Known for its lovely beaches and spectacular scenic beauty, Nice is one of the most popular holiday destinations in France.
Offering a variety of tourist attractions including the Old Town (Vieux Nice), the famous Promenade des Anglais, Place Massena square, the Cours Saleya Flower Market, the Matisse Museum, the Russian Cathedral, ancient Roman ruins, and numerous art galleries, the city is also the perfect base to explore the French Riviera and the wonderful countryside of Provence.
Here is a list of 5 great day-trip destinations to visit from Nice during your next vacation in the South of France.
Slightly smaller than Nice, Cannes is only thirty minutes away by train and offers wonderful shopping and dining. The city gets a bit of glam as Hollywood swoops in during the month of May for the annual Cannes Film Festival. Don’t worry if you miss the fuss, the glitziness of the stars is found in this city year-round. People watching is at it’s best down by the water and it’s always fun to ogle at the steroidal yachts in the harbor. Cannes, home to the rich and vacation spot to the famous, is exorbitantly expensive….but that makes the window-shopping all the better.
If the lifestyle and pace of Nice starts to get to you, take a 15-minute train ride to the quaint and docile town of Villefranche. The old town is stacked on top of itself to clime up the surrounding hills and is connected by a web of narrow, steep roads. Loose your self in the beauty of the scenery and relax over lunch on an outdoor patio overlooking the Mediterranean. If you’re lucky, you may witness the filming of a movie, which are constantly drawn to the town. Come here to entertain yourself, but not to be entertained as Villefranche lacks the museums and activities of neighboring cities.
The history of Antibes dates back to the time of the Roman Empire and can be seen the construction of the city’s fortified walls and Medieval castle. In the 1940s Pablo Picasso painted and sculpted in the castle for six months. His work inspired the transformation of the castle from a home to a museum in his honor. The surrounding area is popular for its beaches and is therefore often overpriced and overcrowded. For a real feel of the area, make sure you are in the old port town of Antibes and not Cap d’Antibes. This older town is a maze of winding roads that lead through residential and shopping areas. Some of the neighborhood streets harbor local restaurants that can only be found by stumbling across them. A beautiful market can be found in the center of the town, offering spices, flowers and beeswax candles. Take a stroll around the outside of the ancient wall to get a few of the sea and Garoupe Lighthouse.
Saint-Paul de Vence, built atop a hill and surrounded by thick stone walls, is nothing short of enchanting. The antiquated architecture, surrounding scenery and intricately designed cobblestone walkways have attracted artists to Vence for centuries. Henri Matisse, H.D. Lawrence and Marc Chagall have all graced the town with their works. Modern day artists continue the tradition by filling the storefronts with their creations. Don’t miss the country market every Wednesday between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. where you can purchase and sample a variety of local products.
Of the locations along the French Riviera, Monaco is by far the most dazzling. The moment you step of the train into the immaculately constructed station, it becomes clear that you are in another country. While Monaco resembles France for the most part, it is differs on many levels. This constitutional monarchy is a magnate for the rich and powerful people of the world due to its policy of no taxation. Walk past the gentlemen playing lawn bowling down by the water and take in the enormity of the yachts being tended to by full-time uniformed crews. Head up to the Prince’s Palace to try and get a glimpse of the ruler, son of actress Grace Kelly, if he is in town. Various forms of entertainment can be enjoyed throughout the year such as boxing championships, fashion shows and the Monaco Grand Prix. Of course if one thing is not to be missed, it is the Monte Carlo Casino-the ultimate manifestation of wealth and luxury so epitomized by the people of Monaco.
Photo of sea road to Antibes originally posted by ‘heloise’