Our time in Nice has come to an end

Most of our outdoor activities have involved walks, hikes, and biking. We’ve walked most of the coastal “sentier” trails along the Cote d’Azure, which I covered here and here and here. Once we had done those we started hiking up into the hills, which I covered here and here and here. When we were done with that we started biking, first along the coast and then up into the hills, which I covered here and here and here and here . And there are just so many great hilltop villages to visit, such as St. Paul de Vence, Gourdon, Eze, St. Agnes and so many more. In the winter (when we were in Europe) we went skiing in Auron or Valberg.  Although we’ve done a lot, we’ve really just barely touched upon all that there is to do in and around Nice.

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Cruising the Esterel Coastline

We drove down from Nice to Frejus last week and rented a small runabout to cruise westward towards Cannes, while visiting the incredible L’Esteral coastline along the way. This massive volcanic red rock mountain-line juts out of the coastline between Frejust and Cannes, creating numerous small coves to explore by boat. L’Esteral is a national park, well protected with numerous hiking trails on land.

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Paddle Boarding to Monaco

It was the 21st of November but the weather was still warm and beautiful, so we loaded up a friend’s car and headed for Cap D’Ail to do some paddling. We parked at the train station, which is right beside the coastal “sentier” walk into Monaco. This is one of our favorite walks in the area. I blew up the paddle board and started towards Monaco while Flo followed along by the coastal path.

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Sunday in St. Agnes, France

For the past three weekends we’ve been visiting difference towns close to Nice but that are up in the mountains. This weekend we headed northeast and visited three towns; Peillon, Peille, St. Agnes and nearly made it to Gorbio. The drive is amazing, with great view points, a lot of hair-pin turns as you climb and some very narrow roads hanging, barely it seems, from the mountainside. You certainly need to keep your eye on the road! These towns are a little off the beaten path of the tourism circuit, like St. Paul de Vence or Eze, so there are less people around and tens to be less “Disneylandyish” – meaning people still live and work there like they have for hundreds of years.

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Sunday walk to Monaco

I hadn’t been to Monaco in over 30 years, so I didn’t have many memories of it, other than this feeling that it was only for the wealthy and perhaps a bit pretentious. Well, we actually very much enjoyed Monaco. Visiting during low season (November)  is nice, but I’m sure the streets are just packed during the summer months. Although Monaco is very much over-built with high-rise condominium projects surrounding it, the downtown area has some wonderful architecture, making up for it. And on the “the Rock” where the palace is situated and the old part of Monaco, it is extremely pleasant, especially the garden areas and the views that follow along the cliffs looking out over the Med.

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Sunday drive to Saint Paul

We spent the past Sunday exploring the numerous small towns that are nestled in the hills behind Nice and Antibes. These hilltops towns, in many cases medieval, have been wonderfully restored, each with their unique characteristics and charm as they look out over the Mediterranean Sea. A number are part of affiliations such as the “Most Beautiful Villages of France”, and rightly deserve it. Each of these towns do not take long to walk, but they also offer many interesting shops, galleries and exhibits you should take time to explore. They are often not far from one another, so you can visit and explore a number of them in a day.

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Nice, France

Nice’s famous shoreline and promenade

One of our favorite places in Frances, although we have many. This place has been on the top of our list when we consider where we’d like to have a home in France later in life. Weather is quite pleasant most of the time, its a nice size, right on the Mediterranean and very close to Italy. Excellent transportation and easy to get around, even on foot. All bus rides cost 1 euro, so you can ride from Nice to Menton or Monaco, for just one euro. Same for the tram, just a euro. Trains run along the coast and into Italy and also are very reasonable. You really don’t need (or want) a car long the coast, take the bus or train. Save the car for exploring some of the villages behind Nice, such as St. Paul de Vence or St. Agnes.

