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South of france for the first time in June - HELP

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London, United...
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South of france for the first time in June - HELP

Hi

Hubby and I will be travelling to the South of France in early June but are not sure where to base ourselves.

I did some research and it seems Nice is the ideal place but then I have read about Cannes and now I am not so sure. Hubby want to visit Monaco as well but its very expensive.

We are in our early 30s, no kids and want to enjoy ourselves; see the sites, drive around and eat great food. Maybe also some water sports and fishing?

Hubby wants to rent a car for the convenience but I have heard that its a nightmare to park/drive in Nice. Would you recommend renting a car? We would be going for 7 days+.

Also, we were thinking of making our holiday 10 days and maybe travelling from Nice to another city, maybe Paris? I have no clue.

We dont want to stay in a hotel so are looking at apartments. Nice Pebbles looks nice but I am not sure what area of Nice to stay in. Apparently, the old town is very noisy and none of the apartment blocks have lifts?

I just dont know where to start. Help me please?

Louisville, Kentucky
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1. Re: South of france for the first time in June - HELP

It sounds like you have done your research on TA and are trying to sort things out. You've done well and coming on to a forum is about our sharing what has worked for us. You will know what works for you, and here are my thoughts:

1) The car thing is a hassle and not as much fun as your husband may think. The region has a very efficient train and bus network, and the hard part for me was trying to figure out how to get from the bus stops and train stations to the parts of town I most want to visit. Here are my notes from my last trip, a journey that's been eleven years on the making. I've traveled with my husband to Cannes where he attends a convention and am often on my own:

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

2) I'm on team Cannes not only because that's where the convention is held, but mostly, after eleven trips and traveling to the other resorts, I appreciate its convenience and array of restaurants. As you may read from my link, you won't miss anything that the other resorts or mountain villages offer, but (IMO) choosing a base is about where you want to start and end your day. I feel like I am at the beach when I am in Cannes. Restaurants line Le Croisette and the historic harbor, and here, you can dine in an ocean breeze and watch the glitz and glamor that I would describe as "Cannes." After a day of day trips, an evening glass of wine in one of these restaurants is one of my favorite things to do. The beach in Cannes is sandy, and the train and bus terminals are an easy walk from most anywhere you might stay around Le Croisette. That said, there are people who wouldn't base themselves in anywhere but Nice. You will know what works for you.

3) When looking at apartment rentals, be careful about locations. "Cannes" or "Nice: may not be within walking distance of where you want to spend your mornings and evenings. When you see an apartment that interests you, go to Google Maps and do a walking directions to say, Le Palais in Cannes or Cours Saleya in Nice. We have rented through Klaus at InLux when we have booked in Cannes:

http://www.inlux.ch/

Nice Pebbles has been well recommended on this forum.

4) Where to go outside of the Cote d'Azur?...there's always Paris and one way air shuttles train fare are inexpensive if you book far enough in advance. Within the Cote d'Azur, you can stay happy with ten days in this region...there's lots to do. Bock out your trip deleting your travel days. A rental is likely to be 7 days, Saturday to Saturday, so if you have a few more nights, I would suggest an apartment rental in Cannes or Nice and a stay at the Hotel Welcome in Villefranche for the nights you have left. It's what we did last year, and my husband said to add a night next year:

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187246-d219899…

I'm a reviewer somewhere down the list. Cannes or Nice and Villefranche will show you very different personalities in the Cote d'Azur.

5) Monte Carlo? I keep trying to get it. Maybe it's the "Hollywood" thing that keeps attracting travelers, but I enjoy other destinations so much more. I'm really going to try to find its attraction when we return in the fall.

You won't be dealing with jet lag, so you have lots of options. Have a great trip!

Edited: 24 January 2012, 04:04
Newcastle, Australia
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2. Re: South of france for the first time in June - HELP

Hi there

We drove into Nice and parked our car just around the corner from our hotel - the La Perouse. Driving wasn't as bad as we thought and it was very handy - but if you have reservations - then that is a personal choice you have to make. Personally, I love driving in France they are perhaps the most courteous drivers to be encountered. To help you explore the surrounding areas a bit more, a book that helped us - DK Backroads France - was invaluable - it has both short/long drives and has places that I'd never thought to have gone to or heard of. I can highly recommend if you do drive north the magnificent Viaduc du Millau - a definite highlight of our journey last year. Coastal areas that we enjoyed, were Biarritz and Royan.

