I am recently back from a trip to the French Riveria. I have already done a post on this location (see here) as I have been here twice before, but third times a charm? This time I went with my family to show them what all the fuss is about and also to try and get them into short getaways more. You don’t always need to go for a week’s long holiday to call it a holiday, in fact I would pick a short getaway, full of exploring as opposed to a week’s holiday sitting by a pool or beach, but that’s just me.
Usually I am always saying; do not go to the same place twice if there are other places you want to see and I really contradict myself by going back to this location for the third time. I do not know what it is about the French Rivera though, I just seem to leave a little bit of my heart here with each time I go. I also thought that I had seen mainly everything in Nice which is where I base myself, but this time proved me wrong! New streets, new locations, lots of newness which I was delighted about, it keeps it very exciting for me. So keep on scrolling to find out what I did this time, what was different to my last trip.
I stayed in a completely different location this time around. I wanted to be closer to the center of Nice, which would make it easier to walk around, lots of bars and restaurants because a lot of the hotels in Nice do not have bars in the hotels and also to be close to Old Town. Of course I did not want it to be expensive either and after looking for ages I found the perfect hotel; Hotel Helvetique. This hotel had a 8.1 good review rating on booking.com, location was central to everything I was looking for and the price was right. The rooms were on the small side but that would be the only negative, really we were only there to put your head down. The rooms had a mini fridge which was great so we headed to spar to stock up on water and some snacks to save money on buying out all the time. I will definitely stay here when I visit again or else in an apartment.
As we stayed in Nice again, we did the usual must see things to start of the trip. It was a Sunday so that meant the Market in Old Town was on. This market is huge! Full of fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh flowers and lavender, artwork, souvenirs a bit of everything. Continue down to the end of the market and follow the path to the left, this will lead you to some gorgeous old town streets full of character and see how the French live. Or head to the right and you will find yourself on the Promenade. From this location you are at the top of the Promenade. Follow the sea front around the corner and let the Port of Nice boast its size to you.
Castle Hill as I mentioned in my previous post is amazing. This ‘hill’ has so many different viewpoints, waterfalls, parks to keep you busy as you lead yourself to the top. Head up Castle Hill from the Port side and then you can come down on the opposite side back onto the prom for a well deserved drink!
Make your way down the prom and have a look at the famous 5* Negresco Hotel. It looks like a palace and costs lets just say.. a small fortune! A quick change in the evening and we wandered around Place Massena, before heading to dinner. Its all so calm and relaxed in Nice. A great place to slow down!!
We went to Eze village the following day. Hop on a tram in Nice and get off in Vauban. Once you get off in Vauban stay to the right, under the bridge and you will enter the bus station, where you get the 112 or 82 bus to Eze. Make sure you don’t get bus 100 as this drops you to the base of the mountain and you would have a long hard walk up to Eze. This bus leaves on the hour. On arrival in Eze have a stop for a coffee and then trek around the Eze mountain top village. We actually did a tour of Fragonard perfumery this time. It was free and took about 30 minutes where they take you through their factory and into a gift shop. Here you test different smells; floral, fresh, deep and unisex. Outside of the perfumery you can opt to sign up to drive a Ferrari but it was €69 for 115 minutes. Bus times were not great to get from Eze to Monaco so we decided to get a taxi which was €10 each and took 20-30 minutes.
Monaco & Monte Carlo;
As we arrived into Monaco we realised that the Grand Prix Formula 1 racing was on soon and the set up had really and truly started! As the race actually goes through the streets of Monaco there were terraced seating set up everywhere. This was really cool to see as you can imagine how the real event takes place! I can also imagine how crazy busy it must get in Monaco as it is clear that it totally takes over. Wealth is very obvious in these places with the Yachts, cars, amazing architecture on every corner. You can walk straight into Monte Carlo from Monaco and there are roof top dance parties, casinos and high end designer shops galore here. Once you get to the famous Monte Carlo Casino people watching is the thing to do, or you can go in, but there is a fee to enter as far as I am aware. We sat in a restaurant beside the casino and had a drink….. a very highly priced drink at that!! Behind the casino there is a fabulous park that to wander around and the views are nothing but sea all the way to the horizon. We ended up getting the train back to Nice which was quicker than the bus and cost about €5 each. Ticket machines in the train station only take credit card though* weird I know.
Somewhere new!! On this trip we decided to head to Cannes, the famous film festival location. By searching Trainline an online website, I was able to see that a train left Nice Ville train station approximately every 30 minutes. This journey takes between 20-40 minutes depending on which train you take and it costs around €5 each. We decided we would go on a day trip to Cannes. On arrival here, we headed straight across the road and continued down the streets until we reached the beach and the famous promenade La Croisette. From here we thought the best thing to do was to get ‘Le Petite Train’ a small train-road trip around Cannes. This was an hour long tour, it was €12 per person and you can listen to information about the area as you are being driven around. I think this was a great idea as this gave us a good idea of where we wanted to see in more depth after the tour. We passed through Old town, where there are many different streets, each offering something different than the last. We stopped at Le Suquet; The summit. This is the highest point of Cannes, which used to be a Roman settlement; best place for views of Cannes. The garden on the prom is home to over 2000 rose bushes and a walk through here will leave you with 1000 different scents. The port in Cannes was the first port ever to be builtin Europe and many countries visited this port for inspiration to build their own.
