6 nights - French/Italian Riviera

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Jun 12th, 2015, 03:49 AM
  #1
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6 nights - French/Italian Riviera

Hello & thank you for any advice! My wife & I are flying from the US (Atlanta, Ga) to Milan July 16-24 (returning also from Milan). We are planning to spend a day at Lake Como/Bellagio upon arrival, then having 6 nights to allocate for the rest of our short trip. We would like to spend longer of course, but this will have to do for now... We are in our 30s & I would say look most to enjoy from traveling: learning history, strolling through the neighborhoods, taking in the architecture, the cafes, the scenery (both in town & nature), & speaking french. I would also say however, that as much as speaking French is important to us, we also would like to experience different culture/style of the Riviera as well -- so maybe Cinque Terre or other for part of the trip would be worthwhile to us. It's just the matter of time lost in-transit/checking-in, checking-out, etc... of course.

My main questions are:

* Of course, each has different priorities and personal tastes, I am just seeking others opinions/experiences. Would you say it would be best to spend all of our time in the towns/areas near Nice, taking day trips here & there to see other areas all on the French Riviera? Or, would it be a good trade-off to try to split the trip and do 3 nights each in Nice & Cinque Terre to experience another aspect/country of the Rivera lifestyle without too much lost time? Just wondering if there are any strong opinions or advice as we start to plan how best to allocate our time & make accommodations. Would 3 days in Nice & vicinity much too rushed?

* Given we are flying to Milan, & assuming the possible itineraries of Nice, Cinque Terre, would it be best to rent a car in Milan or to take the train for our local travel? Is the flexibility/convenience of driving to to these areas as well as ability of easier day-trips worth the hassle of parking/traffic, or better to do without & manage by public transportation? Again we have return flights to the US from Milan as well, and just looking for opinions.

* Is AirBnb a good/reliable source for accommodations on the French/Italian riviera? Are there other good accommodation sites to check that you have utilized & can recommend?

merci bien!

Stephen
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Jun 12th, 2015, 04:44 AM
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We have been to the Riviera a couple of times, basing once in Nice and once in Cannes, traveling by car since we were in the middle of a longer road trip. But we were there in early June when the crowds and traffic were less. I still think a car is good for visiting towns up in the hills, but for towns along the coast the train is probably a better option in August.

Have not been to the CT - but this is apples and oranges. The CT is 5 small towns with hiking paths between them and that hiking - or just relaxing - is the primary activity. There are other towns to visit inland but access can be time-consuming due to the location of the CT.

Cannes and Nice are both bigger cities with a lot of activities, lovely markets to explore, museums, restaurants and access to historic hill towns with a number of fascinating museums. And yes, just sitting in a cafe facing the sea and watching the (usually glamorous) world go by.

So it sort of depends on what you want to do with your limited time. There is no way I would do the CT is August, when it will be packed to the gills with hikers in very hot weather.

Sorry - can;t comment on Air BnB since we only stay in full service hotels. Our vacation time is limited and we like to be comfortable: larger rooms with good AC, room service, hotel bar and lounge and concierge to help with arrangements.

Caveat: We are not hikers so the AC has little interest for us.
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Jun 12th, 2015, 07:54 AM
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Never been to CT but on my todo list.
Nice is nice (the joke doesn't work in French...) and 1 day is clearly rushed, you can do it in 2 days.
Car will not help on the seaside, it is absolutely nightmarish end of july.
So for me : either Nice without a car, or inland (Eze, Vence) and the car.
I never stay in appartments either and with the new Alur laws, I'd be pretty prudent (other threads on the subject - search with words like 'crack down, Paris appartment, illegal rentals ...'.

Enjoy !
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Jun 12th, 2015, 09:29 AM
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3 nights in CT is a lot ... we were there 2 weeks ago (did as a day trip from Genoa) and it was jam packed, so I can only imagine how crowded it will be in July. It's most definitely worth visiting, but maybe for a day. If you decide to visit, you might want to consider taking the train instead of driving. There are 5 villiges - do you want to visit them all, or just a couple of them? We did Monterosso and Vernazza - took the train to Monterosso then a boat to Vernazza from there. Heard mostly American English, especially in Vernazza, than any other language.

If you do decide to stay in CT, pick one of the villages and make day trips to the others from there. That way you won't be taking your luggage with you. And reserve a room as soon as you can.

We also flew in/out of Milan. It's easy to get from Malpensa to the Centralie train station in Milan, and catch a train from there. Trains are frequent and affordable.

