Nice is the fifth largest city in France in terms of population, and enjoys a reputation as an attractive southern French city with some great beaches and cuisine.
The city is also a great place at which to base yourself for exploring the wider area of Provence. While staying in the town itself and enjoying the outdoors cafe culture is pleasant enough, getting out to explore the attractions of the surrounding region offers some really fascinating experiences.
The town of Cannes is only a half hour or so’s drive away from Nice. Slightly smaller than its neighbour, this is the location of the glamorous film festival which takes place annually. This is a town where the stars come to play, and the glitz and glamour are on display all year round. Just wandering around soaking up the atmosphere is a great way to spend a morning in the sun in Cannes.
Another great day trip Nice offers is an excursion to Saint-Paul de Vence. This attractive walled town is built on the top of a hill, and possesses picturesque cobbled streets and some lovely buildings to wander amongst. Artists such as Henri Matisse and writers like D H Lawrence have spent time here.
Contemporary artists continue to flock here, and there are many waterfront venues offering their works for sale. The country market which takes place every Wednesday morning is a great opportunity to pick up some local culinary delights.
Taking a train to Monaco is also a recommended day trip Nice offers. Everything about Monaco is luxurious, from the railway station to the Monte Carlo Casino. The tax-free status of this independent state draws in the super rich and famous, while the Monaco Grand Prix, raced through the streets of Monte Carlo, is an annual festival of thrills.
For something a little quieter and less glitzy, take the short 15 minute train journey from Nice to Villefranche sur Mer. This charming old town is heaped on a hillside, and is often used as a location for film makers.
History and art enthusiasts will be drawn to the town of Antibes, which dates back to the Roman era. A place where Picasso spent much of his life, the castle here was a workplace for the great Spanish artists. Now it is a museum dedicated to his life and work. The old port town, with its market and restaurants, is a great place to explore, and you are sure to pull out a treat or two as you do so.
Day trips from Nice are a great way to spend time in Provence. Take your time, and enjoy everything that they offer.
A Day Trip from Nice to Valbonne And Mougins
Nice is a hard city in which to feel stale. Nevertheless, sometimes we can all do with a change of scene during a holiday, so it is worthwhile looking at what some of the nearby towns can offer for day trippers.
Thankfully, Nice is in one of Europe’s most beautiful regions, close to both coastline and mountains. There are two towns in particular, though, which are are well worth a visit for anyone who wants to take a trip from their Nice holiday base. Both locations can be easily reached using our car hire Nice Airport service.
The village of Valbonne is a place for people who want to feel like they have stepped back in time. Centred on the Place des Arcades, the main square, the Old Village’s lay-out and architecture dates in large part back to the 16th century. This is the place to visit if you want to spend some time in a cafe, maybe chilling out after exploring some of the wonderful shops which can be found in the streets and arcades here.
Sights to See
History enthusiasts will want to make sure that they take a look at the 13th century church, Eglise Saint Blaise, attached to the remains of a Cistercian abbey. Those who favour looking at more contemporary architecture should take a trip to nearby Sophia Antipolis.
This ‘Technology Park’, which was established in 1969, is a hotbed of scientific and technological research and development. Many thousands of scientists work here for a range of public and private sector bodies. The architecture reflects the contemporary mindset which informed its design.
Another village close to Nice which is well worth a visit is Mougins. As it just a 15 minute drive from Cannes, it has been the haunt of movie stars and other glamorous types for much of its recent history. It enjoys a wonderful setting, located amid pine forests, olive groves and cypress trees.
Mougins has enjoyed a long association with fine food, with several great chefs, including Alain Ducasse, having cooked at venues in the village. As well as foodies though, art lovers will also enjoy a day trip to Mougins. There are two excellent art museums in the village.
The first of these is the Mougins Museum of Classical Art. It houses some superb pieces from artists such as Matisse, Dali, Picasso, Yves Klein and a whole host of others. The other museum is the Andre Villers Museum of Photography. Here, visitors can see portraits of important artists like Picasso.
Both Valbonne and Mougins are great examples of the kind of village which can be found near Nice. Both typical of the region, yet in different ways, exploring their similarities and contrasts is very much what makes this part of France so wonderful to visit.
Marvelous Monaco Can Make Your Vacation
Monaco, despite being located on France’s southern coast, is actually a sovereign state, complete with its own royal family. A place long associated with wealth and glamour, thanks largely to its tax status, there is plenty to see when you visit this Principality for a day.
