The French Riviera has always been a bucket list item, but for some reason a rather intimidating one. Paris has been on my radar for years and because of hubby’s work more accessible. But the French Riviera was calling my name and this past trip when plans changed, we saw an opportunity and made it happen.
Especially when we did the math and realized we could travel to and from Provence and Nice with accommodations (in the off season), for less than we could stay put in Paris for a week.
Nice, France and the French Riviera is somewhere I have always wanted to go, but somewhat feared would not live up to my many exceptions. As with the rest of the trip, we took the train. This time from Provence to Nice. We travelled and arrived on a rare rainy day in Nice. The train station itself was beautiful and my favourite of the trip with the detailed glass ceiling.
Beyond The Promenade
Our hotel was within a couple blocks, and an easy walk, from the train station. Hotel 64 was delightfully new and very nice, with a beautiful room. It was on the main Avenue Jean Médecin and a 15-20 minute walk from the waterfront (Promenade d’Anglais). It was a great location and never once did I mind the walk to and from the water on this delightfully interesting street. The street car tram runs up and down Avenue Jean Médecin as well, but I always enjoyed the stroll and never felt the need to take it.
The colour of the Mediterranean Sea blew me away. Due to the overcast day it was a light turquoise colour and not quite like anything I had seen before. Definitely different than the Pacific Ocean I was used to. Each subsequent day was another fantastic hue of turquoise with the changing weather.
Castle Hill and its iconic views did not disappoint. In fact I found much more to view, see and explore on the hilltop than I expected. I thoroughly enjoyed both times we went up. And with the hilltop playground and many winding paths up and down, it is a terrific place for families and kids.
Those Famous Sights
I got such a kick walking along the deserted Promade D’Anglais on a rainy day. Then experiencing it all over again on a sunny day full of people!
In Nice we enjoyed their famous markets, beautiful fountains and iconic architecture. Plus, the incredible scenery was breathtaking.
We also made time for some terrific shopping and even had a picnic on the beach straight from the market (I was not kidding when I said we were living our best lives). Wondering to and from our hotel made for some great shopping. We found beautiful dresses for the girls, a suit for the Hubster and some lovely housewares and souvenirs.
A few things about Nice reminded me of home in subtle ways. Perhaps that it is an international city and you can hear countless languages spoken and find many different cuisines available, much like home. Or that it is right by the water and also has mountains near by. Yet of course it was vastly different as well. Needles to say I would return to Nice again and again. It seemed to offer something for everyone.
From Nice we were able to make our way to Monaco easily.
As the unique child that I was, I had vivid dreams of one day visiting Monaco. So stepping foot in Monaco was a dream come true for me.
I remember fondly gazing at pictures of the incredibly stylish Princess Grace and repeatedly watching car race scenes and James Bond movies set in hills of Monaco and Monte Carlo.
I am so glad to have made it to Monaco, as it was real bucket list item for me. However, it was not what I expected exactly. A surprising amount was under construction and being set up for the Grand Prix and impending tennis tournament the day we visited. It is very densely populated and parts almost remind me of a movie set, rather than an actual place.
Monaco-Ville vs Monte Carlo
I enjoyed the hilltop and surrounding area by the palace (Monaco-Ville and looking down on Fontvielle) more than the densely populated La Condamine and Monte Carlo parts of Monaco. Because in part by the time we walked across town to the casino it was pouring rain. Like duck and cover rain, that we were not prepared for. So we were forced to take cover under a small awning like many others while the rain poured down. Eventually we took refuge in a near by high end mall. We never went into the casino itself as it was so busy and we were soaked and didn’t feel like lining up and paying. I did however insist on getting my passport stamped.
Though Monaco in some ways didn’t live up to my lofty expectations, the novelty of it was still pretty great. I would visit again, now knowing the lay of the land (we got a little lost a few times) and what to expect. I would really like to see the Casino and attached park when not under construction and pouring rain to get the full affect.
We chose to take the city bus back to Monaco (as the train has made me a little queasy with the tunnels). The bus takes longer and was incredibly full and warm. So we stood for the entire hour back to Nice. However the sun came out and the views of all the little bays along the coast between Monaco and Nice were really something.
Time To Head Home
After Nice we made our way back to Paris by train. By this point we knew not all trains are created equal and first class tickets are the way to go and not always more expensive. Happy and full of memories and souvenirs we headed back to Paris for one final night before flying back home to our girls. To regale them with hugs, kisses, trinkets and tales of a trip of lifetime!
Need to catch up on our preceding time in Provence?! Or the week that began in Paris?!
2 thoughts on “The French Riviera”
What a dream vacation! These images are so inviting. I agree about the different hues in the Mediterranean. So different from Pacific Northwest waters.
Thank you!! I love the water, so seeing the ocean was definitely a highlight😄