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Where to base to explore the Cote D'Azur

Southampton, United...
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Where to base to explore the Cote D'Azur

Where is the best town to stay to explore the area. I am looking at Cannes, Nice, Antibes and Menton. I just can't make up my mind which one to pick,.

Any other suggestions is welcome.

I'm looking for a town that has good train links.

Thanks for any info you have.

Louisville, Kentucky
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1. Re: Where to base to explore the Cote D'Azur

First, drop Menton. It's out of the way from the resorts that stretch between Cannes and Monte Carlo, but it is on the train routes that run along the coast. The other three resorts are close together and from any of them, you can easily visit the oters or take buses inland the the villages of Eze and St. Paul de Vence, both popular destinations. Here are my thoughts on the strong and weak points of those three and you can decide what works for you.

1) Cannes: IMO, Cannes has the best beach if swimming and and sunbathing are for you, and is the best place along the coast for dining alfresco with a view of the water and in a ocean breeze. As long as you are in Le Croisette part of the city, Cannes is relatively flat and compact and getting to the train and bus stops is easy walking. Disadvantage: Cannes is at the end of the string of resorts along the Cote d'Azur (about 40 minutes by train to Nice and an hour to Monte Carlo) and to get to Eze and St. Paul, you have to take a train to the nearest train station and bus from there to the villages. We are based in Cannes when we travel, and this hasn't been an issue for me and I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantges. Cannes, to me, it glitz and glamour with just enough old town to keep it quaint. Shopping along Rue d'Antibes is something I enjoy, and I allow myself to only window shop in the designer shops along Le Croisette!

2) Nice: Nice is the largest city in the region and with that come some advantages and disadvantages. IMO, the biggest pluses for Nice are that there are direct bus routes to the mountain villages and Nice is pretty much in the middle of the string of resorts, meaning travel time to the other destinations is the shortest. The beach in Nice is unique in that it is stones (vs. sand) and the sound of the currents flowing over the surface is lovely. This is a "shoes and chair" beach, and that's good if you know this going in and want to experience a shoreline that is not something you've probably visited before. If you want a sandy beach, Nice is not your place. Nice has a charming old town that has a "village-y" feel in the middle of this bustling city (at least "bustling" for the Cote d'Azur). My favorite place to dine in Nice is in Cours Salaya, an open square adjacent to the flower market and filled with open air restaurants. However, don't expect a lot of ocean view dining in Nice if that's important to you. If museums and sightseeing are your thing, there's more to do in Nice than your other two choices. Disadvantage: Nice is a bit spread out and getting to the transportation hubs sometimes means a taxi, tram or bus. Taxis are really expensive in Nice, so most travelers try to avoid them. The network of buses and the tram is excellent, however, and to check a hotel's location, do a Google Maps "Walking Directions." If your route takes you along Ave, Jean Medecin or along the old town, a tram runs along this route and will shorten your walk to the train station. Local bus connections will also help lessen your walks from where you are staying.

3) Antibes: Antibes has a charming old town filled with restaurants and shops, and is the smallest resort of the three resorts on this list. The beach toward Cap d'Antibes is nice and sandy, and transportation from Antibes is going to be similar to Cannes, both in access and the train/bus routes to the mountain villages. Dining in Antibes is going to be within it's old town...lovely and charming, but not heavy on ocean views. The problem I've seen with staying in Antibes is that there is not necessarily a good number of hotels around the old town area, but let the experts help you with this one.

If you are like me, and your travel in the Cotes d'Azur means day trips to the other resorts and villages, where you base yourself is going to be about where you start and end your day. How you want to do that is something only you can decide, and you won't go wrong with any of these choices. What's wonderful about the Cote d'Azur is that each resort has it's own personality, and this is not a region where "seen one, seen them all" applies. Each resort has it's own distinct character.

Have a great trip!

Ireland
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2. Re: Where to base to explore the Cote D'Azur

I would suggest Nice as the best base as it sits between Cannes to the West and Monaco to the East. You don't have to be on Jean Medecin to have easy access to the train station. I often stay in Nice West and the number 12 bus takes me right to the station. Lots of buses will take you to the city centre and then just jump on a tram in central Nice and take it to close proximity to the train station.

Edited: 30 July 2012, 16:09
Louisville, Kentucky
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3. Re: Where to base to explore the Cote D'Azur

I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I was suggesting staying along Jean Medecin. I meant that if a walking route from your hotel to the train station includes a stretch along that street or the old town, you can take a tram to shorten the walk, and there are also local bus routes as NiceIreland describes.

Southampton, United...
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4. Re: Where to base to explore the Cote D'Azur

Hi,

Many thanks both for your info, very useful details.

I fancy a bit of glitz and glamour so I think I may go with Cannes. Where do you stay in Cannes?

Nikki

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5. Re: Where to base to explore the Cote D'Azur

I would second the suggestion to stay in Cannes.

If you stay within the centre- the banane ( so called because of its shape ), you will be within easy walking distance of the beaches, ports, shops ,restaurants, nightlife and the train station.There is a huge choice of places to stay within this sector.

Are you looking for a hotel room or an apartment rental?

Louisville, Kentucky
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6. Re: Where to base to explore the Cote D'Azur

We stay in an apartment rented by this company:

http://www.inlux.ch/

There are many other companies you could use and other contributors may chare their experiences. We've just had a good experience with In Lux, and we also use John & John on another trip:

http://www.cannesrentals.com/

We travel to Cannes for a convention, and for several years, we stayed at Le Martinez. If this type of high end hotel is to your liking, I like Le Martenez's location at the end of Le Croisette. It's away from the bustle of the center, but within walking distance to everything.

http://www.hotel-martinez.com/en/

We've been really impressed by a friend's room at the Villa d'Estelle:

http://www.villadestelle.com/

I understand from another poster that Villa d'Estelle usually requires Saturday to Saturday rentals, and if this works for you, you might want to consider this. Our friends room was a large studio with a mini- kitchen that was enough for breakfast and wine, cheese and their accompaniments from the local markets...perfect! The front rooms have a sideways view of the ocean, and our friend's room was on the back overlooking the courtyard behind the church where Napoleon reportedly spent his first night after returning from exile. It was lovely. For quiet, we would probably take one of the back rooms.

FYI, Here is how I get from the train stations and bus stops to the parts of the other resorts and towns I want to visit:

Train_station_or_bus_stop_Then_what-French_Riviera_Cote_d_Az tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187216-i137-k4846…

...and here is a short list of restaurants we have enjoyed. This first, le Coin Gourmet, is actually in Le Cannet, above Cannes, and I describe how to get there on my "Then What?" post.

tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g207354-d2…

tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187221-d1…

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g187221-d223…

tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187221-d1…

tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187221-d1…

tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187221-d7…

tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187221-d9…

Soooz and I are "Team Cannes" on this forum (but we also support the other resorts!) , and I'm pleased that you are considering Cannes for your base. It works for me!

7. Re: Where to base to explore the Cote D'Azur

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