Nice and Monaco are stunning, but there's a lot see in between. Anne Ditmeyer lands in Nice and works her way down the Côte d'Azur, one charming medieval village at a time.
NICE, HOW NICE
Chances are that you'll arrive in Nice — by train or by plane — on your way to Monaco. It's also a perfect getaway for a day at the beach.
The historic Hotel Negresco recently celebrated its 100th birthday. Their La Rotonde Brasserie is like being inside a 19th-century carousel, and the bathrooms through the lobby are just as memorable. But nothing is more delightful on a warm, sunny day than their signature "coup Negresco" — ice cream with raspberries. Out the front door and across the street, you're already at the pebble beach, perfect for a stroll.
For a taste of the avant-garde, swing by Chantier Sang Neuf, a former abattoir that's now an experimental art center.
THE CURVES OF CÔTE D'AZUR
Rent a car to explore the villages that dot the Mediterranean Sea. Or book the informative (and affordable) guide and driver Jean-Luc to take you for a spin in a classic automobile.
Eze is a medieval hilltop town with an ochre cathedral and stately clock tower. It's a village for tourists, full of galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and, of course, the beach.
A drive along the corniches (cliffs, aka very windy roads), and you'll arrive at Villefranche-sur-Mer. More colorful than the nearby medieval towns, this port city has a 16th-century citadel with beautiful views, gardens, and an art museum.
A bit farther along, you'll find another medieval village, Saint Paul de Vence. The main city is pedestrian-only, the streets lined with beautifully paved stones. There aremany (primarily contemporary) galleries to discover, and the views over the surrounding areas are magical.
Roquebrune Cap Martin is a picturesque village that is practically a suburb of Monaco (though it's technically in France). A visit to the 10th-century fortress reminds you of less glamorous times.