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To Do/Stay in Nice? St. Tropez / Monte Carlo / Nimes too!

To Do/Stay in Nice? St. Tropez / Monte Carlo / Nimes too!

Old Sep 17th, 2016, 02:57 PM
  #1  
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To Do/Stay in Nice? St. Tropez / Monte Carlo / Nimes too!

Hi! My husband and I are on the verge of booking a trip to the French Rivera for late May/early June 2017. Neither of us has been before. Our plan thus far is to fly into Nice, spend 3 nights in St. Tropez (Hotel Sezz), 3 nights in Nice, and the final 3 nights in Monte Carlo, Monaco (Le Meridian Beach Plaza).

Regarding Nice, we don't know a ton about the area and are looking to learn more. What is there to do? What are the must-see sites, experiences, etc? Is it worth staying in Nice or should we look at hotels in St Jean Cap Ferrat too? We were thinking of going to Cannes for an afternoon (if that factors into the equation), and maybe Antibes too. Is Antibes worth our time, or are we better off spending the time exploring Nice?

As for other day trips, we intend to spend a day in Nimes (instead of going straight from St. Tropez to Nice, we will leave early and go to Nimes for the day, and then to Nice/St. Jean Cap Ferrat to check into our hotel that evening). Any insight into Nimes? Worth the drive?

All other suggestions are welcome. Thank you!!
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Old Sep 17th, 2016, 05:45 PM
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I would drop Monaco if it were me - there are so many places more interesting, esp charming small villages in the mountains above the coast.

Monaco is great if you have a lot of money and don't mind spending it. Everything is expensive and many of the shops are designer boutiques way above out price point. We have been a couple of times just to have dinner and spend the evening in the casino to do the James Bond number, which can be a lot of fun, looking at all the guys in tuxes and women in gorgeous gowns and massively expensive jewels form the yachts in the harbor - and betting our pittances in the roulette or vingt et un. (Oh and casino is not open all day, I believe there is still a fee to enter and you must be properly dressed - nothing like Vegas.)

But we would never stay there or spend more time than that - prefer exploring more real towns, interesting museums, etc.
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Old Sep 17th, 2016, 09:54 PM
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We found Monaco boring, but some people just love it. Lots of high-rises; everything is expensive.

As for St-Tropez, a day would be plenty; the main attraction is the beaches, although the art museum is first rate. I'd spend the time instead in and around Nice, with a visit to Antibes.

Going all the way over to Nîmes will cut at least a full day from the time you have. I advise staying on the Côte d'Azur and skipping western Provence this time around. That's a region worth its own trip when you have more time. If the Roman ruins interest you, Fréjus has some good ones and is close to St-Tropez.

St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is a beautiful place to stay and explore.

Get a copy of the Michelin Green Guide to the Côte d'Azur and do some itinerary/sightseeing research. You'll be glad you did.
Underhill is online now  
Old Sep 18th, 2016, 02:11 AM
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Check the date of the Monaco grand prix, wich is late May.

I'd be happy to spend 3 days in St Tropez late May, relaxing by the pool or on the beach, shopping. That hotel looks very nice but it's neither in town nor on the beach. For 3 days I would stay in St Tropez itself, take a taxi to the beaches or rent a buggy or car.

Don't do St Tropez - Nimes - Nice in a day. That is a long trip. It will easily take you 3 hours to drive to Nimes. And another 3 hours to Nice on the motorway, which is not very exciting. If you are going to spend a day driving, take the Corniche de l'Esterel on your way to Cannes, when leaving St Trop. If you leave early, you can stop in Cannes for lunch. Check dates for the film festival in May.
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Old Sep 18th, 2016, 05:36 AM
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A note about the drive from Nice to Monaco. It is scary unless you are used to driving on twisty, mountainous roads. It is beautiful but we took the public bus transportation from Nice to Monaco and glad we did.
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Old Sep 18th, 2016, 05:45 AM
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As Underhill says, get the Michelin Green Guide to the Côte d'Azur, as you seem to have pulled places out of a hat without knowing what you're getting into. I would go just about anywhere in the world before I'd go to Monaco. If you're fabulously wealthy and need celebrity input rather than real-time European experiences, then it's perfect. Nîmes is a pretty peculiar choice of place to go inland from the Côte d'Azur. I mean, it's a nice place, but of all the choices available...and for a daytrip?...WHY? You really need to do some more research, as this is a strange trip you're planning, IMO.
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Old Sep 18th, 2016, 09:47 AM
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Thank you, everyone, for the input!

I did some poking around online but clearly not enough- I will look into the Michelin Green Guide. Our plan for Monaco was to end the trip with R&R- check out the casinos one night but spend our days almost entirely at the pool/beach.

I will absolutely look into Frejus, since the reason we wanted to visit Nimes was in fact for the Roman ruins.

Since I clearly need to do some re-working, what do you think would be the ideal itinerary for 9 nights flying into and out of Nice? We want a nice mix of relaxation and sightseeing.

Thanks again!
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Old Sep 18th, 2016, 10:00 AM
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Here are some of the things I like in Nice: the Matisse Museum, extensive Roman ruins adjacent to but separate from the museum, the small Chagall museum, the old town, the shopping, walking along the front and the harbor, going up to the hill villages and town, particularly St Paul de Vence, Vence and possibly Grasse.

Very easy to get to Cannes and Antibes from Nice, frequent trains and buses, if I remember, trains are around 8€ roundtrip and buses around 4€. Equally easy to use public transport to get to Monte Carlo.

