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France

5 showstopping day trips from Nice

 

Base yourself in Nice and the whole of the fabulous French Riviera is within easy reach thanks to super speedy train links. It’s time to start planning a few day trips.

Nice is nice alright, but there’s no point being in this part of the world and not seeing all the other coastal hotspots this cool blue Côte has to offer.

There’s a super-quick train network from Nice-Ville station that gets you around quickly, comfortably and cheaply. And you’ll get sea views and a half as the trains hug the shoreline along the way...

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VILLEFRANCHE-SUR-MER

For harbour days and dinky streets

Time on train from Nice: 10 minutes

There’s an air of Amalfi Coast good looks here, with a waterfront full of colourful villas and a backdrop of brooding hills. And its tangle of steep, flower-filled streets and romantic character have been a hit with arty types for years. In fact, the Roman-style St Pierre Chapel was decorated by French poet and artist, Jean Cocteau.

Our top tip? After a refreshing swim in the deep blue-green bay or a sunny stroll along the boardwalks, refuel with a bowl of freshly-fried whitebait and a bottle of chilled rosé as you drink in the views.

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ANTIBES

For ancient walls, art and absinthe

Time on train from Nice: 20 minutes

Antibes has all the trappings of a classic French Riviera resort: a boat-filled port, palm-fringed streets, old town treasures and plenty of relaxed seafood bistros. Oh and a bunch of knockout beaches to top it all off. You’ll love this place as much as the locals.

History lovers, prepared to be wowed as you wander around the 16th-century Fort Carré. Once imprisoning Napoleon, it then turned film star in the 1980s when it was used in James Bond film Never say Never Again. Elsewhere, you could even follow Picasso’s Trail – a rocky coastal walk that takes in the scenery he was inspired by – or pop into his museum at Château Grimaldi to see his work.

Antibes is also famous for making absinthe or the “Green fairy” to all you Moulin Rouge fans. End your day with a visit to the Absinthe Museum and enjoy a taste of the super-strength tipple before you leave.

Want even more to explore? Head to Cap d'Antibes for wooded walking trails and cute picnic plots. If you’re here in July, nip over to neighbouring Juan-les-Pins for the annual jazz festival. You’ll find some pretty snazzy beaches over here too, ones that were popular with the likes of American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald back in his heyday. We love Plage de la Gallice – and pop into the Hotel Belle Rives for a martini while you’re here.

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MONACO

For super cars, super yachts and super scenery

Time on train from Nice: 25 minutes

If you fancy rubbing shoulders with the jet set, you can’t beat a place like Monaco. Step off the train and you’ll be at its famous marina in minutes – walk around and check out the names lovingly painted on the biggest yachts we bet you’ve ever seen.

Next, follow the famous F1 route uphill to Place du Casino. Treat yourself to an al fresco fizz – albeit a pretty pricey one – at Café de Paris, if only to listen to the super cars purr as they park up outside the Casino de Monte Carlo next door. But unless you’re dressed up to the nines à la James Bond, you ain’t getting in there, so check out the more casual casino around the corner if you’re after a flutter. If you’ve got the spends for a Michelin-starred meal however, Alain Ducasse’s iconic Le Louis XV restaurant is just opposite.

Life in the fast lane not your thing? Head to the other side of town for rustic bistros, a cliffside aquarium (with a rooftop terrace) and a gorgeous Japanese garden.

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CANNES

For big-name labels and beach clubs

Time on train from Nice: 40 minutes

Like most things around these parts, shopping is a trés chic affair. And Cannes is no exception. Anyone who’s anyone dahling hits Cannes’ star attraction, the seafront Promenade de la Croisette. This swanky palm-lined prom is France’s answer to Rodeo Drive and where you’ll find five-star hotels and every designer label under the sun. Think Chanel, Gucci, Longchamp, Louis Vuitton – you name it. This boulevard beauty is also where the Cannes Film Festival sets up shop every May. Towards the yacht-filled Port Vieux end, you’ll find the Palais des Festivals, aka the place where Hollywood’s finest get snapped on the red carpet during the event. It’s worth a mosey on down here to see the famous handprints in the pavement.

Further back in town and things are a little more modest. This is where to pick up Provençal produce like honey and herbs and stock up on cult beauty products from MAC and Sephora.

As for nights (and days) on the tiles, Cannes has things covered with glitzy beach clubs that double up as the hottest nightspots around. Palm Beach is the place to be seen at any time – we’re talking daybeds, posh brunch and mimosas by day and DJs, dancing al fresco and casino delights by night. But for the most glam backdrop, check yourself into the iconic Martinez hotel’s beach club.

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MENTON

For laissez-faire vibes and lemons

Time on train from Nice: 40 minutes

Oh my Menton, you are pretty as a picture. Taking the best of French and Italian style and then multiplying them by 10, this sleepy seaside village is really something in the looks department – make sure your camera’s fully charged. It’s often overlooked in favour of the more well-known resorts of the Cote d’Azur, which is great if you like that hidden-gem appeal.

Menton’s Mediterranean sunshine means it’s a big lemon producer, so expect citrus-inspired souvenirs and products on sale all over town. And when cocktail hour arrives, say hello to lemon liquor-based drinks.

It’s no surprise to find that fine dining is a given here, so treat yourself to a Michelin-starred meal at “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” regular, Mirazur. We don’t know what’s better – the cutting-edge flavour explosions or the inspired clifftop setting.

Don’t worry if you’d rather keep things low-key, there are heaps of humble brasseries to try out. Plus, this is less a celeb-frequenting clubs resort and more a few after-dinner drinks kinda place. Don’t leave without tucking into a ravioli-style barbajuan and pichade pizza-esque tart, after starting with a pastis aperitif of course.

So, ready to go day-tripping around the French Riviera? Book your flight to Nice now.

Posted: 15th Jul 2019.

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