Cote d'Azur: Where to stay/explore

Old Jul 16th, 2022, 09:34 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2022
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Cote d'Azur: Where to stay/explore

My husband and I are travelling into Geneva and out of Nice in mid-September.

We’ll have 13 nights.

Have planned 2 nights in Geneva (getting rid of jet lag, see town, boat ride, etc).

Then 4 nights in Chamonix (lots of hiking, trail runs, exploring mountains).

Trying to decide where to spend our remaining time. Obviously thinking we’ll end in Nice, since we fly out of there. But not completely locked into that as we could just stay in an airport hotel the night before our flight out. Having trouble deciding. We’d like to spend some time at the beach, eat good food (we love both French/Italian), we’d love it to be a visually stunning area.

I’ve looked all along the coast (Marseilles, St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice, Eze, Monaco, Menton, over to San Remo). Having trouble picking. Also feeling overwhelmed and drowning!

What are two don’t miss locations along the coast? Bonus if they are a bit different from each other.

Our interests lean toward the outdoors, spectacular sights, exploring versus shopping. Off-the-beaten path spots vs busiest/overcrowded.

Thanks so much for any advice and recommendations!
travelr12 is offline  
Old Jul 17th, 2022, 08:45 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 22,397
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Menton has a beach, is close to the Italian border, and for a splurge have lunch at Mirazur.


Michael is offline  
Old Jul 17th, 2022, 02:22 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,735
Received 22 Likes on 4 Posts
Look at Antibes, Nice( wonderful!), CapFerat. They are our favorites by far.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Old Jul 17th, 2022, 03:12 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,997
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Welcome to Fodors. Nice is quite far away from Chamonix. Best bet is probably to return to Geneve & fly to Nice.

Attached is my 35 page Provence & Cote d'Azur itinerary. My wife & I have vacationed for 21 weeks along the Cote d'Azur.

Stu Dudley
Attached Files
StuDudley is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2022, 01:58 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2022
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you so much for taking the time and your advice! After more research and your suggestions, we are now thinking of these 2 options.

2 nights in Geneva
4 nights in Chamonix

Option 1.
Drive Chamonix to Cassis (5:30 hours)
Stay 2 nights in Cassis
Drive to Nice (2:00 hours), return car, stay 5 nights.
Fly home.

Option 2.
Chamonix to Nice (5:30 hours), return car.
Stay in Nice for 7 nights.
Fly home.

I see pros and cons to both choices. I love the idea of a second location along the coast. But also can recognize the additional travel time (and having to pack/unpack to move hotels) to add it. Even with adding Cassis, it doesn’t feel like a rushed itinerary to me (2 ngihts Geneva/4 nights Chamonix/2 nights Cassis/5 nights Nice). Sometimes after 4 nights in a location I feel like moving on, but also know that seeing a place gets easier once you have the lay of the land.

At first I wasn’t sure of having that much time in Nice (either 5 or 7 nights), but after more reading/research, I can see how much there is to see/do in that area, with easy public transport both east and west. And it sounds like we can easily visit Antibes and CapFerat, etc. from there.

If we decide to skip Cassis, we could add another night to Chamonix (5) and another night to Nice (6), or do 7 nights in Nice.

Would love to hear any thoughts you may have! Thank you!
travelr12 is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2022, 03:11 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 22,397
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you re driving from Chamonix to Nice, might as well take two days over the route des grandes Alpes. Briançon is a logical halfway stop.

Michael is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2022, 03:29 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,997
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You must be using Google to estimate times. www.viamichelin.com is much more accurate.

Your estimate from Chamonix to Nice is OK - but I would add 45 mins to accommodate for Google optimism, pottie breaks, gas fill-ups, backups at toll booths, and for the un-avoidable "deviation" when one side of the autoroute is closed and everyone is driving single-file on the same side of the road and going as fast as the slowest truck. The fastest route is through Italy, and there may be some car insurance issues for you.

You should budget 6 1/2 to 7 hrs to drive to Cassis. IMO, Cassis is a 1 to 2 night visit. There isn't that much to do there (compared to Nice). And the area around Cassis isn't nearly as interesting as the area around Nice (except for the Calenques). Therefore - given the added driving to Cassis - I would spend the entire time in Nice. Read the Itinerary I attached above. There is enough stuff to do around Nice for months (we've spent 21 weeks on the Cote d'Azur).

We spent a week in a gite near Chamonix in early July a few years ago. I made a post on Fodors about our experience with the weather there. See attached;

The link to our gite in the attached might not work. Here is another try:
https://www.gites-de-france.com/fr/a...lanc-74g103018


Stu Dudley
Attached Files
File Type: doc
Mt Blanc area weather.doc (31.0 KB, 13 views)

Last edited by StuDudley; Jul 27th, 2022 at 03:35 PM.
StuDudley is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2022, 08:03 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 245
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree with Stu about Cassis It's very pretty, and we've been there many times, but I wouldn't stay there--just too small and once you've strolled the port, seen the calanques, and driven the Route des Cretes for the views, you're pretty much done. Much better IMO to do it as a day trip from wherever you're based,and maybe add in a stop at nearby Sanary-sur-Mer for an hour.