One of Monaco’s most interesting features is its autonomy, and you can check out the tiny country’s royal heritage at the Prince’s Palace. This medieval fortress is located on the Rock of Monaco, and was constructed by the Genovese in 1215. Additions have been made to it since then, and there are some luxuriously furnished rooms in buildings which date to the 15th and 17th century on the site.
Visitors interested in the history of Monaco will also enjoy a visit to the Cathedral. Although the Cathedral was consecrated as recently as 1875, it lies on the site of Monaco’s first parish church, which was built in the early 13th century. Highlights include a painted altar piece dating from 1500, the work of the Niçois painter Louis Bréa. Prince Rainier and Princess Grace are buried here.
It is also possible to enjoy some culture in a very historic setting. The early 18th century fortress of St Antoine, situated at the north-eastern corner of the Rock, forms an amphitheatre where plays and performances are held in the open air. Around 350 people can be seated comfortably here, enjoying the marvellous views and enchanted setting as much as the performances.
Some visitors may want to learn more about the sea which is so much a part of this coastal region. The best place to do it is at the Oceanographic Musuem, located at the Avenue St-Martin. Founded by Prince Albert of Monaco, it possess an impressive collection of marine life, with hundreds of species of fish swimming in over 90 pools.
A new Shark Lagoon, with a volume of 450 cubic metres, shows off the beauty and variety which is present on coral reefs. A day trip to Monaco is easily within your grasp when your hire a car at Nice Airport.
But it is glamour that really brings the visitors to Monaco. Perhaps the best place to explore some of this glittering heritage is at the Monte Carlo Casino and Opera House. The Opera House was built in 1893 by Charles Garnier, the architect of the Paris Opera House, and has an atrium beautifully paved with marble. Twenty-eight Ionic columns in Onyx surround the atrium.
The Opera Hall is sumptuously decorated in red and gold, with sculptures and bas relief providing extra beauty. The Casino was built in 1878, and was also designed by Garnier. it offers a similarly glamorous and luxurious experience for visitors.
Monaco is a place which celebrates opulence and glamour. There are still places like St Antoine though, where you can contrast the starry glitter with more contemplative pastimes.
Visit Cannes with a Nice Airport Car Hire
Cannes, in the south of France, is well known as a hotbed of glamour and glossy style. Its annual film festival is its showpiece event, where blue sea and sky, appealing architecture and a unique atmosphere combine to make Cannes really feel like the stardust capital of the world.
While visiting the town during the film festival each May may not be possible for most of us, there are still some great days out to be enjoyed by anyone who is taking a holiday close to Cannes. The famous La Croisette water front promenade is a great place to start any visit.
This is just the place to saunter like a movie star, among the suave, well-dressed groups of people who walk and roller blade down the promenade. Take in the views over the ocean, or mooch past the exclusive hotels. Palm trees and beautiful flower displays help to increase the sense of opulence and style.
What to do
After strolling down La Croisette, you can take a short walk to the Vieille Ville area, along the Rue St-Antoine, and check out Le Suquet. This interesting little part of town was where the original Roman ‘castrum’ was located. Charming streets and inviting cafes dot the streets, with the buildings coloured pretty pastel shades. This is the place to shop for traditional Provencal products.
After seeing what contemporary Cannes has to offer to visitors, you might want to explore some of the history of the town too. One of the best places to do this is at the Musée de la Castre. Here, the town museum is located in an 11th century castle at the top of a hill. The Suquet Tower was built in 1385 as a watch tower against possible Saracen incursions. There is an appealingly incongruous mix of weapons and armour alongside 19th century ceramics in the museum.
For those who want to see some more contemporary examples of art, then a visit to Malmaison is recommended. This building also has an interesting story of its own to tell, in that it is the only remaining part of the original Grand Hotel, built in 1863.
The rest of the hotel was demolished and rebuilt in the late 1950s, but this section, which housed the original hotel’s games room, remained. The ground floor houses two major art exhibitions every year, and often pays tribute to artists who are associated with this part of France, such as Picasso and Matisse, as well as contemporary artists from across the world. You can easily reach Cannes with a car hire from Nice.
Whether you are a culture vulture or a style guru, Cannes is a great place to choose for a holiday. Its location also means it is easily accessible from a whole host of other very appealing locations in the South of France.
