Nice… Gateway to the Cote D’Azur

We’d finally made it to the French Riviera and we were ecstatic to be so close to the ocean again. Our apartment was a 10 minute walk from the Promenade des Anglais which right across from the beach. We chose Nice because of it’s location along the French Riviera, it was central enough to get us to Eze, Monaco and Ville Franche. All places we wanted to visit during our stay.

Getting around in Nice was relatively easy. We used the bus to get us from our apartment to the train station, which ended up being the most frequently visited site while in Nice. A bus ticket to the main road (Avenue Jean Medecin) would set you back one euro. We tried to use the blue bikes, but you needed to register online using a French number and we didn’t have one so that didn’t work.  If you do get a French number its only one euro a day and obviously a lot quicker that waiting for the bus.

We started our tour of the Riviera in Nice itself. We walked around the old town on the first day and tried to get our bearings. The town itself is rather small and with it’s narrow streets, traffic is generally restricted to only pedestrians. We walked to the centre square located across from the Promenade del Anglais and overpriced cafes, boutiques and restaurants surrounded us – obviously catering for mass tourism. We found some other restaurants that were away from this tourist hub, had great food and were a reasonable price.

 

We did enjoy the art market in the tourist square held most nights. Showcasing some beautiful ceramic pieces, along with the gorgeous prints and paintings – it’s nice to just have a stroll through the stalls.

Monaco/Montecarlo: We decided to take the train and do a day trip up to Monaco and Montecarlo. The train from Nice Ville station leaves about every 10 minutes to Ventimiglia (all trains in this direction can take you to Monaco, Montecarlo, Eze and Villefranche) Monaco was beautiful. Giant yachts, high end fashion and the Grand prix track. It was just amazing.

We walked to the Hotel du Paris, right across from the Casino of Montecarlo and we were in awe of all the cars driving through.  Everything from Ferrari’s, Maserati’s and Lamborghini’s. The one thing we did want to do was to check out the casino here (just to see if it measured up to our expectations). They did require our passports to enter the casino, but we’d come prepared and a quick spot check and 10 Euro later, we were in!

The casino was majestic and you could play the tables, both inside and out. We didn’t realise you couldn’t take photos inside the casino and you had to leave your phones and cameras in the cloak room.  Ignorance is bliss and we happy snapped away.

 

The tables outside had the most amazing view of the ocean and were easily the most expensive tables there at 50 euro minimum bet. We settled on a five Euro Roulette table and put our 20 Euro to work. We’d just about finished up about even, when we decided to call it quits with one last bet on 16. Who knew, it came up and ended up paying 175 Euro. There was a moment when we thought cops were going to come around the corner and bombard us with questions. But everything was fine and we left Montecarlo a whole 150 Euro richer!

Eze: is a little medieval village at the top of a hill, along with a castle and beautiful gardens. We were there to visit the Frangonard Perfumerie, famous for it’s delicious fragrances. When we arrived in Eze, we realised that the bus taking us to the top of the town had already left, meaning we had another hour to wait until we could catch the next one. Normally we would have walked, but the path to the town was a good 700 meters above sea level, at an incline of 45 degrees – we would have died.  Instead of waiting in the heat, we hit the beach which was only a five minute walk from the stop and decided to wait there.

Once our bus arrived to the top of the hill, the Fragonard Perfumerie was only a five minute walk from the stop. We managed to pick up some goodies, pay and run back up to the bus station just in time for our bus back to the train station. We would have loved to stay here for the day and make a day trip of it, but we had no time. It would be a worthwhile day trip if you have the time.

Nice was a great place for us to base ourselves while exploring the French Riviera. We loved the beaches here and the water was crystal clear. Although we didn’t get to see the the other gems along this riviera like Cannes, Villefranche and St Tropez, we loved that we could have had the flexibility to do so. It was a great last stop in France, no more crepes for a while. It’s onto Pizza and Pasta in Italy…bring it!

  

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