Day trip to Italy from Nice?

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Mar 19th, 2009, 02:30 PM
  #1
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Day trip to Italy from Nice?

I'll be in Nice for six nights at the beginning of April. I was in the area on a business trip a couple of decades back, staying in Vence, and I visited Monaco then. So I don't feel a need to revisit Monaco, but I'm wondering about a day trip to Italy.

Current plan is one day for Nice, one for the mountain railway, one for Vence and St. Paul and Eze, and one for the coast. Should I use the last day for the coast as well, or for a day trip to Italy? And if I pick Italy, where would you recommend?
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Mar 19th, 2009, 02:51 PM
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Which mountain railway???? - there are several.
Where on the Coast???? - Villefranche, Menton, Cannes, Antibes.

Getting into Italy and visiting someplace more interesting than places you may not have visited in France, takes some "doing".

Stu Dudley
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Mar 19th, 2009, 02:56 PM
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Mountain railway - the Nice to Digne-les-Bains. Tell me more about the others!!! I love quirky railways.

Coast - probably Cap Ferrat and Menton. I'm not a beach person, but I love rocky coastlines.
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Mar 19th, 2009, 05:21 PM
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>>Coast - probably Cap Ferrat and Menton. I'm not a beach person, but I love rocky coastlines.<<

Don't miss old Antibes - nice market there too

>>Mountain railway - the Nice to Digne-les-Bains.<<

Dot forget to stop at Entrevaux

>>Tell me more about the others!!! I love quirky railways.<<

I wrote this a few years back - check current train schedules

Nice Hinterland
Overview
Driving through this beautiful area by car is the best way to see everything – except for the driver. The Cuneo line from Nice to Cuneo, Italy passes through this area with stops in several villages. I spent many days researching train schedules trying to find an itinerary that would allow me to stop in as many villages as possible and still make this a one day event. I found that only 1 itinerary worked. Leave Nice about 8:30 in the AM & take the train to Breil where you will change trains (but no time to see Breil), and then head to Saorge for about a 3 ½ hour layover. Then on to Tende for another 3 hour layover. Then return to Nice on the last train for the day. The train trip was better for my wife than me (she does all the driving & I do all the navigating). When traveling by car, we stopped quite a bit to admire vistas, spend time in villages, watch helicopters drop climbers/boaters into areas, etc. On a train, you can’t do this. Also, the scenery passed too quickly & was often on the “other” side of the train. We enjoyed the trip because we had already spent several days driving in this area & we (she) needed a driving break. We got back to Nice about 7:00 and had dinner there.

Details
Depart from the Nice main train station at 8:30am. There were about 4 other stations in Nice where it would have been easier to park the car & not have to fight the horrible traffic around the Nice station (the 4 lane road that goes behind the station was bumper-to-bumper at 8:00). When you get to Breil at 9:30, you will have to change trains. You have 20 minutes to do this, but there was no announcement to do so. Also, past this point many of the stations do not have attendants. The train schedule is usually posted somewhere in each station. If you choose to get off at a station, make sure you know when the next train arrives for the continuation of your journey. If you return from your trip & get off at Breil, the trains can split & go in two different directions – one to Nice & one to Ventimiglia, Italy. Some of the stations were pretty far from the villages. Some of the stops were more “hesitations” than stops. When we took this train, one 80 year-old man missed his station stop on the last train of the day and was stranded at the next stop.

Arrive in Saorge** at 10:30. This is a beautiful village. The station is quite a ways away from Saorge & there’s about a 20 minute walk up to the town. The walk up has some great views of this perched village. You will be there 3 ½ hours, so there is more than enough time to explore. Have lunch at the Bellevue restaurant. It might seem like nobody’s in town (we were there in mid-June). but the restaurant was somewhat crowded at 1:00.

Get back to the station (unattended & it was even closed when we were there) for the 2:00 departure. Get off the train in Tende* at 2:30. This station is close to town. Explore Tende for 3 hours. Tende is a very popular starting point for hikers, so there will be lots of people there in full hiking regalia.

