I have wanted to visit the French Riviera for a long time and seeing as it is only a short journey from the UK, it was an easy place to tick off my list.
That plane journey there was the cheapest part of my trip.
The South of France is expensive. A relatively small piece of coastline sitting prettily on the Mediterranean, it starts at Marseille and ends at the Italian border. This strip of sparkly sea and palm trees was a popular nineteenth century playground for the wealthy British and Russians, looking for some good weather and good wine. Not a lot has changed.
We landed in Nice and immediately found the Promenade des Anglais (‘the Walkway of the English’), which stretches up and down the beach. Predictably, there was just a lot of English people walking up and down it. We decided to try a bit harder and reached the old town in Nice, which is beautiful. Pastel coloured buildings, big tall palm trees and lots of cafes, there are plenty of small squares to visit. I’d definitely recommend visiting the Place Rosesetti, which is in the centre of the old town, and Place Garibaldi.
After an afternoon there we headed out to our first hotel in Mougins, a village set back from the coastline. I’ve already reviewed this hotel, therefore I’ll quickly mention the area.
I would definitely recommend visiting the smaller villages that are scattered across the pine forests of the Cote d’Azur. There are so many in this region that we couldn’t visit them all, but they definitely have some benefits over places such as Cannes. One village definitely worth visiting is Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a medieval town set on a rocky cliff top. Apparently it was a popular place for French actors to waft around during the 60’s and today there are still many artists’ galleries present. There are paintings and sculptures everywhere, which gave the place a very cool and vibrant feel.
Later on in the week we moved to the other side of the coastline, near Monaco. I wasn’t hugely enamoured by Monaco: fast cars and big yachts, all crammed into a little horseshoe bay. My day began by changing into my ‘smart’ clothes behind our car in a hot multi-storey car park and ended with my boyfriend having to ‘go native’ and pee behind a bush in the park. Apparently wealthy people don’t need public toilets. Needless to say, I’m not sure we were quite at home there.
Instead, I would recommend heading past Monaco and crossing into Italy. There are so many gorgeous towns across this coastline and we stopped at San Remo. I imagine in its heyday, San Remo was a little more glitzy. Now older, it has the sense of a town that is a little aged and worn. However, if you climb up the hilly roads to the very top, it has some beautiful views across the coast.
Our week in the French Riviera cost nearly the same as our trip to Jamaica last year. Is it worth it? Probably. The coastline is beautiful, the weather is amazing and the big grand yellow buildings that grace nearly every town, make the Cote d’Azur everything you think it’ll be: elegant, sophisticated and downright lovely.