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Cinque Terre and Côte d'Azur

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Feb 5th, 2015, 07:47 AM
  #1
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Cinque Terre and Côte d'Azur

I am looking for family friendly towns, and hotels within them, for both the Cinque Terre and Côte d'azur.

I will be traveling with my husband and our 10.5 month old, as well as my parents (able-bodied). We can baby-Wear but will have a stroller as well. I realize a stroller may not be practical. I have been leaning towards Monterosso for the town in the Cinque Terre, because I read that it's the most stroller friendly. Which would be nice for going out to dinners etc.

As for the town and the hotels, I want family friendly meaning the towns aren't too much of a party town, babies are generally accepted in restaurants, hotels offer cribs and are baby friendly etc. Anyone with experience taking a baby to these areas would be very helpful.

For price, looking for the 100-200 E/night range. We will be going in late May/early June. I am not sure if pools would be open but if they are having one would be a plus. Also proximity/ease of getting to beach/restaurants/shops is key.

We will be hiring a car for transport so from what I understand a car could drop us at our hotel door in Monterosso? Are there other towns that allow this?

For Côte d'azur we are considering sainte Maxime, Antibes, villafranche, etc. But more suggestions are very appreciated!!

TIA
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Feb 5th, 2015, 09:01 AM
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Must it absolutely be le Cinque Terre? You would have so much of an easier time in a town like Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo or Sestri Levante with the baby and the stroller, I highly recommend that you check out these lovely towns and see if you could be happy there. You can take a day trip to see le Cinque Terre by train quite easily from all the places I mentioned. From either Santa Margherita Ligure or Rapallo you can also visit Portofino and Camogli or lovely Zoagli if that would interest you.

Also, if you want a pool, it is easier to find them in Santa Margherita Ligure and Rapallo than the le Cinque Terre towns.

If those towns look too far away from Le Cinque Terre, then at a minimum I would suggest Levanto, which is right next door to le Cinque Terre. My only 2 reasons for not recommending it first are that (a) its beach often has waves which are not baby-friendly and (b) the seafront is rather a hike from the train station, and if the boats aren't running to take you to le Cinque Terre, you will probably want a taxi to and from your hotel (if you want a hotel with a sea view).

Le Cinque Terre is of course pretty but each village is terribly steep and largely shadeless. The towns are also usually quite crowded during the day. With your baby, your ability to escape the crowds with vertical hikes or boat rides is more limited than it is for other people. You can only have the baby out in the midday sun so much.

So please do check out those other towns -- all of which have beautiful vistas and loads of charm (Sestri Levante in particular for families) and long, flat seaside promenades shaded with palm trees and filled with gelaterie and outdoor cafes, the classic Riviera paradise.
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Feb 5th, 2015, 09:32 AM
  #3
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Thanks for the response! I am afraid my mom might be set on the 5 Terre. However I am open to convincing her.

How difficult would it be for us to day trip to the cinque Terre with baby from Sestri Levante or Levanto?
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Feb 5th, 2015, 09:38 AM
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Monterosso yes has a wide beach front esplande - flat whereas the three in between towns are quite congestion in season. You can also drive and park in Monterosso.

actually much of the lure for many in the 5 Terre is to hike between the towns - they are nice old small villages but super crowded in season - I second sandralist's advice to look at more leisurely towns where Italian families come to holiday - the 5 Terre is largely IME tourists there for a day or two.
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Feb 5th, 2015, 09:51 AM
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The Cinque Terre is absolutely sinking under the weight of day trippers. I've been there twice, both times in autumn, and it was still too crowded for my tastes. I would promise your Mom to take her there as often as she wants from one of the towns recommended by Sandralist. I'll bet once will be enough for her.
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Feb 5th, 2015, 10:28 AM
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It's about 25 minutes by train to Monterosso from Sestri Levante, so a quick and easy trip -- and inexpensive at about 3.5 euros.
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Feb 5th, 2015, 11:24 AM
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From Levanto there are ferries that you can take to Monterosso al Mare, and all the villages of le Cinque Terre, provided it is not windy that day. Otherwise, there is a short train ride of 10 mins or less. But take a look at a map of Levanto to get a sense of where the train station is relative to hotels with easy beach access.

It is worth looking at a map of Sestri Levante too, for the same reasons. However, Sestri Levante is utterly flat, and has 2 sandy beaches, and just overall has more options for food, cafes, hotels (perhaps some with swimming pools, but I may be selling Levanto short on that score).

One way to start evaluating the options would be to go to booking.com and looking up hotel accommodations for all 3 options -- Monterosso al Mare, Levanto and Sestri Levante. Booking.com has an option to look at an interactive map that clearly shows the location of which hotels would be available during your time frame. Although there are few b&bs that might not turn up on the map, it's a great way to start to get a sense of where places are relative to the train station and the parking lots, swim areas, etc.
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Feb 5th, 2015, 11:39 AM
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here are pictures of the seaside promenades (lungomare) in the various towns I mentioned

Santa Margherita Ligure
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Rf3E0h5faU...gia_e_mare.jpg

Rapallo
http://www.fotoeweb.it/Liguria/Rapallo/Rapallo.jpg

Sestri Levante has 2 seafronts
http://www.globeholidays.net/Europe/..._Lungomare.jpg

http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/med...l-silenzio.jpg

Levanto
http://www.allwebitaly.biz/uploads/i...940bf21ac4.jpg
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Feb 5th, 2015, 12:15 PM
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Those all look beautiful especially Santa Margherita Ligure. I like that it is easy to get to 5terre from Sestri Levanti or Levanto, though.

