28 July 2014

Suitcase. Cote D'Azur, France - Travel Guide

Nestled at the south of France on the Mediterranean sea, the Cote D’Azur has long been a place I was dying to visit. What’s not to love about a region that offers you sun, sea, French culture, great food and life on one of the most sort after peninsulas in the world? The answer: nothing.

 Dining in Villefranche

Where to begin… There is so much to see along this part of the coastline so let’s start at the left and work to the right. Cannes, the home of the world famous film festival, is a tourist town that booms in summer so it’s well worth a visit – wander down the waterfront promenade and check out the famous Hotel Carlton, most of the beaches here are private clubs and there is also a big stretch of marina with some pretty impressive boats.


Along the coast a little further you will fine Juan Les Pins and Antibes; Antibes is mainly a port but Juan Les Pins has some nice little beaches that are sandy rather than stones so it’s easy on the feet. Make sure you take a drive around Cap D’Antibes and go past the Cap d’Eden Roc Hotel; this is millionaires point and there are some spectacular properties to see. Up on the hill behind Antibes is St Paul de Vence which is one of the oldest towns from medieval France.  This walled village sits high on the hill with breath-taking views across the region and has long been a favourite place to visit with the rich and famous.

The view from St Paul de Vence

The city of Nice is the next place you’ll find along the coastline and this is where I based myself. The beaches at Nice have some of the clearest water but the pebbles onshore are a real killer on the feet. There are plenty of private beach clubs in Nice and a walk along the ocean-front Promenade d’Anglais is a must; the chateau at the west end provides incredible views of the city.


Just around the headland from Nice is Villefranche which is a beautiful cliffside village that offers great swimming beaches. This town is very Mediterranean in its design and it’s a great one for a postcard picture.


Past here and inland a little you will find the hilltop village of Eze which has similarities to St Paul de Vence with its narrow cobblestoned paths and winding, picturesque alleyways. You can also visit the local perfumery here; Fragonard.


Finally you will reach Monaco, the world capital for the rich and famous. Everything here oozes money and a trip to the Monaco Casino and Hotel de Paris are must do’s to get the full impression of the wealth of this area.


If you’re going to see this region of France properly [and easily!] I would definitely recommend hiring a car. Whilst there are trains that run along the coast from Marseille in the west to Ventimiglia in the east, they are often running late. And although they can get you to several places, you are then left with the task of an awful lot of walking if you want to see each region properly. Must see places like Eze and St Paul de Vence, which are medieval villages in the hilltops, aren’t really reachable unless you have a car and taxis in this area of France are extremely expensive (way more than Paris), so I would avoid using them if you can. They are several buses that run from Nice to various places in the area and also a tram that goes round the city – but if you want my advice: get a car.


Being so close to the boarder there is plenty of great Italian cuisine in and around Nice. Think authentic restaurants with Italian speaking staff who have menus over-flowing with pizzas and pastas. The old town of Nice offers a great selection of restaurants with both a mix of French and Italian: I really enjoyed eating at La Voglia. Rue Massena also offers a large assortment of restaurants and there is a great gelati shop with very friendly Italians. If you venture to Antibes there is a fantastic steakhouse called The Golden Beef where you must order the chateaubriand. Simple sandwich shops are harder to come by in this neck of the woods so I found that for lunch it was usually necessary to sit down at a café or restaurant.

The Hotel Carlton in Cannes

This region of France simply must be on your travel wishlist. What to pack? A bikini, tanning oil, your drivers licence and a sense of adventure.

Photos by Krissie.