Day Trip Help from Nice, France

Old Aug 5th, 2007, 05:09 PM
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Day Trip Help from Nice, France

We are headed to Nice in September for 8 days...and for planning purposes I'm hoping to clarify a few things related to day trips...I've heard many shops, etc. are closed in Nice on Sunday and Monday - and the suggestion is to visit Saint Paul De Vence, Gourdon & Grasse on one of those days as there is more to do. True? If so, is it better to do an organized tour (mini-van type) or is there a train/bus route that works? We are pretty adventurous but don't mind letting someone else sort it out for us occaisionally as well!

Another day trip - Menton, Ville Franche Sur Mer and Eze - too much, too little or just right? Could I throw in Monaco on the way back ( I don't have much interest in Monaco other than just to "see" it and understand that busses run pretty late back to Nice from there...) Any suggested bus routes to accomplish this would be appreicated

Italian markets - are they worth the trip (meaning are there nice leather goods, etc. to purchase) or is it just designer knock off stuff? I'd hate to waste a precious day doing that only to find out it's the same "junk" you can buy on the streets of New York!

Last day trip... Antibes, Cannes and Biot or skip Cannes? And again, is there a more sensible order to accomplish this in?

Finally, my hobby is photography - I love old buildings, gardens, and scenic vistas - anything that's a must that I don't have on my list?

Thanks so much for your input and safe travels!
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Old Aug 5th, 2007, 06:54 PM
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There's really not much to do in Gourdon except admire the view and visit the chateau if it's open--only a few small shops, and it's a long drive out and back.

Instead of Gourdon, head to Tourrettes-sur-Loup, a pretty little village with a good number of craft shops. The village is very picturesque and a good spot for photography. Then stop at Vence on the way down to St-Paul. You'll do best to rent a car so you can stop where and when you want.

Grasse? Not my favorite place, and parts of the old town have become a bit seedy according to our friends who live nearby. But you might enjoy visiting Valbonne, not far from Grasse; it's a charming small town with excellent shops and galleries.

Another perched village to visit would be Mougins, not far from Valbonne and Cannes. By all means go to Biot and see the glass-blowing studio and explore the adjacent shops and the superb art-glass museum.
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Old Aug 5th, 2007, 11:15 PM
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A must see for photographers is Peillon just 20km northwest of Nice. It is a normal live in medieval village with no tourist trap shops and restaurants. The village is truly a gem as it's vertical with pedestrian only lanes and small arched bridges criss crossing. There is only one craft store at the bottom paking lot. Here's a view of the village that you'll see as you drive towards it:
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:2...49-Peillon.jpg
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Old Aug 5th, 2007, 11:17 PM
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Typo: I meant 20 km northeast of Nice, tight curvy roads.
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 03:22 AM
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Thanks everyone for the great info...it certainly helps with planning! Looks like Peillon and Valbonne just moved onto the list!

Any ideas on my Menton, Ville Franche Sur Mer and Eze day trip? Or the Italian Markets? (maybe I should re-post that part of my question on the Italian board???)

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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 04:09 AM
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How about an excursion by train?

http://www.beyond.fr/travel/railpignes.html
http://www.trainprovence.com/
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 05:18 AM
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ttt
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 06:13 AM
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I am w/Underhill RE: Grasse: it left me cold. Certainly true the comments on the seedy areas. The Fragonnard perfume tour was nowhere near any outstanding value to me when compared to the infinity of other better things I could have done with the time it took.

A couple of notes:

- The market at Cours Saleya (Nice) every Monday morning is certainly worth a stop. I collect antique postcards and bought quiet a few ones, including a stamped one conmemorating the Wedding of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly.

-- You mentioned you like photography and are adventurous. Then you need to rent a car. The French Riviera has as backdrop a gorgeous mountain area. You can only imagine the amazing pictures you can take from the higher up areas.

--There are three levels to drive up in to the mountain roads; Low, Medium, and upper Corniches. Obviously the higher you go the more spectacular the vistas (and the scarier the drive!).

-- If at all possible, do not miss a visit to La Turbie and the spectacular Roman monument to Augustus. This monument was erected at the highest point of an old trading Roman road (Via Julia Augusta) and from the top you can see amazing views of the French Riviera and even the Italian coast.

--As far as route, if you start early, I would suggest going up the Upper Corniche, stop at Eze, continue on to La Turbie, come down towards Menton, and on your drive back stop at Monaco ("to see it"), and have dinner at Villefranche Sur Mer. Long day, but it sounds you are the type to pulled this off. Again, car is critical, start early (good weather day a must).
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 06:39 AM
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DO NOT waist your time on Italian markets - just your usual junk! You can buy "better "junk on Canal street.
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 08:30 AM
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I'm with Underhill & others on Grasse. I've stated many times on this forum that it's a little seedy. We returned to Grasse last year, and it hasn't changed. My wife thought the perfume tour was boring - I thought it was worse than that.

