|Sunset in Monte Carlo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
By Christine Brookes
Monaco and Eze are great day trip destinations from Nice. Some of the highlights here are the changing of the guard at the Monte Carlo palace, a look at the famous Formula One Grand Prix race course, and a tour of an Eze perfumery. The drive to Eze from Nice is very pretty, as it follows the Mediterranean coast. En route, a pit stop to admire the panoramic views of Nice from Mount Boron is recommended. Eze is quite high above sea level, lending it brilliant views over the surrounding landscapes. There are some very interesting craft shops here too. Once you continue on, you are leaving French territory and entering Monaco. While wandering around the fascinating Old Town of Monte Carlo, you must visit the palace, cathedral and Cousteau Oceanographic Museum. Casino Square is the place for designer boutiques. Admire the amazing gardens and incredibly luxurious yachts moored in the harbour. On the return journey back to Nice, follow the breathtaking Lower Corniche coast road that links it to Monaco.
The Provence Countryside is a very easy and accessible excursion from Nice. Your first port of call is Saint Paul de Vence, France's second most visited village and favourite place of Impressionist painters. This is a gorgeous place, criss-crossed by cobblestone streets and high end art galleries. Continue on to Tourrettes/Loup for photos of the amazing countryside before continuing on to the Loup Gorges and the village Gourdon dating from the Middle Ages, where you can look out over the mountains, valleys and Mediterranean Sea. A specialty of this area are the sweets which smell of flowers; sampling is a necessity. In Grasse, heart of the global perfume industry, you can take a tour of a perfumery. The Old Town is also quite fascinating.
The numerous towns and villages of the French Riviera are well worth visiting while in Nice, as it is here that you really get a feel for this part of France. While driving along the road that snakes along the Mediterranean coast, try to pick out the tiny white yachts blinking in the endless turquoise blue expanse of the sea. The first stop is Cannes, where you can view the port, La Croisette Boulevard and Cannes Film Festival Palace. The high end boutiques and fabulous sandy beaches that seem to go on forever are also well worth a visit. In Antibes, wander around the Old Town and try to guess how much the mega-yachts anchored at Billionaire's Quay might have cost!
At St Tropez, soak up the sun, admire the incredibly luxurious yachts, wander around the designer shops, and watch out for celebrities over coffee from one of the many terrace cafes. Once you escape the motorway that will take you here from Nice, the drive to St Tropez takes a much more scenic aspect as it snakes through the Maure Forest. Climb the steps up to the scenic village that has been inhabited since the Middle Ages. Take a walk around the Annonciade Museum and wander the Citadel, where you will find the naval museum. A visit to Port Grimaud, also called Little Venice, is a must as it is full of captivating bridges, houses and canals.
If you want to sample some of Italy's delights while getting in some retail therapy, then an Italian markets shopping excursion from Nice is just what you're looking for. The first delight is the journey itself, which takes you via the incredibly beautiful French and Italian Rivieras. Wander around the markets, where you will find luxury leather belts, shoes and handbags, as well as jewellery, traditional food, luggage and clothes. Stop for a bite to eat in the very quaint Ventimiglia. On your way back to Nice, you'll pass through the town of Menton. When you wander around the Old Town, you will see just why it is called the Pearl of France. While driving along the High Corniche road, stop here to take in the incredible view of Monaco.
Christine Brookes writes for various travel journals and websites including Hotel Reservations Global where Hotels in Nice can be booked from a range of Hotels in France.
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