When I came to France as an exchange student, I flew into Nice and spent a year in the Cote d’Azur…not realizing how influential that would be on my life. After spending years in the yachting industry, it’s such a beautiful space with a lot of life. There are Italian influences in a lot of the architecture and food from not only being so close, but also due to the fact that some of it was part of Italy for years. It’s an easy area to get around with public transportation, but some of the best places are only accessible to boats. The best time to come is from May-June and September-October, when the weather can still be nice but you can avoid the majority of the tourists.
HOW TO GET THERE : GETTING AROUND THE COTE D’AZUR
The closest major airport will be in Nice, which does have a few flights to the USA directly, but also plenty of low cost airlines in Europe, like Eastjet and Ryanair. You can take a bus to many nearby villages, or walk to the train station / https://aeroportnicecoted039azur.site-solocal.com/
Unfortunately, there is no highspeed train from Paris to Nice or anywhere in the Cote d’Azur, so the trip will average around 6-8 hours, sometimes with a change. A train from Nice to Cannes will take around 30 minutes and will cost 5 EURO and up. You’ll find regional trains in the area to be very affordable and frequent / https://m.ter.sncf.com/sud-provence-alpes-cote-d-azur
There are so many beautiful sites, renting a car is really one of the best ways to get around. Drivers can be a bit fast and parking is sometimes tricky, but if you are wanting to get to some of the lesser known places, you’ll want one.
LA NAPOULE MANDALIEU
A bit off the beaten path, a lovely village on the sea with a unique castle to visit…which was at one point purchased by an American heiress as a memorial to her late husband. It now holds international art pieces / http://www.chateau-lanapoule.com/. Grab lunch at any of the waterfront restaurants, and maybe a beer on the swings at Dolce Farniente / https://www.facebook.com/DolceFarnienteMandelieu/
One of the best covered markets is in Cannes, is Marche Forville which is open Tuesday-Sunday. Be sure to get socca, a local bread cooked in wood fire ovens or try the seasonal fried zucchini flowers https://www.petitfute.com/v32956-cannes-06150/c650-produits-gourmands-vins/c1106-marches-halles/278452-marche-forville.html
Most provincial cuisine is rather ‘rustic’. It’s based on fresh fish, seasonal vegetables and is light and healthy. Even the local Michelin restaurants might feel less ‘refined’ than their Parisian counterparts, but that’s because they are respecting the traditional, local cuisine. If you really want to soak in those ‘Cannes’ vibes, take lunch at one of the beachfront restaurants with sun loungers on the sand for after (need to book and pay for in advance in high season).
A boat ride to one of the Cannes Islands is a must, especially during those hotter summer months if you want to get to more isolated areas. There are multiple, some with vineyards or restaurants…others just with the sound of cicadas and nature! http://www.cannes-tourism.com/en/cannes-islands.html. There are multiple ferry options from Nice, Cannes, Antibes and La Napoule. Here is one, prices are very reasonable https://www.riviera-lines.com/en/ferry-cannes-sainte-marguerite-island/
The place I first lived in France, which will always hold a special place in my heart, Antibes is one of the smaller and quieter towns in the Cote d’Azur. It has changed dramatically in the last twenty years, but still has a ton of charm. The covered morning market, sandy beaches, Picasso museum and many bars and restaurants make it a fun place to go as a couple or family / https://antibes-juanlespins.com/. Probably my favorite hotel to stay at would be here as well, since it is a quieter location than some of the larger cities at night.
PRIVATE YACHT CHARTER
If you are interested in booking a private yacht trip in the Cote d’Azur, contact ex-captain and agent, Suzanne McGhee who has been in the industry for nearly two decades / Charter Yachting in the Cote d’Azur, France – (aquitainetravelguide.com)
There is so much more I could write, from Saint Paul de Vence, to Monaco and Eze. I have helped plan many trips to this part of France, so feel free to contact me if you need help planning your trip there! firstname.lastname@example.org