Truth be told, you really can’t go wrong when visiting the French Riviera. From Marseille, Cassis and Cote d’Azur to Nice, Eze and Monaco, these colorful little picturesque towns do not disappoint. With weekends open to travels, I set off to Nice this past weekend for a beach escape from the busy lifestyle in Montpellier. Rather than a huge summary of my step by step intineary, I’m sharing with you a breakdown of sights, restaurants, travel tips and what I wore. Enjoy!
Getting to Nice
With train lines connecting cities all over Europe, getting to Nice from Montpellier was a breeze. I traveled with SNCF as it was super easy to book my tickets and travel with their mobile app (voyages-sncf) which kept track of my tickets, journey info. and notified me of delays, platform numbers, and other updates. The trains vary from old to new and I was lucky to be able to experience both to give you an idea as to what to expect. The first train looked sleek and new (on the inside). I rode second class, but felt as though I was in first. The seats were large and comfortable with plenty of leg room – a major plus for those of us who are quite tall! Another bonus, was this train was equipted with outlets in each cabin, allowing me to keep my electronics fully charged (and myself, completely entertained). However, the second train was much older and seemed a little dirty compared to the first, yet it was still spacious and comfortable but lacked outlets as well. TRAVEL TIP: When booking with SNCF, you have several options, such as choosing your seat (window/aisle/ facing direction of travel) and I HIGHLY suggest getting a window seat if at all possible. While the trains do have AC, it is only felt if you are in a window seat because the air comes through a little vent in the window ledge. If you are in the aisle seat, expect a rather hot and sweaty ride as it very hot in the summer and the trains cannot keep up. Other than that, I highly recommend traveling with SNCF!
Being that I booked this trip SO last minute (literally on Thursday & left Friday!) I chose to stay in an Air B&B and was extremely pleased with the place I chose! It looked exactly like the photos shown and the host was fantastic. While transportation to and from this location wasn’t quite ideal, once we got the city bus figured out, it wasn’t so bad, however, this location would be better for those looking for a stay close to the airport as it was only a mile away. When staying in Nice, I would recommend staying no further than a mile away from the city center as it tends to be a lot of walking, and for those planning to have a few nights out, potentially dangerous with a long walk home or expensive when dropping the fee for a taxi after the public transportation has closed. As always, it’s about preference and what you like.
First of all let me say, Nice is absolutely beautiful! Having been to Nice only once before, I showed up with no itinerary for the fact that I knew I would have plenty to do. Wandering the little streets and alley ways, exploring high and low and wandering in and out of shop after shop takes up more than enough time and is so much fun. I love getting lost in the pretty streets of bright vibrant color (my camera roll went up by nearly 500+ photos!) If you’re in “Old Nice” make sure you make your way over to the open market. Here you will find hundreds of vendors selling everything from fruits, veggies, and jams to soaps, candies and the most beautiful boquets of flowers you’ve ever seen (for SUPER cheap too!). One thing I would definitely recommend doing, is taking the hike up the hill to Castle Hill where you can over look the city and get some of the most amazing views. It’s breathtaking, pictures hardly do it justice! Also, the beaches in Nice are quite unique… there is no sand! If visiting the beach, be prepared for a rather “rocky” walk if you don’t have some sturdy shoes and bring an extra thick towel if you’re wishing to sunbath as the rocks can be a little pointy here and there. Last but not least, a stop at the beautiful “Sun Fountain” is worth checking off every tourists list.
Restaurants, Cafés & Bars
Since I was in Nice for such a short time, I don’t have a huge list of places to share with you, however, during my stay I visited a few restaurants and bars that are well worth your money and time! On the first night, craving Mexican food, we ate at “Poco Loco” which was basically a small little hole in the wall place (I kid you not, we walked past it three times!) The drinks were pretty cheap (5.50 for a cocktail) and the food was a little pricey, but came in large portions served with chips and salsa beforehand. Amongst several great Mexican options, I had a taco salad and it was delicious! Saturday morning, we got up early and went to the city center right away where we had brunch at “Balthazar.” Here, we were able to chose from 5 different breakfast combos which all came with plenty to eat and served with fresh squeezed orange juice and a hot beverage of choice. Situated right along the “Promenade de Anglais” I definitely recommend a meal at Balthazar! Mid-afternoon, we stopped in at “Movida” for a drink to beat the heat. With a large selection of drinks, it was tough to chose which one! This was a fun spot with a beachy vibe as it had a unique interior and overlooked the ocean. Later on in the evening, we went out for a night full of fun. We went to one of Nice’s “best” clubs – “High Club” – where we ended up dancing the night away to electronic hits. Cover was only 10 euros and is well worth it. Sunday morning, we missed breakfast and were craving a good old american fare meal so (as much as I hate to admit) we ate at the “Hard Rock Cafe.” But hey, no shame, because it was still great. Sometimes you gotta satisfy that craving, and back in Montpellier where it is less touristy, it’s not as easy!
When using public transportation in France be cautious and always, I repeat, ALWAYS stamp your ticket. Every public bus, tram, and station has officers checking tickets to make sure they are valid and not being used for more than the allocated number of voyages. Don’t make the same mistake we did… Having forgotten to stamp our ticket, we were escorted off the bus by an officer and forced to pay a 40 euro fine for not stamping our ticket. It is absolutely ridiculous, but I’m serious when I say these people have no mercy whatsoever, tourist or not. Be smart, buy your tickets and most of all, STAMP them! As for taxi’s, avoid them at all cost when possible. Since Nice is so touristy, taxi fares are extremely high and not worth your money when the public system is quite convenient and sometimes, you’re even better off walking.
What I Wore
I’ve had so many questions about my bathing suits from Nice! And you’ll never believe me when i say I spent less than 15 euros for each set – yes please! I found both the tie dye bikini and white one piece from “Primark” while I was in London. This store is really hit or miss but for the price, I found that these suits are surprisingly great quality and very comfortable. The white dress you see in nearly ALL of these pictures is from “Mango”. Accessories (shoes + travel bag) were bought at Old Navy. Lastly, these cute little specks I found at a street vendor while shopping the streets in Nice – you never know what you’re going to find!
I will admit, the theme of this trip became “trial and error” as we worked our way through the in’s and out’s of traveling on the fly, but needless to say, we had such a great time and I’m already wishing I was back on the beach in Nice!