I would not go to Gourdon by public transportation just to visit the town. The attraction in that region is the very scenic Gorges du Loup drive. Visit Gourdon in conjunction with the loop in the Loup The views from Gourdon are excellent. I remember a few more shops there than Underhill does, and they were open on Sunday when we were last there in '01.

My wife's favorite shop in Tourrettes was closed on Sunday.

Many of my wife's favorite shops were closed on Sunday in Old Nice, and most were closed on Monday. The Michelin Green Guide warns that shops in Old Nice are closed on Mondays. Old Nice looks gruesome when shops close, because they pull down ugly corrigated shutters over their pretty storefronts - and the shutters are covered with griffiti.

Peillon is indeed remarkable - probably the most photogenic perched village on the Cote.

Most of the Italian markets we've visited were more like K-Mart parking lot sales. Cheap junk.

The views from the Chateau in Nice in the morning are quite nice. In the afternoon, the sun will be in your face.

Lots of beautiful Belle Epoque buildings in the area back of the Negresco in Nice.

Stu Dudley
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 08:33 AM
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If you end up visting Tourettes, then a stop at Montauroux, Callian, and Seillans is mandatory! Lovely, perched hilltop towns, with gorgeous views.
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 08:41 AM
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>>If you end up visting Tourettes, then a stop at Montauroux, Callian, and Seillans is <<

There are two Torrettes on the Cote d'Azur - one in the Alps Maritimes dept and one in the Var. The Tourrettes Viejero2 is referring to is the in the Var - perhaps 1 1/2 hrs from Nice. Fayance is another interesting village in that region. The Tourrettes close to Nice is Tourrettes sur Loup.

Stu Dudley
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 08:58 AM
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Another No for Grasse, my mother's family business used to be in perfume nd they always reminisced about how wonderful Grasse was. We were completely disappointed with it, perhaps it used to be wonderful in the past.
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 09:20 AM
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We spent a half-day in Antibes and really enjoyed it. There is a nice paved walk along the waterside, with gorgeous views. And Centre Ville is charming, with narrow winding streets, homes, shops, etc. It is all walkable from the train station. We walked from the depot directly to the harbor, then to the town from there. I think it's a 45 minute ride from the Nice depot. I'd highly recommend Antibes.
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 09:28 AM
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I understand the streets are still torn up in Nice, so I don't think it makes a good location for day trips by car. Getting in and out will be tiresome.

However, Nice is a transportation hub, with lots of options for day trips by bus or train. Somebody else has mentioned the Train des Pignes back into the mountains north of Nice. We liked the bus trip to Cap Ferrat-St Jean, where we visited the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a over-the-top Belle Epoque mansion perfectly sited in a large garden with views of the Med on both sides. You could walk around Cap Ferrat and also visit the Villa Kerylos in nearby Beaulieu. (IN fact, the bus passes this villa on its way to Cap Ferrat.
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 10:37 PM
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MaureenB:
I've been to Antibes a couple of times but could not find the charm of the town. I can imagine that it's great for bar/cafe hopping but I think I want to revisit Antibes to find the charm of the town itself. I have a video of the view from the waterfront promenade in Antibes which I thought was just OK. There are many other coastal towns with more impressive views(Eze, Villefranche, Monte Carlo, Cannes). Of course it's all a matter of perspectives. I found St Juan les Pins to be more charming than Antibes. Can you elaborate further on your experience in Antibes so I can asses what I missed?
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 11:06 PM
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You might want to see if you can combine the Maeght Foundation (modern art in an inte4resting building in a beautiful setting) in St. Paul de Vence and the Matisse Chapel in Vence. But you would have to make sure to visit the Maeght Foundation before lunch.
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 10:28 AM
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Hi, DAX. This was our first visit to the south of France, so I can't compare Antibes to many other places. We took the train from Nice, walked from the depot to the harbor, around the harbor and into town at the arched entryway. From there, we walked up the waterfront promenade, then into town where there are some steps going down from the promenade seawall into Centre Ville.

We found ourselves in a charming residential area of narrow pedestrian 'streets', with kids and families coming and going from their doorways, winding little passageways. It felt very 'real' and we wandered these little 'streets' to see how people live in Antibes.

Then we found our way to little back streets with boutique shops and cafes. We didn't spend as much time in the main areas where most tourists were, but stayed in the little back areas. It was just about a 4 or 5 hour visit, but we left with a very good impression of Antibes. The harbor was fun to see the yachts, too.
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