I am getting second breath when I start thinking about the ocean. I was probably a dolphin in a past life, sailing somewhere in the Caribbean. Today I will share ideas for a trip to Nice, Cannes, Monaco in the South of France and the French Alps. You can fly directly to Nice or to Italy, spend some time in Milan, and from Milano Centrale railway station you will be in Nice in 5 hours. Through the windows you will enjoy lovely views of the coastline, so the time will fly by. The price for a train ticket starts at 24 €.
If you plan to travel in France by car, be aware that the tolls on the motorways from Nice to Monaco are located at short distances. Therefore, you will spend a lot. The fee varies from 2 to 14 €. If you are an active and sporty person you will easily reach Nice, Cannes and Monaco by local public transport. You will need a car only if you travel to the Alpes, Gorges du Verdon Canyon or if you decide to explore the most beautiful french bays and wild beaches while driving along the coast from Nice to Marseille. Soon, I will tell you everything.
Nice is the second largest city near the Mediterranean, located at the foot of the Alps. After flying to the airport, located 7 km from the center of Nice, you will arrive in Nice by bus No. 98, No. 99 – price is 6 Eur, or by train in 90 minutes for 1.5 Eur.
If you want to live close to the sea, consider living near the Promenade des Anglais, which stretches over 7 km from Nice Airport to Colline du Chateau castle. All the most elegant restaurants and hotels of Nice are located on this street. It is dedicated to the Englishman’s. Blue Coast resorts flourished during the 18th century thanks to them. Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom, visited this place at the end of the 19th century. Look around and stay in an Art Deco-style hotel Palais de la Méditerranée. Be sure to visit Villa Masséna, which is home to a museum of art and history located inside and a wonderful garden in the courtyard.
On the hill, at the end of the Promenade des Anglais, stands a castle from which you can enjoy an impressive panorama of the city. When you get to the top, you get panoramic views of the Baie des Anges, Old Town, Nice’s boardwalk and the diverse and vibrant architecture of the city. Nice’s colorful Vieille Ville – Old Town, is a delightful maze of narrow streets full of lively restaurants, galleries, and shops. Nice has museums of archeology, nature and navigation. The coast is known for its chic eclectic architecture. The churches and palaces in the city are built in the Baroque style.
At Cours Saleya you will find a local traditional open-air market. Under the colorful striped tents, the vendors sell fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables and local artisan’s food. The market takes place every day except Mondays. Spend some time strolling along the near-mile Promenade du Paillon, the city’s public park and botanical garden that links to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art – it’s worth the visit. The beaches in Nice and Monaco are not very attractive, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find postcard-worthy sandy beaches on the Blue Coast. Click here to read more about Beaches in the South of France.
From Nice to Monaco
Nice has public transport: buses and trains, so you can easily get around the area without a car. Monaco is 30 km away from Nice. Bus No.100 will take you to Monaco in 45 minutes. Google Maps offers other options, but this route is the most beautiful. Traveling along the coast opens up a wonderful landscape. Bus leaves from stop near Nice Harbor, the ticket costs just 1.50 €.
If you take a place on the right side, opposite to the driver, you will see the Blue Coast through the windows. The bus stops at several stops in Monaco. You can get off behind the tunnel you will pass. The old town is nearby. You can also get back to Nice by Bus No.100. Bus runs every 15 minutes mostly, on weekends and public holidays every 20 minutes. You will buy a ticket from the driver. If you choose bus No 100X (Monaco Express), it will save you 10 minutes of your journey.
Trains from Nice
Trains to Monaco depart from Nice Ville station, and the trip takes about 14-22 minutes. It is possible to travel from 5:30 to 23:59, whereas the price varies from 3.9 to 9 Eur, depending on the carrier. Trains from Nice run every 16 minutes. If you drive to Monaco, the motorway toll from Nice to Monaco and from Monaco to Nice cost around 5 Eur, plus 3 hours car parking in the underground parking lot is about 4 Eur.
Visit the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, Princess Grace Roses and Exotic Botanical Gardens, Monte Carlo Casino. Take a stroll through the Old Town, Princess Grace Kelly Avenue, which is home to many famous people.
Many world-class artists perform at the Opera Monte-Carlo house (available only from September to April). The Royal Palace of Monaco can be visited several times a year (information is available on the palace site).
Stop by and explore La Condamine Harbor. The Monaco Yacht Club owns about 1,600 yachts, including the yacht of Albert II, Prince of Monaco. If you like cars, visit the Cars collection of the Prince of Monaco. Admission cost is 8 Eur. The exhibition spans 5 000 m2 and is unique in the world, bringing together around a hundred-odd different cars, spanning 1903 to 2013.
The distances in Monaco are short, but the terrain is hilly, so you will have to get it up and down. Prepare comfortable footwear. Everything is very compressed. For example population density: 116 people live in France per 1 km2 and 16410 people live in Monaco per 1 km2. Under the house there are streets, underground passages, elevators (which lift or lower to the required place free of charge).
The only public and accessible beach is Larvotto. Here you can take a dip or simply relax. After visiting this dwarf state, let’s travel further.
If you have some time left after visiting Monaco, stop in Menton. The area has over 316 days of sunshine a year, beautiful gardens, and good Italian food. It’s an ideal spot for a day trip. In the past, this town survived only because of citrus production. In February, the town goes all out with its Lemon Festival, a celebration of spring.
