The South of France is the gem of Europe. Charming medieval towns, beaches, resorts and of course, wonderful food.
If you have never seen it, you owe it to yourself to discover what well heeled travelers have known for two centuries.
Nice is in the south of France. The Queen of the French Riviera, which the French call “La Cote d`Azur” (AzureCoast or Blue Coast). It is a wonderful city with lots of charm and character; a mixture of French and Italian cultures where the people are easy-going and friendly even if you don`t speak French.
Although you might think it is a summer resort, you can visit Nice at any time of the year and still have a good time. If you happen to go in the winter, you will be surprised to see flowers in their numerous parks and gardens. Nice has a Mediterranean winter, so the temperature stays around 40 to 50 degrees (7-10 °C) during the coldest months but if you like skiing, ski resorts such as Valberg and Isola 2000 can be reached by car in one or two hours. If you go in the summer, get ready to share the city with lots of tourists. The popular streets where most restaurants and cafes are, can get crowded, but they can be a lot of fun if you enjoy people watching; and since most of the streets are closed to traffic, it is not hard to just walk around and enjoy the upbeat atmosphere.
Nice has a major airport and its close location to the city makes getting there a cinch.
Finding a hotel should be easy, since there are plenty of accommodations for all kinds of budgets. The author is a frequent guest of the Meridien Hotel, a 4 star hotel located on the Promenade des Anglais, facing the Bay of Angels (Baie des Anges).
Things to see in Nice
Promenade des Anglais. The Victorian English residents of the 1800`s provided the funds to build the beautiful boulevard, hence its name. It is a wide avenue that follows the bay`s coast line and it`s lined with beautiful palm trees and flowers.
Hotel Negresco.Beautiful and glamorous, it is located at 37 Promenade des Anglais and if you are not rich enough to stay there, you must go and see it.
Old Nice. Winding narrow streets with Italianate buildings painted in earthly colors, describes this old part of the city. You will enjoy strolling. people watching and quaint little shops full of charming provencal crafts.
Marche aux Fleurs. Located on the Cours Saleya, the flower market is Open Tuesday through Sunday, 7am-5pm, but if you decide to go, check with your hotel for the hours of operation. You can also have lunch or dinner there, where a large variety of restaurants set up tables and chairs outside where you can dine in a pleasant and fun atmosphere.
Marc Chagall Museum. If you like modern art, you can catch a glimpse of the painter`s most important collection. The hours of operation vary depending on the season so check with your hotel clerk before you go.
French Art de Vivre Half Day Trip from Nice
Nice is so well located that you can take half-day and full-day trips either by car or by public transportation.
Easily reached towns by car or public transportation are: Monaco, Eze, Grasse, St Paul de Vence, Cannes and St Tropez.
A symbol of glamour and elegance, Monaco sits on a beautiful stretch of the Mediterranean coast. Its most famous town Monte Carlo, has much to offer with its casinos, boutiques and exotic gardens. Don`t forget to visit the village of Monaco, located high on “the rock” as it is affectionally called by the locals. It is a charming town with shops and cafes and a wonderful view of the sea.
This small medieval village perched on a hill is a must see. Both tourists and artists flock to Eze during the summer months because of its picturesque setting and magnificent vues. If you are staying in Nice, you can make it a half-day trip or just stop there for lunch and continue to Monaco for a full-day trip. If you are feeling rich, have lunch at the Chevre d`Or. The restaurant offers fine cuisine and breathtaking panoramas. The restaurant is only open for lunch.
Considered the perfume capital of France Grasse is a small hilly town with beautiful parks and panoramic views. I you go to Grasse, you must visit the perfume factories. The biggest is Parfumerie Fragonard. An English speaking guide will show you the process of extracting the perfume from hundreds of pounds of flower petals.
St Paul de Vence
A picture perfect medieval town, sitting on top of a hill, St Paul de Vence has been painted by many artists and photographed by thousands of tourists. It is located 19 miles from Nice. Enjoy a meal at the famous Colombe d`Or Restaurant or sip a beer at an outdoor cafe while watching a local game of petanque.
Cannes sits on the shores of La Napoule bay, sorrounded by a backdrop of Mediterranean hills. While Nice has the Promenade des Anglais, Cannes has la Croisette Boulevard, an elegant promenade, lined with palm trees and and gardens. Cannes hosts the famous Cannes Film Festival every year and it is most favored by celebrities. So if you go, make sure to do a lot of people watching, because you never know…
Once a small fishing village, St Tropez is now a summer place for the jet set. Its setting on the southern shore of France, made it attractive to turn-of-the-century artists who were then followed by writers, poets and eventually movie stars and their fans. It is now internationally famous.