Late September Getaway.
I have always loved the beauty and culture of France and thought nothing could replace the romance of Paris in my heart until I recently came back from touring the French Riviera. This place was like heaven to me, the art galleries alone had kidnapped my soul let alone the beauty of the scenery.
I would happily drop everything and make it my forever home. With so many pretty places to drift away and spend hours painting, the French Riviera is an artist’s dream and it is no wonder that so many artists such as Matisse, Chagall, and Picasso spent their time here.
The majority of my trip began and ended in Nice with day trips across the coast. From the day I arrived I was hit by the warmth of the air and instantly lifted into a good mood. Escaping the brisk coldness of England is always a good plan.
I landed in the evening and took the 99 bus (Only costing €6) which took me all the way to Gare de Nice-Ville station, which has great transport links to the rest of France. It was from here I walked 5mins to my Air B’n’B apartment. The apartment was a perfect pit-stop being in a central location. It was minutes away from the Liberation Market a great spot to pick up local organic produce and the tram line which went from one end of Nice to the other.
The first few days of my trip were spent exploring Nice and all it had to offer. From walking along the Promenade Des Anglais; taking in the beauty of the french coastline to wondering around Old town, and not forgetting eating authentic food. I further explored all the many museums and art galleries Nice has to offer, and would recommend getting a 7 day pass for €20 as each museum/gallery has a €10 entry fee. The only museum which is not included in this offer is Chagall.
Nice is full of many great alfresco restaurants to enjoy authentic meals but don’t hold your breath on finding many french places as Nice has strong influences of Italian in most of its cuisine. I would however recommend a few places that I absolutely enjoyed. One was L’instant which was just around the corner from where I was staying. It may not have much choice on the menu but the food was truly delightful and big portions too so be sure to visit on a empty stomach. I would say this was one of my favorites as the atmosphere was perfect for a late evening meal sitting alfresco and the owners are just as friendly. Another place I loved was the Ark which located on the promenade although it may not be french it is however an amazing place to grab drinks and watch the sun go down over the french riviera.
Nice is full of many attractions to visit my favourite aside from the galleries would be spending time at Place Massena. An area full of bustling places to eat, a 5min walk from both the beach and shops and furthermore a beautiful park which ran adjacent to the promenade.
The french riviera doesn’t end with Nice though, going in one direction just a short bus ride away and you can find yourself in Monaco and taking either a bus or train in other direction will take you across to Cannes. I took the 100 bus (at a very cheap €1.50 each way) from the port in Nice to Monaco which took about 40mins or so. This bus takes the scenic route so be sure to grab a window seat to see the entire coast as you travel through the mini towns along the coast before reaching Monaco. I would suggest getting off at Place d’Armes as you can walk uphill to the Palace and take some great pictures as the view is amazing. From here you can work your way through Monaco and eventually end up by the famous Monte Carlo Casino and luxury shops that Monaco has to offer. Monaco is a very interesting place to visit it still has the Mediterranean vibe that runs across the south of France, yet oozes so much more class and richness then Nice. Aside from the Casino, Palace and Prince of Monaco’s car collection I would recommend visiting the Oceanographic Museum Monaco as it is not only cultural but is located in a very pretty building.
I chose not to take the bus to Cannes as it was actually easier to take the train and jump off at Antibes and then jump back on the train to visit Cannes. The journey only cost around €7 which is cheap in comparison to the amount travel costs in London. Both Antibes and Cannes are relatively small towns so can be easily visited within the same day. Antibes was fair to say the prettiest of the three it was full of such charm and character and a splendor to walk along the tiny streets taking it in its beauty. It further held the Picasso museum which unfortunately I was unable to visit as it was a Monday and closed. Once you have walked through Old town you do walk into a more modern area full of the usual shops and many bistro cafes to enjoy lunch.
After spending half the day in Antibes I jumped back on the train and arrived in Cannes which is only 10mins away. Cannes is much like Monaco and had more of a richer vibe to it.Being the location of film stars for the Cannes festival every year it is no wonder the town oozes luxury. From the many private beaches to the beautifully palm tree lined La Croisette. There was plenty to see and do whilst I shortly visited. My most memorable moment from Cannes was watching a group of locals playing bowls in the middle of the bustling square just right of the Palais des Festivals. A nostalgic past time of local culture in the midst of a modern bustling town.
My week in the French Riviera was coming to an end, and I was not looking forward to returning back to reality in London. I will miss the sunshine, luxury and culture that the French Riviera had to offer and it only reminds me of how much I love France and fall in love with it every time I visit.