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karenwliu May 21st, 2007 01:41 PM

Itinerary Recommendations for French Riviera
Hi -
I'm trying to build a Provence/French Riviera/Italy itinerary. My friend and I fly into Nice on Monday, June 4 (afternoon) and fly out of Nice on Sunday, June 10. I believe that gives us 5 full days to play around with. Right now, our home base is Nice. Planning the itinerary for this trip has been really overwhelming b/c there are so many towns that are considered "must see" destinations. Can anyone recommend a good itinerary for our 5-day trip? Keep in mind, we will NOT have a car. My travel buddy asked if a quick Italy destination would be possible. I'm wondering if we should nix Provence and just stick with the French Riviera. We're flexible though. Thank you so much!!

PalenQ May 21st, 2007 01:48 PM

San Remo makes a good close by Italian day trip

or just Ventimiglia and its sprawling market some days

both a cinch by train

bus to St Paul de Vence
train to Monaco or Italy or both
Cannes, Antibes

frequent rail and bus links from Nice which is NOT the only possible base - many like Villefranche better, just over the hill

Byrd May 21st, 2007 02:04 PM

Several years ago we took a wonderful day trip from Nice to Bordighera (Italy), changing trains in Ventimiglia.

We had lunch in Bordighera at a restaurant terrace overlooking the Med.

On the way back, we stopped for a while in Monte Carlo.

The trains between Nice and Ventimiglia were double-decker types, great for the panoramic views of the a day trip might be a nice way to spend one of your days.

Have a great trip.


StuDudley May 21st, 2007 02:12 PM

For 5 days, I wouldn't even think about Provence, or even a trip into Italy - especially if you won't have a car. I haven't found anything in Italy between Menton & Portofino that's as interesting as things you probably won't have time to visit on the French Riveria (St Tropez, Gassin, Ramatouelle, Bormes, Grimaud).

If you plan to rent a spot on the beach in Nice and spend a day or two working on your tan, you may not even want to leave Nice for your entire 5 days.

Have dinner in Villefranche one evening. On Saturdays, there is a late train back to Nice from Villefranche.

Don't miss Antibes. Cannes is OK - but I think Nice is far more interesting. Take a bus to St Paul & Vence for your small village fix. Many love Eze - I find it too touristy, but the views are great. To bad you won't have a car. The Nice Hinterland is fantastic.

Stu Dudley

nbujic May 21st, 2007 03:30 PM

The bus service around Nice is great and cheap. Ask the tourist office in Nice for the map. Bus 100 goes to VF, Monaco, Monte Carlo and Menton ( we loved Menton).
You have to take a train to go to Italy .
Italian towns are less glamorous ( we liked them for that reason).
You will have enough to do in Nice and around for 5 days.

PalenQ May 21st, 2007 07:40 PM

If taking the train east from Nice to the Italian border, i would call it one of the very most scenic train rides in Europe as it often goes along a stunningly beautiful coast. Keep your eyes peeled as several times i've glimpsed skinny dippers in isolated coves along the way. Not a voyeur but always looking for different things to see.

karenwliu May 24th, 2007 10:05 AM

Hi all -
Thank you so much for your input! It was a huge help! Please find our revised itinerary below. What do you think? I've incorporated many (if not all) of your suggestions. Thanks!!

Mon 6/4
Arrive in Nice (afternoon)
Walk around Nice. Settle in.
Overnight in Nice

Tues 6/5
Spend the day in Nice: Check out Chagall Museum, Matisse Museum, Promenade des Anglais, Old Nice, Russian Cathedral, Perfume Museum, Castle Hill, Beaches
Overnight in Nice

Wed 6/6
Take a bus/train to Antibes: Check out hiking trails, great scenery, beach, Market, Picasso Museum, Fort Carre
Take bus/train to Cannes or St. Tropez,
Take bus/train to hill towns near Vence
Overnight in in Nice

Thurs 6/7
Spend Day in Nice
Finish up things we haven’t seen….
Overnight in Nice

Fri 6/8
Day Trip to Italy: Bordighera
Travel to Monaco: Check out casinos, Monte Carlo, Palace, Aquarium, Cathedral, Municipal gardens
Overnight in Monaco

Sat 6/9
On the way back to Nice:
Day trip to Villefranche-sur-Mer: Check out the harbor, Chapel of St. Pierre, Citadel, Church, Boat Rides, Beachwalk, serene setting, picturesque town.
Travel to Cap Ferrat: Check out Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, St Jean Cap Ferrat Village
If time allows, take trip to Eze Le Village
Dinner in Villefranche-sur-Mer ??
Overnight in Nice

Sun 6/10
Travel home :(

StuDudley May 24th, 2007 10:21 AM

Why in the world would you overnight in Monaco - it's a VERY short train ride from Nice (unless you like changing hotels 2 extra times).

I think you're going to have a VERY difficult time finding a hotel this late, much less 3 hotels. You're leaving in about 1 1/2 weeks.

Stu Dudley

karenwliu May 24th, 2007 10:33 AM

:) Hi Stu --
Don't worry! A few months ago, we went ahead and booked a hotel in Nice for the entire week. We had heard that Monaco is a great night town so we figured we'd spend the entire night there. But if Monaco is less than an hour away and there are night trains back to Nice, it's probably more convenient for us to stay put. Thanks!

StuDudley May 24th, 2007 11:41 AM

Monte Carlo is about 20 mins away by train. The last train is around midnight, and then the next one is at 5am or so. Don't know what a taxi would cost - I suspect it could be less than the difference in cost from a hotel in Monte Carlo VS one in Nice (of course, that depends on the hotels you select - my Michelin Guide says the hotels in Monte Carlo are more expensive in general).

