Tour de France 2: Côte d’Azur
You come to French Riviera once in a lifetime if you are not one of those with a villa and a yacht enjoying summer holidays. Besides, you come to French Riviera once in a lifetime to propose a marriage. I have never thought it would happen at this time and in this area. Life has been and will be always unpredictable. French Riviera is as well.
If you would like to go to Nice from Paris, a train travel is much faster and might be less expensive than a car ride. Be aware to get your train tickets much earlier than your travel dates, though. Especially in crowded summer season time. You can purchase your TGV train tickets from this website that it`s pretty easy and clean. They charge the same fares as official TGV website. After a 5-6 hours travel, you arrive the central station of Nice.
In Nice, try to avoid hotels, hostels nearby the central station. It is not necessarily the safest area in Nice and well Nice is not the safest city in Europe. Well, other locations are also on a walking distance so I advise not to stay around the central station which we did. It was not the best accomodation experience but it was OK. As all other towns in French Riviera, Nice welcomes its visitors with its long beaches along Promenade des Anglais (Walkway of the English).
The advantage is the beaches are just near where you are walking through and anytime you can enjoy the sea throwing your towel somewhere on the pebbles. It is not comparable to Turkish or Greek Riviera with sandy beaches. What you can eat might differ in Nice, there are tens of seafood options here. But if you are crazy about mussels like me, my only suggestion is `moules marinières` that I ate almost every day during our stay.
City`s main square is Place Massena and 7 statues in the middle of the square takes your attention. These 7 statues are an art work of Spanish artist Jaume Plensa and they represent 7 continents and the dialogue of different cultures. Every night, they are lightened in different colors representing the dialogue between the continents.
Nice is definitely a 2-days sightseeing city, nothing more. Interestingly, at night you can not find a gas station, so if you would need some gas for your car, do it during the day. And city is full of traffic lights which might make you crazy while driving. Do not stay in Hotel des Flanders, not an excellent experience at all. You can rent a car from the train station, fares are pretty expensive but acceptable around 100 – 150 EUR per day. And you start your trip to Cannes that is 45 minutes far away from Nice. Do not forget that if you are using tollway, keep EUR coins with you, banknote is not accepted at the pay gate.
And Cannes. The city of the film festival. I don`t remember much about the city in fact. And this is the reason for it.
Thanks to Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman that they have sent their sincere wishes to us as well.
After Cannes, we drive to Monaco, country in a country. But on your way to Monaco, you should not skip Eze. Eze is a small village built on the edge of a hill. The village has an ancient part that was used for defensive purposes against Ottoman Suleiman the Magnificient`s attacks.
And after you pass Eze, you reach to Monaco and its richie rich Monte Carlo. It wasn`t by chance that we came across with Bruce Wills and his girlfriend on the road. What to expect in Monaco ?
Monaco made its way, bringing the multibillionaires together and making money. Good luck to the real citizens of the city. You might experience the preparations for the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix (the only pist that is inside the city), Monte Carlo Casino where millions are spent for poker (You can enter for free to play the `basic` games – just need your ID), Cafe de Paris where coffee is royal (!), yacht clubs and beautiful port, the castle on the top of Monaco.
Here are the directions if you ever try this trip to Cote d`Azur. Enjoy.