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Côte d'Azur in late May - where to base our trip?

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Feb 1st, 2014, 01:29 PM
  #1
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Côte d'Azur in late May - where to base our trip?

Hey, Fodorites, looking for your expert help. We will be in the area for 3-4 nights in late May. We want to do some walking, see some great art, do day trips to the villages around Nice, etc. It's me and early 20s son. Suggestions on where to stay, i.e., your favorite town, your favorite hotels, etc. Budget per night for lodging up to approx. 250 euros (we'll probably share a double room). Rent a car or take the bus around?

Before this we spend 3/4 nights near Rapallo or Cinque Terre, afterwards on to Paris for 4 nights.

Thanks!
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Feb 1st, 2014, 03:12 PM
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http://www.jabotte.com/en/

Antibes is my favourite place to stay in the area. For great art, you should visit the little known Picasso Museum there
http://www.antibes-juanlespins.com/les-musees/picasso and if you can go up to St. Paul De Vence for a meal at La Colombe d'Or you will find some more.
http://www.la-colombe-dor.com/history.html
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Feb 1st, 2014, 03:51 PM
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This question has come up a few times recently so you may wish to look them up to hear what others have said.

There is an excellent bus service and the train travels the coast. I would choose somewhere on the train line which also has decent bus services. I'd choose local transport over car.

We used Nice (old town) as a base, purely for transport reasons but there would be lots of other choices along the train line. Antibes gets generally good comments so maybe choose there. We were only there for a short time but it certainly looked nice.
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Feb 1st, 2014, 05:06 PM
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Thanks! There is so much information. There's nothing like the advice of folks who have actually been there. Definitely planning to make a reservation at Colombe d'Or.
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Feb 1st, 2014, 05:44 PM
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I would not recommend that you stay or dine in St Paul unless you have a car.

Do you have my 27 page itinerary for the Cote d'Azur & Provence? We've vacationed for 16 week on the Cote - and are returning for 2 more this June. I've sent the itinerary to over 3,000 people on Fodors. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail.

We stay at the Hotel Windsor in Nice.

Stu Dudley
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Feb 1st, 2014, 07:25 PM
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StuDudley, why do you need a car for St Paul de Vence? There are buses. Or do you mean dining at night after the buses stop running? I agree it's not terribly well serviced as a base location if you don't have a car and want to explore the area but fine for a visit for the day by bus.
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Feb 2nd, 2014, 07:35 AM
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I was recommending against staying for multiple days in St Paul (as a base) without a car. If you use it as a base, you'll see everything you want to see in St Paul in 1 1/2 hrs. It is really a small village. Then what???? As far as I know, there are to buses from St Paul to get you to the lovely Nice Hinterland to explore the gorges, mountains ridges, rivers, & isolated village. Even the villages near St Paul like Vence, Tourrettes sur Loup, Gourdon, and the scenic Loup loop are best accessed by car.

We've stayed in St Paul twice with a car, and in nearby St Jeanette in a gite for 4 weeks (over 2 trips) with a car. This June we'll be in Nice for 2 weeks and we'll have a car for only the second week.

If you plan to stay in Nice or Antibes & visit St Paul as a day-trip - a bus is fine. If you want to dine there at night - like you stated - no buses.

Stu Dudley
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Feb 2nd, 2014, 08:31 AM
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I don't see where anyone specified staying in St. Paul or dining at night. That said, I agree it is not the best choice for a base. But then, in my opinion neither is Nice.

Nice is the commonest choice in every sense of the word in my opinion. I don't see where anyone needs to ask for suggestions if the answer they get is Nice. They could have come up with that on their own. A forum is a place to find more original ideas.

So come on StuDudley, forget Nice and suggest a place NOT in Nice. I'm sure you know of some given the amount of time you have spent in the area.

Here is another one: http://www.bbchambreantibes.com/ But a car would be needed there. It's a bit different from the normal hotel.
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Feb 2nd, 2014, 08:54 AM
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I've rented a car before to explore the area outside Arles. It definitely gave us lots of freedom to come and go on our own schedule, which I like, and lot of adventures at the frequent roundabouts. I'm starting to think maybe we forget Rapallo and head straight to this area from our arrival and a day or so in Milan, and just take the train over to Cinque Terre from here as a day trip. Maybe that's a better idea than 2/3 nights around there, then on to Côte d'Azur? Thoughts?
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Feb 2nd, 2014, 09:32 AM
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I don't think Desinator requested our 2nd or 3rd choices.

In the Alpes Maritimes & Var departments (Cote d'Azur), we've stayed in Nice for about 4-5 weeks over 7-10 visits, St Paul for 2 trips of 3-4 nights each, in St Tropez for 5 trips totaling about 6-7 weeks, in St Jeanette for 2 trips of 2 weeks each, farther into the Nice Hinterland for 1 week in Entrevaux, and 2 trips of 2 weeks each in Carces (close to Cotignac in the Var).

