Cote d'Azur, 5 nights

May 7th, 2014, 08:35 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 14,533
Cote d'Azur, 5 nights


We are looking for some guidance for the Cote d'Azur portion of our trip.

3 travelers: we want an apartment

We prefer a smaller town with train connections to Nice and possibly Monte Carlo (one of us wants to go there). We are considering Antibes as a good place to base.

We plan on seeing some art and spending a day or so visiting the Nice hinterlands. We can have a car, and probably will for at least a couple of days.

The trip is at the very end of September. We will be flying Orly <> NCE.

We are all around 60 years old.

Tips, ideas, links to reports, all appreciated.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 08:52 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Here is an excerpt of my reply to another thread which may be helpful:

>>>For the perched villages and Hilltowns, which ones are a must see and which ones can be skipped?<<<

If you have seen one, you have seen them all. To be frank, they are pretty similar, so no need to maximize the numbers of perched villages.

You will see Eze anyway, because it is a natural stop on the Moyenne Corniche which ia a must-see.

I would also recommend visiting St. Paul which is unique because of the art galleries and boutiques and because it is so close to Fondation Maeght which is certainly a must-see.

In Provence, you should visit Les Baux for the special atmosphere of a ruined medieval hilltown.

Which other ones you will visit depends just on convenience and mood. If you are close to, say, Gourdon and if you would like a stroll, walk through the village. If you like, you may have a coffee or drink or a meal on the terrace of one of the restaurants in the village. You will be travelling leisurely and not hasten from one guide book entry to the next.

>>>Is there a way to see several villages in one day? <<< Yes, of course, but why should you do this? Better plan to do loop drives and include different attractions on this loop, e.g. you start from Nice, drive the Grand Corniche with a stop at La Turbie to Monaco, visit the Palace, the Cathedral, the Oceanographic Institute, maybe the Cactus Garden, drive back the Moyenne Cornice with a stop in Eze and back to Nice.

Or you drive to Fondation Maeght, stroll afterwards through St. Paul, then proceed to Vence, visit the Matisse Chapel, and on the way to Grasse, where you visit a perfume factory, you stop in Tourette-sur-Loup. You could also visit Gourdon, another perched village, on the loop drive, but do not overplan. Just look how the day evolves and spend as much time at each location as you like. No one will accuse you of having missed this or that attraction.

>>>Which of the places mentioned above are a must see? <<<

I will rate them with zero to three stars (and include a few more):

** Cannes - the promenade, the grand hotels, yacht harbour (an hour or two will be sufficient)
*** Nice - the art museums and old town
* Cap Ferrat - Villa Ephrussi Rothschild is an imposing pile of kitsch
*** Monaco - many attractions on a small piece of land and the drive to and from is also ***, do not miss *** La Turbie,
* Menton - not really necessary,
* Ste. Agnes - nice village, but a bit out-of-way, you will find alternatives which are more accessible
* Roquebrune Cap Martin - also not a priority,
** Eze - it is a must to spend ten minutes to walk to the lookout, because it is right on the Moyenne Corniche,
* Haut Cagnes - the olive museum is the main attraction, certainly not a must,
** Biot, because of the Leger Museum a must for lovers of modern art,
* Antibes - a good place to make a base, otherwise a decent Picasso Museum,
* Juan les Pins - a wide sandy beach but nothing else, Vallauris - not on my priority list,
Mougins - a square with a few restaurants,
* Grasse - if you like perfume,
* Gourdon - one of the nicer perched villages,
? Cipieres - have never been there,
* Tourettes Sur Loup - another nice village,
* Vence - the Matisse Chapel is the main attraction (a quick visit),
** St. Paul de Vence - stroll throught the village after visiting Fondation Maeght,
*** Fondation Maeght - a must for modern art with a breathtaking sculpture garden designed by Joan Miro,
*** Corniche de l'Esterel - one of the world's most spectacular coastal roads and breathtaking calanques (rocky coves).

** Aix-en Provence - beautiful medium-sized city,
* Two or three of them are enough - I recommend Roussillion because of the ocre canyon, Gordes because of the Bories (stone huts) and Senanque Abbey. Hilltowns of Haut Provence (Cadenet, Lourmarin, Bonnieux, Apt, Rousillion) Vaucluse (Gordes, Joucas, Senanque, Venasque, Crillon le Brave),
* L'isle la Sorgue,
*** Orange - the Roman ruins are spectacular,
*** Avignon - the Papal Palace is the main attraction and also the Old Town,
* Villenueve les Avignon - not necessary,
*** Saint Remy - Les Antiques are quick and easy to visit,
** Les Baux provence - pictureque ruins and a scenic drive,
* Fontville - just a windmill,
*** Arles - spectacular Roman ruins,
*** Nimes - the best Roman ruins in Provence,
* Marseilles - a huge city,
* Cassis - a little out of your way, and there are much better Calanques between Cannes and St. Raphael.
*** Pont du Gard - a breathtaking Roman aqueduct,
** Aigues-Mortes - a completely walled medieval city,
** Vaison-la-Romaine - more Roman ruins if you are enthusiatic about them.
traveller1959 is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 08:57 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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And another comment which I posted last year:

It happens that I will be heading to the Côte d'Azur next our favourite spot, the Esterel Coast where we will be staying near Agay:

We have often been there in October and always had most beautiful weather. Expect the sea water still warm (24° Centigrade) and balmy air. Also, in October the flowers start blooming again!

First of all, the Côte d'Azur is a 200km stretch of coastline between Marseille and Menton which is quite diverse although the blue water, mild climate and rich cultural heritage are common.

I will go from East to West. Between Menton and Nice, with Monaco in the middle, you have the corniches, the scenic roads on the slope of a steep mountain. In this area you find a lot of sightseeing spots like Monaco with its old town, quaint oceonographic institute, the prince's palace, cactus garden and the historical casino. On the slope there is the Village of Èze, with a good vista, some cuteness, but transformed into a tourist trap and a favourite stop for cruise ship bus tours.

Then comes Nice and surroundings. Nice is a large city, full of life, hotels and a huge array of world-class art museums. The boardwalk is famous, but the beach consists of large grey pebbles. There are some sandy beaches directly East of Nice, in Villefranche, Beaulieu and a few really beautiful beaches on the Cap Ferrat peninsula (limited parking, but in October you will find a place, at least if you are early).

If you go west from Nice, you will find an extremely ugly stretch (around Villeneuve-Loubet) until you reach the next peninsula, Antibes. Antibes has some sandy beaches and on the other side of the peninsula, in Juan-les-Pins, you find a long beach of yellow sand, however before a row of middle class hotels.

Them comes a rocky stretch until you reach Cannes. Cannes has a beautiful sandy beach and is a charming town, with a row of luxury hotels, the yacht harbour and an old town. In the hinterland, you find many interesting villages.

Between Cannes and St. Raphael, you find IMO the most beautiful stretch of the Côte d'azur, the Esterel Coast, with bizarre mountains and a rugged coastline, part of it a wilderness area. On the coast, there are numerous coves, most extremely beautiful, however with red pebbles. But this gives clear water and excellent snorkeling opportunities. In Agay, you find a wide beach of reddish sand.

West of Frejus, the Cote des Maures starts and stretches almost to Marseille. Here, you find mostly rocky coastline but the most beautiful sandy beaches in between, notably St. Aygulf, St. Maxime, St. Tropez, Cavalaire.

To all these spots, you have excellent train access from Nice. However, I strongly suggest renting a car - the scenic drives along the coastline are pricelss.
traveller1959 is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 09:02 AM
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I am a fan of Antibes having spent quite a bit of time there on several visits to the area.

As for the rest, you might as well just read a guidebook or do some online research. Traveller1959 has practically written a guidebook above. YOU are the ones who will have to narrow down your choices. Obviously, there are more than enough things to see and do in the area.

As for an apartment in Antibes, there are plenty of choices.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 09:59 AM
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Thanks, traveler. I am glad you followed me over from the new traveler thread as I requested.

We have changed our trip from including the west of Provence to just the Cote d'Azur this time.

And dul, don't worry, I have dozens of guidebooks and know how to google.

I was hoping for feedback on Antibes as a good base, so I appreciate that you have spent a lot of time there.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 10:08 AM
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We stayed in Antibes in January one year in this beautiful apartment

The only real downside was trying to find parking. If it was a challenge in January, I can only imagine what it's like in season. May well be worth the hassle, though!
Judy is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 10:30 AM
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I think your idea of centering yourselves in Antibes is brilliant. We centered ourselves in Nice (no complaints) to take advantage of both rail and bus connections to all the art that the Cote d'Azur offered. We enjoyed our location (midway between the beach and the rail station) but we certainly felt Antibes might have been the better choice because of its vibe. It was laidback, charming, and still connected to all that Nice had to offer.

