the yachts below.

It’s fun to witness all of the preparations and maintenance work that goes into running these expensive toys. The crews’ perpetual motion appears to be in sync with a constant fight against the elements to keep their ships and accessory jet skis and motorboats in tip-top shape. From the harbor, continue along the public and private beaches of La Croisette. About five blocks past our home at the InterContinental Carlton Hotel, we discovered our favorite lunch gem of the trip, proving once again that the less-expensive, family-run restaurants are the diamonds in the rough worth seeking.

At La Creperie de la Croisette, Don ordered the “American” sandwich stuffed with steak, cheese, fries and aioli sauce. It was ham and cheese crepes with a lightly dressed side salad for me.

Damon, our impromptu dining companion, would have taken whatever dropped from our table. He wasn’t picky and for good reason. The restaurant turned out some fine fare.

No stray, the waitress claimed Damon and took him for a walk at one point during our meal. The French love their little dogs, and they are a common sight at many restaurants.

With a morning of touring in and belly full, settle into a spot on the beach, kick back and enjoy what’s left of the day from your sandy perch of choice. Just be sure to work in a few more strolls. Working up an appetite for a late dinner by American standards – typically around 8:30 or 9 here – is a serious pursuit in this foodie paradise.

For a special treat, dine at Le Mas Candille in Mougins, and splurge with the tasting menu. The chef deserves your full trust.

When making reservations, request a seat on the terrace to enjoy the countryside view, sweet floral smells and cool breeze.

From first sight to last bite, every course takes you on a culinary journey and promises sweet memories as you reminisce about the experience down the road.

Give this special dinner last-night placement in your itinerary. Even though you’ll drop some cash to take a taxi there, it’s worth the investment in a stress-free drive and a night to remember.