Perhaps I have harped on a little too much about the benefits of travelling, but now, freshly back from two weeks in the south of France, I couldn’t be more certain that the harping on has to continue. I admit though that travelling these days is not what it once was, and if you fly economy, it’s even worse. How in their right minds they think that a grown human being can sit for 7 hours in a seat the size of a kindergartner’s chair is beyond me. Add to that the barely edible space food, the crowds, the screaming children, the delays… you’d need a vacation just after all that. But eventually you arrive (maybe with your luggage, maybe not – the latter being my case) to your destination.
The destination for me this time was the glorious sea-side city of Nice, France. I’d visited Nice two years ago but very briefly, during a quick trip through the Cote d’Azur. This time, I had a full two weeks to explore and enjoy the region. Nice is tucked away into the beautiful Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) in the Alpes-Maritimes area of France. What this amounts to then is a sparkling bay lined with palm trees and beaches, with a lush mountain range forming the backdrop. Nice itself is a pretty, picturesque port town with pastel-coloured buildings, complete with ornate French balconies and gardens full of colourful oleander bushes. The old medieval part of the city is a tangled array of narrow streets that lead to a sea-side market of fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish. The whole town is perfect for aimless, ambling walks with a basket of cheese, baguette, and wine in hand.
The famous nearby towns of Cannes, Monaco, Monte Carlo, etc. are all a short train or bus ride away. This time, I chose the bus, which was incredibly cheap. A one-way ticket is 1 euro, no matter how far you go in the Cote d’Azur area. The entire coastline is dotted with small towns and villages, each harbouring beautiful beaches and café-lined streets. The mountains are home to olive tree groves and quaint medieval villages overlooking stunning valleys. The region is known for its mild climate, which allows it to cultivate a variety of flowers, including the May Rose (used in Chanel No. 5) and the jasmine flower. Over 100 perfumeries are located in that region, particularly around the town of Grasse. For the perfume lovers, you can take a free tour of the factories to see how perfume is made from start to finish, and get a personalized consultation on which type of perfume suits you best. One of the perfumeries (Molinard) even offers you the unique opportunity to create your own fragrance. Now that’s a souvenir!
For me, this was a fantastic trip, and I wish I could have stayed longer than two weeks. Here are a couple of tips for when you decide to take a trip to the Cote d’Azur:
- Try going in the off-season – preferably in the spring or late summer (late August or September). The weather will be as beautiful as ever, but you will be able to avoid the hordes of tourists.
- Choose to take an extended stay (minimum two weeks). This will allow you to
explore the region at a much more relaxed pace.
- Rent a room with a kitchen for your stay. These are available from “apart-hotels” or from individuals renting out their apartments. Having a kitchen will significantly reduce the costs during your stay.
- Try to time your vacation around a regional festival. There are a number of festivals in the region throughout the year that are worth catching.
- Don’t try to cram too much into your vacation. It will be tempting to take a trip every day out to a different town/village, but you will likely end up more tired than when you came!
- Rent a car at your own risk. Driving in the south of France is as white-knuckled as in Italy, and parking is impossible. With a combination of bus or train, you can get to pretty much anywhere in the region for much cheaper and with much less hassle.
Hope you found this helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will answer them as best I can!