I'm in the either "not at all" or "day trip only" camp for Monte Carlo, would rather chill and relax in St. Tropez or Cannes. It's been many years since I went to the casino, it was dead during the day. The cliff gardens near the palace are beautiful.
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Old Sep 18th, 2016, 10:35 AM
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The Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Gran Prix overlapped on our last visit to Nice in late May. Nice was jam packed then, restaurants impossible to book. Luckily we had two more weeks there to enjoy this beautiful city and the surrounding areas.
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Old Sep 18th, 2016, 12:25 PM
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I would gladly revisit the area and having been twice, my feeling is that you can't really go very far wrong. That said, our 6 nights at St Jean Cap Ferrat are some of my favorite vacation memories. There is a lot to see and do in the area, and the beauty is outstanding. Views were the best part of our rental.

The part of Nice that I liked the most was the area around the Matisse museum and Roman ruins. To me, the old town was OK, but a little crowded and noisy and not quite as charming as I'd hoped.

We spent a nice afternoon in Antibes, and three of us were glad we had chosen St Jean Cap Ferrat as our base, over Antibes. St Jean Cap Ferrat felt like a dream, while Antibes was pleasant. SJCF was recommended to me here on Fodors.
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Old Sep 18th, 2016, 02:03 PM
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I will absolutely look into Frejus, since the reason we wanted to visit Nimes was in fact for the Roman ruins.>

and in the Cimiez section of Nice high above the main town:

https://www.google.com/search?q=cimi...HWeLDjMQsAQIGw
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Old Sep 19th, 2016, 02:21 AM
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Yesterday, we returned from our 20+th trip to the Côte d'Azur.

It is a large region, and very diverse.

Nice is a big city, with shopping, an old town, several outstanding art museums (the most impressive one is the Chagall museum), an ugly beach and lots of traffic. In 20+ trips, it never came into our minds to base ourselves in Nice, although we did a lot of daytrips into Nice.

Good bases for exploring the eastern stretch of the Côte would be Antibes, Cannes or Cap Ferrat.

A word on Monaco. First, driving to and from Monaco belong to the most scenic experiences. For one leg, take the Moyenne Corniche with a stop in the mountain village Eze, for the other leg, take the Grande Corniche with a stop at La Turbie, a gorgeous Roman monument. Spend a couple of hours in Monaco: See the cactus Garden, the Palace, the cathedral, the oceanographic Institute and the Casino.

So not miss the incredibly scenic drive an the coastal road between Cannes and St. Raphael. There, you also find beautiful beaches (the best is plage du Camp Long ner Agay) and some of the world's most beautiful hiking trails (e.g. Cap Dramont).

I am nötig sure if I should recommend St. Tropez. 50 years ago, it was a charming fishing village, now it is a tourist trap.

You find the best Roman ruins in Nimes, and do not miss Pont du Gard, when you are in the area. Frejus has a minor amphitheatre, but it is no comparison to the one in Nimes.
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Old Sep 19th, 2016, 03:11 AM
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St Trop is still a beautfiul village and in end may early june is not yet overcrowded with women on high heels holding arms with gentlemen who could be their fathers but aren't.
These women love to be looked at and their gentlemen love to see that they are looked at.
Same goes to these people drinking champagne at the rear of their yachts, and who get photographed more than the pigeons on St Marco place.
And you have a few good restaurants.
I recommend 'La ponche' and if you want to pay more than what it is worth, L'Escale, in front of the port.
Le Gorille is nice for a lunch and le café de Paris is very expensive and frequented by professional hookers.
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Old Sep 19th, 2016, 01:30 PM
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When I was in St-Tropez on a day trip by car from Biot I saw in the town mainly older folks - kind of a Florida for French (though it was August) and the town itself oh - K but nothing special. did not go to the beaches which seemed far removed from the town itself.

Fine for a beach holiday but not a great base for exploring the usual places on the Cote d'Azur folks usually want to see but for more low-key places great perhaps.

Is Antibes worth our time, or are we better off spending the time exploring Nice?>

I'd stay in Antibes rather than St-Tropez (just my opinion) and use it as a base for Grasse - Cannes (whatever you want to see in St Tropez Cannes has more of it beach-wise)and the hill towns on St Paul-de-Vence and Vence, etc.

Oh well I guess that you cannot go wrong in that area.

Monaco turns many here off but it is what it is and a unique place in a nice setting with fancy yachts all over the port.
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Old Sep 19th, 2016, 01:32 PM
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Meant to say Antibes is a wonderful really old looking town - unlike Nice or Monaco - lively market in the town square some days - teh Picasso Museum in an old fort on the sea- my favorite city on the coast to stay in - not much to visit but give it a look.
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Old Sep 19th, 2016, 06:40 PM
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Fancy yachts and the uber wealthy are there only for the season - not the hole year. If you want the amusement of watching the uber wealthy it can be fun for a day - but do understand the prices are meant for them.

Caveat: I a not a beach person, very fair and never tan and after about 30 minutes am bored stiff - so that holds no interest for me.
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Old Sep 20th, 2016, 12:20 AM
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Rather than Nîmes, you should go to Arles. The "litte french Roma" is listed in the UNESCO world heritage for its roman and romanesque monuments (Amphitheatre, Roman theatre, Cryptoporticus, The Alyscamps, Church of St. Trophime), in addition to the amazing Musée de l'Arles antique (http://www.arles-antique.cg13.fr/mda...ex.htm?lang=en).
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Old Sep 20th, 2016, 12:21 AM
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http://www.arles-antique.cg13.fr/mda...ex.htm?lang=en
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