Things To Do in Nice

  • Promenade Anglais WalkA no brainer and a great casual walk on the promenade that runs the length of Nice from the airport to Vieux Nice. You can catch a bus back or make the long walk back. It’s nearly a 5 km walk.
  • Swim at the beach. There are public areas but you may want to make a day of it and try out one of the private clubs. They provide the lounge chairs, umbrella, drink service and lunch is available.
  • Walk up the hill to the Parc du Chateau – great views! There are stairs at the end of the Promenade as the highway makes its way around the cliffside and to the port, by the Hotel Suisse. Number of viewpoints on the way up, looking back at Nice and the Promenade, and also to the east towards the port. Good place for a picnic as well.
  • Visit the Fort du Mont Alban. There’s a town bus that will take you there. Can’t remember the number but its marked on the map, or ask a driver. Good views from up here as well. When you head back down the road, on your left will be a municipal park that has a path that zig-zags down the hillside (you can see it on Google Maps). Fun trail to take that leads you to the other side of the hill and into Villefranche-sur-Mer. Bring your bathing suit with you and enjoy the beach here. To get back you just have to walk up a bit to the train station and take it back to Nice.
  • Mont Boron Trail: This takes you to the top of Mont Boron, walk through the treed park, and then back down, with some nice view points and nice home/apartment buildings to view. Walk along the port towards where the ferries load. On the left you’ll see the small Nice Yacht Club with stairs beside it. Take these up to Bd. Stalingrad, cross the street and continue on the small path that leads up to Bd. Winston Churchill. Follow it until you see where it meets Montée Saint Aignon, there’s a path to take on the left. Follow it up, pass across Bd. Carnot, continue on the path to your left. Continue following it straight up the hill, all the way to you reach the Mont Boron bus  stop on top. Here you’ll also see a path leading down. To return, follow it to a viewpoint looking back at Nice. Across the road is another viewpoint and a trail to follow. Follow it until you find a trail branching off to the right. Take this until it meets up with rue Forestiere. Follow it down, cross Bd. Carnot (again) and the path continues on the other side of the road. Follow it right down to Bd. Frank Pillate and follow it back to where you began. Takes about an hour and just over two miles long.
  • Nice Old Town Market at Cours Selaya. Wonderful market open in the mornings, which becomes restaurant space in the evenings
  • Old Town. Plenty of shops and restaurants and wonderfully restored buildings reached by narrow streets.
  • Nice to Villefranche Shoreline Walk: This walk begins in the port of Nice at the southerly end, where the ferries dock and leave from. You’ll see a sign for the Nice Yacht Club with a walkway next to it, take this up to Blvd. Franck Pillate. Walk south and you’ll pass the Chateau des Anglais (built back in 1856 by Englishman Robert Smith, this fairtale castle is now used for private apartments. You’ll come to a pathway on your right that leads down along the shore. Take this and enjoy a wonderful seaside promenade. Be on the lookout for a sign that directs you back up to the highway (a lot of steps, more than 250 I’m told). The trail does go a little further, but not much as it reaches the cliffs. When you reach the highway, continue south along it until you again see a sign for a path taking you back along the water. You can follow this now right into Villefranche. You can walk the highway back, take the bus (#81 or #100) or even the train.
  • Cap Ferrat Walk – Promenade des Fossettes and or Chemin de la Carriere: Take the #81 bus to Cap Ferrat and get off at the small town/port of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Follow Av. Jean Mermoz to where it intersects with Av. Claude Vignon. Across the street you’ll see a pathway the Promenade des Fossettes. Short but nice oceanside walk, that makes a circle around the point. On the way back you’ll find Paloma Beach, bring your bathing suit to cool off.

Few Favorite Restaurants

  • La Petite Syrah Small, quaint, limited menu but what they have it great, along with a wonderful wine selection (it is also a wine store). Good prices as well. 13, rue Cassini.
  • Villa d’Este Situated on rue Massena pedestrian street, doesn’t look big from the outside but is huge inside, upstairs seating as well. Excellent Italian cuisine; pizzas, pastas and seafood. Huge servings and decent prices. 6, rue Massena.