It seems like Desinator is a first-timer to the area - and my choice for a base for him (or her) is Nice. My second choice would be Antibes. I would only recommend St Tropez if he/she had visited Nice or Antibes before and was willing to rent a car.

If he/she was more interested in exploring the smaller villages in the hills behind the Nice/Cannes area and the Nice Hinterland, than exploring the larger coastal cities - I would recommend St Paul with a car as a base.

For a 3-4 night stay in the area, because of his limited time I would not recommend that he take a bus to/from St Paul and have a meal at a "top" restaurant like La Colombe d'Or - unless he & his 20 year old son are foodies (I'm a major foodie now - but wasn't when I was 20).

We stay mostly in Gites and apts in the Cote d'Azur. The only hotels we've stayed in are the Windsor for all of our visits to Nice, Le Hammeau in St Paul, 3 nights in Des Lices and a hotel that is no longer there for 2 of our 6-7 weeks in St Tropez.

Stu Dudley
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Feb 2nd, 2014, 09:39 AM
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>> and just take the train over to Cinque Terre from here as a day trip. <<

It is not a day-trip from the Cote d'Azur to the CT. It took most of entire day for us to take the train from the CT to Nice in '06. It is a very slow train, taking from 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hrs one-way with 2 train changes - unless there is a different summer schedule (I checked March schedules).

Stu Dudley
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Feb 2nd, 2014, 11:51 AM
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Let's turn to the topic of art. In addition to the Picasso Museum in Anbites...

NICE: Musée des Beaux Arts, Matisse Museum (see also the Franciscan Monastery next door), Chagall Museum (superb!), Museum of Modern Art.

Vallauris: national ceramics museum, including a number by Picasso. Right next door you can see his huge War and Peace painting.

St-Paul-de-Vence: Fondation Maeght, modern sculpture and art in a mostly outdoor setting. Just a short distance from the village of St-Paul.

Vence: the beautiful Matisse chapel. Check the opening times carefully, as they can vary with religious holidays (minor, not major).

St-Paul-de-Vence and the old town of Mougins: many galleries.
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Feb 2nd, 2014, 03:02 PM
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Thanks! So we will stick with separate stays in CT and cote D'Azur. My name is Desiree, FYI, not Pat.
Le Hammeau looks lovely.
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Feb 2nd, 2014, 03:16 PM
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We spent 4 nights here in 2012. It was a great location and the apartment worked well. There are 2 couches that would accommodate you and your son.

http://www.vrbo.com/174633
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Feb 3rd, 2014, 08:39 AM
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If you must go to Cinque Terre (overrated in my personal opinion. What it was 25 years ago is not what it is today), I suggest staying not in the Cinque Terre itself but just to the south in Portovenere. There is a ferry that will take you to CT for the day so you can do the obligatory walk between the 5 villages. The walk takes 5.5 hours total end to end.

The entire area is now a National Park and in busy periods there is a daily limit on the number of walkers. That should tell you something.

Portovenere is well worth visiting and a day trip to CQ is easy to do. https://www.google.ca/#q=portovenere

Or you can follow the herd.
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Feb 5th, 2014, 10:57 AM
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Le Hameau IS lovely. We've stayed there a number of times and really, really like the place. The only downside is having to figure out where to go for dinner.
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Feb 6th, 2014, 08:13 PM
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Well, I thought I had made a reservation at Le Hameau, but then I didn't hear back. And in the meantime, I found Les Orangers so I booked there. Excellent reviews and much cheaper. It looks like it's not far from St Paul either.
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Feb 6th, 2014, 08:40 PM
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Cagnes could be good as well: has train station, and good buses into the Alpes Maritimes. I second St Jeanette as a destination.
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Feb 6th, 2014, 09:45 PM
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Throwing another potential thought in your direction, we like to use Juan les Pins as a base. Close to Cannes, close to Nice, Antibes-adjacent, but less expensive, and free street parking very easy to find, even in summer during the festivals.

I would recommend getting a car and having LUNCH (vs. dinner) at Colombe d'Or. Perhaps preceded by a tour of the village above. And definitely followed by a trip to the Fondation Maeght, one of the coolest, if not the coolest art museums (as someone else said, mostly outdoors) around. A photo op at every opportunity. At St. Paul de Vence there's a multi storied parking lot right next to the restaurant/hotel.
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Feb 7th, 2014, 12:35 AM
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We did as Surfergirl suggested; visit Fondation Maeght, then lunch at Colombe d'Or - I think lunch is better, you can enjoy the view from the terrace. We parked in the car park just outside of town. This was in July, and we had no trouble finding a parking space.

I'm sure you know about the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix; very busy for hotels in Cannes, and for the Grand Prix also in Nice.

If you take the train to Cannes during the festival, it's fun to walk along the Croisette.

Juan les Pins is also popular with our family, and indeed you can find free parking there. The Pinede area is the nicest place to stay.
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