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3 days in Cote D'Azur in October?

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Jul 28th, 2010, 11:12 AM
  #1
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3 days in Cote D'Azur in October?

Hello! We will be spending 3 days in the Cote D'Azur in October and are looking for help with our itinerary. We have lots of ideas of things we'd like to see or do and need help narrowing things down! We are staying in Cannes from Wednesday PM through Saturday AM when we depart from Nice to NYC. Let me preface this decision (because I have read a few threads wondering why people would choose Cannes over Nice as their base...): we would like to avoid staying in Nice because we will have just been in Paris for 4 days and we also live in a major city. So we would like lodging that is a little more low-key, but still has some semblance of city life (cafes for leisurely coffee and breakfasts, bistrots and restaurants for evening activity, charming streets for strolling, etc). Since we are going in October we also ruled out staying at the "resorts" - Antibes, Cap Ferrat, St. Tropez, etc. If there is a city on the coast (or hills) that meets our criteria that I might have overlooked please let me know!

Here are the things we are interested in seeing/doing. If anyone has any suggestions as to how to tackle this list (or parts of it, or something that I'm missing) please let me know. We have one afternoon/evening and two full days for exploring.

-Relax and hang in Cannes
-See best parts of Nice
-See Monaco
-See Antibes - coast and market?
-Visit and walk around Eze & St. Paul De Vence
-Eat a fantastic meal in Mougins
-Wine tasting/wine tour - not sure where exactly to do this - suggestions?

Thank you!
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Jul 28th, 2010, 04:41 PM
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Sorry - adding something to my initial post - what is it like to stay in Antibes in October? (See my post for what we are looking for in our 3 days on/near the coast!). Thanks!
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Jul 28th, 2010, 06:34 PM
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October on the Cote d'Azur is splendid. You will have a marvelous time.

I think you could do just about everything on your list with two exceptions: Monaco and the wine tour. Here's what I'd recommend.

Your afternoon just hang in Cannes. Eat moules frites on the beach.

You could do Antibes and Nice easily in one day. (You could do Antibes, Nice, Eze, and Monaco in one very long rushed day, but I would not recommend.)

In Antibes, some time in the old town, then a drive around the Cap, then on to Nice. In Nice do not miss the Chagall Museum, the Old Town, and a stroll down the Promenade des Anglais.

Another day you could easily do St Paul de Vence in the morning - with some time at the Fondation Maeght - then a stop after lunch in Gourdon with its amazing views, and down to Mougins in time for a great dinner. (I'm biased, but really prefer St Paul de Vence and Gourdon to Eze.)

I've left off Monaco because almost everyone I know who's made time to go there agreed that it was their least favorite place on the Cote d'Azur. And the Cote is not really a wine destination. There is some good wine made in the Var, but it's a day trip to the west of Cannes.
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Jul 28th, 2010, 06:40 PM
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If you arrivve in Cannes late Wednesday, and have to be packed up & waiting for a taxi at 9:30am Sat to get you to the Nice airport at noon (just a guess at your departure time), it seems to me that you have only 2 1/4 days on the Cote - at most. Departure day is usually a "dead" day for us.

A >>we would like to avoid staying in Nice because we will have just been in Paris for 4 days and we also live in a major city. So we would like lodging that is a little more low-key<<

B >>-See best parts of Nice
-See Monaco<<

I think B conflicts with A. Two out of four of the places you want to visit are large cities. Monaco has lots of concrete & lots of congestion. It has a small population, but you'll feel like you are in a somewhat large city.

I'm one who prefers Nice over Cannes. You can spend a half day in Old Nice and you might not even see a car, and there are certainly no large buildings in Old Nice.

If this was my trip, I would :

- Stay in Nice - you might even save 1 or even 2 "travel hours" to/from the airport.

- forget about the wine tasting & tour - you won't have enough time

- Visit Villefranche instead of Cannes to get a coastal "small village" feel

- Antibes is fine

- Visit St Paul, and perhaps skip Eze or save it for last.

- Skip Mougins - again - it complicates things. Look for a Michelin 1 or 2 star restaurant in the town you are staying in.

Stu Dudley
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Jul 29th, 2010, 05:42 AM
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Thank you kindly for these replies, this is helpful.

Hi Stu, the list was just a general brain dump of the things we've read about and thought we might like to see or do - so it's probably extremely contradictory and unrealistic at the moment as we're still building our itinerary and "envisioning" our trip. Can you tell me more about Villefranche though, I have not read much about it? Thank you.

It also sounds like I should avoid Monaco and remove wine tour from our list. To be honest I threw it on there in case anyone had recommendations for places near the Cote that did this since I hadn't read about any. But it seems there is a reason why I haven't read about it - it's not an attraction for this area!

Hi FBC, your itinerary seems just our speed. And I am thinking about those moules frites right now. I might have to go out and get that tonight at a Bistro near me in Philly...

