You see all these pictures of the French Riviera and think this area cannot be that nice right? Right? When I arrived in Nice, it was everything I expected and more.
I was based mainly in Nice for the week I was at Cote D’Azur… Nice is ideal if you’re traveling to places like Monaco, Antibes, Eze, and Saint Tropez. Actually, I would recommend staying one night at Saint Tropez as there is no public transportation to go there (well very inconvenient), so usually people either take the boat or drive there themselves. Besides Saint Tropez (spent a night there), all of my other trips were day trips. I didn’t go to Marseille, but from what I’ve looked at you will probably need more than a day there plus it is a bit farther. However, you can definitely go there by public transportation, ideally the SNCF train.
Anyway, since this is a coastal area, the seafood here is amazing… actually not all seafood but the white fish in this area is spectacular! I have no words to describe it… any restaurant you go to you have to get white fish even if you love eating beef or chicken or pork.
Unlike Paris, where some of the streets are more dirty or ghetto or filthy, the streets of Cote D’Azur, the impression that they give you, is that the area is very clean, very chill, very relaxed. Honestly, it felt like being in like Los Angeles enjoying the sunshine, having a nice stroll, and eating on some ice cream.
Will talk about accommodations and transportations, then I’ll break into sections based on locations.
To be honest, I would love to have kept this place a secret, but it wouldn’t be fair to all of the people reading my blog right now, would it? I love this accommodation! It was cozy, close enough to the Nice Ville station, close enough to Promenade des Anglais, her neighbors were very nice and friendly, the place was cozy, it offered two outdoor terraces one enclosed one not, two bedrooms one bathroom one open kitchen one living room. It felt like… a place where musicians and artists would stay here to come back to work while getting inspiration from the French Riviera. Great value as well! Oh, and the host was exceptionally nice.
Hotel de la Ponche in Saint Tropez
I tried looking first for any airbnb places around Saint Tropez, but they are either all terribly expensive or just out of the way. Then I tried looking for hotels in agoda and didn’t really find suitable ones. Somehow I just went on maps.google.com and found some hotels listed on the side and found this one… which was a five star hotel. But it’s old! I had a very small room. But fine, it’s classy, like classy old, elegant, like old days in a palace kind of feel. The bathroom was nice. But it’s just small! And there’s really nothing… there’s a laundry room. And it’s kind of difficult to drive there… like you have to drive on the pedestrian pathways to get there as well. But! It’s clean, it does the job, so it’s all good. Plus the hotel restaurant is amazing! By the way, they name their rooms based on the illustrious occupants that have stayed here. Actually go to their website, they have an interesting history.
Another cool hotel which I got the pamphlet, Hotel Epi Plage (website), located in Saint Tropez.
So being based in Nice, I usually took the trains from Nice Ville station and get to the places nearby. Except for Saint Tropez, you can either drive there or take the boat. For the Nice Ville station, you can take the SNCF trains. The trains will show their final destinations, but there are some screens that show you the stops that they stop along the way. If anything, just go to the information center and ask them… but remember you won’t be able to buy tickets from the info center! Also, the lines are LONG, especially starting after 10am until like 2pm, since people are going to different places as well. And the machines are complicated to use. Important note: please make sure you have lots and lots and lots of coins! They don’t accept bills. And sometimes there is a lag with the machine so be patient with it. Also, it’s only in French! Something like simple is one way and retour is return. The trains are PACKED during rush hours as well, like jam packed ‘you can feel the person standing next to you sweat’ packed. Every tourist who tries to use this machine has had a frustrating experience with these machines… especially if you lined up for 30 mins only to realize that you don’t have enough coins and you can’t use your credit card.
How lucky I was!
I was quite tired, as I had just finished partying at Peacock Society and slept little then I took the train from Gare Lyon… and it was a 6 hour train as it wasn’t direct and stopped by places out of the way like Marseilles, Toulon, then went back up to Cannes, and Antibes, and some other stations then Nice, or Nice Ville as my station was called.
Stepping out of Nice, you immediately feel the difference between the two cities. Whereas Paris was moody and gray and dirty, Nice was sunshine and clean and safe (being ironic as you’ll see later). Nice is a great base for anywhere you go in French Riviera as it’s close to Monaco, Cannes, Antibes, anywhere basically.
So, the streets are filled with beautiful people. There are shops here, there, and everywhere. And so I walked around the Nice Center then proceeded along the Promenade des Anglais. Of course, searching what to do, I went to go up the Castle Hill as well.
Went back down, and near Promenade des Anglais there are many different restaurants for you to try. Also there is like this small market that sells jewelry and other accessories and small items, highly recommend you check it out.
OK remember how I said I was lucky earlier? On the day of my arrival to Nice was the same day that the Bastille attack happened. July 14, 2016. For those who don’t know, a truck driver killed 84 victims, people who were celebrating on the Promenade des Anglais. I had just finished dinner around there an hour before the event happened. Had I not been exhausted from the 6 hour train ride along with the white wine I was drinking, I might have been out celebrating with the fireworks as well. I only knew how lucky I was the next morning when everyone was asking me if I was OK. RIP to all the victims.
