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Advice 8 days trip to Cote d Azur and Cinque Terre

Advice 8 days trip to Cote d Azur and Cinque Terre

Feb 10th, 2019, 06:45 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 8
Advice 8 days trip to Cote d Azur and Cinque Terre

We are a married couple in our 40`s we are traveling for the first time to Cote d Azur and Cinque Terre and we are going to spend 8 full days (apart of arriving and departure days), we are planning to rent a car, and we were wondering if we should sleep in different towns or choose a centric city to stay and travel around.

We have been adviced to visit beach and mountain towns and some of the recomendations are:

Jean cap ferrat
Tourretes sur loup
Cassis / Calanques
Saint tropez
Cinque Terre
Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino

Our interest are gastronomy, Art, Architecture, History, Music and Nature. Since we only have 9 nights and 8 full days we need some adviced in how to make the best route starting from Nice.

We`ll appreciate your help,

Manuel and Patricia
mono265 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2019, 08:29 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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As I am sure you realize, your list is longer than the time available. You will also collect more advice than can be used. My own opinion would be that you have a number of similar and therefore redundant places on your list, so I would recommend grouping those with the goal of eliminating conceptual overlaps. Nice is a nice base for trips by train or bus to nearby places, eliminating the cost and parking hassle associated with a car. Your Italian branch of the list may also be car unfriendly or impossible (cinque terre). Also consider that car rentals with drop off in another country can be quite expensive. Finally, the dates of your travel may have implications with regard to availability of hotels and potential crowding of places you want to go to.
AJPeabody is offline  
Feb 10th, 2019, 09:02 AM
Join Date: Mar 2013
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All places you mention - except Cassis, Gordes, Sta. Margherita/Portofino and 5Terre - are close to Nice.
You could easily do Eze - Ste-Agnese and Menton or St-Trop - Cannes and Cap Ferrat in 1 day, for example.
So it's perfectly possible to stay in or around Nice for your first leg.
In Italy you could stay at Sestri Levante, unless you prefer to sleep in a 5Terre Village.
I suppose you will drive back from there to Nice in order to get your flight home.
Cassis and Gordes are close to Marseille, in another area. I would skip them.
There are many other interesting towns between Menton and St. Margherita in the case you wouldn't need all your time for the visit of the places mentioned above.

Last edited by neckervd; Feb 10th, 2019 at 09:12 AM.
neckervd is offline  
Feb 10th, 2019, 09:17 AM
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hi Ajpeabody thanks for your comments... we are hoping to hear suggestions on which places to visit, leaving out those that are redundant. Also, as we travel we would like to stay in different towns so we have different experiences. We like romantic and cozy places. Our trip to Cote D'AZUR and cinque terre will be from march 7 to 16, and we are not sure if its a good idea to bring a car up to italy, or rent it at all. The reason we have considered it is because we have heard that it is faster to go at your own pace than waiting for the bus or train. This is our first trip in this area of Europe, we are Colombia, and help is appreciated.
mono265 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2019, 09:26 AM
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Hi neckervd thanks for your comments. If we don't stay in Nice, which places do you think are good to spend the night? I think we will have to skip Cassis, but we are not sure if we should take our rental car to the 5terre area. We have heard Levante or Florence are good options to stay and take from there a bus to 5terre.

Which are the best ways to move (not car rental) from Nice to 5Terre?
How many days are enough to go around and enjoy 5terre??

we were planning to do 5 nights in French Riviera (need suggestions of towns where to spend the night)
and 3 nights in Italian Riviera (not sure where?)

hope to hear from you
mono265 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2019, 10:22 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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If you hope to hike in the Cinque Terre at that time of year, note that weather could interfere with your plans. You would probably want to plan on 3 nights, so you have at least 2 chances of having a clear day. I was glad to have stayed in Manarola, but I'm not sure it makes much difference. As noted above, a car will be of no use in the Cinque Terre.

If you are willing to seriously curtail your wish list, you could probably get by with 5 nights in Nice as a base to see a wide array of options in that part of France, and since you can't see them all, selecting from among those that you can see by public transportation would make sense. You might end up with short waits now and again, but both of you will be able to appreciate the stunning scenery, which a driver wouldn't necessarily be able to do in a safe way.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Feb 10th, 2019, 10:26 AM
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Note that all the places you plan to visit are north of Milwaukee, Wis. So I would not expect "beach weather". Also, if the weather is stormy/rainy on the CT - it will probably not be an enjoyable experience for you.