Questions for both of you - can you do St.Paul & Eze in the same morning, and have lunch in Gourdon as you mentioned? We like seeing/doing things in the AM and then relaxing/strolling/cocktail-ing in PM. So an ideal day would be to see some great things and then head back to our home base for some afternoon relaxing. And what is a 'beach day' like in october - worth our time or no?

Thank you again for your assistance.
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Jul 29th, 2010, 07:27 AM
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Villafranche is a small coastside village that cascades down the hill - much like Positano on the Amalfi Coast. Lots of winding streets to explore. Good for a couple of hours worth of visiting. There is a "boardwalk" along the water where you can dine at a restaurant & watch the activities in the port. We had dinner there - took a 8 min train from Nice & train back - but at the time, a late train only ran on Saturdays - so you'll have to take a taxi back of you stay in Nice.

You did not mention if you'll have a car. If not, I think it would be difficult to visit both St Paul & Eze in the morning because of the bus schedules and where the routes go. Anyway, I think you might want to only visit 1 of these villages - they are somewhat similar. I prefer St Paul. Getting to Gourdon would involve the same difficult bus connections. I don't know anything about buses there - we've always had a car - but Eze, St Paul, and Gourdon for lunch sounds impossible - even if yo had a car. We've spent well over 2 months vacationing in that area.

The Cote d'Azur is farther north than Philly. Good "beach time" will be diminishing - starting in late Sept. Anyhow, with only 2 1/4 days there - I would not spend any time at the beach.

Stu Dudley
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Jul 29th, 2010, 07:50 AM
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Eze is to the east of Nice, St. Paul de Vence to the west. Fondation Maeght, which I've added to my personal list of great museums, is adjacent to St. Paul.

I just want to throw in a few words about Nice, which doesn't feel like a big city. It has this lazy sensual Mediterranean vibe, part of which I think is the curvy Belle Epoque architecture. Another part is probably its history as a part of Italy.

But maybe Villefranche-sur-mer would suit you better. It's quite small, just beyond Nice to the east. There's a train station and frequent buses, so it shares Nice's virtue of being a good transportation hub. Check out this site: http://www.provencebeyond.com/villag...lefranche.html
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Jul 29th, 2010, 08:19 AM
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I vote for Villefranche as well. It has convenient train and bus connections and is much more centrally located than Cannes. By the way, if you're not there for the film festival Cannes doesn't really have too much to do...
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Jul 29th, 2010, 08:20 AM
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>>few words about Nice, which doesn't feel like a big city. It has this lazy sensual Mediterranean vibe, part of which I think is the curvy Belle Epoque architecture. Another part is probably its history as a part of Italy.<,

I totally agree with Mimar. Nice feels less hectic to us than Cannes does.

Stu Dudley
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Jul 29th, 2010, 08:41 AM
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Another vote for Nice, It has always seemed more laid back than Cannes. I've never felt it seemed like a big city. And, there is plenty to do... the flower market, roaming around the old city strolling the Blvd des Anglais. Plus if you really want to see Monaco there are great train connections then you can pop over to Italy for lunch. But you really can't go too very wrong on the Cote d'Azur. Have a wonderful trip.
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Jul 29th, 2010, 10:21 AM
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Hi Stu, have you ever stayed, or do you recommend staying, in Villefranche? I did some reading/searching and it looks fantastic. Also seems to be good as a base as it has a train station and bus stop in town - thoughts? If you do recommend staying, where do you recommend?

As for having a car, we were initially interested in seeing one or two of the famed hill towns - take in the view, walk around the town, etc. So if need be we were planning to rent a car for one day to do some exploring. But we're open to taking the bus and going only to one town/village in a day. Like I said, we're more relaxed 'sight seers'.

Thanks again for the help.
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Jul 29th, 2010, 12:54 PM
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We've never stayed in Villefranche - just Nice, St Paul, St Tropez, a gite for 4 weeks close to Vence, & another gite for 4 weeks close to Cotignac inland in the Var (back of St Tropez). In Nice, we stay at the Hotel Windsor.

If you rent a car you can go the Loup loop:

Explore the perched medieval village of St Paul**. It’s probably the most popular small village on the Cote. Shops are always open (although we’ve never been there on a Monday). I advise people to get there by 9:00 and leave by 11:30 to avoid the crowds. It is especially crowded on Sunday in the summer season. We’ve stayed just outside of St Paul at Hotel Le Hameau several times & it’s quite nice – nothing fancy.

Head north of St Paul on the D2 toward Vence. The “old section” of Vence* is quaint. Look at the map in the Green Guide under VENCE to locate the old section at the east end of town. There is a walking tour described in the Green Guide. There’s an underground parking garage under the large open space on your right, just before you get to the old section. There are several stores in Vence where you can buy Provence fabric (see write up about Provence Fabric)

After Vence, follow the signs to Tourrettes-sur-Loup (D2210), which is west of Vence.