The film festival building itself is hard to miss. It is a very big building located in front of the sea on the promenade. There are many different handprints engraved into the ground from various actors and actresses. Shopping and window shopping along Rue d’Antibes which is parallel to La Croisette is a must. It is a street full of designer shops and just behind this street you will find your more budget friendly shops. We got a late train back to Nice that evening.
Restaurants & Bars;
The last time I was in Nice the food I got wasn’t great but this time everywhere we ate was amazing! Although, had I researched some places to eat we would have saved ourselves some serious steps every evening. Going as a family of 5, it is very hard to please everyone! Beer was a big factor for my Dad, he doesn’t drink Heineken which was very popular over there but anything else was very hard to find. Stella and Carlsberg were hard to find. Kronenburg is a local beer too that went down well with him so just try some local beers or research places before you head out to avoid the ‘Hangry’ phase.
Les Delices De L’ Opera for Breakfast, portions were big, staff were very friendly, nice outdoor cafe, prices were reasonable; €12 for a huge omelette/pancake with coffee, bread and a salad. Right next to the Markets too so good location to head to before hitting the markets on Sunday.
Ma Nolan’s is right next door to Les Delices De L’Opera. This is an Irish pub that I have been to a good few times now. The menu here is very big; breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are all available. Food is good too and prices are similar to Ireland. This place is FULL if there is any match on at all so, I’d advise getting there for the match if your interested or wait till after, it clears out pretty quickly afterwards.
Waynes is another Irish spot. Portions are very big here and the food is fairly cheap compared to other places. The nightlife here is on the crazy side, the drinks are more alcohol than mixer and its dancing on tables by the early hours of the morning. Typical ‘I’m going out for 1 or 2 drinks’ and then the night escalates very quickly.. type of place.
La Favola is another graet restaurant. The portion are very big here so sharing dishes may be a good idea.
Le Flore is located by the Market place in Old town. The menu isn’t the biggest but it has a good variety. The prices are reasonable here too; Spag Bol & Tagliatelle was about €13 and very tasty. There were also some buskers on the street so it made the experience even nicer.
On the prom;
Obession is a gem of a spot to stop. We had some drinks here while there were a few rain showers and it is directly across from the beach. Sit out and watch the world go by and watch the planes coming in and out of the airport. The menu is more tapas but still seemed to be priced averagely. House Rose here was very nice!
Quai des Anges is further down the prom and this is a great place to grab a pizza/ice cream/lunch as a break from your sunbathing or bring it down to the beach with you.
Jean Medecin; A street off of Place Massena (which is the main square area); Rue Massena, is full of restaurants. I had never been down this side of Nice before and there is loads to pick from; Seafood, Italian, tapas, very fancy, not so fancy restaurants all down this street! We ate in;
Le Quebec, this was a really nice restaurant that we ate in on our first night, the restaurant scene when we arrived at around 10:30pm was full! Everybody seems to eat really late here. There are many chains of this restaurant around Nice, so if you are impressed why not try another one on a different night?
La Fontaine, what a cute cafe/restaurant/bar. I can’t believe some of the businesses that the French have that is literally made from nothing and La Fontaine is one of them. There is no indoor area besides a small kitchen and a mini bar, all of the seating is out the front on the square. It is essentially a tiny inlet made into a dainty restaurant. Of course this works in warm climates like this. The food was great, the staff were so friendly and after dinner we had some great cocktails. Our waitress gave us lots of snacks with our drinks and the staff made our night even better! She also gave us a shot before leaving all complimentary of course. It is the little things!
Defo stop at this little bakery for a coffee and croissant to get your morning started. It was a great variety of freshly baked goodies!
Monaco & Monte Carlo;
La Maree; Very pricey restaurant in Monaco, you are paying for the location you are in and the views for sure! We just had a coffee here! Also Cafe De Paris is a great place located right beside Monte Carlo Casino, so sit back and watch the sports cars go by in the sunshine before you think about the cost of the drink, *****Expensive haha!
Cafe Roma is an unbelievable place to stop in Cannes for lunch/dinner. This is directly across from the Film Festival building and considering this the process were good. We stopped for lunch so we got coffee and 2 pizzas to share. The pizzas were only €12 and delicious!
Make sure you have an idea of what kind of food you would like for dinner and have a location (square/old town) picked before heading our because that saves you time.
Have a drink during happy hour to save your money.
Cut eating out for every meal and head to a local supermarket for snacks, sandwiches, drinks so you can eat on the go; saving money and time.
If you do venture outside of Nice to the neighboring destinations along the French Rivera make sure you get an early start to make the most of your days and you are not limiting yourself to certain trains and buses to get back.
I will properly stay in an apartment the next time I go so I can cook and make the most out of your spending money on adventures!
Everyone is drinking an orange cocktail over there which I found out was an Aperol Spritz;Prosecco, lemonade and Aperol it is lovely, just ask for a Spritz!
Finallllllllllllllllllllllllllllly got this post together, the trouble I had writing this! Ill just say for anyone that has a camera that requires an SD card be sure to buy the proper one and a good one as that!Do not try and save money on this as it will backfire badly like it did for me! I hope you liked this post I know it is quite long but wanted to make sure I got everything in. I am putting this post as a weekend getaway,but for this trip we did go for 4 days in April. The weather was very nice for two days and a bit mixed the others. Talking to the French, they say that May and September are the best times to visit for the perfect temperature holidays. Any questions as always, just ask!