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1 day trip from Nice

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My husband and I will be in Nice for 3 nights in October. Arriving to the airport Friday afternoon at 2:30 and departing for our next destination by train at 10:30 am Monday Morning. We plan to spend one of our full days exploring outside of Nice. Cannes is a definite, as we hope to have warm enough weather to enjoy a few hours on the beach. (We are aware of typical weather there and we are New Englanders...so "warm enough" doesn't have to be all that warm!) What other stops would you suggest between Nice and Cannes, that would work nicely as a day trip? We want to see some different scenery, particularly a hill town. Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

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    We have been to the Côte 20+ times, and October is our favourite month. The crowds are gone, all the flowers are in full bloom and weather is still warm and sunny. Seawater temps are still 24°C by beginning of October and well over 20°C by end of October. During the course of October, chances for occasional thunderstorms increase slightly.

    Regardless what others say, if you have only two full days, I strongly recommend renting a car to explore this most beautiful and diverse region.

    October is past season, and prices for accomodation will have dropped. So, you have a broad choice where to stay. I would stay right on the beach, so you can take a swim in the morning, spend the day with excursions, and splash into the waters again when you come back from a hot day. Possible bases are:

    - Cannes, which has a long, sandy beach, an elegant promenade and several rows of hotels, some of them have starred in Hollywood movies. Would be optimal if you would like sitting at the yacht harbour at night, strolling across the beach boulevard and doing some bar-hopping (a glass of champagne in the bar of Hotel Majestic is a MUST). Hotels in the second row are, of course, more affordable. Travelwise, Cannes is an excellent base for excursions. Cannes also has a charming old town and a modest castle.

    - Antibes, which is one of the few historic cities on the Côte (in fact, an ancient Greek city). It has small town feeling, is not quite as posh as Cannes, has a lively little harbour and several sandy beaches. Makes also an excellent base.

    - Juan-les-Pins is a typical family summer resort along a long sandy beach. There is nothing but hotels and it feels a bit deserted in October.

    - If you like it more scenic, the rugged Esterel Coast with its dramatic red cliffs may be your choice, with small places like Theoule-sur-Mer, Antheor and Agay. (This is my favourite place at the Côte and we will start next Sunday for our next trip to Agay.) Travelwise, however, not optimal, because you have to drive this incredibly scenic coastal road at the beginning and the end of your day.

    - We never chose to stay IN Nice. The beach is ugly, there is a lot of traffic and you will stay in a big, busy city.

    - In any case, avoid Villeneuve-Loubet and Cagnes-sur-Mer.

    My personal highlights of the Côte d’Azur. I will rate them with zero to three stars:
    *** Nice – the biggest city in the region, but quite charming with boulevards and parks. The main reason to visit Nice are the art museums, especially the Chagall Museum of the Biblical Message and the picturesque old town – however the beach is ugly (large grey pebbles).
    ** Cannes – an underrated town with a spectacular promenade, the famous grand hotels, including the legendary Carlton (known from many movies) - make sure to have a glass of champagne the bar of the Majestic -, the yacht harbour and a pretty, sandy beach. Good chances of celebrity spotting.
    * Cap Ferrat - Villa Ephrussi Rothschild is an imposing pile of kitsch, but there are a few most beautiful beaches on the peninsula.
    *** Monaco - many attractions on a small piece of land (the Prince’s Palace, Jacques Cousteau’s Oceanographic Institute, the Cactus Garden, the Belle-Epoque-Casino) and the drive to and from on the world-famous corniches is also ***, do not miss *** La Turbie, a most impressive Roman monument with fantastic vistas,
    * Menton - not really necessary,
    ** Eze – a perched village, however very touristy; it is a must to spend ten minutes to walk to the lookout, because it is right on the Moyenne Corniche,
    * Haut Cagnes - the olive oil museum is the main attraction, certainly not a must,
    ** Biot, because of the Leger Museum a must for lovers of modern art, also a centre for producing and selling stoneware,
    ** Antibes - a good place to make a base, otherwise a charming old town and harbour and a decent Picasso Museum with many ceramics which he made there when he lived in Antibes,
    * Juan les Pins - a seaside resort with wide sandy beach and a row of middle-class hotels, popular for families vacationing,
    Mougins – a town in the hinterland of Cannes with a central square which is lined with restaurants,
    * Grasse - if you like perfume,
    * Gourdon - one of the nicer perched villages,
    * Tourettes Sur Loup - another nice village,
    * Vence - the Matisse Chapel is the main attraction (a quick visit),
    ** St. Paul de Vence - stroll throught the village after visiting Fondation Maeght,
    *** Fondation Maeght - a must for modern art with a breathtaking sculpture garden designed by Joan Miro,
    *** Corniche de l'Esterel (the coastal road between Saint Raphael and Cannes) - one of the world's most spectacular coastal roads and breathtaking calanques (rocky coves),
    * Saint Tropez – used to be a picturesque village, now overrun by tourists, watch the people on their yachts, nearby spectacular sandy beaches (Pampelonne, Tahiti).

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    About the same.
    Weather will be great.
    I would put 3 stars to Antibes, 1 to Monaco, 2 to Menton, 2 to Grasse.
    3 stars still to St Tropez, especially in october : the 'm'as-tu vu' will be gone. What will remain is a beautiful village.

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    Agree with Whathello about St Tropez, but with such a short stay, it will take too much time to get there. And there's the Voiles de St Tropez regatta early October, and that draws a crowd too.

    Rent a car, drive to Cannes, and go to Antibes on your way back to Nice. Drive through Juan les Pins, around Cap d'Antibes on your way to Antibes. Park next to the port, and see the boats there.
    If you want a longer more scenic drive, include the corniche de l'Esterel to the west of Cannes, as suggested by traveler1959. You could take the motorway to Frejus and then drive back towards Cannes via the coastal route.

    You can visit Cannes and Antibes by train too.

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