Kind Regards

Merran

Antibes, France
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3. Re: South of france for the first time in June - HELP

Your location on the Riviera is almost irrelevant as anywhere between Cannes and Monaco is hardly an hour from anywhere else. But all have different characteristics- Nice if you want all the benefits of a big city ( and the drawbacks of traffic etc) Villefranche small and romantic, Cannes for a bit of glitz, Antibes for its Old Town, and Monaco ...well is Monaco.

A car is not necessary if you stick to the coast - train and bus services are very cheap and regular - but you will probably need a car if you want to explore the 'back country' with its unique perched villages etc.

And Merran97... where ever did you meet those courteous French drivers?? I would certainly like to meet one!

Ed

Newcastle, Australia
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4. Re: South of france for the first time in June - HELP

Hi there Ed

Here in Aus they have no idea sometimes. Such as slow/fast lanes and letting people in. Courteous means many things to many people such as being the hapless tourist ( which I'll honestly admit to being me) and being in the wrong toll lane for paying the toll etc when you're new to such things and people without swearing at you openly and bipping their horns, reversing and letting you into the right toll gate when you've realised you've gone into the wrong one. And, so yes, that to me is being very courteous. Very much the same as being on Trip Advisor if you have some kind of a question - which might be as obvious as apples to experts but is a genuine stumping question for somebody else .

Kind Regards

Merran

Guildford, United...
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5. Re: South of france for the first time in June - HELP

When I am on a bicycle French drivers are the best in the world but when I am in a car, well, they are not as bad as the Chinese but hard to think of many others that are worse. The authorities have been cracking down hard on speeding with dramatic effect on road deaths, from 7,721 in 2001 to 4,370 in 2006 but it isn't obvious to me that they are driving more carefully. I walked along Boulevard du Mont Boron in Nice recently, speed limit 30 kph, and I would say the average speed of traffic was more like 60. Many British and other visitors seem ignorant of the fact that traffic radar detectors are illegal, with fines of up to 3,000 euro for their use. An American I know was fined 1,000 recently, with his car impounded until he paid.

France
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6. Re: South of france for the first time in June - HELP

If it's your first time in the area I'd definitely recommend Nice as a base. I don't think you'll run out of things to do however long you're there. I don't think I'd do Paris - not when you're coming from London and can hop on Eurostar for that visit.

Nice Pebbles always used to allow bookings longer or shorter than the more traditional weekend to weekend stipulations. I assume they still allow this. Vieux Nice can be noisy but if you do deal with Nice Pebbles, ask their advice before you book.

Public transport is easy to use and very cheap. Buses are €1 per journey and trains are considerably cheaper than London! A car can be a nuisance - and parking charges can add substantially to the cost of the holiday.

Monaco doesn't have to be expensive at all. It's a place that always divides the forum but you definitely have to go there - even if it's just for one day.

Ottawa, Canada
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7. Re: South of france for the first time in June - HELP

If your husband has always wanted to see Monaco by all means go for a day! It can be as inexpensive or as expensive as you care to make it.

If I were basing myself in Nice I think I'd use public transit too. But a car is essential if you want to visit farther west or deeper into the hinterland like the Gorges du Verdon.

And I'm with Merran on driving... I love driving in France.

UK
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8. Re: South of france for the first time in June - HELP

If you wanted to see somewhere else, you could spend some time in the other end of Provence, maybe using Avignon as a base. On that side of Provence you would definitely need a car. I have to say that the public transport in and arund nice is so good, I wouldn't bother with a car there. But around the western end of Provence you would need it if you wanted to visit some of the more remote areas.

London, United...
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9. Re: South of france for the first time in June - HELP

Thanks guys.

I have just come from the cannes forum and not much going on there. Also, I had a look at the apartments and they seem very expensive and not as nice as the ones in nice.

I am now starting to think "we will enjoy ourselves in Nice", the south of france for that matter. Need to think of fun things to do.

Will think about the car a bit more as hubby is adamant.

France
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10. Re: South of france for the first time in June - HELP

The one thing about French drivers is that they have no respect for other people's cars. I can't tell you how many times I have seen drivers literally shunt my parked car to make a parking space for themselves. I have been hit at least three times from behind at roundabouts because I stopped when they would have gone!

This has always been in my own car and I know that thousands of people do hire cars but please make sure that the insurance is good for any damage!

You should bear in mind that Nice has a lot going on and you may spend several days just exploring - which means the car will be parked and will be costing you upwards of €20-25 /day.

Whatever you decide there will be plenty of fun things to do.