The French Riviera, Nice & Monte Carlo

Nice

Nice is a dreamy, fantastical place, surrounded by beautiful waters and beautiful people. With its labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets, crowded with cafes, boutiques, and restaurants, you’ll become quickly entranced by this European getaway. The smell of fresh “pain” (bread), spilling out of the boulangeries will overtake your senses, elaborate pastries will become a feast for your eyes, and the romantic conversations at each cafe will make you feel like you’re in a noire film. We spent most of our days soaking in the sun from the pebbled beaches, and our nights exploring new cafes, but below are a few recommendations we’d love to pass on.

Must dine

Oliviera. Impossible to go without a reservation, this small restaurant is packed to the brim each night, with the owner doing most of the work. The food is a masterpiece, and not to be missed while in Nice.

Must imbibe

Les Distilleries Idéales. Go here for a pre dinner aperitif, sit on the stools at one of the small tables outside, soak in the romantic atmosphere, and watch the people pass by.

Must visit

  • Any wine shop in the old city. You’ll be engulfed by the passion that each small wine shop owner has for their prided Provence Rosé.
  • The Chateau. This is a park at the top of the hill overlooking Nice, which you can reach by climbing up a number of zig zagging flights of steps. The view at the top is stunning, and worth the climb.
  • If you happen to be walking down the La Promenade des Anglais along the waterfront, you’ll see a two story carousel in the L’Esplanade du Paillon ou Espace. More of a novelty than a proper site to be seen, but still impressive- especially if you’re traveling with children.

Insider tip: For more information on hidden gems of Nice, check out this blog

Must visit – Beaches

  • Coco Beach. Set away from the main tourist beaches, this is a more secluded beach, preferred by many of the locals. Instead of small pebbled beaches, you’ll find large slabs of rock where you can lay out your blanket, and stone steps leading down into the crystal blue water. Pack a picnic and a nice bottle of Rose to enjoy, as it’s a bit far to reach the town.
  • Castel. We didn’t visit, but passed by it multiple times, and it looked like a great spot to spend the day. It’s set away from the other beach spots on the main strip, with an upscale atmosphere, good music and comfortable looking chairs. You can read more reviews hereInsider tip: You’ll likely need to rent the beach umbrellas and chairs, which on average will cost 30 Euro per person.

Insider tip: As a general rule, umbrella rentals at any beach location will cost 20-30 euro per person.

Must browse

  • Farmers market. Found in Old Town by the Opera House on Sundays, the vendors who set up shop sell everything from new and used books, to old maps and postcards that have been hand-written, old advertisements, and vintage trinkets.
  • Flower Market. This is a staple market in Nice, also in the Old Town neighborhood, that has been going on for decades.
  • Stroll through the various neighborhoods of Nice. Each has its own character and different things to offer.

Must Imbibe

Provence Rosé. For over 2,600 years, this region has been producing wine, and today it’s most widely known for its Rose. Make sure to ask your wine shop which label they recommend, and why, to make sure you get a bottle that’s right for you.

Must day trip

Château de Bellet. Located 20 minutes from Nice, this chateau will open your eyes to three unique grapes not known to many, found in vineyards just north of Nice; braquet, folle noire and rolle. You can contact them in advance to arrange a tasting and tour of the vineyards, wine cellar, and chapel which lies within its grounds.

Must honor

We can’t go without mentioning the recent nightmarish act that terrorized the city back in July, 2016. It will take years for Nice heal from the wound it now has on its heart, but they are resilient people and have bounced back. Though, you will find makeshift memorials that have taken over the beachside area, and across the street from where the tragedy took place, where you can pay your respects.

Monaco

Monaco, the world’s second smallest country next to the Vatican, is a playground for the world’s wealthiest people. Take in the spectacle of elite cars driving around the circle of Casino de Monte-Carlo or splurge for a round or two of blackjack in the iconic casino. Other tips for your luxurious night out below.

Must dine

  • L’Horizon. Go for a glass of champaign at sunset, or simply dinner. The restaurant is set atop the Fairmont Hotel with serene views overlooking the cliffside and the the expanse of the Medetteranian below. As you gaze out at the world’s most luxurious yachts, enjoy the grilled octopus, watermelon and chili pepper salad and a glass of cool Rosé.
  • For more restaurants, check this list for the top 10 restaurants recommended by Elite Traveler.

Must gamble

Casino de Monte-Carlo. Made famous by two iconic James Bond films, Never Say Never Again and GoldenEye, this is arguably the world’s most elite, but certainly the most elaborate, casino. For 10 Euro, and the proper dress code (pants, dress shirt and closed toed shoes for men, dress attire for women), you can spend your night gambling with the rich and famous.

Before you head in, take a few minutes to enjoy gazing at the spectacular show of luxury cars as they circle Monte Carlo to make their grand entrance.

Must know – getting home

If you haven’t driven, taxis are available to take you home, but Uber is a more economical option. A taxi can cost between 90-100 Euros just to get back to Nice.

Must visit

Cannes and Saint Tropez are within short driving distance, and although we didn’t visit, have heard great things about both. Here are two sites that will be helpful if you choose to visit either place.

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