We took a similar trip last fall, using Nice as our home base and exploring the surrounding area. If you plan to stroll Nice's Promenade des Anglais, look for Chez Felix's sandwich stand and grab a delicious Pan Bagnat. I loved the Chagall and Matisse museums there.
In Monaco, we had a delightful lunch at Cafe de Paris, next to the Monte Carlo casino. It is the perfect spot for people (and car!) watching, and I enjoyed my French onion soup. After lunch, we drove to Hotel Napoleon in Menton. The exquisite Exotic Botanical Garden of Val Rahmeh is around the corner from the hotel, and there are a couple of Jean Cocteau museums nearby. Port Garavan offered fresh local fish in an outdoor dining room. Mirazur is a fine-dining option nearby, with sweeping views of the sea.
In Cannes, Hotel Martinez is a stunning spot. La Palme D'Or is their three-star restaurant, with a lovely open-air dining room facing the sea. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch there. After lunch we drove to La Bastide Saint-Antoine, an exquisite inn owned by chef Jacques Chibois, in Grasse. If you don't dine or stay there, it is worth a trip to buy a bottle of his olive oil, available in the hotel's boutique.
Our next destination was the spectacular Canyon du Verdon, which I highly recommend seeing. In Moustiers Sainte-Marie, we stumbled upon a wonderful mom-and-pop place to dine, Le Relais. The grilled lamb chops, ratatouille and dorade were outstanding.
The drive from Moustiers to Marseilles was long, but lovely. We drove through miles and miles of lavender fields and happened upon Couleurs Paysannes, a co-op grocery store where we bought picnic supplies for the car. Our adventure ended in Marseilles. I highly recommend Restaurant Michel for bouillabaisse when you are there. Le Petit Nice in Marseilles is a beautiful inn by the sea, where you can enjoy fine-dining at its best. If you are going to treat yourself to one high-end meal, this is the place to go. The octopus dish I enjoyed there was one of the best things I have ever eaten.