Another restaurant which I have the business card but I don’t think I went: L’atelier in Nice on 13, rue Massena 06000 Nice. Telephone number is 04 93796288. Also another one is L’escale Galeya, 28 Cours Saleya. Tel no. is 04 93808295
Yachts, yachts, yachts everywhere! Sharing the same blue sky as Nice, Monaco is a paradise. Maybe it’s all the hype built around it, but stepping out of the station you immediately sense the feeling you’re surrounded by lots and lots of wealth. I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but that’s the way I felt. It’s great, it’s beautiful.
Some random business card I got, Société Natuqieu de Monaco: 1 Quai Louis II, 98 000 Monaco, Restaurant +377 93 505130.
Went really late in the afternoon. Met up with someone for dinner and drinks and walk around the city. Actually Cannes is nice, but there’s really nothing much to do except restaurants, bars, and shopping. It doesn’t feel any historical or cultural significance, it does feel like events happen here (like the Cannes Film Festival) and enjoy a bit but that’s it, so there wasn’t anything too special I thought coming here. At night, I met up with another friend and partied at Gotha Club.
Antibes and Juan Les Pins
Antibes is unique in that it retains a sort of a historical, yet somewhat mystical charm about it. You see behind the scenes of the French working labor jobs, such as making glass and drawing postcards. It doesn’t feel modern at all. It feels like a small quiet village, yet what lies deep inside it is another Musee Picasso.
After Musee Picasso, I wanted to explore more, so I decided, why not walk to Juan Les Pins? Ah… I was so exhausted after the walk under the disguised friendly but harmful sun rays of the sun. But it was still a good walk, managed to get some good pictures along the way. Juan Les Pins is more famous for the beach and bars.
I also ate at a restaurant called La Brasserie de L’Ilette. 24, Bd Maréchal Leclerc 06600 Antibes, Juan les Pins. Phone: +33(0)4 93630000
Eze… to be honest.. was kinda. Let’s say it was cool for 15 minutes then you’re done with it. I finished walking around the little town / kind of like a sloped village with many alleyways in less than 3 hours. You can buy perfume here, and French perfume is famous, but it’s not the most famous place to buy it from (Grasse is, I didn’t go), but OK you can go here to buy perfume and fragrances.
Additionally, you can come here for all the small boutique shops, like for accessories, art, clothes, ice cream, gelato… Also if you take the subway, you get off at Eze but you’re actually at the beach so you actually have to take the bus (comes like one bus per hour what, and make sure you know when to leave Eze to go back to subway last bus is before like 6pm or something) to get to the little village. You can go to www.lignesdazur.com for more information on buses.
At the top is Le Jardin exotique d’Eze, where you pay 6 Euros or something to look at cactuses and what not for less than 30 minutes. So this is more like a morning trip that you can easily finish.
Parfumerie Galinard. Only in Eze and Cannes. You can get 100% perfume but expensive and may be too strong. www.galimard.com
Another shop in the Eze Village that I went to was called Creations de Provence on 8 Rue de La Paix.
Driving to Saint Tropez from Nice was… quite difficult. Got a big car I wasn’t used to, drove on the right which I haven’t done for a while, there were so many closed streets and street signs were confusing, and there was a turn where I was supposed to turn right then there was this freaking bus that got into an accident and I wanted to take his left, but apparently that side of the bus blocked the entire path and I had to back out when there were many cars behind me then I just barely managed to squeeze through the tight space between the bus and the barrier it was like perfectly enough for me to get through. Then the GPS kept pointing me at wrong directions etc. Oh and make sure you turn off the way points… I had a feeling that I wasn’t going somewhere right and apparently the guy who had the car previously before me probably made a way point somewhere in Antibes so I wasted 30 minutes trying to get to this way point then got back on the road. After when you are near Saint Tropez the traffic is terrible. Then getting to my hotel was difficult as you had to drive on the pedestrian roads so there were people and the restaurants you know in France they like to put the tables and seats outdoor so I had to avoid this and again the directions from the GPS was confusing. It was frustrating and stressful, OK, but somehow I managed to have nothing happen!
Saint Tropez has so many swim suit shops. Perfect place to buy your swimming shorts or bikini. Also beautiful people, you see many old rich dudes with models in whatever expensive car brand you can name. Or just beautiful people walking around in general. Again boats parked everywhere. It’s very dry here.
While the hotel was a 5 star hotel, their restaurant was actually ranked quite considerably and so I decided to eat back at my hotel restaurant. I was quite astonished coming back. There was a huge black car with black tainted windows. I knew somebody important had to be here. Rested in my room a little bit as I was so tired. Then went back out, saw body guards on each side of the restaurant, sat down on my table. People in the front were taking photos and videos, then I turned around and guess who I saw!
Got this pamphlet for ‘Villa & Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild’ in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.
So that pretty much wraps up my first time going to the French Riviera. Definitely coming back here again. Hopefully can drive a boat and cruise around next time. Which of these places is your favorite?
Last Updated: Aug 21., 2016