If you’re visiting the French Riviera and you’re staying in Nice, you should definitely consider taking daytrips to nearby places like Saint-Paul de Vence, Cannes, Monaco, Eze Village and Menton. You won’t leave feeling disappointed and when travelling, it’s always nice to take a daytrip, or two!
FIRST THINGS FIRST –
WHERE TO STAY IN THE FRENCH RIVIERA
When I visited the French Riviera, we picked Nice as our base because we’d heard lots of great things about it. We chose to stay in Nice was because it’s easy to access other places from there, and it has good transport links. Our hotel was a 5 minute walk away from Nice’s main train station, which was excellent for us as we’d pre-planned a few daytrips during our stay.
Read my blog post on my time in Nice: https://chlovertherainbow.wordpress.com/2018/05/14/a-nice-time-in-nice-france/
If you’re deciding on where to stay in the South of France, I’d recommend doing a bit of research and deciding on what works best for you. Cannes is another great option. If you’re looking for somewhere quieter and more relaxed, Eze Village or Menton might be for you, although these places are a little more isolated. It’s your preference really.
Now let’s cut to the chase. Here are my tips and suggestions for daytripping from Nice. There’s a lot to see and even if you don’t see it all (which you probably won’t, there’s always more you can see no matter how much you fit in) then it gives you an excuse to come back!
SAINT-PAUL DE VENCE
Saint-Paul de Vence is one of the most popular tourist hotspots (and rightly so) in the French Riviera. It’s a beautiful French village filled with cobbled walkways and independent art. You’ll find yourself swooning over the fascinating art in the windows. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves to show you just how quaint and lovely it is.
Getting there: we took the bus from Nice and the views you’ll see along the way as the bus winds its way up to the village are so scenic and lovely.
Visiting Cannes made me feel like I was in Mr Bean’s Holiday. I was super excited to see the Promenade de La Croisette (links the beach and the city) and the Cannes Convention Centre, where the infamous Cannes Film Festival takes place annually. Le Suquet was another gem we found, it’s the old quarter of Cannes, where we were treated to some pretty views of the city as well as the Eglise Notre Dame d’Esperance. Since I love my street markets, we also visited Cannes’s Marche Forville.
Getting there: We travelled to Cannes by train, but you can also access it by bus, although it might take you a while and it could be pretty long if you’re stuck in a traffic jam. The bonus of taking the train is that it’s quick, cutting down your journey and leaving you more time to explore. However, the bus can also have its advantages with scenic coastal views along the way.
TIP: when taking the train from Nice’s main train station (Gare de Nice Ville), come prepared! The ticket machines only accept coins or card, so ensure you have the exact change if you’re using cash. If you want to purchase your tickets in person, there is a lengthy queuing process (you have to tear off a ticket from the machine and wait your turn). This can take forever as lots of people wait to be seen.
MONACO AND EZE VILLAGE
TIP: Combining two daytrips in one day is an easy way of exploring when you’re short on time. It’s almost like two for the price of one.
We visited Monaco during the morning and took a bus to Eze Village in the afternoon because we felt splitting the two places across one day was more than enough time to see what they were like.
First, let’s talk about Monaco. Casino is a buzzword that I’m guessing will come to mind for you. You’re right (partly). Before I travelled to the French Riviera, I did some research on Monaco and what to do there. Opinion was split over visiting Monaco, which I found strange. Many people, to my surprise, said they’d skip Monaco altogether! I wanted to formulate my own opinion on it, so decided to pay it a visit. If you’re into your casinos, you’re most likely going to enjoy it (it’s famous for them). For me though, I preferred seeing the local markets (which we happened to find when we got lost on the way to the casinos) and the locals were super nice.
Seeing where the Grand Prix takes place was also amazing, my dad is a massive fan so I made sure to put this on my list. We also visited the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, which I loved as I love love LOVE the ocean. The walk to the museum was dreamy, as we ventured along a (quite long but beautiful) pathway by the coast. The palaces and gardens are extravagant too. I wouldn’t say I’d skip Monaco, but half a day to a day of exploring is probably about enough time to see it.
Onto Eze Village, and I don’t think I’d ever visited a little gem quite like this one before. Eze Village is a medieval village on top of a hill. You can see the Church on the hilltop in Eze Village from a distance and you can also climb up to it too. There’s also a botanical garden at the top of Eze Village if you’re into your plants. From the Jardin Exotique, you can see jawdropping views. I’d definitely recommend you pay a visit. It’s unmissable.
To round things up about Eze, I have to tell you about the food, the glorious food! We ate some delicious food at the bottom of Eze Village at a restaurant called Pinocchio. I would definitely recommend it if you visit Eze. I demolished some delicious spaghetti bolognese and the best part was that I could sprinkle over copious amounts of parmesan cheese. I don’t know if it’s a French thing, but the really nice waiters gave me a little bowl of parmesan (that I had all to myself) instead of grating over a little amount, like the usual. So I could call the shots and say when. It’s the little things sometimes.
Getting there: we took the train to Monaco (you can also take a bus from Nice) and then we caught a bus from Monaco to Eze in the afternoon. Or if you fancy it, you could drive there in some pretty cool wheels like these, if you’ve got them.
Ahh Menton. Trust me, if you ever visit here, you will breathe a sigh of relief, a sigh of contentment when you visit. It really is that beautiful. We visited Menton on our last day and it’s safe to say we saved the best to last. I honestly cannot say enough lovely things about Menton, it felt like a dream! Menton is close to the Italian border, so you’ll discover a fusion of Italian and French influences, and the colours are simply wonderful.
There is plenty to see in Menton so you’ll be far from bored. Not only is the beach breathtaking, Menton is home to the Jean Cocteau museum for all you art lovers out there. I was in my element. One of my highlights in Menton was climbing up to the viewpoint past the church. We were surrounded by flowers and the view beneath us was just magnificent. You know when you visit a place and you wish you would be there forever? That’s how it felt. I felt nostalgic for that moment on that view point as I was experiencing it. That’s spectacular in itself. If you’re looking for unforgettable views, make sure you pay a visit to the Cimetière du Vieux Château. It’s an effort to walk up the hill but it’s ridiculously worth it. I’ll never forget the views from here.
Getting there: we took the train and it was lovely because the views along the journey are wonderful. You can stop off along the way if you have extra time and purchase a particular travel ticket. Do some research around this if you’re able to, it might be worth it. If we had longer, we definitely would’ve done this.
Overall, my time in the French Riviera was amazing. I think we had the perfect amount of daytrips so we could explore to our hearts’ content, but we also managed to see enough of Nice at the same time. In the future, I hope to go back to visit a couple more places that I missed. If only I’d had a few days more…
PLACES I’D LOVE TO SEE IF I GO BACK
Other places that I didn’t manage to see but I hope to visit one day are
- Villefranche-sur-Mer (easily accessible by a bus from Nice)
- Grasse (famous for its perfume industry, you could combine this with a day trip to Cannes)
- Antibes (great beaches)
- Cagnes-sur-Mer (a picturesque town known for its pebbled beaches)
- Saint Tropez (best known for beaches and nightlife)
Have you travelled to the French Riviera or will you be going soon? What have been your favourite daytrip locations if you’ve been before? Are you planning on any day trips if you’re travelling there in the future?
Leave your comments with me below. As always, I’d love to hear from you!
Taking the train from Nice http://www.bestofniceblog.com/transport-in-nice/train/
Buses in Nice http://www.bestofniceblog.com/transport-in-nice/buses-in-nice/