Whether you base in Nice is a function of a couple of things: whether you will rely on the public transportation available there and whether you want to be in a large city. We've based there and in Beaulieu and were happier in Beaulieu (we had a car).

I strongly advise against staying in Monaco, unless you like overpriced high rises jammed together. Go see the casino if you must but stay elsewhere!
frenchaucoeur is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2022, 10:09 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 319
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
As others have warned, weather in Switzerland can be a bit variable from mid September and beyond. I used to live there and now have a place in Nice. There are many routes via car down from Chamonix to Nice -- the fast or the scenic. You might want to try one of the alpine routes --- either through Italy or France. One of the routes can take you relatively close to the Gorge du Verdon.

Vence is lovely base, but you will benefit most from having a car. There is a bus but you are adding connections. Try to stay in the old town or just outside. My favorite neraby route takes you through Tourettes sur Loup and Gourdon. I also recommend the hill towns along the French border. There are a set of trails that lead from Cisteron (from Tende) in the Parc National Mercantour but perhaps the coastal walks/hikes like the ones at the Massif de l'Esterel to the west of Cannes might be more appealing. If you decide you want to stay on the coast, you might try Villefranche-sur-Mer as the train connections are still good as long as you are not too far up the hill (and away from the station)

You probably won't want to go to Monaco at all, as it is the most high rise filled of any of the cities. To get a good view, I recommend going to Eze and then follow the route up to La Turbie. There is a great view down to Monaco from the Trophee des Alpes. There is also some nice trails nearby, including the Tete du Chien.
gooster is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2022, 12:28 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2022
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Michael - Love this idea, I’m gonna incorporate it. Thanks!

StuDudley – Yes, now we are skipping Cassis and going straight to Nice, with maybe a one night stay along the drive from Chamonix. Thanks for you experience with mountain weather, we live at 9200’ in the Colorado Rockies, so we have a sense of what to expect. And I think we may add another night in Chamonix to give us more time if we get some bad weather.

frenchaucoeur – thanks for your thoughts, we are skipping Cassis and going straight to Nice. Beaulieu sounds interesting. We were planning to be without a car along the coast. Were thinking that we could get around easier on public transport. Did you find parking difficult, like say how it is along the Amalfi coast? It sounds like Beaulieu isn’t reasonable without a car? And yes, we’ll definitely pass on Monaco, none of that interests us!

Gooster – is it reasonable to do the drive Chamonix to Nice in one day? Thanks for all the suggestions. Do you think using trains/buses from Villefranche-sur-Mer is as easy as from Nice? Along the coast, I think we’ll be focused on a couple days at the beach and day trips to explore both east and west. Thinking we don’t want to deal with the hassle of a car. Yeah, Monaco isn’t on the list, just not our scene.

Another question, where is the best day trip to a sandy beach? Thanks!
travelr12 is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2022, 02:25 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 214
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Villefranche is fine for accessing trains and buses going along the coast, both east and west but not as convenient as Nice for buses to go inland: you need to travel into Nice for them; given your interest in mountains and hiking I would second Gooster’s suggestion about tasting some of the great hiking in the Mercantour National Park.
The scenery is lovely and the hikes are wonderful - not as spectacular as around Chamonix but more accessible to ordinary hikers and with far fewer people. The small mountain village of St Martin Vesubie is worth a visit and from there to Madone de Fenestre for some mountain scenery and walks; however, you would probably need a car to access that (they run a hiker’s bus during the French school holidays from Nice but think that stops at the start of September.
Failing that , consult this website for walks in the area:

https://randoxygene.departement06.fr...gene-8938.html
( in French but there are maps)

Villefranche has an OK beach ( kinda gravelly sand) but better beaches to be found west at Juan Les Pins and Golfe Juan .
jtpj777 is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2022, 11:55 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 319
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by travelr12 View Post
Gooster – is it reasonable to do the drive Chamonix to Nice in one day? Thanks for all the suggestions. Do you think using trains/buses from Villefranche-sur-Mer is as easy as from Nice? Along the coast, I think we’ll be focused on a couple days at the beach and day trips to explore both east and west. Thinking we don’t want to deal with the hassle of a car. Yeah, Monaco isn’t on the list, just not our scene.

Another question, where is the best day trip to a sandy beach? Thanks!
It is doable to drive from Chamonix to Nice in one day, but it will be long. You can go via the tunnel and through Italy -- most of that route skirts by the busiest of the Italian highways so it is relatively easy. This is the fastest (5 hours?), but the most expensive due to the sizable tunnel toll (there can be traffic there too, I nearly forgot). There is also a route through Grenoble (much slower as it goes through smaller towns and over the mountains -- the other punches through and skirts around -- 8 hours) or via Briancon. There is also a fourth route via the main Autoroutes in France. You'll be wanting to stop along the way whatever route you pick...so count on a long day.

As per the other answer, the train is pretty easy from Villefranche-sur-Mer, but possibly less frequent. The bus is not as convenient -- the stops are about midway up the hill but the village and the train station are at sea level. And the main line 100 gets super packed -- plus connections to point east are really inconvienient.