Also, consider car insurance. Many credit card companies will not cover CDW in Italy. They will in France. So if you rent a car in France you will need to purchase insurance for your entire trip. Added cost. A car is worthless on the CT, and only needed on the Cote d'Azur if you plan to visit the Nice Hinterlands (inland). Gordes is nowhere near the Cote d'Azur - 3 hrs away. So I would forget Gordes.

It will consume most of an entire day to get from Nice to the CT by train. There will be 2 train changes. If you depart Nice at 9:38, you will get to Monterosso at 15:00. So you loose much of 1 of your 3 days there. And what about flying home? Getting to Florence will consume much of a day too - and you'll need to get there the day before departure (I am assuming you fly home from somewhere in Italy).

You have not offered any info on what is "cast in concrete" (like airline tickets), and what is flexible. It matters!! If the latter, in March I would reserve for 5 nignts in Nice. About day 4 determine what the weather looks like on the CT. If it loks good - book the CT & head there. If not, determine if you want to spend more time on the Cote d'Azur or head to Provence. Fly in & out of Nice.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Feb 10th, 2019, 11:16 AM
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Hi mono265. Others can (and will) confirm or clarify, but here's how I'd group the places you mentioned geographically. IMHO, I would stay in Nice. There are many places you can choose from for day trips as neckervd mentioned above. DH and I were able to get a van tour from out Nice hotel and we visited several towns in one day, Are you flying in and out of Nice? If so, it makes even more sense to make that your base.

Jean cap ferrat
Tourretes sur loup
Saint tropez

Cassis / Calanques

Cinque Terre
Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino
TDudette is offline  
Feb 10th, 2019, 11:47 AM
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I suggest you stay in two places: Nice and Santa Margherita Ligure. That's how we did it a few years ago. We stayed three nights in each town.

From Nice, you can visit:
Antibes by short commuter train ride;
St Jean Cap Ferrat and the Villa Ephrussi Rothschild in one day, by bus from central Nice.

In Nice, I can recommend the Hotel le Grimaldi. Hotel Grimaldi by HappyCulture? | Nice Centre Promenade des Anglais

From Santa Margherita Ligure, we took the bus to Portofino for one day (not really a place I'd recommend, to be honest-- very small and very expensive); and took the train to the Cinque Terre for another day. (We stayed in a cute B&B at SML, but I think it's changed ownership and can't find it listed anymore.)

For hiking the CT, be sure you read about the different trails. And be prepared with good, sturdy walking/hiking shoes, preferably with ankle support and maybe walking sticks. The trails can be rough and rocky, and there are not hand rails. If it's wet, it's quite slippery. Be prepared. Do not wear flip flops, as I saw some people doing. Carry water, sunscreen, and wear a hat!

We walked from Vernazza up to Corniglia, which is a long, serious uphill climb on rough stairsteps cut in the stone. From there, my daughter walked on to Manarola, but I opted to bail out and take the train to meet her there. Which was stupid in retrospect, because I had such a long downhill walk from the trail to the train depot in Cogniglia, I may as well have walked to Manarola with her! Live and learn.

Definitely cut down on the number of towns you're trying to visit.
MoBro is online now  
Feb 10th, 2019, 01:10 PM
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 118
I'll just reiterate some of the points mentioned -- Gordes and the Luberon and Cassis are pretty far outliers if your priority is the Cote d'Azur and the Cinque Terre

If you go to Tourettes-sur-Loup via car, stop in St. Paul de Vence, Vence (Matisse Chapel) and then also continue on to Gourdon, a spectacular hill-top village.

As noted the train does take a long time; the drive is relatively easy on the main highway but once you are off it to the final stretch from La Spezia or Levanto, the way can get twisty and windy. Also check closures of both the roads and the trails to avoid planning issues that may cause a work around.
gooster is offline  
Feb 10th, 2019, 02:36 PM
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We have been to Cote d'Azur many times, always using Nice as the base. The last time we took our daughter to Monaco and Menton in one day; Villefranche, Beaulieu, and cap Ferrat including villa visits and hiking the exceptional cap Ferrat trails. And the third day, we went to Cannes and Antibes. Mornings and evenings we enjoyed Nice.

