Looking for a luxurious seaside holiday, but are tired of the predictability of the Caribbean all-inclusive? Try vacationing like the French do, in style, surrounded by yachts and high-end hotels, slowly sipping on their café au laits and living life slowly on the Mediterranean coast. Okay, a very glossy picture, but not far from the truth. La Côte d’Azur , or as the English call it, the French Riviera, is a magnet for stars and the wealthy, but there is plenty everyone can do and see here.
In this series, we’ll look at the most popular destinations in the French Riviera including Nice, Cannes, Antibes, St. Tropez, Eze and Monaco, and how you can enjoy them in style, without blowing your budget.
Perhaps the first destinations people think of on this coast line, it’s also one of the busiest due it being the second most popular tourist destination in France, after Paris. For this reason, it’s a major hub, with trains and airlines coming in from all over France and other European cities. The beach is a major attraction, however I might not make this the primary reason to come here. As the beach is pebbled, it’s not the soft sand you may be looking for, however others prefer this.
In Nice, find a quaint hotel off one of the major streets in the city centre for a full experience. 2-3 star hotels are very affordable, clean and charming for those on a modest budget. Being in the centre of the city means you’re in the centre of all the boutiques, cafes, restaurants, entertainment and the beach.
The climate is Mediterranean meaning it’s never too hot in the summer, and never too cold in the winter. Perfect for walking around and enjoying the city. The busiest season to travel is from May to August, so expect to pay higher prices for accommodations at that time.
Promenade des Anglais
This is a lovely boardwalk on the beach that’s very popular with tourists, entertainers and locals on their bikes or roller blades. It’s perfect for an evening stroll before dinner or during the day as you try to find a spot on the beach.
The attraction here is the spectacular view of Nice below, not the castle itself, as not much remains of it. You’ll need to take the elevator up to Castle Hill or hike the 300 feet of stairs up to the top. Once there, you’ll be amazed at the panoramic views of both the Nice city centre and of the Port of Nice. Also, don’t miss the stunning waterfall, something unexpected and worth the climb.
Vieux Nice, Old Nice
You’ll want to wander the maze-like narrow streets of Old Nice and discover the many unique shops here offering wines, vintage clothing, jewellery, gifts and gourmet foods. This is where you want to shop for that one-of-a-kind find. Be sure to find the Fenocchio ice cream store on Place Rosetti to sample 94 flavours including beer-flavoured sorbet.
Beginning at the street Place Masséna, you’ll find a large pedestrian zone popular for international cuisine like Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish and Italian. Here you’ll also find a large selection of nightlife to choose from here.
Promenade du Paillon
This greenbelt was opened in 2013 and expands 12 hectares to the Promenade Anglais to the National Theatre. It’s beautifully landscaped with trees and shrubs, and decorated with dancing fountains. A great walk for anyone including families.
Port of Nice
Often overlooked by tourists, you’ll see this port from the top of Castle Hill on the east side. With its many yachts and cruise liners, it’s a perfect place for a light lunch and to soak in the wealth. This is also the only port that services the island of Corsica, should you want to take a day trip.