The easiest to reach sandy beaches (true sand) from Nice are at Juan Les Pins and Cannes. At the JLP train station, you go a few blocks ahead and you are at the water. A turn right from the station exit and a walk on a diagonal takes you straight to the public section.






gooster is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2022, 12:07 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,997
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've lived in California all my life (mid 70s) - within 30-40 mins of a beach or on the beach (Laguna Beach). All sandy beaches. I actually prefer the flat polished rocks at the Nice beach over sandy beaches - assuming you trow your towel on a matelas/lounge at one of the private pay beaches and not on the public beach section. Les dust!! Grass mats or boardwalks to walk on.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2022, 04:31 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I’m planning a trip to include coastal sites: Calanques, Porquerolles, Easterel Coast, Antibes..
Switzerland-Annect-Porvence-Sanary sur Mur -Vence.
Ive been searching to for lesser known areas, unknown to me anyway.
Provence and Beyond is a tremendous source of info-can easily see info on all villages and YouTube.
We too fly out of Nice direct to US.
BAHItaly is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2022, 12:33 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 4,495
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Have you checked car rentals in Geneva and Chamonix?

I had a trip to Switzerland, Chamonix and Annecy last summer. There were few car options, especially automatic transmission cars, in Chamonix. You either had to rent in Switzerland or in Annecy. I rented in Switzerland, drove around there for a week or so, then drove to Chamonix, then to Annecy, then returned the car at GVA, which i where I flew out of for return to the US.

I would check prices for renting in Switzerland and returning in France, especially a part of France far from Switzerland.

Good chance it's better to rent in Switzerland, return in Switzerland and then do another rental in Nice. Of course that would mean paying transport costs to fly from GVA to NCE. But with gas and tolls, it might not be much cheaper to drive, especially if the one-way drop off fees for the car rental are high.

As for where to visit, if you've never been Nice is a good start. There are easy scenic hikes in the St. Jean Cap Ferrat peninsula and Antibes. The latter is more rocky terrain so you will want good hiking shoes.

If you want something more challenging, there are probably uphill hikes as well, especially around Eze, the upper village.

The trains are a nice option for going up and down the coast but having a car is better. I would look into some coach tours if you won't have a car. They will drive you to Eze and Monaco for instance for about $50 from Nice.

Cassis also has great hiking options, around the calanques. I was there in June, didn't do the full hike, just went out far enough to see the calanques with the hiking path elevated above the water. When it gets real hot, they shut it down because of the fire hazard.

But Cassis is far from Nice, so probably better for another trip. And day trips would work but it's a small village so by 11 AM or so in the summers, they run out of parking and you have to park about 5 kilometers above the town and take a bus down and back. So I loved staying there, with dedicated parking.
scrb11 is offline  
Old Aug 9th, 2022, 01:18 PM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2022
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Merci, merci everyone for all your helpful information! I am getting more and more excited by the day!
travelr12 is offline  
Old Aug 9th, 2022, 01:54 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 1,094
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I am a huge fan of the Italian Riviera just over the border from Menton. For me, the Italian lifestyle hits the spot, and the Cote d'Azur is (flog me with a croissant) a bit snooty in comparison and much of the architecture and atmosphere is sterile. For me, the ambiance over the border in Italy is more vibrant, alluring, and full of charm and surprises. Even border town Ventimiglia can reel you in, with its fabulous market and remarkable old town in the heights across the river. The bus ride from there to Sanremo is a pleasure (and beats the now-underground train ride) with flowery Bordighera along the way, and the sea-spattered views through Ospedaletti. Sanremo has another great market, and is a perfectly satisfying strolling town, with great food. I like Alassio as a beach town as the beach is so narrow and makes for great passagiata, and just minutes from there is the remarkable old center of Albenga. I fly into Nice, then head straight across the border. Far fewer tourists, and many more vivid pleasures. Here's a photo series of Sanremo I did a few years back (with focus on the high staggering old town) which now has thousands of hits on Flickr:
dfourh is offline  
Old Aug 9th, 2022, 02:55 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 4,495
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I stayed in Sanremo in June along with days in Antibe before and St. Tropez after.

Italian riviera is nice but it seems to have had its heyday 3 decades ago or so.

The buildings are more dilapidated, with a few exceptions. When I drove back to France, there was an instant difference in the spit and shine of Menton compared to the other side of the border.

Not saying cleaner necessarily means better but the sense you get is the French side has attracted more tourism money and has used it to renovate or keep clean a lot of areas, which can't be said as much for the other side of the border.

scrb11 is offline  
Old Aug 9th, 2022, 03:10 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,997
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
dfourh

I don't think the photograph that is "first up" in your flickr slide show is going to convince many people to visit the Italian Riviera.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2022, 09:24 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
Posts: 7
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Stay in Nice. I do this every year. Nice is an amazing place as from there you have day trips by car, bus or train to everywhere. Many many ghost little towns 30 min from nice. Beautiful
josebtesh3504 is offline  
Related Topics

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -