Advice on the Mediterranean

Apr 25th, 2016, 04:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 28
Thanks again for so much info. I think I'll probably end up going to the Cote d'Azur, and most likely in spring either just before or after Easter (April 16) when it may be more crowded and the rates higher.

After reading your responses I realized that the Cote offers pretty much everything I'm looking for, nature, several gardens, beautiful coastline, a few museums I'd love to see, Fondation Maeght, Picasso (also for the works of Nicolas de Stael)and Matisse as well as his chapel in Vence. The Rothschild villa looks lovely as well


Thanks for the menu del dia info. We took advantage of that in Madrid and Barcelona and ate well at a very reasonable price. Can you tell me what to expect on the Cote, what I'll get for my money? We like to eat a larger meal late afternoon, around 2-3pm, and something light in the evening.

We're thinking of staying in Antibes as it seems pretty centrally located and pleasant. From what I understand it's pretty easy to get around without a car, although we plan to rent one for a couple days to visit small towns/villages inaccessible by public transit.

Another question I have is we'd like to see the Esterel and the Calanques, but aren't interested in Marseilles. However Cassis looks appealing. I believe the Calanques are between these two towns. My question is, how far is Cassis from Antibes? Looks a bit out of the way.
Tralfaz77 is offline  
Apr 25th, 2016, 06:30 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 6,047
"Calanque" means "cove". The whole Côte d'Azur is full of calanques, between Cassis and the Italian border.

IMO, the most beautiful calanques are on the Esterel coast, because of the red cliffs. So, no need for the long drive to Cassis.

If you have car, driving the coastal road ("Corniche d'Or" or "Corniche de l'Esterel) between Mandelieu and Saint Raphael belongs to the highlights of any trip to the Côte d'Azur.

Drive the road leisurely, the calanques are named and you find a lot of parking lots along the road for photo stops and for walking down into the coves (but the water will be pretty chilly in April, around 16°C, maybe 18°C in a protected cove).

The most beautiful section is the protected wilderness area between Miramar and Antheor.

There is a beautiful spot between Agay and Le Dramont. Plage du Camp Long is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Côte d'Azur - a beach with red sand in a picturesque cove.

Also the hike round Cap Dramont (1 to 2 hours) is one of the most scenic hikes in the region. There are many other beautiful hiking trails in the Esterel.

If you do not have a car, you can take the TER train from Antibes. It stops in Theoule-sur-Mer, Trayas (here starts the most scenic stretch), Antheor-Cap-Roux (also very scenic), Agay, Dramont (WWII landing beach with memorial, Roman quarries, hiking trail to Cap Dramont and Plage du Camp Long).

Just to give you an impression, here you find pictures of Plage du Camp Long:

If you are interested in modern art, do not miss the Fernand Leger Museum in Biot and the Museum of the Biblical Message of Marc Chagall in Nice, IMO the best art museums in the region (the Picasso Museum in Antibes is nice, but not overwhelming).

You asked for eating. In proper restaurants, lunch time is from 12:30 to 15:00, so you should start around 13:30 or even 14:00 you still make it to get a three-course menu (what the French consider a minimum meal). Dinner usually starts at 19:00 and is the main meal for the French, but you may order lighter things.

Besides proper restaurants, you can eat at fast food places, street stands, charcuteries, bakeries etc. These venues often serve high-quality food as reasonable prices. Also, grocery stores and hypermarchés have prepared food items of restaurant quality.

A visit of hypermarché (there is one near the autoroute in Mandelieu) is a memorable experience. Also, the hypermarchés have cafeterias which are usually open 24 hours.

There are also American-style chain restaurants like Applebee's. The Buffalo Grill is quite recommendable for a steak or seafood.

So, you have many options to feed yourselves. This means, the price range is huge. It starts at 3 or 4 Euros for a piece of finger-food. But it may be delicious: a slice of seafood or liver terrine followed by a chocolate or lemon tarte can be an inexpensive, tasty meal.

The Côte d'Azur has her special fast food items:
- Pan Bagnat is a big sandwich, stuffed with salad and olive oil.
- Pissaladiere is a kind of pizza with onions, olives and anchovis. Usually eaten cold.
- Tielle are pasties, filled with crabmeat.
- Friands are pasties, filled with meat or cheese.

A picnic on a beach, on park bench, at a roadside picnic table is one of the French' pasttime favourites, and it is totally acceptable to have a bottle of wine with it.
traveller1959 is offline  
Apr 26th, 2016, 04:16 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 28

Thank you for all the valuable tidbits, VERY helpful. All the food options are great to know. I can spend as much or as little as I want, not everything is over-the-top expensive. Of course, one avoids all the tourist-trap restaurants.

Lots of great info for the calanques, where to go and how to get there. Your more detailed suggestions are often not found in guidebooks, which is why we have the forum! I don't plan on going in the water so no problem if it's cold. We just want to hike, walk, and possibly take a boat ride for a different perspective.

Thanks again everyone for being such a big help.
Tralfaz77 is offline  
Apr 26th, 2016, 11:41 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 6,047
France is a hikers' paradise. Everywhere, you find networks of well-marked hiking trails, so you can make your own itinerary and usually go a loop.

Make sure to buy the very detailed hiking maps of IGN (National Geographic Institute). Especially in the Esterel, there are several beautiful and scenic trails. In addition to the short hike around Cap Dramont, you can hike up to the Pic du Cap Roux or Pic de l'Ours. Also, we like the hike through the Mal Infernet gorge along the small stream Grenouillet (drive the D100 from Agay then turn right and drive to the parking lot at the trailhead).

The Michelin Green Guide "Côte d'Azur" is a valuable resource.

A few more descriptions (in French): (click on the links)
traveller1959 is offline  

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