Day Trips from Haut de Cagnes

Jan 9th, 2006, 01:56 PM
Original Poster
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Day Trips from Haut de Cagnes

This April, we will be staying at a Villa in Haut de Cagnes for a week. We will have a rental car and plan to do some day tours of the region. It's our first time in the South of France. What SHOULDN'T we miss during our week there? So far, I know we want to see Nice,EZE & Cannes. Any suggestions or day trip intinerary ideas would be appreciated! Thank you!
diane9 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2006, 03:49 PM
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Since you're in Haut de Cagnes you will be well on the way up to Renoir's villa, definitely worth seeing. For the rest, I suggest you pick up a copy of the Michelin Green Guide to the Côte d'Azur and start browsing. With a week you can do some wonderful sightseeing, but you'll need to decide on what you want to see first.
Underhill is offline  
Jan 9th, 2006, 04:47 PM
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Definitely Renoir's home. Monaco also when you go to Eze. All of that area on the way to Monaco is a great day trip. St. Paul and Vence, and Grasse is a good day trip, as they are very near your home base.

The area is wonderful, have a great trip!
prr761 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2006, 07:57 AM
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Here is a section from my Cote d'Azur & Provence itinerary. The stars (**) represent the rating in the Michelin Green Guide.

Nice Hinterland ˝ day

See “Corniches de la RIVIERA” in the Green Guide (under R not C) and take route #1 from Nice to Village perche de Roquebrune* (Michelin guide under Roquebrune - Hill Village NOT Cap Martin). If the weather is clear, the view of Monte Carlo is stunning along the way. Roquebrune is a cute village with great views – walk through the town.

Take D50 from Roquebrune to Gorbio* ( Michelin - see Gorbio in Roquebrune section). Walk through Gorbio. There are some nice shops in Gorbio.

Retrace your route to Roquebrune & also the Grande Corniche to La Turbie*. Stop in La Turbie if you want to see the Roman “Trophie des Alps”* - but be careful driving – this is where Grace Kelly drove off the road & was killed. Take D53 north to Peille. Explore Peille* if you want. From Peille, take the D53 south to the D21 to Peillon**. This is one of the most spectacular perched villages on the Riviera – have your camera ready. There is no commerce in the village, but explore the rabbit warren of streets & passageways.

Take the D21 then D2204 back toward Nice & then get on the A8 freeway west toward Cannes.

Exit the A8 at #48 – I think it’s marked as either St Paul or Vence. Follow the signs & D536 to St Paul.

St Paul & the surrounding area ˝ day

Explore the perched medieval village of St Paul**. It’s probably the most popular small village on the Cote. Shops are always open (although we’ve never been there on a Monday). I advise people to get there by 9:00 and leave by 11:30 to avoid the crowds. It is especially crowded on Sunday in the summer season.

Head north of St Paul on the D2 toward Vence.

The “old section” of Vence* is quaint. Look at the map in the Green Guide under VENCE to locate the old section at the east end of town. There is a walking tour described in the Green Guide. There’s an underground parking garage under the large open space on your right, just before you get to the old section. There are several stores in Vence where you can buy Provence fabric (see write up about Provence Fabric)

After Vence, follow the signs to Tourrettes-sur-Loup (D2210), which is west of Vence.

Explore Tourrettes-sur-Loup* – there’s a parking lot on your left, just off the road. You get about 45 mins of free parking (very confusing when your ticket is processed at the automatic ticket machine). Tourrettes is a real cute town. My favorite restaurant in the area is Auberge de Tourrettes – on the D2210 at the west edge of town. (closed Monday)

Continue on the D2210 west & do the Gorge du Loup** (Vallee du LOUP in the Michelin under L for Loup). Go in the clockwise direction – D2210 through le Bar, then D3 to Gourdon. Explore Gourdon*. Like St Paul, it will be crowded & shops will be open on a Sunday & Monday. There is a restaurant called Nid d’Aigle with spectacular views of the hills & the Mediterranean – open daily (we’ve had lunch there – if you’re afraid of heights, then don’t go). Continue north on the D3. When you hit the D6, take it south back to Pont-du-Loup (this section is real pretty) & then retrace your route through le Bar.

If you are staying overnight in this area, head back to St Paul. We have stayed at Le Hameau several times & it’s quite nice. Nothing fancy. There are other hotels listed in Karen Brown’s guide. Eat at Auberge de Tourrettes.

