Hi! My husband and I are looking for a home base town near the beach. We will not have a car but don’t want a touristy area. We need calm, flowers, close to the beach and restaurants, true French experience. Budget 200-300 USD per night, going in mid July. Thanks!
I am doubtful about the existence of a Riviera town near the beach that will not be touristy, especially in July. I spent nearly three weeks bouncing around the area in May last year, and there was no shortage of tourists even then.
If you plan to take side trips without a car, you'll want to consider availability of public transportation, which is provided by frequent trains along the coast but requires buses (slower) to reach most inland destinations. In some cases one needs to take a train and then a bus. As you might expect, most of the hill towns, being farther from the beach and usually slower to reach, are somewhat less touristy than spots on the coast. Except for St.-Paul-de-Vence, which is a tourist magnet.
I think you'll be OK on the flower front, though it will be a lot hotter and drier in July compared to the time of my visit. The town of Menton has two very nice gardens, and the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on Cap Ferrat has very nice gardens as well. I was told that there's a worthwhile garden in Nice, near the Asian Art Museum (out toward the airport), but I did not get there myself.
I do not do beaches, but if beach time is the primary purpose of your trip, be sure you understand what European beaches can be like: rocky, packed to the gills, and extremely costly for rental of beach chairs and umbrellas. Choose carefully.
I do love Villefranche sur Mer, 5 km from Nice. On a bus and train route. The beach is lovely and sandy. Restaurants are many. It is a bit touristy as the big ships stop there, but after they leave, it is heavenly. I recommend staying near the old town which is right by the water. The main road with many busses, which might be very busy in July, is a short walk uphill. Great patisserie right by the main road. A small market twice weekly and antiques market on Sunday and some market when some ship is in. I have visited 5 times and will return.