We just returned from 12 days on the beautiful French Riviera where Provence meets a mountainous coast with a lot of Italian influence thrown in. The trip could not have been better. If you ever want to give it a try, here’s how we did it.
We based our trip in an apartment in charming Villefranche sur Mer (view from our balcony below) which was a 20-minute drive to Nice and many surrounding towns. We loved it so much because of the fantastic view, the small town atmosphere, and the fact that each night we walked to dinner, sat at a sidewalk table at one of the small restaurants, and walked back home.
The first day we took a tour of three vineyards in Provence with Azur Wine Tours. Douby, our guide is a winemaker who took us to three unique wineries. We leaned so much about food and wine pairings and had lunch at Chateau de Sainte-Martin. Everything was off the beaten track and simply gorgeous.
The next day we toured the gardens of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and took in all of the gorgeous views during our hike of Cap Ferrat’s rocky and dramatic coastline. Lunch was in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat where Ken happily found a dark beer….hard to come by in the land of delicious wine.
We then drove to La Turbie, home of the gigantic Trophee d’Auguste, built by the Romans in 6 BC as a tribute to Emperor Augustus. I still am in awe of anything built 6 years before Christ’s birth.
Our next day trip was to the beautiful villages of St. Paul de Vence and Vence. St. Paul is a charming hill town filled with art galleries, but we especially were drawn to the old town section of Vence with its squares with cafes ideal for the usual two-hour lunch. Such a lovely place to watch the world go by. Our mission here was to see Mark Chagall’s mosaic in the La Cathedrale Notre-Dame de la Nativite in Vence. We had it all to ourselves and could quietly admire it. We also saw the Matisse chapel.
Our next day trip was to Eze, a medieval hill town with an exotic garden and outstanding views. We could actually hear the roar of the Formula 1 cars racing below in the Monaco Grand Prix. Lunch and olive oil tastings were fun at the mountaintop deli.
For all of our hill town visits we still hadn’t been to Nice. We spent a day there visiting the Chagall museum and Old Town. The next day had been unscheduled but we quickly found ways to fill it. Ken played golf at the Monte Carlo Golf Club and I returned to Nice to visit to the Cimenez Monastery, walk the Promenade des Anglais and do the requisite meandering, i.e. shopping. Nice is the second largest city in France, but the old town section is a lovely small town within a big city.
On our last day we took a road trip to Menton, the last French town before you cross into Italy as is evidenced by my Aperol spritz!
Such a full, yet completely relaxing trip. Thanks for sharing it with us!
An update on our restaurants:
L’Aparte – we ate here twice and loved their cute dog, Charlie
Les Garcons, 18 Rue du Poilu
La Tavola, 11 Rue du Poilu
La Grignotiere, 3 Rue du Poilu
In Vieux Nice:
L’Ecurie, 4 Rue de Marche