Antibes Has More To Offer Than Famous Artists
Antibes, in the south of France, is a town which has enjoyed some famous visitors in the past. Artists in particular have enjoyed using the picturesque location and wonderful light to illuminate their works. Spending a day in this charming town will also light up any holiday in Provence.
What to see in Antibes
One of the thing which drew artists like Picasso and Monet to Antibes was its view of the mountains. There is a trail which visitors can walk round near the town which takes you to various locations which have turned up in famous paintings.
Laminated copies of the artists’ work are installed at the places where they were painted, so that visitors can see both the view and the artist’s version of it. Works by Picasso and Monet feature on the trail, while other artists such as Boudin also have work there.
Close by is the village of Juan-les-Pins, known as a hotbed of European jazz. Many famous jazz musicians played here in the past, and the hand-prints of many, like Ella Fitzgerald and Fats Domino are preserved in a line of ceramic tiles on a pavement. Every July, there is a jazz festival, where musicians play on a seafront stage underneath the famous pine trees from which the village gets its name.
Juan-les-Pins also has other attractions. This is the resort where water skiing was pioneered, and there is still the opportunity for active visitors to participate in other water sports there, such as diving or snorkeling. There is no long promenade like at nearby Cannes, but there is still a pleasant walk to be had along the beach, and you can pass the time by watching the locals play petanque.
There is also plenty of history here. The Greeks founded the town in the 4th century BC, while the Romans made the town one of their main maritime settlements in Gaul. Visitors can explore some of this heritage in the Archaeology Museum at the Bastion St Andre, itself a 17th century structure.
There is also the Museum of Napoloen, which is the location for a number of the great Corsican’s hats. Chateau Grimaldi is a place where Picasso lived and worked for a time, and there is an impressive collection of his works on show here.
There are some great hotels in which to stay during your visit. Some of the best have wonderful ocean views as well as providing access to the beach. Some of the smarter hotels actually have their own private beaches, making enjoying the wonderful blue Mediterranean even more straightforward.
For a cultured and refined stay in the sunshine, visit Antibes. It a great day trip option from Nice City. Whether you prefer to spend days in cool art galleries, outside chic cafes or sitting in the sun on the beach, this Provencal town can cater for all.
St Tropez Still Offers Glamour as well as Classic Style
It is fair to say that Saint-Tropez is still one of the most famous of the seaside towns on the French Riviera. Associated with the rich and famous since the end of World War Two, it often seems that there is, in reality, not much to the place these days. But simply being in the town’s unique atmosphere is often enough for many visitors.
Anyone who wants to explore what St Tropez can offer should begin their journey at the port, at the Quai Jean Jaurès, where the tourist information office is conveniently located. On the land here are some of the stylish and expensive cafes and restaurants which have become so beloved by the rich and famous over the years. You may well spot a Hollywood star or French politician relaxing in the environs.
On the Water
On the water in the harbour are the yachts, with many of them unbelievably huge. This is where many very rich people indeed like to park their boats, and you may well enjoy simply staring at the sheer opulence of these sea-going vessels. Daily mooring fees can run into thousands of Euros, so tying up here is not cheap.
The town was one of the first places where nude sun bathing became fashionable, and there is still a public ‘clothes optional’ beach nearby. If you want to sun bathe naked then the usual option though is to head to one of the private beaches, many of which can be found close by.
St Tropez Old Town
The old town with its ochre coloured buildings is well worth a visit, and there is a church here where you can see a statue of St Tropez himself. Although the saint’s head is buried in Pisa, this was apparently where the rest of his body washed up in AD68 in a rowing boat, along with a cockerel and a dog. The full story can be explored further in the town itself, with the locals taking it very seriously.
A16th century fortress, the Citadelle, sits atop the town, at the summit of a green and wooded hillside. There is a museum celebrating the town’s sea-going heritage inside, but climbing the hill is worth it just for the magnificent views that can be obtained from the fortress.
The Place des Lices is the town’s main square, and looks a little big for a town the size of Saint-Tropez. Nevertheless, this is where you will find the locals playing boules and hanging out at cafes, and it is fun to join in with the spirit of languid enjoyment which predominates here.
The town is also within accessible reach of much else that the French Riviera can offer particularly when using a car hire service. Book a stay in Saint-Tropez for a taste of sun-soaked glamour.