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DebitNM Aug 30th, 2012 10:54 AM

5 days in Nice - day trips
Well, not quite 5.

We arrive on a Monday around noon but will be jet lagged. We will pick up a rental car on Saturday morning to drive to Saint Saturnin-lès-Apt, where we will stay in a gite for 2 weeks.

Trying to figure out how to best hit the spots on our wish list and how best to get to each one and the logical order to do so.

We would like to go to:
1. Monte Carlo/ Monaco
2. Ventimiglia ??
3. Eze
4. Cap d'Antibes [are we limited to Antibes since we have to rely on public transit??]
5. Cannes

And of course spend time in Nice.

I figure that Monday will be spent getting some food stuff and getting a feel for Nice.
That leaves 4 full days to explore the places on our list.

We will need to take public transit, and I gather the train is the way to go as it is faster than taking bus.

Can we do #1, #2 and #3 on the same day and then #4 and #5 together on another day? That would leave 2 full days in Nice. Or should we break up the day trips out of town to cover 3 days and then have just the one in Nice [not counting the first and part of Saturday before we drive to Provence].

What we want to see and do in each of the 5 places on the list - historical sites, parks and gardens, a museum or 2, have a nice lunch, soak up atmosphere of the towns/villages, seeing some of the opulent homes, painter's trail, markets with produce - that sort of thing.

Somewhere along the way, I have to swim in the Mediterranean!! Any suggestions for a beach either at one of the towns or in Nice would be appreciated.

I would be most appreciative of suggestions. If I need to provide more info, please ask. I have tried to include what I think is most relevant. Thank you for taking the time to help us make this dream of a vacation a reality.

iris1745 Aug 30th, 2012 11:34 AM

If you got to Eze for lunch, this is lovely, 1300 feet up, looking down at the sea. Check the small outside deck for lunch.

The other restaurant I mentioned was for dinner, but they also have lunch.

DebitNM Aug 30th, 2012 12:08 PM

I should add that if you think I should drop a town or add one, please feel free to chime in.

Thanks Richard!

suec1 Aug 30th, 2012 12:14 PM

Antibes has a nice sandy beach - we went to the private beach where you paid for a chair and umbrella - also nice restaurant on site. Lovely day.

My most recent #1 travel experience - Villa Euphrisi on Cape Ferrat. Gorgeous villa with interesting audioguide and then amazing gardens, even a small fountain, music show about every 30 minutes. We went last Sept., not crowded at all - just wonderful.

Check out getting around on the bus from Nice - frequent service to many places along the coast, cheap! 1E to most places and usually very nice views. I think in this part of the world, the bus trumps the train.

Aleta Aug 30th, 2012 12:19 PM

There is much to do in the entire area, including Nice itself. Buses are all 1 euro, in town or to any of the towns you mention. Yes, the train can be faster, but they don't always run on time, particularly in the afternoon. My husband votes for train when possible.
Montecarlo, personally, is the least interesting town of all. You could go on to Menton after it, on the same bus route.
The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Cap Ferrat is not to be missed. A beautiful home with view of 2 bays full of yachts, gorgeous gardens, and a good audio guide telling you all about the eccentric woman who owned it. Take the bus from Nice, but be sure to ask the driver to tell you when you arrive at the stop, as it's very easy to miss it.
Antibes is just lovely, lots of boats, beautiful sea, and the Picasso Museum, full of contemporary art but no Picassos. You can walk to Cap d'Antibes once in Antibes, although we didn't do that. The food market there is fabulous, there are 3 markets on Thursday mornings in Antibes. For hill towns, visit St Paul de Vence and the gorgeous museum just down the hill (my favorite in that area), or go to Mougins, full of excellent restaurants and galleries.
For more details, you can read my blog posting earlier this summer on this site, and see pics and daily blog at
The Renoir museum is currently closed.

StuDudley Aug 30th, 2012 01:09 PM

You will be about 30 yards from the Nice beach at the Negresco - why wouldn't you swim there???

The LONG beach in Nice is loaded with alternating private sections (see my itinerary) and public sections. We like the private ones - and we traditionally go to Blue Beach - close to the Negresco. If you are just going to swim, go to a public section of the beach. If you want to indulge yourself, do it at a private concession.

There are dozens & dozens of "cute little villages" just inland from Nice. However, you'll see plenty of cute villages in Provence. What you won't see in Provence (in addition to water) is canyons & mountains like the several that are within 1 1/2 hrs driving from Nice. On your last full day in Nice, I would pick up your car and explore these canyons & mountain crests (see my itinerary for details).

Like many others on Fodors - we are not fans of Monaco. Too much congestion, noise, concrete, and glitz.

We have only driven through Ventimiglia once and chose not to stop. IMO, you will leave the Cote d'Azur without visiting many villages that are much closer to Nice, and that are far more interesting than Ventimiglia. Menton & Villefranche just to name two you can get to by train. St Paul, Vence, Peille, Peillon, & Biot are several "cute villages" that can be accessed by bus.

Stu Dudley

aguamineral Aug 30th, 2012 01:15 PM

Italy is so different from France, it is worth crossing the border to experience that. However, Ventimiglia is not a lovely town, and San Remo is too large for easy parking. Bordighera is a pleasant beach town (Monet painted it). What is really interesting to do, however, is to drive a few miles inland, above San Remo, to Apricale. A nice place to park and have lunch is the restaurant La Favorita.

I believe you can drive the same corniche road that is famous from the Grace Kelly-Cary Grant movie To Catch a Thief to get into Italy from Nice. Part of it goes through Monaco, I think. Sorry I can't be more helpful about that, but it is nice day's excursion to go to the Italian Riviera for lunch, whether you take a drive through the hills to get there or use the main highway.

