Jacqueline Veyrac, the 76-year-old millionaire head of the Grand Hotel in Cannes, was kidnapped in Nice in front of shocked onlookers in the middle of the day on Monday.
But on Wednesday, two days after disappearing, French media reported that Veyrac had been found alive in Nice.
According to reports she was found after being bound then abandoned in the boot of a vehicle. The business woman managed to get out of her own accord and seek help from neighbours.
She had suffered what were described as light injuries. Two men were also reportedly arrested following her appearance.
Police had been desperately hunting for the woman, who on Monday had been forced into a car by kidnappers while several passers-by looked on.
The freesheet French daily 20 Minutes quoted the family's lawyer Sophie Jonquet as saying the kidnappers contacted one of Veyrac's sons on Monday afternoon.
“The family is very upset and won't make any statements at this stage. Too much has already been said and I don't want to put my client in danger,” she told the paper.
Veyrac, whose husband died five years ago, co-owns the five-star Grand Hotel in nearby Cannes with one of her sons and the pair run a gourmet restaurant in Nice called La Reserve.
She was the victim of a kidnapping attempt three years ago whose motive was never discovered.