You can visit a whole other country while your 35-liter backpack is still in Nice.
Believe it or not, many tourists come to Nice just because it’s a great home base for all the cities on the French Riviera. We don’t blame them. The Côte d’Azur is home to a whole cast of affordable daytrip characters. Here’s a few for you to explore:
It’s kind of cool that you can visit a whole other country while your 35-liter backpack is still in Nice. The Principality of Monaco, located a 24min. train ride (€8 round trip) away from Gare Nice Ville, hosts legendary sights, like the extravagant Monte Carlo Casino. While you’re probably not rich enough to partake in many of the glam and posh activities enjoyed by both locals and tourists, you can put on your poker face and pretend you know how to play Russian roulette and that your well-endowed significant other gifted you with a yacht docked at the pier.
Midway between Nice and Monaco lies the hidden gem of Èze. If you’re looking for an atypical (read: affordable) experience on the Côte d’Azur, make the hour-long trek up the hill from Èze Bord de Mer train station up to the “eagle’s nest” village, which boasts natural beauty and a stunning view of the sea. During your hike, you’ll pass through the town’s winding stone streets, intricate underpasses, and Provencal boutiques (which, by the way, make for good resting spots). Fun fact: Walt Disney and Nietzsche frequented Èze for its enchanting character. If both of them could love the same place, our bet is that you’ll enjoy it too.
Menton is the last city on the Côte d’Azur before the Italian border. While easily missed, it would be a crime to skip because of its Belle Èpoque architecture, warm climate, and pristine old port surrounded by a beautiful array of pastel-colored buildings. In addition to the port, be sure to check out the Saint-Michel Archange, a baroque basilica, and the Jean Cocteau Museum next to the covered market. Menton has much in store for culture vultures abound.
You could spend a few days in Cannes, but it could cost you a fortune. Spending a day, however, is ten times more manageable. Home to the Festival de Cannes, the famous film festival, Cannes is an epicenter of the ritz of the Côte d’Azur with its expensive couture shops and restaurants. Bring sunglasses not for the ever-present UV rays, but for the glizy Ferraris, Lambos, and Porsches carrying diamond-clad celebrities and modern-day aristocrats en route to their respective yachts. Cheers to how the other half lives.
5. Antibes and Juan-les-Pins
Located along the Nice-Cannes line, Antibes is a lovely destination for those who prefer sandy beaches to the pebbly beaches of Nice. There are more than a dozen public beaches on the Cap d’Antibes peninsula and Juan-les-Pins area for relaxing days in the sun. Apart from the beaches, walking through Antibes’ Old Town is a treat, with its bustling market, elegant dining options, and historical charm.
Kristine traded her editor’s desk at Let’s Go HQ for an even more unglamorous life: a pack stuffed to the brim with extra underwear, much-needed shower
shoes for grimy hostel bathrooms, and ridiculously rationed quantities of body lotion and hair product to tame the frizz (her efforts, however valiant, proved unsuccessful). Once packed, she took her set of extra fine pens and trusty Moleskine to the south of France, where she sampled bouchons in Lyon, strolled along le promenade in Nice, and swirled countless glasses of wine in Bordeaux. When Kristine isn’t consuming ungodly amounts of beurre, pain, et vin, she enjoys writing for the News Board of e Harvard Crimson, drinking English Breakfast tea, and indulging her terrifyingly intense addiction to television.