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4 1/2 days on the Riviera - looking for comments on the itinerary

4 1/2 days on the Riviera - looking for comments on the itinerary

Mar 13th, 2006, 08:46 AM
  #1  
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4 1/2 days on the Riviera - looking for comments on the itinerary

We will be arriving by car on the Riviera on a Thursday afternoon in July, and have already booked our hotels.

Our proposed itinerary is as follows, and I welcome, as always, any comments or advice:

Thurs. July 6 - depart Rapallo mid-morning for Monaco, where we will spend the afternoon before driving to Cannes(Grande Croisette)in the early evening;

Friday July 7 - spend the day on the beach and tour Cannes, having dinner in Cannes (or Mougins - if Mougins, what time should we go there?);

Saturday July 8 - spend morning at beach or by the pool in Cannes, and then spend afternoon /evening in Antibes/Juan les Pins;

Sunday July 9 - after breakfast in Cannes (included in room rate), drive to Nice (Hotel Windsor) and spend day walking through Nice, with dinner in Nice;

Monday july 10 - after morning in Nice, depart for st. Paul De Vence for the afternoon, and leave for Florence in the late afternoon, for Hotel David.

As always, I am looking for advice as to :

(i) general itinerary;

(ii) suggested informal restaurants with character/ambience;and

(iii)suggested manner of travel between the Riviera towns, as we are not too keen on driving between the various locations if train/bus travel is available and more practical.

As always, thanks.
nevertooold is offline  
Mar 13th, 2006, 09:18 AM
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July is the height of the tourist season along the Italian and French Riverias. I think whatever you're planning, you need to add on a substantial amount of time for traffic and parking! Not to scare you unneccessarily, but it once took us nearly an hour just to drive between Santa Margherita and Portofino in mid-July. That's a distance of only a few miles!

Although I haven't driven the exact route you have planned, I think just the drive between Rapallo and Monaco could easily be 3 or 4 hours, depending on traffic.

Then you have to find parking, which is not always so easy in Monaco during the summer months.

From Monaco to Cannes is a little less than an hour on the train. I have no idea what it would take in a car on a summer evening in July!

Anyway, I hope that other posters here who've driven during this time period can advise you what to do.

My advise would be to try to take public transport wherever possible between destinations. I think you'll be a lot happier and less hassled!


Weadles is offline  
Mar 13th, 2006, 09:45 AM
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I think Weadles is giving you good advice to be prepared for heavy traffic in July, especially on weekends. I'm especially concerned about the marathon drive you are planning from France to Firenze, which may last until well past the dinner. I would alert your hotel in advance to hold your reservation. And I wouldn't count on the idea of having dinner in Firenze. By the time you find a parking space, it may be midnight. Pack a French picnic and pull off the autostrade somewhere enroute.

That said, the autostrade between Rappallo and Monaco is really very breezy, and you should take it because -- apart from Eze -- you will not miss much along that stretch of the Mediterranean.

While you're in Rappallo, I would avoid driving to Portofino, for the reasons Weadles talks about. But that road is not the autostrade, and while you'll have lots of company, you'll be surprised at how fast the Italians keep moving along.


nessundorma is offline  
Mar 13th, 2006, 09:45 AM
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I would eliminate some of the time in Cannes... I think there are other villages worth exploring.

Are you visiting Eze?

Villa Rothschild ?

The Greek Villa across from Villa Rothschild?

Are you looking for more walking around, touring or more R&R hanging out time?
surfmom is offline  
Mar 13th, 2006, 10:26 AM
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Weadles - We plan on taking the boat between S.M. and Portofino, as has been recommended on another thread. We intend to take a bus into S.M. from Rapallo at about 2 in the afternoon, and as it will be on a Wednesday, hopefully it won't be too long a journey.

Should we try to arrive as early as possible in Cannes, and then perhaps take a train the next mid-day to Monaco for the afternoon?

Ness - if we leave at about 4 in the afternoon from S.P.D.V., we hope to be in Florence by 10:00 or so. The hotel(David) is open for our arrival 24/7 and has been alerted. This hotel has been selected by us as parking facilities are there, and they have confirmed, as well that we will have a space no matter when we arrive.

As well, we plan on a late dinner in Florence, if possible, but that is a risk we are content to assume.

Surf - we were able to accomodate a total of 4 days of our 23 day trip to the French Riviera, and before we had absolutely finished the planning, paid for the accomodation in Cannes for 3 nights.