Other towns & villages along the Cote worth visiting or missing

I won’t describe Nice, Cannes, Menton, etc. There are many tour books that discuss these towns. We like Nice much more than Cannes. Antibes** (old section) is quite nice. Biot* is a perched village worth visiting and it has our favorite restaurant on the Cote – Les Terraillers*. Eze is a top attraction, but it’s too touristy for us – even more so than St Paul.
Villages overlooking the Var River less than ˝ day

This route is difficult to follow if you are using the #245 map. Try to get the #115 map to make things easier for yourself.

Some of the villages on this route are described in the Green guide under Vence – Excursions.

If you are basing in St Paul, head north & go to Vence. When you get to the intersection where the “old” village is to the right & Tourrettes/Grasse to the left, go straight to St Jeannet (follow the signs). It’s marked as exit # 3 on the Michelin green & red guides. There is a grocery store on your right just after you go straight through the intersection. Follow this route to St Jeannet. This is a pretty drive. St Jeannet is a perched village, and you will have to turn left to get up to the village. There is a restaurant, hotel, and grocery at the intersection where you turn left. Follow the road uphill – there are a couple of switchbacks. When you get to St Jeannet, park your car in the large lot & walk into town & explore. There are some good vistas. Just as you enter the older section of town (the first 100 yds from the parking lot aren’t attractive) there is a simple restaurant with outdoor tables & nice views – a good lunch location.

Return down the hill from St Jeannet, & take the D2 to Gattieres. Get out & explore if you have time. Take the D2209 to Carros Village – not the horrible modern town of Carros, unless you want to pick up a McDonalds hamburger (at the other end of Carros before you go over the Var bridge). When you get to Carros Village, get out & explore.

Continue on the D2209 to le Broc & explore this village.

Continue north on the D2209. Just before the D2209 reaches the Var River & connects with the N202, go straight on the D17 toward Gilette & Bonson. Take the loop to Bonson (D27). Drive through Bonson & continue on for a couple of kilometers until you reach the small road that goes to Gilette (D227) & take it to Gilette, where it merges with the D17. Take the D17 back to where you started the loop at the Var river/N202 intersection & then take the N202 north.

Go north on the N202. You will see the town of Bonson perched high up on your left. Notice on your map that there is a road on the east (N202) and on the west side of the Var River. Continue north to where the two roads intersect, and then go back south on the road on the west side of the Var.

Stay on the N202 south. As you follow the Var south, look to your right & see the villages of Carros Village & Gattieres that you visited. The best way back to St Paul is to follow the N202 & get on the A8. Get off the A8 near Cagnes, at the exit #48 that says either St Paul or Vence and follow the signs back to St Paul.

I’ve driven through Cagnes dozens & dozens of times & I still get lost. If you want to visit the Haute de Cagnes*, take the D336 to Vence, and then when it joins up with the D36, head south to Haute Cagnes. Look for a parking garage on your left. It’s an “automated” garage where you park your car on a ramp & a door opens & then your car is sucked inside (without you) & parked on some kind or revolving track. After your car is parked, walk up the stairs & find the old section of Cagnes. There are some decent restaurants in Cagnes. We’ve eaten at Josy-Jo (a Michelin 1 star) but didn’t like it. Cagnard seems too “upscale” for us, so we never tried it. We have dined at Restaurant les Peintres several times & have enjoyed it – the view is nice. This restaurant is on Montee de la Bourgade, where Haut Cagnes descends into Cagnes. There are several other “good looking” restaurants on this street. At the Place du Chateau there are several “pizza” restaurants, & it’s a good place to sit outside.

Return to St Paul
Deeper into the Nice Hinterland allow a full day
There are dozens of cute perched villages in the area behind Nice. This gets you up into the “serious” Alps and driving to these villages is the best part. - fantastic gorges and breathtaking views galore.

Get on the N202 (east side of the Var river) heading north. If you’re departing from the St Paul area, follow the route described in the Villages overlooking the Var section.

When you reach the D2565, turn right and head up through the Gorge de Vesubuie** toward Lantosque. This entire drive is beautiful – you will want to get out of the car several times to “take in” the scenery. Explore Lantosque a bit. If my memory is correct, the best view of this town is from the north, a few kilometers past the village. Continue on the D2565 to St Martin-Vesubie.

Explore St Martin-Vesubie* This is a real pretty town. It’s a good spot for lunch and there are several shops to browse through.

You might notice that your green guide says that le Boreon is a ** attraction. It’s actually a starting point for many hikes into the higher mountains in this area and not really a “place” to visit.

