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dina4 Apr 4th, 2006 10:30 PM

Cote d'Azur - too much research, too much information-- PLEASE help with itinerary!
Looks like we'll be based in Nice.
First day arriving in late afternoon from Provence. We're departing for Florence after 3 nights. (Don't need to be in Florence till dinner time.)

I've done SO much research on this forum that now I have too much info and doo many must-sees. I am very confused as how to organize the things we want to do and optimize our limited time. I would appreciate any feedback on this.

1. Must spend part of each full day on a beach, lounging and enjoying the sea. (Very Important to 2 teens) Half-day excursions can be in early morning or in late afternoon.
2. Really want to visit these hill towns: Eze, St. Paul, Gourdon
3. I would love to visit Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, and my husband wants to visit the casino in Monte Carlo.

Also interested in beach in Juan les Pins, Antibes, Villefranche-sur-mer, La Turbie.

Can we do some of these sites on our way in (arrival day from Provence) or on our way out (departure day for Florence.

Thank you in advance for any scheduling advice you might have.

chiarachiara Apr 5th, 2006 01:57 AM

You could stop by at Eze and/or Monte Carlo on your way to Florence but I doubt you will enjoy it because it is quite a stretch to Florence from Nice. Will you be driving? Maybe do 1 stop en route?

From where will you be coming to Nice? Depending from you you will be coming, it might be possible to stop in Gourdon or Antibes etc.

The experts will wake up soon - and give you good advice!

dina4 Apr 5th, 2006 08:22 AM

Hi Chiara,

Strangely, says Florence is just a little over 4 hours from Nice. If we take the middle corniche, I was hoping we could avoid crowds and see Eze.
Can you get down to Montecarlo and back up if you want to stick with the middle corniche?

On arrival, we will be coming from touring the Luberon.


TimS Apr 5th, 2006 09:22 AM

I have a detailed Michelin map of the Cote d'Azur. It show that east of Eze you can drop down to the coast at Cap-d'Ail, west of Monaco. It also shows several ways of getting back up from Monte Carlo.

Underhill Apr 5th, 2006 10:08 AM

You can drive to and from Monte Carlo on any of the corniche roads. Make sure your husband takes his passport--it's required for entrance to the casino. Check on dress codes; dinner jackets are required in some of the rooms (the baccarat tables, for example).

For beaches, the one at Villefranche might be your best bet; the Nice beach is populated by hard pebbles, not sand. Villefranche is also close to St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and has a nice beach.

You should schedule the trip to St-Paul-de-Vence and Gourdon on the same day to avoid backtracking; the two will take about 6 hours, as the drive out/up to Gourdon is about an hour each way from Tourette-sur-Loup.

You can easily visit Eze-village en route to Florence.

TimS Apr 5th, 2006 10:31 AM

For a sandy beach, visit Antibes. The old walled city is also worth seeing.

Underhill Apr 5th, 2006 11:13 AM

That should have been "St-Jean has a nice beach."

Neopolitan Apr 5th, 2006 01:06 PM

We have taken the train from Nice to Monte Carlo and back, and we have driven from Nice to Monte Carlo and back. The train was a lot easier and even quicker once we added in the hour or so of looking for car parking for the car and finding our way through some very crowded streets.

I'd agree to visit Eze village in the morning on your way to Florence. It won't be nearly so crowded as late in the day, and you should even be able to find parking right by the entrance to the village.

StuDudley Apr 5th, 2006 02:49 PM

We've "done" the beach in Nice over a dozen times. Although it's rocks, like others have said, they're polished flat rocks which are about 3 inches in diameter (I have one in front of me). Sometimes on windy days, I prefer rocks over sand because they are less dusty. If you go to one of the private consessions (I like Blue Beach) in Nice, you won't even need to walk on the rocks, unless you want a dip in the water. They have straw mats you can walk on from the entry point to your matlas, to the WCs, and lunch area. I have delicate feet & I've walked on the rocks many times in my younger years. Have you considered letting your daughters spend the time at the beach while you visit Monte Carlo, Explore Nice, visit museums, and perhaps a few other places your daughters might not be interested in?? For such a short visit, I would not drive to a sandy beach just to get some "rays" when you can just stay in Nice and do the same thing. Try the Nice beach first, and see if it is OK with you & your family.

We've spent 4 weeks in a Gite (house) just outside of Vence & St Paul. Get to St Paul as early in the day as you can - 9:00 or so. Stop in Tourrettes on the way to the Gorges du Loup circuit & Gourdon.

La Turbie should be in your hill town list, not the beach list.

Stu Dudley

dina4 Apr 5th, 2006 07:50 PM

Wow. thanks to all of you for all the great advice!!


1. perhaps we should take the train one evening to Monte Carlo to avoid driving? Do the trains run often and at night? Approximately how much do they cost? (Good idea, Stu, giving the kids the option of staying behind.)

2. If we want to the St. Paul / Gourdon loop, would it be feasible to start at 3:30, and have dinner in one of the towns? Any idea when the sun sets in late June?
Otherwise, we could do it early, do lunch, and be back for some rays in the afternoon.
(But I was thinking dusk in the hill towns might be incredible!)

3. Stu, I think we might stay at the beach in Nice, like you say, and experience the pebbles. (Afterall, we can have sandy beaches any time in Santa Monica.)
Our hotel, the Nice Meridien, has a private beach, so we'll check that out for the day. Maybe we'll check out "Blue Beach" on the other day.

4. Perhaps we should see Eze AND La Turbie on our way out of France to Florence. Could we add Monte carlo to that, too???

