French and Italian Riviera

Jan 3rd, 2015, 12:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 11
French and Italian Riviera

Could use some help planning a 15 day or more trip to the French and Italian Riviera. Planning on going the beginning of September 2015. Flying out of New Jersey, and arriving and departing from Nice.
My thought is to make Nice my homebase for six nights. Will be staying at the Ellington hotel.

Will not have a car and do not plan on renting one

Would like to do daytrip's perhaps and Antibes, St Jean Cap Ferrat, Monaco, Eze, St Paul de Vence perhaps Menton, and canes. Not sure about Grasses or Gourdon
Welcome any suggestions. Also need help putting them in order.
Is six nights enough?

Next, would like to head to the Italian Riviera by train. Which train would I take. Would I need tickets ahead of time?

Should I spend a night or two in Genoa?
From Genoa we thought we'd stay at Levanto or Sestri Levante
Don't know which is located better to get around by train or ferry
How many days would I need at this location. Would like to see Portofino, Cinque Terre, Santa Margherita Ligure and any other town or village that is worthy
Thanks for your help
suenal is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 12:20 PM
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Next, would like to head to the Italian Riviera by train. Which train would I take. Would I need tickets ahead of time?>

Take the commuter train that rolls along the coast to Ventimgilia, Italian border station and change to Italian regional or IC trains to Genoa - currently there are no thru trains but at least one is slated to run direct Nice to Genoa - may have started don't know.

No need to buy tickets in advance - no big savings though at you may be able to get a minor reduction by booking ahead of time on IC trains but many are regional that you cannot even reserve a sea on - just buy in Ventimiglia - try to buy in Nice but I think that is problematic that it can even be done.

Genoa to Cinque Terre, S M Ligure is largely regional trains so just buy tickets as you go along - no reason to pre-purchase regional train tickets in either France or Italy.

For lots of great stuff on Italian trains I always spotlight these superb IMO sites:; and Again no real need to buy any tickets in advance - buy Nice to Ventimgilia in Nice and Ventimiglia to wherever in Ventimiglia.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 01:01 PM
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I can only address your questions about the Italian Riviera.

Whether you spend a night or two in Genova depends entirely on whether there is enough to see and experience in Genova that interests you. Genova played an important role in European, Middle Eastern and American history. Because it continues to be the "port of Switzerland', it is a busy urban center that has not had the "luxury" of completely preserving itself as an antique tourist town. You will find cars and modern infrastructure in Genova, not just a picturesque view. That said, Genova has the largest, best preserved medieval center of anywhere in Europe, plus several interesting museums and historic sights.

With respect to the rest of the Italian Riviera, it almost doesn't matter whether you stay in Levanto or Sestri Levante. You can do all your sightseeing from either town, using trains and ferries. One of the most noticeable differences between the two towns is that Levanto has serious beach waves and tides, enough for people to go surfing and for children to be warned off certain parts of the beach. But Sestri Levante has 2 very calm sand beaches that are perfect for swimmers, especially children.

In terms of estimating your time in either Sestri Levant or Levanto, it would take one day to see Portofino/Santa Margherita Ligure from either of those towns, and another day to see the le Cinque Terre towns by boat or train -- but probably 2 days or more if you planned to hike to all of the 5 towns of le Cinque Terre and didn't want to rush and push in the hot sun of September.

If you have extra time to spare in the region, then visiting Chiavari in the morning for its markets + lunch, or in the afternoon for cocktails and dinner, is fun and unusual. It is also a great destination if you get a rainy day, but go when all the stores are open.
sandralist is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 01:10 PM
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My favorite place in the Cote d'Azur is not in the Cote d'Azur - - it's the coast from Ventimiglia through Bordighera to San Remo (interesting, rambling, bus ride along the coast - - a real eyeful - - whereas the train is now inland with lots of tunnel - - the train used to go right along the coast). To me, the sights, sounds, and flavors are so dense and rich (particularly in San Remo) that it makes Nice/Cannes/Monaco/Menton seem like easy places to be, but not nearly as vivid and alive. I do like Antibes for style and charm though. St. Margherita/Portofino are also rich and florid in the same way - - really beautiful - - but in a touch more placid upscale style.

I did this Flickr album of a Nice-SanRemo-Nice visit, and I can't figure out how, but it has gotten 1400 visits and counting - - it must be linked on somebody's website somewhere:
dfourh is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 01:24 PM
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For day trips from Nice, we used buses that hugged the coast to visit Cap Ferrat, and Villefranche and the train to go to Antibes. We also took buses up into the hills for St-Paul de Vance and Vence.
Our favorite day trips were to Cap Ferrat( town of St-Jean and the Villa Ephrussi,and Villa Kerylos near Beaulieu) and Antibes.If you went to both of those, you'd have three days left for Nice which has a lot to see and enjoy.Do not miss the Musee Chagall.
We have stayed in lovely Santa Margherita Ligure twice and highly recommend it as a base for that area of the Italian Riviera.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 04:02 PM
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tdk320n is offline  
Jan 4th, 2015, 11:09 AM
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Personally, I found St Remo and Ventimiglia disappointing - certainly compared with most of the Cote D'Azur.
jtpj777 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2015, 12:32 PM
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And I find the Cote d'Azur disappointing compared to just about anywhere on the Italian Riviera. The picturesque beauty spot across the Italian border for most people is Bordighera.

But some people prefer the Cote d'Azur!
sandralist is offline  
Jan 5th, 2015, 12:27 PM
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But Sandralist, from all your posting you obviously work for the Italian Tourist Board and once had a bad experience with someone from the Cote D'Azur!
jtpj777 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2015, 12:42 PM
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Only some people prefer the French Riviera? Where do you get those stats from - I find the Italian Riviera boring - towns are peas in pods - and I've biked the whole length of it to Genoa - there is so so much diversity of day trips on the French Riveria - ain't no comparison for the average tourist.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 6th, 2015, 07:20 PM
Join Date: Dec 2013
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RE: Genoa. IMHO Genoa has the feeling of a port city (with a nice medieval quarter of course). If you do decide to go to Genoa, I would definitely only spend one night there and then add on an extra in the Cinque Terre or Portofino.
AliciaJ is offline  
Jan 8th, 2015, 09:55 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 11
Wow! Thank you for all your input. It looks like we'll fly into Nice stay there for seven nights (Ellington Hotel) take a train from Nice To Genoa area. Will not stay in Genoa but planning on staying at Hotel Santa Margarita for five nights. Then rail to Florence stay for 2 nights Hotel Centrale.
In Nice we plan on spending some time there and going to St. Paul, and Antibes, Monaco, and Cap Ferral
Any other favorites if we have extra time?

In Italy of course will spend time in Santa Margarita, go to Cinque Terre, Portafino
any other favorites in Italy should we have time?

We have been to Florence but never to the Ponte Veccio or Academia Gallery
Thanks again
suenal is offline  

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