If you like gastronomic discoveries, head to Mirazur restaurant, chef Mauro Colagreco’s triple Michelin-starred spot that earned the number one title among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for 2019.
Nice – Antibes
It’s a coastal city on the Côte d’Azur between Cannes and Nice. Beyond the mega yachts and picture-perfect beaches, Antibes is a draw for its literary and artistic history. The enclosed mansions and dramatic villas lining the shore there’s local charm to be found, too.
Stroll around old Antibes, through the Cours Masséna, a Provençal food market, and up to the Musée Picasso, the first museum dedicated to the artist. Formerly the Château Grimaldi, the stronghold was Picasso’s home and workshop in 1946 and still remains one of the main cultural draws in the resort town.
Cannes was a small fishing village with beautiful sandy beaches located on the hill of Suquet, rising outside the harbor. The area was used as a port of call between the Lérins Islands. Today, it is one of the most luxurious places on the Blue Coast, loved by famous and wealthy people.
From Nice to Cannes train journey takes 40 min., and it is 34 km away. Upon arrival in Gare de Cannes – Cannes railway station, is a 10-minute walk to the Promenade de la Croisette. It is a magnificient promenade along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea and is about 2 km long. You can take a stroll and admire the picturesque beaches, restaurants, cafés and shops.
Gorges du Verdon river canyon
If you like nature, rent a car and visit Gorges Verdon National Regional park. Gorges du Verdon is a river canyon located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. Americans call this place the Canyon of the Europe. The Gorges du Verdon is the largest and most beautiful river gorge in Europe. It is about 25 km/15.5 mi long and up to 700 meters/0.4 mi deep.
Canyon was formed by the emerald-green Verdon River, which flows into the Lake of Sainte-Croix. Although in fact it is a dam, built in 1971 to supply the area with electricity. The dam generates 142 million kwh of electricity per year. The color of turquoise in the river is due to fluorine and microalgae in the water.
It is 150 km between Nice and Gorges du Verdon and it takes over 2.5 hours for traveling. Summers are hot and dry here. The climate is mild and the sun shines all year round. A trip with accommodation would be the most convenient. You can stay in the town of Castellane. It is 90 km away from Nice and will take about two hours to get there. The distance from the town of Castellane to the Gorges du Verdon canyon is about 40 km.
All the way to the canyon, you will drive near the cliff, with a view of the river flowing deep down. On a narrow and winding road, you will ascend high above sea level. Along the way you will enjoy breathtaking views from the observation decks. As you leave Castellano, take the D952 road towards Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, near the Verdon River.
After passing the Tusset Tunnel, stop to enjoy the views. 1 km to the town of La-Palud-sur-Verdon, turn onto the D23 road. It will take you to 23 km circle and return to the same road. You will get closer to the river and will be able to admire stunning views. Continue on the same D952 road to the town of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, which is built in a crack of a huge rock. Summer here is full of visitors flocking for pottery. It is hand-made and painted by artisans living in the town.
From Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, drive by the edge of Lake Saint-Croix, to the south by D957 road. After passing the bridge and the campsite, turn left onto the D19 road and after passing the town of Aiguines (you can visit the local castle and have lunch here), turn onto the D71 road. After passing l’Artuby Bridge, stop at the Mescla Balcony Observation Deck to admire the confluence of the Verdon and Artuby Rivers.
On the way to the town of Trigance, at the crossroads turn left onto the D90 road. Visit the Castle of Trigance. After passing the town of Trigance and the bridge over the river, turn left onto the D955 road. After passing the town of Soleil and the bridge over the river, you will return to the same D952 road leading you to your accommodation place in Castellane.
If you want to spend an active day, experience a lot of excitement on this trip, stay longer. Climb the mountains, hire the kayaks or the paddle boards and swim along the river and lake. Spend the day admiring the surrounding nature, the small caves and waterfalls.
You can fly over the Alps with a paraglider instructor. The memories from the movie Intouchables pop into in my head. Remember Philippe and Driss flying from that steep cliff in the Alps. Driss screamed out of fear and lost his shoes. It should be an amazing feeling.
If you are afraid of heights, you can observe stars with a telescope. The sky here is usually clear. I believe that if you experience at least one of the above activities, they will leave you indelible impressions for a lifetime. At the end of the article we’ve shared relevant links, so you will find the directions for entertainments in the vicinity of the Gorges du Verdon.
Lavender fields near Valensole
If you are a real dreamer and have always wanted to visit the famous French lavender fields in Provence, read on. Valensole is only 30 minutes from Gorges du Verdon. It is a small lovely town with around 3000 inhabitants. It is the right time to visit this place from mid June to Mid July, as you can witness the lavender in its full bloom. Harvesting starts in mid-July. By the middle of August, the lavender fields in the Luberon, Sault and Valensole Plateau will have been harvested.
Don’t visit until early July for a guarantee of vibrant fields. Few locations to visit: Valensole – Puimossion; Lavandes Anglevin; the road to Mas St Andrieux – sunflower fields; 10 min drive from Valensole towards “Route de Riez lavander fields.
Thank you for reading and as they say in France, “Bon Voyage”!