Take the train back to Nice at 5:30. This is the last train of the day. We got a little worried when there were dozens of people lining up to take the train back, and we knew that there would be people already on the train coming from Italy (the 80 year old man). Everyone got on the train OK. It arrives in Nice at 7:00.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 19th, 2009, 06:11 PM
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Why?
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Mar 19th, 2009, 06:54 PM
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Stu - thanks so much for the detailed info!

bob - why not? The current border is quite close, why should I assume all the good things to see/do are on the French side?
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Mar 19th, 2009, 08:21 PM
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You can catch the train to Villefranche, then walk around the bay to the Rothschild villa and gardens on Cap Ferrat: http://jmstudio.fotopic.net/p56361405.html

You can take the train to Ventimiglia, then walk back, through the old town, about 4-5km to the Hanbury garden at La Mortola. Then take a bus back to Ventimiglia.

You can go on to Bordighera, where there is a beautiful seaside promenade and palm trees that still show the holes from WWII bombardments.

You can go to Cagnes and visit Les Colettes, where Renoir spent his final years when his arthritis became too unbearable in the cold, and walk through the olive grove he saved from development, with 1,000-year-old trees. http://jmstudio.fotopic.net/p56361378.html

Or take a local bus to Gourdon and visit the chateau, with an early garden by Andre Le Notre, garden architect for Versailles. It perches precariously above the Gorges du Loup, hanging out over the void: http://gardentouring.fotopic.net/p56900451.html

Or you can go west from Nice, about 90 minutes to Toulon, where there is a funicular that will take you to the top of Mt Faron, http://jmstudio.fotopic.net/p51833570.html where you can walk on soft trails through light pine forest, the ground carpeted with wild orchids and tulips and thyme and panoramic views to die for http://jmstudio.fotopic.net/p51833659.html and http://jmstudio.fotopic.net/p51833653.html As you walk you'll hear the roar of lions and tigers who live in the nearby wild cat sanctuary!

From Toulon or from St. Tropez, you can catch a local bus to take you to Hyeres Presqu'ile and the Salines des Pesquiers, where the 2,000-year-old shallow salt pans shimmer in blue and aqua and violet because the varying rates of evaporation and salt concentration in the water and where flamingoes feed at the shallow edges http://jmstudio.fotopic.net/p51840831.html
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Mar 19th, 2009, 08:47 PM
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Wow, julia, you take lovely photos! Thanks so much for the info - I'm so glad I asked. I didn't know about Gourdon which looks fabulous, or the funicular at Mt Faron, or the flamingos! So much to do...
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Mar 20th, 2009, 08:10 AM
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>>bob - why not? The current border is quite close, why should I assume all the good things to see/do are on the French side?<,

Because Bob & I have spent many weeks/months in that area, and we both think the French side is more interesting, until you get past Genoa in Italy - which takes some doing.

You won't even come close to running out of things to do on the French side.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 20th, 2009, 04:24 PM
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Grazie Stu, You say it so well.
And, I love Italia, but not that part.
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Mar 20th, 2009, 08:11 PM
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"we both think the French side is more interesting, until you get past Genoa in Italy" - which is what I needed to know...
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Mar 20th, 2009, 10:18 PM
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Interesting, as beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I too have spent many months on both sides and I have a different take on it.

The Riviera dei Fiori, as they were calling it the last time I was there, that is the Italian coast from the border just beyond Menton to Genoa, is to the French Riviera a poorer, shabbier cousin. The difference is noticeable immediately, as soon as you enter the small towns on that side of the border. It's the difference you find between Capri and Procida, between Lake Maggiore and Lago d'Iseo (and to a certain extent, Orta also), the difference between places where the raison d'etre is tourism or serving tourists and places where people are going about their ordinary lives, as you and I do when we're not on holiday. Many of the people you meet on the French Riviera are either tourists or they make their living from tourism or they are wealthy and don't work for their living. You won't find that in the poorer towns on the Italian side.