The Cote d'Azur has to be one of the most underrated areas in terms of what you can see in art, and we were also able to take advantage of all the lovely hiking in the area too.

Even though my husband and I were traveling with children, we were lucky that both girls were born museum rats who loved it all, and they truly loved the intrigue of tracking down such things as Chagall’s mosaic of Moses in Vence or the Jean Cocteau Museum in Menton.

At the time we went, there was a thing called a "Cote d'Azur Pass." I think it no longer exists. It gave us access to every darn museum along the coast, even little secret ones.

As I have often posted on this forum, we only used one book at breakfast each day to decide our day's events: DayTrips France, available at It does not just describe art--it describes how to get there and what other things to do. While ingesting our meal, we'd decide what we were up for and we'd head out to the rail or bus station.

We can't believe we got to see Renoir's home, or the Fondation Maeght, or Chagall's Biblical Museum. The photographs from Mougins of Picasso are still in our minds, and the other day, my youngest, now edging on 23 called to say, "I ran into a Nicki de St Phalle today." The modern art museum in Nice just rocked with Nicki's work.

Of course, as a Chagall fan, visiting the Chagall National Museum was almost a pilgrimage for me. And I got to place a stone on his grave at St. Paul de Vence.

Enjoy, enjoy.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 01:20 PM
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I have two favourite places in Antibes tuscanlifeedit.

the Hotel Jabotte for it's charm and ambiance when on a short visit. On a small and quiet side street.

And the Studios Perle for a little self-catering studio on longer visits. Right on the main town square.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 01:58 PM
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Now I'm feeling pretty good about choosing Antibes. Parking looks problematic but we'll find something. I'll post some favorites soon.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 03:16 PM
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I also love Antibes and think it would be a great place to base yourself. But don't discount the positives of Juan les Pins as a base. More moderately priced accommodations, easy to get to the train station from almost anywhere, and we found that even during Jazz à Juan festival (in July, at the height of the season), we could find free street parking.

My recollection is that it is most busy in summer, with restaurants and cafes packed to the gills in the evening until quite late at night, and vendors who set up their wares up and down the waterfront.

It's walking distance to Antibes -- they are, in fact, joined at the hip. Some pretty famous fish places at Golfe Juan, right on the beach, like Nounou, which is next door to the faded and seriously over-priced Tetou. Well, both are overpriced, but Tetou is not even resting on its laurels anymore.

Anyway, we've visited the Cote d'Azur probably more times than we deserve, and found Juan les Pins to be our favorite home base for vibe, proximity to train, proximity to other coastal towns, ease of parking, and all the fun stuff to do there.
Surfergirl is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 02:07 AM
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tuscanlifeedit--You CAN go without a car if that makes things easier for you. We had no problems whatsoever. The bus and rail systems in the area are just fantastic.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 02:19 AM
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By the way, it seems the Cote d'Azur card is back. Details are here if you are interested:

It was worth it for us because again, we were really pounding in the art. This incarnation does not include the big Nice museums (MOMA, Chagall, Matisse).

The official website for the card is

There is another similar card--I think it is the French Riviera card--that I never found to have enough value. It reminded me of the Paris Visite Pass in that in provided entry into places I didn't want to go.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 02:44 AM
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I can always find a free parking space in Juan, even in summer. It's more difficult for Antibes. There's a very large parking at the port, but you have to pay for that. They are working on an underground parking there as well, not sure if it's finished yet. But it's not free.

Check with the people you are renting the flat from.

I like Juan les Pins too, like Surfergirl; but it's not as pretty as Antibes. Very nice for a meal on the beach, and browsing the shops that are open till late.
A bit far to walk from Juan to Antibes, but if you like walking, take the path along Cap d'Antibes that starts at plage de la Garoupe. It's a beautiful walk.
Tulips is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 07:07 AM
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One of the reasons I liked staying in the Studios Perl I linked above was the parking availability.

As I was paying by the month, it was quite cheap really.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 09:07 AM
Join Date: Mar 2009
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Thank you for your wonderful insight - your recomendations sound terrific.
romatravel is offline  

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