As he hotel rate seemed great (at least 50E per night cheaper than any other web-site I could find using Google and trip adviser, and included, as well, breakfast), we booked it early.

The good points are the price, the pool, and the beach. The less good point is that we have Cannes as a base for 2 days (we will be going to Nice the morning of our 4th night, and will therefore be able to have Nice as a base for the last 2 days, including our departure date.

Our real goals, in terms of priorities, are as follows:

i. spend at least one complete day in Cannes for beach relaxation and sightseeing;

ii.spend at least one complete in Nice for sightseeing and swimming if and when it gets too hot;

iii. sightseeing for most of the remaining 2 days including our departure day, and that is why I am including Monaco (my wife and daughter want it, whereas I am not a fan), S.P.D.V. (my choice), and, if possible, as well, Antibes/Juan les Pins and, for dinner, Mougins.

Our goals as well include trying to use trains/buses as much as possible (leaving the car where it is), AND NOT TO EXHAUST OURSELVES TOO MUCH while trying to experience the Riviera atmosphere.

Any more comments or suggestions? It really can be difficult trying to plan a stay where one can enjoy the "feel" of an area, but at the same time, ensure that one is not too driven to get from point "a" to point "b" to point "c".

I guess that what I am seeking sadvice for is how to spend 2 days on the Riviera, when Cannes and Nice are already covered.

Thanks again.
nevertooold is offline  
Mar 13th, 2006, 10:41 AM
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It's not that bad. We are always in that area in July, and manage to drive everywhere, and park, without too much difficulty. It gets really busy after July 14th.
In Cannes, lots of restaurants in Rue St Antoine. I like Mantel and also Relais des Semailles.

In Mougins, lots of nice places in the town square, or La Terrasse on the edge of the village, with a view over Cannes. Or Les Muscadins for pizza and the same view (and having said that traffic is not that bad, the road out of Cannes can be awful, especially at rush hour). If you get to Mougins at 6 pm, you should still be able to park, and can walk around the small village before having dinner.

In Antibes Les Vieux Murs is excellent, right on the city walls. Or Keller at Plage de la Garoupe, in Cap d'Antibes (you could go there for lunch, and walk the path around the cap first).

In Juan les Pins there are lots of places for a casual or not-so-casual meal on the beach. Can't remember all of the names of the places were we ate; Le Riban Blue, and La Petite Plage (more upmarket, good food). We usually manage to find a place without booking ahead. And have a cocktail at PamPam.

I wouldn't eliminate any time in Cannes, but I like being on the beach. And I would drive rather than use public transport. Driving from Cannes to Juan les Pins, and then on through Cap d'Antibes to Antibes, is a lovely drive, even if it's busy.

In places like Juan les Pins, Antibes, Mougins, you will be able to park if you go late afternoon or early evening. In the evenings it becomes busy as the restaurants fill up, so it's more difficult to find a space. In Mougins, park just before you get to the village. In Antibes there's a large car park next to the port (and do go and look at the yachts there, especially the big ones at the end). In Juan les Pins, we usually find a spot somewhere in the Pinede area. There's a garage at the Meridien, but that is very small and narrow.
Have fun!
Tulips is offline  
Mar 13th, 2006, 10:47 AM
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You might consider seeing Eze on the way to Cannes, and then taking a bus or train back to Monaco as a day trip for the ladies. In fact, I would send them on alone with a little gambling money while remained relaxing by the hotel pool!

I think there is a reasonable chance that once the ladies see Monaco, especially after seein Eze, they may want to join you at the pool and skip Monaco. Even if they still do want to see it, why not rearrange your visit to JVP so that you can just swing by Monaco on your way to Firenze?

nessundorma is offline  
Mar 13th, 2006, 12:04 PM
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Another queation - is there train access to either or both of Juan les pins/antibbes and St. Paul de vence from each of Nice and Cannes?
nevertooold is offline  
Mar 13th, 2006, 12:19 PM
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Hi Never,

Of the places I have visited in Europe (so far) Cannes was the only place I didn't care for. The island of San Margherite just off shore is nice for an afternoon and the old, historical part of Cannes was OK, but other than that, to me it was just a bunch of overbuilt, high-rise condos and hotels with very overpriced shops. Not charming at all. I could have just stayed home in Newport Beach, OC.