Last fall, we based in Rapallo and loved it (although SML would have worked as well). We were able to enjoy 20 locations in 8 days. We were fortunate to have perfect fall weather, every day, and found we were able to hike the open lower trail in CT between the three northern villages, visit all five villages and even had time for an evening walk through LaSpezia. We think the advice to watch the weather is spot on and be flexible with your plans. Our trip report for that: Rapallo/Cinque Terre/20 Places/8 Nights Sept/Oct

Drop-off fees when you move car from one country to another can be hefty. But, more important, you simply don't need car in either location in our opinion. We had one in Italy (because we had brought it from a northern lake) but it sat 7 of our 8 days.
whitehall is offline  
Feb 10th, 2019, 02:37 PM
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I suggest you consider not doing the Cinque Terre on this trip. Your dates are too early - the ferries ( and therefore many businesses) don't start until March 30 in 2019, there's a higher probability of rain in March, and the hills will not be green yet. There's plenty to explore in Liguria Ponente. Near the French border on the Ligurian coast are the wonderful towns of Apricale and Dolceacqua. Further along San Remo is interesting, Cervo and Noli and Finale Borgo are quite evocative.
mazzaschi is offline  
Feb 12th, 2019, 04:15 PM
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Eze and St-Tropez are at opposite ends of the Côte d'Azur, not suitable for a single day trip. Traffic can be brutal in high season.
Underhill is offline  
Feb 13th, 2019, 05:55 AM
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I think the Cinque Terre is a terrible idea at that time of year, and you surely don't want or need a car to visit them. You have a short trip; stay in Nice and explore all around the area, without a car.
StCirq is online now  
Feb 13th, 2019, 08:47 AM
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Weather in 5Terre is just unpredictable in winter/spring. It can be fine like today (nothing but sun, 55 degrees Fahrenheit in the afternoon) or it can be rainy and windy). I was once during 3 days at Monterosso in mid February, it was sunny and rather warm all the day, all trails were open and there were practically no other hikers.
In other years, half of the trail network was closed due to earth slides caused by heavy rainfall.
A train ride from Nice to 5Terre takes about 5 1/2 hrs. 12 trains daily
neckervd is offline  
Feb 14th, 2019, 06:06 PM
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I’m with MBro - Nice and Santa Margherita Ligure. We’ve been to Nice several times, most recently in December 2016, and it’s very easy to get around by train or bus.

I’m an interior designer and also love art and architecture (and gardens). Some of our favorite places from our Nice base were the gardens of the Villa Ephrusi de Rothschild and walking from there to the Villa Karylos (I believe both are in our near Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, and do recall getting the to Kerylos from the train). The Chagall museum in Nice is wonderful. We also loved the village of St-Paul-de-Vence and the Maeght museum there (took the bus).

We had the same concerns about getting to the Cinque Terre in spring 2017; we ended up staying in what must be one of our FAVORITE places, Santa Margherita Ligure. We walked along the ocean to Portofino - one of the most beautiful walks, ever! We stayed at the Grand Hotel Miramare in SML and I would love to return.

One day we took the train to the Cinque Terre. I have to say, it was ok, but we much preferred SML and the walks - or more strenuous hikes, if you’d like - there. ( If you do decide to go to the CT, ask the concierge in SML and they’ll tell you which trains are the most direct/fastest).

Once in the CT, if you cannot hike from one village to the next (washed out or closed trails, or rain), you need to watch the train schedule between the villages. Our experience was that all we did was look around a little bit in one village, have lunch, then get back to catch the train. It was not worth the day, IMO.

If you wanted, you could take the train from Nice to SML, bypassing a car totally.

Such beautiful places to see! It will be wonderful.

Iwan2go is offline  
Feb 14th, 2019, 09:49 PM
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>>I suggest you consider not doing the Cinque Terre on this trip. <<

I agree 100%.

March is really too early for the CT. You could have lovely weather but even if it is warm-ish and clear the specific days you are there, if it was raining the few days before, the trails will still be treacherous. So in reality you would need a week of nice weather before you arrive and the days you are there.

Stick to France -- or perhaps fit in a few days in an Italian city by train (Milan or Florence for instance). Just not the CT.
janisj is online now  
Feb 15th, 2019, 07:31 AM
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Another vote for skipping the CT. I love it, and the whole region, but given the time of year and most importantly, the fact that you only have 8 days, it's just not worth it. If you rent a car then you have to deal with high drop off fees or driving back to France. If you go by train it's most of a day. One trip I did that included both destinations, in my trip report I called that day 'travel day from hell'. But I had already been in France for a few weeks, and had five days on the Italian Riviera and was continuing on from there. So one travel day from hell was worth it. But in only 8 days - no way.

If you really want to see a bit of Italy you could just go as far as Genoa (by train) and base there. If you happen to get wonderful weather it is doable as a day trip to go to the CT but if the weather's not great Genoa has museums and a great aquarium. But if it were me I'd just stick to France.
isabel is offline  
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