Consider visiting Santa Margherita Liqure - it's somewhat off the tourist map, and is stunningly beautiful! You can catch a boat to Portofino from there. Portofino is small, and is lined with expensive shops/restaurants around the harbor area. Almost reminded me of Vernazza due to how crowded it was (too many people in a very small area).

You'll find plenty of places to eat or stop for gelato anywhere you head. Have fun planning your trip. It's a beautiful part of Italy.
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Jun 12th, 2015, 09:57 AM
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Caveat: We are not hikers so the AC has little interest for us.>

The Amalfi Coast is a lot more than hiking - in fact few folks who flock there hike I would think - it's the cute seaside towns that is its drawing card plus easy day trips to places like Capri, Ischia, Pasestu, Pompeii - so hiking is not the main draw here for most.

I prefer the AC to the CT because there is much more real estate here for the tourist hoards to spread out on. In mid summer the CT is just not worth it IMO - total sardine city or villages in this case.
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Jun 12th, 2015, 12:57 PM
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The Amalfi Coast is absolutely swamped with touirsts. I have to wonder how long it has been since some people visited. Worse, trying to get around from town to town in the Amalfi coast involves queuing for buses or boats, and often nauseating rides, or a fortune in taxis.

For a trip staring in Milan and centered on the Riviera, it would be incredibly time consuming and expensive to get to the Amalfi coast for not much reward considering you could go to Corsica with less difficuty, and many other scenic beauty spots.

Arriving in Milan, consider immediately taking the train to Camogli, Santa Margherita Ligure or Rapallo. As others have pointed out, le Cinque Terre is overrun with foreign tourists, mainly American, so you will not get much of a feeling for Italian life if you stay there.

Then pick up a car in Rapallo and drive to the French Riviera (not a favorite of mine, so others will need to advise).

If you can fit it in, drive back from the French Riviera to Lago di Como and spend your final time there, before driving yourselves to the airport for your departure (which I hope is not too early in the morning). Lago di Como will be jammed in high season, so if you don't have your hearts set on it, consider spending the final time on either Lago Maggiore (Stresa or Baveno) or Lago d'Orta, much easier drive back to Malpensa than from Lago di Como.
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Jun 12th, 2015, 12:58 PM
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oh -- and Airbnb is fine for Italy. Don't know if the French war against AirBnb in Paris extends to the Cote d'Azur.
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Jun 13th, 2015, 07:26 AM
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Either follow Sandralists' plan or after two, not one, night in Lake Como, go to Nice and take easy day trips by bus and train.
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Jun 14th, 2015, 07:19 AM
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Thanks to all very much for the detailed responses.

Some key takeaways from the discussion :

- As suggested, we will forego Cinque Terre until a better time of year visit, perhaps with fewer crowds, and a longer visit with Florence/Tuscany.
- For flexibility and time, we will rent a car in Milan.
- The main towns to visit (from Nice) recommended were:

France:

- Anitbes & Villefrance
- Cannes
- St Paul, Vence, Tourrettes sur Loup, Gourdon
- Eze
Cap Ferrat( town of St-Jean and the Villa Ephrussi,and Villa Kerylos near Beaulieu)

Skip: St Tropez, Monaco/Monte Carlo

Italy: Bordighera, Apricale, Sanremo, Camogli, Santa Margherita, Ligure, Rapallo

I don't yet know the distances or which areas to group together on the same day trips, but basically have 4 days (Saturday-Tuesday/Wednesday) to see Nice & nearby areas.

Again, we arrive in Milan on Friday morning & depart (yes, sandralist, unfortunately very early 7am flight back) again, from Milan.

I am not sure about Maggiore/Orta instead of Lake Como as my wife is pretty set on returning to Como because she used to go weekends there when she worked in Coldrerio for a year. I think the heart is set...

Driving from Milan to Nice on the front side, and Nice to Como on the back side, Genova & Torino were recommended as good cities to stop on the way for a meal and a bit of site-seeing. Any other ideas are certainly welcome!


That being said, maybe it would be best to head to Nice (on arrival Friday) either through Genova or Torino (or other), then spend Friday - Wednesday seeing the towns above. Then driving back to Como (through Genovo/Torino) for the final part of the trip as sandralist suggests. Perhaps less busy there on Wednesday/Thursday than on the weekend days. Staying one night Wednesday in Como/Bellagio, enjoy the day Thursday exploring, then stay the last night somewhere closer to Malpensa airport since our Fight is 7am Friday.

Would look something like:

Day 1 (Friday)
Arrive Milan Friday morning 6am
Drive to Nice (through Torino/Genova?)