Explore Tourrettes-sur-Loup* – there’s a parking lot on your left, just off the road. You get about 45 mins of free parking (very confusing when your ticket is processed at the automatic ticket machine). Tourrettes is a real cute town.

Continue on the D2210 west & do the Gorge du Loup** (Vallee du LOUP in the Michelin under L for Loup). Go in the clockwise direction – D2210 through le Bar, then D3 to Gourdon. Explore Gourdon*. Like St Paul de Vence it will be crowded & shops will be open on a Sunday & Monday. There is a restaurant called Nid d’Aigle with spectacular views of the hills & the Mediterranean – open daily (we’ve had lunch there – if you’re afraid of heights, then don’t go). Continue north on the D3. When you hit the D6, take it south back to Pont-du-Loup (this section is very scenic) & then retrace your route through le Bar and return to St Paul or Nice.


Stu Dudley
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Jul 30th, 2010, 08:15 AM
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Reightseeing around Villefranche, I really enjoyed the Villa Ephrussi-Rothschild. It's located on Cap Ferrat, directly to the east of Villefranche and probably walkable from there. (We went by bus from Nice.) Anyway the villa itself is the most romantic, not to say tooth-achingly sweet, example of Belle Epoque architecture. And it has a large very interesting garden, with great views to the Mediteranean on both sides of the ritzy Cap Ferrat peninsula: www.villa-ephrussi.com/en/ephrussi/.

Also Eze isn't far from Villefranche.
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Jul 30th, 2010, 08:18 AM
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Well, looks like a colon followed immediately by an s makes a frowny face. I didn't mean it. Nobody frowns on the Cote d'Azur.
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Jul 30th, 2010, 09:10 AM
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I was there last year in November and really enjoyed it. I would think October might be even better. In some of the smaller towns (Eze, Villefranche) it was not only too quiet, it was downright dead. In October more things might be open. I stayed in Nice and it is not a big city. Not even on the same planet in terms of size and feel to NYC. I agree with Stu that for where you want to go Nice is the best place to stay. Especially since you are departing from the Nice airport. And I really enjoyed Nice, the old town and seaside promenade are walkable, you don't need to go into the "newer" part of town.

Here is a link to my trip report, just scroll down to skip the Paris parts and get to the Cote d'Azure section. I gave my impressions of Nice, Eze, Monoco, Villefranche, and Antibes.
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ote-dazure.cfm
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Jul 30th, 2010, 10:36 AM
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If you want to avoid resort towns, that might put Cannes off your list.
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Jul 30th, 2010, 02:51 PM
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Jul 31st, 2010, 07:02 AM
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Thank you all for the replies. We just got a recommendation from a friend to stay at the Chevre D'Or in Eze - they are curently running a special that makes it actually affordable - and also enticing. Have any of you been there and/or stayed? Is it a good spot to stay or is it just too out of the way? We are open to renting a car to do some self-touring (Stu's loop sounds great). We've narrowed down the things we want to see/do to this: see Cannes and spend an afternoon there and possibly a dinner (we were initially going to stay here but have had trouble finding rooms - seems an important meeting of congress is happening the same week), see/walk around Eze, see/walk around Villefranche, see/walk around Nice. That being said we are down to either staying in Villefranche or staying in Eze. I appreciate all the votes for Nice but we do not want to stay there - you may think me ignorant but please honor our decision. Thank you and I appreciate your help!
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Jul 31st, 2010, 07:27 AM
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>> (cafes for leisurely coffee and breakfasts, bistrots and restaurants for evening activity, charming streets for strolling, etc).<<<

You keep contradicting yourself !!! Your above objective does not describe Eze. You'll also likely be taking a car to get most everywhere. Eze is where you go to get some solitude in the early morning & late evening - not a place for lots of street strolling & cozy bistros for evening activity.

If you do not want to stay in Nice, but spend a day visiting it along with Cannes (not what I would do), I would stay in Villefranche.

Stu Dudley
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Aug 1st, 2010, 06:07 PM
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Yes, I agree that seems to be the case - very contradictory right now! Between friends who just got back from the area, relatives that are going a month before us, and reading other Fodor posts, we have ourselves thinking in circles in terms of what we want out of our 3 days on the coast! (Not being able to stay in Cannes as we initially planned didn't help either). Leaning toward basing ourselves in Villefranche with day trips to Eze, Nice and Cannes.

Stu - do you have any recommendations for a "walking tour" of Nice for a morning or afternoon? We don't need to really stop along the way, but is there a loop or set of streets you recommend roaming? Looking forward to your advice.

Also, I'm an athlete but my husband is not. So we haven't included any true "athletic" plans in our itinerary but I'm curious if anyone knows of a short hike or beatiful walk that we could keep in mind for an early morning or afternoon? Not necessarily a requirement, but something I'd like to at least have looked into beforehand. (It's an easier sell to my husband if he believes I know what I'm doing...).
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