Sun-drenched and sexy is an apt way to hear the French Riviera or the Cote d’Azur described. Home of the best weather in France the area enjoys long, hot summers, pleasant springtime and (mostly) clear and mild winter months. In addition to a pleasant climate, the glittering coastline, delicious seafood and luxurious lifestyle attract visitors from around the world with the annual film festival in Cannes attracting the rich and famous.
I decided to book a surprise trip to the south of France for my girlfriend’s 30th in March because she has always gushed about the area, I decided Nice would make a great base due to the incredible accommodation available – we stayed at the famous Negresco Hotel – and its location which would allow us to visit many other places on our trip.
The Negresco is a palace hotel sitting on the Promenade de Anglais (promenade of Angels) overlooking the pebbled beach and blue water of the Riviera. It houses over 6,000 pieces of art privately acquired by the hotel’s eccentric owner – Madame Jeanne Augier – who lives in a suite on the inaccessible sixth floor. The hotel has attracted some prestigious clientele such as Queen Elizabeth, Pablo Picasso and more recently Bill Gates. Read my full article on The Negresco here.
On our first day we wandered into the old town of Nice located a ten-minute walk from our hotel. The area features pastel architecture, Baroque churches and narrow streets with the backdrop of the hills and even snow-capped mountains in the distance. During the mornings there is a square which turns into a flower market offering colourful bouquets, lemon trees and local artists, at night time the flower market is empty and the area becomes the place to go for food and drinks.
Before the trip, I had researched the best places to visit from Nice and Eze featured in all the lists, sure enough, when we arrived in Nice the consensus was that Eze is the highlight of the Riviera. We attempted to get a bus from Nice but after waiting for an hour with no sign of it we decided to get a taxi, this took around 25 minutes up a very steep hill so I would definitely not recommend walking as it would take a good couple of hours. Once there we were greeted with a medieval village perched on top of a steep hill with charming crooked buildings seemingly carved into the stone. There are hotels in this area as well as little restaurants and many of the low-ceilinged small buildings are now boutique shops. Although lovely for a day out, in the colder spring months there isn’t a lot to do in the area so one day is enough.
On Laura’s actual birthday we decided to get the train from Nice to Cannes which was around 30 Euros for two people to return. The train was really easy leaving every 15 minutes and taking around half an hour to reach Cannes. The temperature was in the late teens this day which was lovely for March so we sat on the sandy beach parallel to the Croisette with a glass of prosecco. We also wandered up to the Old Town near the Marina for a view over the coastline – this is an easy walk which takes around 20 minutes to get to the top.
Russian cathedral, Nice
There is a lot of Russian influence in Nice as it has always been a desirable place for Russians to visit on holiday. In 1912 Tsar Nicholas built an Orthodox Cathedral in Nice to serve the growing Russian community in the area, he also commissioned a 16,000 crystal chandelier which sits in the Negresco Hotel. I am really interested in Russian history and so we took a short 10-minute walk from the Negresco to the cathedral for my first glimpse of Russian architecture. Unfortunately, there were no photographs allowed inside.
More photos from the French Riviera below.