The Mediterranean and I became friends last year when I went to Pasitano and Capri in Italy. This year I revisited her in the French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur (Azure Coast), if we’re being French. And she was just as lovely as I remembered.
As part of the coach tour I did, I stayed in Nice for two nights. While there, we did a brief excursion into Monaco, spent an afternoon in St. Paul-de-Vence, drove part of the Corniche drive, stopped in Eze, and drove through Cannes on our way out.
The French Riviera was the part of France I was most excited to visit. And while it was very beautiful, and I had the best tomato and mozzarella sandwich I’ve ever had there, it didn’t capture my heart the way I expected it to, especially compared to how I felt about the Atlantic Coast of France in Biarritz and St-Jean-de-Luz. I guess that’s the thing about travel… sometimes it’s the unexpected places that leave a bigger impression on you. But don’t get me wrong, the French Riviera is still pretty awesome!
What I did love about Nice was the Italian feel. It’s not that far from the Italian border, and you get a bit of an Italian feel in the architecture and the food. I loved the pastel colored buildings with their wrought iron balconies. I also loved the promenade des Anglais, which is basically a big walkway that runs along the beach. A must, as the beach is so rocky it’s difficult to walk on.
That’s the thing that surprises me about the French Riviera… it’s known for being a top destination for the rich and glamorous, but if I were one of them, I’d much rather have my beach vacation home on a nice sandy stretch of beach, instead of a super pebbly one. Cannes does have sand, but that’s because they ship it in from Africa every year for the film festival.
Nice averages 300 sunny days a year, so I guess I could overlook the rocks if it meant I got to bask in that much sunshine.
The Corniche Drive sort of reminded me of the drive along the Amalfi Coast in Italy. There was a nice look off point.
St. Paul-de-Vence is where the artsy people like Picasso used to hang out.
Eze was interesting because it is pretty much built on top of a cliff. Instead of visiting a perfumery, Michael and I decided to climb the stairs and explore the village. A very wise decision. I don’t think wandering around cobble stoned streets in medieval villages will ever get old to me. I love that feeling you get, like you’ve stepped back in time.
We ate a fabulous supper at La Bergerie. I have absolutely no idea how we got there, other than it was on the Grande Corniche, so it was up even higher than Eze. Unfortunately, it the fog rolled in so thick, we weren’t able to see the church and castle of Eze lit up at night, but apparently it’s beautiful.
The really rich people hang out in Monaco. We even saw a helicopter come in and land on the roof of one of the buildings. More beautiful architecture, and stunning views of yachts in the harbour and the Mediterranean. The palace wasn’t that impressive, surprisingly. It’s had an addition added, built in a completely different style from the rest of the palace. But hey, if you’re the Prince of Monaco, you can make your palace look like whatever you want it to.
There are many more towns and villages along the French Riviera that I didn’t get to visit. You could by all means make a whole trip just to the Cote d’Azur. I’m glad I got a little taste of what it’s like and that I got to experience some of the beauty it has to offer.