Thanks again,

TimS Apr 5th, 2006 08:13 PM

Trains between Nice and Monte Carlo run at least twice an hour and a single ticket costs E3.70. The last train leaves Monte Carlo at 23:58 and arrives in Nice at 00:21.

dina4 Apr 5th, 2006 09:55 PM

Thank you, Tim!
Your specific information is very helpful!

chiarachiara Apr 5th, 2006 10:42 PM

And there you are with all the good advice! The idea of taking the train to Monte Carlo is a good one. Just keep in mind that you would really like to spend some time in beautiful Eze (and La Turbie) - but again - the experts will tell you if both could be done en route to Firenze.

Enjoy - I envy you!

dina4 Apr 6th, 2006 07:40 AM

Yes, chiara.
I would love to spend a little time in Eze. Perhaps we could have breakfast on the terrace of one of the restaurants ? And I"d like to walk up to the Jardin Exotique.

Thanks again,

StuDudley Apr 6th, 2006 08:54 AM

On the Riveria, it stays light about 45 mins later than in Santa Monica (we live in San Francisco). You can still see your fishing line at 10:00 or even 10:30 (someone in Scotland told me about that "test"). The drive back from St Paul, Vence, or Haute Cagnes is not that difficult. It's a little tougher from Tourrettes. I would not recommend driving from Gourdon after dinner. Both the old section of Vence & Haute Cagnes (next to the Chateau on top) have lots of outside Pizza places that would be fun at night. I think you have my Riveria write-up which explains how to park in both of those towns.

Stu Dudley

dina4 Apr 6th, 2006 05:39 PM

That's great advice. If we leave for Gourdon around 3, then we can go there first and back track with dinner in one of the closer towns, heading back to Nice late.
Do you think it's doable leaving at 3 or 3:30?

And Stu, what sets Blue Beach apart from the other private beaches? I think we still have to pay for the one at our hotel, so I don't mind trying a second one.


StuDudley Apr 7th, 2006 08:27 AM

>>If we leave for Gourdon around 3,<<

You should take the entire "loop" around the Gorges du Loup. From Pont du Loup, north on the D6, south on the D3 to Gourdon, then south to Chateauneuf, then north on the D2210 past le Bar & back to Pont du Loup. Do not take the D2085 to Chateauneuf & then to Gourdon & only do half the Loup loop.

>>then we can go there first and back track with dinner in one of the closer towns, heading back to Nice late.
Do you think it's doable leaving at 3 or 3:30?

Sure - You might take the D6 from La Colle along the Loup River to Pont du Loup (I've never driven that road). The entire Loup loop is about 32K, and to Vence on the D2210 is another 13K. Stop in Tourrettes for a visit. Then visit St Paul, and then backtrack to Vence for dinner. If you want an outside place to dine & have a simple dinner of Pizza, etc, I don't recall seeing any in St Paul - maybe others have. Like I mentioned earlier, Vence has several in the center of the old town around the Church, & so does Haute Cagnes. It's a litle difficult getting to Haute Cagnes & parking, so unless you want to visit Haute Cagnes, your best bet for dinner is Vence. That way you can drive past St Paul at night on the way back to Nice to see what it looks like at night.

>>And Stu, what sets Blue Beach apart from the other private beaches? I think we still have to pay for the one at our hotel, so I don't mind trying a second one.<<

Nothing really. I like their lunch menu, and there is a good view of the Negresco from there. The beach concessions are rated according to "comfort" level just like hotels are - ***,****,*****,*****LUX etc. If you get a discount from your hotel, that would be a good deal.

Stu Dudley

dina4 Apr 7th, 2006 01:22 PM

Thanks, Stu!

That is great advice and sounds like a perfect plan for the Gourdon trip, leaving plenty of time for the beach during the day! (I think we'll skip Haute Cagnes.)

So where can I find a list of the beaches with their ***ratings? Are they listed somewhere online?

Thanks again,

StuDudley Apr 7th, 2006 01:55 PM

>>So where can I find a list of the beaches with their ***ratings? Are they listed somewhere online?<<

The Promenade des Anglais is a very wide walkway that runs next to the beach. It's at street level, and the beach is about 15 feet below. People rollerblade, walk, stroll, jog, sit in blue chairs day & night along the promenade. We like walking down it at night & listen to the bands play inside some of the hotels.

Part of the fun for you & your daughters will be to cruise the Promenade des Anglais, checking out several of the "private" beach places to make sure that the color of the matresses & parasols complement your bathing suits, if you plan to have lunch there - there is something you like, the place looks cute, the waiters look cute, and if you plan to use any of their "sporting" facilities (like being towed by a motorboat while you are in a glider) then they have them available. The prices for everything will be listed on the promenade level entrance to each concession. The *** ratings are always posted (just like hotels). There is an admission fee which allow you to throw your towell on a mattress that sits on some slats directly on the polished rocks, and also a side table. For an additional fee, you can rent a chaise lounge with mattress & side table. For another fee you can rent an umbrella. The entrance fee allows you to use the private WCs & showers which are actually under the Promenade des Anglais.

I don't think it's as prevelent today as it was 15 years ago, but you can also get a half-day admission to the concession. Everythng is explained on the "menu" outside the entrance to eash place.

Stu Dudley

dina4 Apr 7th, 2006 10:13 PM

Oh, Stu, reading your last post almost transported me to the French Riviera. I think that stroll one will be a great one to do on our first evening in Nice.

I can barely wait!

Thank you for the great detail!

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