I find it endlessly fascinating to visit the smaller towns where ordinary Italians live and work, to get away from the 'tourist trail.' Ventimiglia http://jmstudio.fotopic.net/p57030034.html and Bordighera http://jmstudio.fotopic.net/p57030031.html and Mortola http://jmstudio.fotopic.net/p57030194.html are just such places.

Have you hiked between the towns of the Cinque Terra? The last time I was there, over 10 years ago, almost every other person I met was American, and most of the Americans were carrying Rick Steves books. I shudder to think what it must be like now. Have you hiked the Portofino promontory, from San Fruttuoso to Portofino or Santa Margherita? I've done it several times and have yet to meet another American - lots of Italians, a few Germans. If you've done both, then you know exactly what I mean.
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Mar 21st, 2009, 05:48 AM
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Thanks for the different perspective, julia. Actually, that sounds like my kind of place!
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Feb 20th, 2012, 07:40 PM
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Feb 21st, 2012, 02:53 AM
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Feb 21st, 2012, 04:00 AM
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You could go to the HUGE Tuesday market in Sanremo. Otherwise, I agree that the French of the border side is nicer.
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Feb 21st, 2012, 04:02 AM
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French side of the border, I mean. Which is strange as I generally prefer Italy to France.
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Feb 21st, 2012, 05:01 AM
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I know this is a really old thread and my comments are totally irrelevant but I couldn't pass this up.

<>

Not true at all (and I love you guys, Stu and Bob, BTW). I spent 6 months in the 90's living on a farm in the mountains above the small town of Varazze west of Genoa (which is where my brother in-law is from). There are some astoundingly beautiful villages and mountain scenery in the Riviera delle Palme and there's nary an English speaking tourist that has ever set foot in that area. I much prefer it to the places east of Genoa like Sestri, Chiavari, Portofino etc. all the way down to Cinque Terre. If people consider this area uninteresting it's largely due to the fact that it is unpromoted on travel forums so let me change that. It may take a few hours to get here by train from Nice but if you've got several days in that area then why not. You'll be among the first people on the travel forums to have ever been there.

In addition to the beautiful mountains behind Varazze (Monte Beigua) and all their forgotten centuries old villages there's some great stuff right along the coast that is easily accessible by train and bus. However, if you've got a car that really opens up a whole bunch of fantastic stuff in the mountains not far from the coast.

Last year I explored a coastal and inland area just west of Savona so let me outline something for people to consider. The coastal towns of Noli, Varigotti, Alassio and Finale-Ligure are beautiful. Just behind Finale-Ligure is the ancient village Finalborgo. Finale-Ligure and Alassio can be accessed by train the other places by train/bus. Head in-land by car and experience some scenic mountain drives and charming ancient villages like Toirano, Verezzi, Castelvecchio, Zuccarello and the abandoned hillside village of Balestrino.

In order not to get too long winded I'm giving some links to tourist booklets for that region that can be downloaded. They are in English and are each several pages long but you can probably have them mailed to you or pick them up in tourist office (like I did) when you arrive. These booklets are packed with info about what to see and do in the area, where to stay, and where you can experience all the local wine and cuisine and a lot of it is astoundingly cheap. There are many agroturismo places in the area where you can eat 5 course meals (wine included) for about 15 euros or less.

http://www.borghitalia.it/html/borgo...dice_borgo=281

http://www.italiantouristoffice.se/sv/docs/93.pdf

http://www.italiantouristoffice.se/sv/docs/91.pdf

http://www.italiantouristoffice.se/sv/docs/92.pdf

http://www.italiantouristoffice.se/sv/docs/90.pdf

So if anyone is interested in getting off the beaten path and out of the well worn ruts of the tourist trail east of Genoa then study those links above and be different. I love you all.
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Feb 21st, 2012, 05:06 AM
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I'm feeling better now, thank you.
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