Does anyone have any suggestions for the Côte d'Azur?
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Feb 5th, 2015, 01:44 PM
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I stayed in S M Liguere and day tripped to the 5 Terre - not that far and SML is also close to ultra-famous Portofino - just a few miles away.
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Feb 5th, 2015, 01:48 PM
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How about Beaulieu-sur-Mer?
Well served by rail links to all towns on the coast from Menton to Cannes and Nice is literally minutes away.
Nice seashore walk to St Jean Cap Ferrat.
Easy access to the Ephrussi Gardens.
Nice town centre with a reasonable choice of unpretentious restaurants.
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Feb 5th, 2015, 01:51 PM
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Late May early June is a great time for the Cote d'Azur - not so so mobbed as in July and August - towns that may appeal to you would be like Antibes and Villefranche - both IMO superb places with neat seafronts - St Maxime is a litle farther away from the many day trips available in the area (and I do not know much about it).

I did love staying in Antibes - a market town - with markets, lots of shops and restos, etc. villefranche, gorgeous as it is seems more like a part of Nice just around the bay or over the mountain from each other.

Antibes has character and an old-world romantic feeling as does Villefranche.

are you driving between Italy and France - if so keep in mind possible steep drop-off fees for renting in one country and returning in another - but from Nice you or one of yous could easily drive to Ventimiglia, Italy and return the car and hop the commuter train back to Nice and Antibes. Check on drop-off fees!
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Feb 5th, 2015, 06:10 PM
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Feb 6th, 2015, 05:26 AM
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I would seriously consider trying to convince your mom about staying in a town other than the actual Cinque Terre towns. She is probably set on that because that's what she's heard of but as mentioned above, several other towns in the region make better bases - especially given your situation. I've stayed in both Camogli and Rapallo for visits to the CT and was very happy in both cases. There is more choice of restaurants/shops, easier to drive to/park, better beaches - especially for a baby, much better 'walking with a stroller'.

Of the CT towns the only one you could use a stroller in, or drive to a hotel would be Monterossa. And that is the least scenic of the five. The towns are gorgeous because they are built around tiny coves (no beach) and up hills (lots of steps, not just steep paths).

My last trip I stayed in Hotel Italia in Rapallo and loved it. It is right on the water, overlooking an adorable little castle. I didn't have a car but they mention parking nearby and you can definitely drive right up to the door for unloading. But the train station is a short walk.

The towns are worth visiting even if you don't walk the paths between them (which have often been closed in recent years due to landslides, etc.) but even if they are open I wouldn't do those walks with a 10 month old. Take the train or boat to the Cinque Terre and visit the towns for a few hours but stay in Rapallo, Santa Marguerite or Camogli.

This trip report has information on the hotel I mentioned and about the area - scroll half way down to get to the Italy part. http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...swiss-alps.cfm

This photo is of the hotel in Rapallo I mentioned, there are photos of all the towns as well - http://www.pbase.com/annforcier/image/151985951
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Feb 6th, 2015, 06:19 AM
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Thank you!! Great information. Does anyone have any specific hotel recommendations for traveling with baby?
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Feb 6th, 2015, 06:42 AM
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Feb 6th, 2015, 06:45 AM
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Feb 6th, 2015, 09:46 AM
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during your stay on the Côte d'Azur don't forget to visit Villefranche sur mer www.coeur-riviera.com
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Feb 27th, 2015, 05:01 PM
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Has anyone ever stayed in La Spezia vs. one of the towns of Cinque Terre? we were automatically reserved there on a package, and i was al little disappointed to see that it is so far away from all of the sites. any help or suggestions?
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Feb 27th, 2015, 05:54 PM
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La Spezia is not far from le Cinque Terre in terms of transportation. It is a 10-minute train ride to the first of the most southerly le Cinque Terre village (Riomaggiore), and then each of the towns is another 10 minutes apart, or less. You can also take a boat from La Spezia to all five le Cinque Terre villages (I am not sure how long the boat ride takes, but I would guess a bit more than 30 minutes -- could be wrong). You can also take a boat or bus in the other direction, to Portovenere or Lerici, lovely towns which many people enjoy strolling around more than the le Cinque Terre villages because it's easier and often less people.

However, I live in the area and while I am a huge fan of just about every "untouristy" town on the Italian Riviera, La Spezia is a curiously dull town. It is too big to have the village charm of so many other Riviera towns, yet not big enough to have any real zip. The main focus of the town is that it is a navy port, all of which is kept away from public access, so that might be part of the reason. Throughout the summer there are often loads of live music events in La Spezia (rock and jazz, perhaps some classical concerts) so maybe that perks things up.

The very best feature of La Spezia is that it has got some of the best food on the southern Riviera. In particular it has mussels that are among the best in Europe (I just had some for dinner tonight!) and a great version of the local chickpea torte known as farinata. But the name of the town translates "The Spices" and it was the historic spice port of western Italy, so it has a chocolate making tradition and a few other quirks as well, and a fine open food market. So if eating well is top of the pops for you, it is a great spot to be.

Were it me, I would treat yourself to one night in le Cinque Terre even though you'll be paying for an empty hotel room in La Spezia. Find some other way to economize on your trip to pay for it, but a scenic sunset in one of the villages, after all the daytrippers have gone, and a dinner with a view would be enough I think to get the feeling.
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