Riviera towns

"Water runneth smoothest where it is deepest" John Lyle. Sapho & P. Hao.


Despite its pleasurable habit of reflecting the riviera's glorious sunsets, this is the bluest of all the European seas. It is a deep cobalt blue - according to the painters who have lived hereabouts - arising from the unusual clarity of the water. Tourists notice very quickly that this colour is not constant. The state of the sky, the ambient light, the nature and the depth to the bottom, all affect it. It is liable to change from a pale opal to a silvery-grey.

There are no waves in the Mediterranean such as exist in other oceans because there is not the immense space required to form them. One finds very small waves only when the Mistral, the famous wind of Southern France, has passed. The tide is very very feeble - less than a quarter of a metre, although the change in water level caused by strong winds can be four times greater than this. Compare this, for example, with the north of France where the tides can be 1 to 15 metres. Because of this absence of tides the Mediterranean is taken to be the base level for all altitudes in France.


The water temperature of the Côte d'Azur varies on the surface with the amount of sunshine it receives, from 16C in winter to 22C in summer, but below 2000 metres down to 4000 metres the temperature remains a more or less constant 13 C compared with the North Atlantic where the temperature would pass from 14 C down to as low as 2 C. This has an important effect on the climate for this enormous mass of temperate water cools the land in summer and warms it in winter, while the Alpes form a barrier against northern extremes. Thus the combination of the Mediterrean and the Alpes creates the special micro-climate for which the Riviera is famous.

Created, composed, and constructed by Virtual Riviera 1995