France Vacation: Nice & South of France Recap

Hi there! We last left off with my Paris recap. If you missed it, catch it here. After 4 nights in Paris, we headed to the airport and made our way to Nice. Originally, I had wanted to take the train, but when I realized that even the fast speed one was still over a 6 hour trip, I decided to get us flights. They were cheaper, but more than that, they gave us more time in Nice.

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I did a lot of research prior to deciding on Nice as our home-base, and I ultimately chose Nice because it is kind of the hub of the French Riviera/South of France. The airport is there, there’s a train station, you can easily do day trips to many other small towns, there are many hotels (and nice ones!) and it’s big enough to offer a lot. Nice ended up not being our favorite part of the last leg of the trip (it was a bit too big and too touristy for our liking, making it feel like some of the charm had been lost), but we are still happy that we opted to stay there since it was so easy to bop all around the French Riviera. We even ended up spending a day in a small Italian town, which was just an hour train ride away from Nice – it was pretty cool!

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Where We Stayed

While we chose an AirBnB for the Paris portion of the trip, I wanted to do a hotel for the last part. I wanted to be in a great location and have great amenities, and the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais se la Méditerranée was a perfect option for us. Prior to booking at the Hyatt, we booked at Le Meridian, but as I read more Trip Advisor bad reviews, I knew we had change hotels. After our sub par hotel experience in Sorrento, we have agreed it’s worth spending a little more to ensure a comfortable stay. The Hyatt was perfect for us! We opted for a partial sea view (how could you not when you’re staying on the water?!) and it was well worth it! We also loved the balcony and spent lots of time out there. The room, bed, closets and bathroom were all so spacious – not something you generally find in European hotels!

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There was a beautiful pool, small – but nice – gym, lounge areas and a spa. Not to mention the location couldn’t be beat!

The only downside was the breakfast was not included and was rather pricey, so we only did it once (28 euros each!). The drinks were also pricey, but we ended up getting beer and wine at local stores which was a great way to save a little money.

What We Did

As I mentioned, our intent during our time in the south of France was to visit some of the small towns along the coast. Luckily the train station was a less than a 10 minute walk from our hotel so it made for easy day and half day trips. We weren’t able to hit all of the towns we wanted to, but we laughed because after seeing a few, we figured they were all pretty similar 😉

  • Villafranche-sur-Mer – I think this was literally a 10 minute train ride from Nice! We spent the afternoon walking around the cute streets, seeing some of the sites, having lunch and relaxing by the water. I also picked up a super cute dress at a little boutique. We both loved this little town.

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  • Monaco – Did you know that Monaco is a COUNTRY? It’s the second smallest country, with the Vatican as the first smallest. Unfortunately, we went on a Sunday, when most things were closed. We had wanted to rent a scooter to get around because it was so hilly and it was so hot and humid, so we were bummed when all the shops were closed. Roberto also forgot his license so we were not able to get into the casino {insert palm to forehead emoji}. We weren’t really sure what to do with ourselves so we ended up hopping on one of those hop on-hop off buses and were brought to some beautiful parts of Monaco! We totally enjoyed our afternoon there and learning about how the Formula 1 racing came to be. What a wealthy, wealthy little country – the yacht scene was unbelievable!

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  • Ventimiglia – This was a small Italian town right on the border of France. Roberto was so happy to be there because he was able to communicate with everyone, unlike when we were in France. We had the BEST day in this amazing little town. We walked all through the old part of the town and it was so neat to be walking through all the tiny streets and interacting with all the locals. We saw some beautiful churches, walked through an incredible farmers market, napped on the beach and frolicked in the warm water. It was one of our favorite days of the trip!
  • Walked along the Promenade des Anglais – this is the big street along the water in Nice. Our hotel was on this street, so we did lots of walking along it.

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  • Explore Nice – there’s a “new” part and an “old” part, so it was interesting to see how they differed. We found a really big market one day and enjoyed seeing all that people were trying to sell! Due to all of our little day trips, we didn’t get the chance to spend too much time really exploring Nice, but we did enjoy walking around the old part and seeing all the different shops, architecture and charm!
  • Drinks at Hotel Negresco – this is supposed to be one of the oldest/nicest hotels in Nice. It’s has beautiful architecture and I’ve heard the restaurants are quite an experience. We opted to pop in one evening for a glass of champagne on their patio – it was really nice!

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  • Swim! We swam so much during this part of the trip. The water was incredible! A few times we even picked up sandwiches and wine and sat on the beach while the sun set. It was so relaxing.

Where To Eat

I don’t have too many recommendations here – unfortunately, I don’t remember all of the places we ate at!

  • Le 3e Restaurant Terrace at the Hyatt – we had lunch here and ordered room service once night and both experiences were great! The only thing about eating at hotels is that the prices tend to be higher than elsewhere.
  • Villa RINA – One afternoon RM was in the mood for a beer and watching some soccer so we popped into Villa RINA, which was right near our hotel. We ended up grabbing a burger (how French, right?!) and it was SO good! We had breakfast there one morning, too, which was nothing special.

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  • Les Pecheurs – We were in the mood for fish one night so I did some googling and stumbled upon Les Pecheurs, which had high reviews on multiple sights. It was a little ways from the hotel and therefore away from all the crowds. We enjoyed a great dinner outside in the harbor area – definitely worth the cab ride there!
  • Le Plongeoir – When we were buying my bag in Paris, we were chatting with the woman working there and it turns out she was from Nice. I asked her where she would recommend going for a non-touristy, cool place and her suggestion for Le Plongeoir couldn’t have been more perfect! We didn’t get a reservation so we didn’t get to sit up top, but we enjoyed cocktails and snacks in the lower level. We were able to see the sunset which was beautiful!

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  • L’Antica – We were looking for a good steak frites basically our entire trip, so finally on the last night we asked the hotel concierge and they recommended L’Antica. I loved that it was not in the midst of the touristy hustle and bustle of Nice – it was a hidden gem! The food was incredible, too! As was the wine 😉

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And that does it for the French Riviera/South of France recap! Overall, we really enjoyed our time here, but it didn’t have the same charm we experience in our Amalfi Coast honeymoon which kind of bummed us out. That said, I had always wanted to go to the South of France so I’m very grateful we had the opportunity to do so. We saw some beautiful little towns and really enjoyed the experience!

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