I did like Vence and St. Paul du Vence very much and we also did a short visit to Grasse to a perfume factory. You might talk your wife and daughter into this in place of Monaco! We also liked St. Tropez, but we went in early October when traffic was light.

Dayle is offline  
Mar 13th, 2006, 01:32 PM
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Many of the stores in old Nice will be closed on Sunday, and most will be closed on Monday.

St Paul will be a zoo mid-day - try to get there later (6:00) if you can, or first thing in the morning (9:00).

Another vote to forget Monaco, and I also prefer Nice over Cannes.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Mar 13th, 2006, 01:53 PM
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There is train transportation between Nice and Antibes. It's a very short ride.

There's also a bus between Nice and St. Paul de Vence which takes just under an hour.

And yes, I agree with the other posters about Cannes. I found it really overrated and BORING compared to Nice- the old town, flower market, promenade, and museums.
Weadles is offline  
Mar 14th, 2006, 02:45 AM
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Stu - thank you for the info. re: Old Nice. That area is one of our main reasons for going to Nice in the first place, so we will now try to go there on the Friday.

Which of our other intended destinations (specifically St. Paul) will likely also be subject to closings on Sunday or Monday?

As we want to basically "veg" at Cannes, we can plan on Sunday for this, but, again is Old Cannes also likely to be predominately closed?

Thanks again for your response.
nevertooold is offline  
Mar 14th, 2006, 03:48 AM
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I understand what people say about Cannes vs Nice and other places, but to 'veg' out on the beach, it's absolutely fine. And it has a sandy beach as opposed to the pebbles in Nice. And the people watching is great.
Cannes shops are mostly closed on Sundays, except maybe some tourist shops in the old town. In Juan les Pins, everything is open, and though the town is not at all pretty, there are some great little boutiques (particularly for swimwear, custom jewellery), and I always like the atmosphere there.

And yes, you can take the train from Cannes and from Nice to either Antibes or Juan les Pins.
Tulips is offline  
Mar 14th, 2006, 03:56 AM
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nevertooold,

We had a wonderful meal at Feu Follet right on the square in Mougins...I am sure you would need a reservation in July...every table was filled when we visited in the fall...
Traviata is online now  
Mar 14th, 2006, 04:38 AM
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Thanks for all of your responses, but the next question that I need answered, is whether St. Paul De Vence is also "closed" on Monday.

It seems that we can, so far,(and subject to the above St. Paul question) satisfy our priorities by visiting Monaco on Thursday afternoon on our way to Cannes (after leaving Rapallo mid-morning) staying in Cannes on Friday, visiting Nice on Saturday, visiting Juan Les Pins on Sunday (and perhaps changing locations to go to Hotel Mimosas), and visiting St. Paul and Eze on Monday before departing for Florence later in the day (intending to, hopefully, arrive by 10 pm.

Thanks to all for your continued help
nevertooold is offline  
Mar 14th, 2006, 06:15 AM
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topping to read later

lots of good info for my trip too -- thanks!!
dina4 is offline  
Mar 14th, 2006, 07:00 AM
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St Paul is open every day - so is Gourdon, which is close by and is another "tourist" village.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 14th, 2006, 07:53 AM
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Traffic in Italy is not bad because of fast driving. Also there are not nearly as many trucks to cause traffic as the autostrades in Tuscany.

But traffic in French Riviera is horrendous then!! It's still okay to drive (I hate the train), but try to save time by going to fewer, better places.

Surfmom is brilliant!

I would cut some time from Cannes and Nice, and definitely spend time in Eze, St. Jean Cap Ferrat, and Monte Carlo/Beausolei. (In fact, I liked Cap Ferrat so much I got married there in the Villa Rothschild!)
princessre is offline  
Mar 14th, 2006, 08:01 AM
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I forgot to mention we love Santa Margherita and Portofino!!!!! Santa Margherita/Portofino are my favorite places in Italy after Positano/Ravello. All of these places kick Cinque Terre's arse. (Cinque Terre IMHO is soooooo ugly, I don't know why everyone likes it-- maybe b/c of that Rick guy.)

We are obsessed w/ Matisse, so St. Paul de Vence was cool. But otherwise I would skip. So much time to go inland.

The reason I don't like Cannes as much is that it is not so charming. It reminds me a little of Las Vegas with alot of shops and alot of tourists from certain new money countries. I would just go there for dinner.
princessre is offline  
Mar 14th, 2006, 12:20 PM
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tt for any more opinions which you may think of over dinner.
nevertooold is offline  

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