Don't know what you want in night life, but unless you are a big time casino fan (Nice has casinos also), I certainly would not introduce 2 additional hotel changes into my itinerary just because someone said that the nightlife was better in Monte Carlo than in Nice. I'm not a Monte Carlo fan (you can probably tell that), and there have been many others on this forum who have stated that they were "underwhelmed" by Monte Carlo.

Our night life in Nice is usually a nice dinner and then hanging out on the Cours Saleya & people watching, or walking along the Promenade des Anglais - so I'm not a good authority on night life other than that.

Stu Dudley

scrb May 24th, 2007 12:43 PM

I'm going second week of July.

What about staying in an apartment away from the bigger town centers?

Parking should be easier when you're back to sleep but then again, if you drive to places like Monaco, Eze, St. Paul, it would probably be another matter.

Byrd May 24th, 2007 12:48 PM


I looked up the name of the restaurant where we had lunch in Bordighera; it's La Riviera.

As I remember, it is a nice walk through town (not far) and along the rocky coast to the restaurant.

We have been to Europe many times since then, but that beautiful fall day, watching the sea from the restaurant terrace, is one that we always remember.

It was so ...well, just so perfect. I hope it will be sor you and your friend, also.


Images2 May 24th, 2007 01:30 PM

The beach in Cannes is sand and much nicer than the stone beach of Nice!

Villefrance is a great place for dinner also, then you can take the train back to Nice, as long as it's running! One year the westbound trains went on strike, so we arrived in Villefrance just fine, but couldn't return. Buses weren't running either, it was to late. We finally were lucky enough to find a waiter working here, but living in Nice to give us a ride back!

Have a great time.

mikemo May 24th, 2007 03:30 PM

Loved St. Paul de Vence in early May.

karenwliu May 24th, 2007 04:07 PM

Hi all -
Thank you so much! This message board is incredible. Just wanted to get input on 2 days and I think our itinerary will be good to go --

Are we going to have time to hit all three of the locations below. Should we just check out Antibes and one other option? Which would you recommend?
Wed 6/6
Take a bus/train to Antibes: Check out hiking trails, great scenery, beach, Market, Picasso Museum, Fort Carre
Take bus/train to Cannes or St. Tropez,
Take bus/train to hill towns near Vence
Overnight in Nice

Same question here -- Is this too much for one day? What should we cut out?
Sat 6/9
Day trip to Villefranche-sur-Mer: Check out the harbor, Chapel of St. Pierre, Citadel, Church, Boat Rides, Beachwalk, serene setting, picturesque town.
Travel to Cap Ferrat: Check out Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, St Jean Cap Ferrat Village
Trip to Eze Le Village
Dinner in Villefranche-sur-Mer
Overnight in Nice

nbujic May 24th, 2007 04:15 PM

IMO you are trying to do too much on 6/9.Also, with such short time, going to Italy may be complicated.
Since you don't have a car, you depend on bus and train schedules.
The bus 100 goes to VF, Monaco, Monte Carlo and Menton. Itis only 1.30 euros so one can get off, walk around a place for a while and move on to the next spot you wish to see .Visiting museums in Nice may take longer than you think ( you have to take a bus again).
The Tsourist office will give you a map of bus routs and a bus schedule for a specific location.

There is a lot of construction in Nice right now , traffic is slow.

sequess May 24th, 2007 04:18 PM

Villefranche and Cap Ferrat are both very small so it won't take too long to check them out unless you want to do the shoreline walk on Cap Ferrat. The Rothschild villa is very interesting and worth a visit--they have a nice place there where you could have lunch.
Here's an idea for a busy but probably doable day: head to Eze in the morning and explore there, then go to the Villa Rothschild and tour it and have lunch there. Visit Cap Ferrat--walk out to the shore area away from the village. Then go over to Villefranche and check things out there and perhaps have dinner there at one of the waterfront restaurants.

nbujic May 24th, 2007 04:30 PM

sorry, for 6/6 you have to pick just one ( St.Tropez is a long way west.
One more thing. keep in mind that you have to get to the bus station, or bus stop or train station wherever you are. Nice is a big place, you may be staying a long way from the train station.
Most people have good suggestion, but taking public transit is VERY different from driving. We did both.

StuDudley May 24th, 2007 06:09 PM

I don't think Villefranche will take much time to visit. Last year, we took the 6:00PM (or so) train there from Nice, explored the town for 2 hrs or so (1 1/2 would have been enough), then had a lovely dinner on the waterfront at La Mere Germaine. Took the 11pm train back to Nice. However, that 11PM train only ran on Saturdays (we were there the last week in June). Check the current schedule, or take a taxi back. There really are not any restaurants in Nice comparable to the ones on the waterfront in Villefranche (unless you eat at an "on the beach" beach restaurants in Nice - but there won't be much "people watching" opportunities like in Villefranche).

I don't understand your AND/OR question. I've been to all of those places - St Tropez for over 5 weeks, and near Vence for 5 weeks also, and Cannes & Antibes for days (not weeks). I think Cannes is too much like Nice & not work a special visit. I would go with some diversity. The Vence area and St Tropez are completly different from Nice. But Antibes is interesting and much closer & easier to get to. I have never taken the boat to St Tropez, but a boat trip might be interesting in itself, and St Tropez would certainly provide a different look & feel to the Riveria for you. Try to sneek a trip to both St Paul & Vence in there somewhere. I would certainly do that instead of visiting Italy on this trip.

Stu Dudley

scrb May 24th, 2007 09:28 PM

Genoa is pretty close to the border, isn't it?

What about that narrow road, the one where Grace Kelly died?

Does that get packed?

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