DebitNM Aug 30th, 2012 01:18 PM

We won't have a car until we are leaving Nice; so we pretty much have to stick to places along train or bus routes. I had thought trains better as I'd read that the buses can be very slow.

HappyTrvlr Aug 30th, 2012 01:51 PM

Our favorite day trips were to Antibes (train), Cap Ferat with Villa Euphrussi and town of St-Jean(bus), and Villefranche(bus.)Enjoyed lunch in Monaco except for arrival of cruise ship tours. Bus follows the coast so pretty ride.

aguamineral Aug 30th, 2012 03:33 PM

You can take a train to Bordighera. As I mentioned before, Monet painted there. The food is quite different from what you will get in France (in a good way. Try pesto). It is nicer than Ventimiglia. Just go for lunch. If you like you can stop in Ventimiglia on the way, or on the way back, if it is market day. Just be aware that the Ventimiglia market is like a huge outdoor Wal-Mart. If you like food markets, go to the covered market in San Remo. That is also an easy train ride from Nice.

Judy Aug 30th, 2012 03:53 PM

Another vote for Villa Ephrussi. After you see the property, walk down to the harbor at St Jean Cap Ferrat for lunch on the water and/or take the beautiful walk around the peninsula with gorgeous views of the sea on one side and beautiful villas on the other.

theotherside Aug 30th, 2012 03:56 PM

If your considering dropping a town have you considered doing a day tour which would include Eze, Monte Carlo and Monaco?
the viator website? This might give you better time at other places intead of hurrying around?
I can recommend the tour below

Do keep in mind that the time at Eze on this tour was not very long and the view there is magnificent!
If you are thinking of spending some time in Eze then this is not for you.
Do you have any time when you pick up your car in Nice? there is a carpark just off the main coastal road at the bottom of the hill near Eze, if that is of any interest to you.

ita Aug 30th, 2012 04:02 PM

I see several references to the Villa Ephrussi. There is a wonderful book about this family "The Hare with the Amber Eyes".

Michael Aug 30th, 2012 04:09 PM

We liked the Matisse Museum in Nice and the Fondation Maeght in St. Paul de Vence. Vence itself is interesting, as is the Matisse chapel. and the next 13 pictures.

olivieretcerise Aug 31st, 2012 01:03 AM

We also recommend Menton and think that Ventimiglia is not worth the time

DebitNM Aug 31st, 2012 11:45 AM

If you can all indulge me in thinking out loud...

I think that we will focus on day trips east of Nice and make our stops in Antibes/Cap d'Antibes and Cannes on our drive Saturday from Nice to Saint Saturnin-lès-Apt.
So, Cap Ferat with Villa Euphrussi and town of St-Jean sounds good; Villefranche? Can we do these in one day??
Ezes, Monte Carlo, Menton? one day?
We still would like to make it into Italy and want to sample real Italian food for lunch or dinner. Bordighera and San Remo on a third day? Or should we do Menton and Bordighea together and skip San Remo?

Any and all input appreciated~~

menachem Aug 31st, 2012 12:37 PM

St Paul... Vence, Matisse museum in Nice...

StuDudley Aug 31st, 2012 01:42 PM

I don't think you'll have nearly enough time to check out of the Negresco, pick up a car at the train station, visit Antibes & Cannes, then drive 2 1/2 hrs to St Saturnin and get to the gite in time for the normal 4PM check in. Remember, if you want to cook food at the Gite on Sat or Sunday, you'll need to purchase food and any gite supplies (TP, soap, salt, pepper, olive oil) on Saturday. There is a huge hyper marche on the south side of the N100 just west of Apt. But I'm pretty sure it is closed on Sunday. Around 5PM on Saturdays, groceries are quite hectic because new gite arrivals are scurrying around to stock-up for the weekend. Allow enough time to do that on Sat after you check in & get an orientation at the gite. As you know, we've rented 52 gites and shopping on that first Saturday is something we don't look forward to. I will e-mail you our standard gite shopping list to give you an idea of what you may have to purchase. If you can't shop on Sat, go the the large grocery that is just north of l'Isle sur la Sorgue on the road to Pernes. They close around 1PM, so don't linger at the l'Isle sur la Sorgue outdoor market too long. There is also a farmer's market in Coustellet on Sunday mornings - but no TP or other staples there.

Plenty of Italian food in Nice - why go all the way to Italy??? At one time, Nice was part of Italy. If you MUST go to Italy, do it on Friday as your last day-trip (bet you'll decide not to go by then).

Stu Dudley

Aleta Aug 31st, 2012 01:43 PM

You will find more Italian food than French food in Nice, with lots of Italians as customers. You've gotten a lot of great advise about towns here that will be worthier of your time than stepping foot in Italy, but you should go if it beckons.
I like that someone mentioned Biot--so cute, and no crowds.
You will see yachts in every harbour and port. We had Italian seafood at the port, walked by all the boats to the sea wall, then cut into old Nice to people watch and have a gelato.

HappyTrvlr Aug 31st, 2012 01:44 PM

Yes, you can visit Villefranche and Cap Ferat the same day, same bus route along the coast. In St-Jean, there is outside upstairs seating at a little restaurant that pizza in the name. We had delicious seafood salads there.
Since Nice was part of Italy, there is plenty of good Italian food in the city.I wouldn't head into Italy just for the food.

We skipped Eze but enjoyed visiting Monaco. Menton is farther away and if you go there, I would take a train. We had two weeks in Nice and since you only have five days, I would only do one day trip. The wonderful Chagall Museum, and Matisse Museum, walking the Promenade, exploring Old Town, etc, lots to see and do.
St-Paul de Vence and the Maight Foundation are close by.

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