Re-trace your route back the way you came, toward Lantosque. Just before Lantosque, where the D70 hits the D2565 (that you are on) turn left on the D70 & drive to la Bollene-Vesubie. I have this town circled on my map, but I don’t know if it’s a “get out & explore” town.

Continue on the D70 & then turn right (south) on the D2566. Pass Peira-Cava (don’t stop). Continue on to where the D21 intersects with the D2566 & take the D21 east.

If you don’t know the meaning of the French word “Lacets”, you will soon find out. There are 16 of them on this road. Take the D21 to Luceram.

Explore Luceram*. This is one of our favorite towns in the area. Wander around as much as possible. This village is in a remarkable setting. If you think that you are in a deserted village, notice the number of satellite dishes perched on buildings.

When you finish exploring Luceram, take the D2566 which heads west of the village – not the D2566 heading south. Take this road just far enough to obtain more views of Luceram. When it’s no longer in site, turn around & return to Luceram and then head south on the D2566 to L’Escarene.

Explore L’Escarene then take the D2204 northeast toward Sospel.

Explore Sospel*. This is another very cute town. There’s a little more commerce here ( good, not ugly commerce). The last time we were here, they were filming a movie & everyone was dressed in Medieval clothes. Oddly, they didn’t look out of place. Notice the buildings on the riverfront. Take time to explore this town thoroughly.

Return to Nice. The best way is to retrace your route through L’Escarene, and then take the D2204 to Nice where you pass under the A8 and then loop to the right to get on the A8 toward Cannes. Get off at exit # 48 – St Paul/Vence.

Villages we have visited that didn’t appeal to us, are Coaraze and Contes. A village we liked but did not include on this itinerary is Levens.
Take a train ride through the Nice Hinterland & visit 2 villages allow all day

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 ˝ 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 take in 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.

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 ˝ 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
StuDudley is offline  
Jan 10th, 2006, 08:18 AM
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Stu- you are an absolute darling for posting such a nice and detailed suggested itinerary. God Blees! Wish many happy travels your way!
Viajero2 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2006, 12:57 PM
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diane---We are also exploring renting a villa with friends in Gattierres for a week in May. We've been to Nice before and I fell in complete adoration with the area. You are on the right track!
Viajero2 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2006, 01:58 PM
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If you end up visiting Monaco, (quite built up and a fair amount of tourists), you can get the lay of the land here:
Monaco Map[/url]
It's a satellite map that you can move around and zoom with various things to visit on it. The detail is good enough to identify individual buildings and yachts even.
monacoeye is offline  
Jan 10th, 2006, 02:02 PM
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That should have come out as:
monacoeye is offline  
Jan 10th, 2006, 02:16 PM
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Stu has given you a lot of great info. I would add that St. Paul is quite close and while he says to visit first thing in the morning and be gone by 11:30, another option since you're so close is to go late afternoon and/or evening for dinner. A meal at La Colombe D'Or is a must. The Maeght Fondation is also a must.

Since you will have a villa I assume with kitchen, go to Vence on market days. Great fun to pick fruits and veggies etc. Excellent cheese shops/bread etc.

On the way east, consider a stop at the Villa Ephrussie in Cap Ferrat. Amazing gardens and views and villa belonged to the Rothchilds.
mclaurie is offline  
Jan 10th, 2006, 05:38 PM
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Wow, Stu..That is one great itinerary. Wished I had it when we were in the area! We saw a lot, but I know think there was much more. The focus of our stay in St. Paul was the Fondation Maeght. Some wonderful museums in Nice are the Matisse at Chimiez, and the small Chagall in the center. We also stayed at Le Hameau (May '94)and loved it!

Also in Monte Carlo is the fantastic Jardin Exotic (designed by Princess Grace). Gorgeous views of the Med and harbor!

In Cagnes sur Mer there was a very good family style Italian restaurant that we loved. Great seafood, lots of it, and very small price. Unfortunately, I never wrote the name down, but it is on the main road going toward Haute de Cagnes, on the left hand side of the street. I assume it would still be there as it seemed popular with local families.

Again, Stu's itinerary is a gem!
prr761 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2006, 08:10 PM
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Le Hameau is a marvelous, different sort of place to stay. The hotel is really a complex of small buildings spread out in a citrus orchard; each room is different, and there is even one bungalow. It's our favorite place to stay when in Provence.
Underhill is offline  
Jan 13th, 2006, 12:46 PM
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Thank you everyone and especially Stu for the FABULOUS information! I will print it out and take it with me on my trip! I'll let you know how we did when I return!
diane9 is offline  

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