Day 2-4 (Saturday-Tuesday)
Exploring Nice & areas in proximity

Day 5 (Wednesday)
Drive from Nice to Como/Bellagio (through Torino/Genova?)

Day 6 (Thursday)
Relax, explore, enjoy Lake Como/Bellagio
Drive to naearby Malpensa, staying somewhere overnight close to airport for 7am flight Friday

With answers come more Questions!:
1)Is it all practical? smart use of short time?
2) Are Genova/Torino good pit stops..?
3) Are there areas to add/drop to our Nice day-trip list? Modifications?
4) **This is one that worries the most**....How would you split up 4 days Saturday-Tuesday (not counting our arrival Friday, or departure Wednesday) to see Nice & surrounding areas in France/Italy above?
4) What area of Nice would be best to rent an apt?

sorry for the long message & thanks again to all, once the plan is set, on to accommodations!
Stephen
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Jun 14th, 2015, 07:40 AM
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Should say - For the apt in Nice, would be ideal a walkable, close to the sea, central, pretty, quaint neighborhood (rather than very busy /large hotel/heavy traffic st/etc...
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Jun 14th, 2015, 08:08 AM
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For an apartment in Nice, look at the agency Nice Pebbles. We liked staying in the area a block back feom the waterfront and near the Hotel Negresco. Spent two weeks there.
You do not need a car in Nice as buses and trains can easily and inexpensively get you to the surrounding towns. Villefranche, Cap Ferrat and Antibes were our facorite day trips.
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Jun 14th, 2015, 09:36 AM
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We spent 3 nights in Santa Margherita Ligure, to visit Portofino and CT. The Nuova Riviera is a nice, small hotel, just a short walk up from the water.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...a_Liguria.html

Then we moved to Nice for 3 nights, at the Hotel Le Grimaldi. It's a charming boutique hotel, a short walk from the promenade and the train depot.
http://en.le-grimaldi.com

From Nice, we day-tripped to Antibes by train. And went to Villa Ephrussi and St Jean Cap Ferrat (by city bus).
http://www.villa-ephrussi.com

(Both of those hotels are good values.)
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Jun 14th, 2015, 11:32 PM
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Torino is a beautiful city.
It deserves a little bit more than a pitspot.
However pay attention, thre city is a nightmare with a car : for parking, for circulating and there are cameras everywhere and you are not supposed to drive in the center if you don't have a permit or a room reserved in a hotel.
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Jun 15th, 2015, 05:38 AM
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Looking at apartments now, I know I need to research more the areas.

I came across YNA (your Nice apartment) listing agency and found a couple options that look unique:

#1 Rue du Docteur Pierre Richelmi, The Port, Nice
http://www.yourniceapartment.com/sea.../poets-corner/

#2 Rue de la Buffa, Carré D'Or, Nice
http://www.yourniceapartment.com/sea...re-dor/fresco/


would you recommend one area more interesting, central, better for walking around during the morning/evenings, closer to trains/buses? Seeing all the listings, very few have options for parking and it sounds like the general advice is to go without. I think we will not get the car, and take the train direct Milan-Nice, then using public trans for day trips...however I would assume that we would not be able to visit Bordighera, Apricale, Sanremo, Camogli, Santa Margherita, Ligure, Rapallo without the car?....or could hire a car local for the day in Nice I suppose. thanks again for the help.

Stephen
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Jun 15th, 2015, 06:26 AM
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sorry, one more. also seems lovely (found Go-Nice.com).

#3 11 Rue du Congrès, 06000 Nice, France
http://www.go-nice.com/Congres.html

how would you compare the 3 (based on area)?
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Jun 15th, 2015, 01:47 PM
  #16
 
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Regarding a "pitstop" in Italy on the way to Nice:

Don't pick a big city like Genova or Torino, but intead pick either a small town in the Piemonte wine country (the Langhe hills) or an Italian Riviera town like Albenga.
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Jun 15th, 2015, 01:53 PM
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* Given we are flying to Milan, & assuming the possible itineraries of Nice, Cinque Terre, would it be best to rent a car in Milan or to take the train for our local travel?>

Both the CT and both rivieras have great rail service - trains trundle constantly between all 5 Cinque Terre Lands and all along both rivieras - the French Riviera has a dense network of buses to take you where trains won't - like those iconic hill towns of St-Paul-du-Vence or Eze and trains roll right along the coast from Ventimiglia, Italy to St Raphael and beyond.

These are local trains so with a ticket just hop on - avoiding the few TGV trains that do require reservations and cost much more. For a look at trains in these areas and how to get around those areas on them and in Europe in general check www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
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