At last I’m where I’ve already dreamt of going, the French Riviera. Based in Nice, I spent 5 days here and visited a dozen places including Cannes to the south and Ventimiglia of Italy to the north. This post documents my journey around Nice and to the south, including Villefranche-sur-Mer, Saint Paul de Vence, Antibes, and Cannes.
I was very lucky to have a good friend who’s native to this area to show me around. Having someone who knows the areas and more importantly, someone who has a car, truly makes a difference. It saves you the time and energy to plan transportation, and allows you to go to charming but relatively unknown places so you can enjoy beautiful scenery in serenity (taking great pictures without other tourists getting in the shot).
On the first day, we drove up to a Villefranche-sur-Mer, which is immediate to the north of Nice. It was the first place I truly visited since landed in Nice. Little did I know it would turn out to be my favorite among all the places I visited in French Riviera. It is such a charming town with a beautiful harbor, and there are not that many tourists. In addition to walking around the town, I would recommend driving to top of the hill to get a view of the harbor.
Then we drove down to Saint Paul de Vence, which has a more medieval feeling to it, compared to Villefranche. It’s pretty touristy, and the place has many art galleries.
After Saint Paul, we drove further down. Driving pass Antibes was a really fun experience because the old city of Antibes has really narrow roads that can only accommodate one small car.
We ended up in Cannes to end the first day. Cannes is more modern and polished, compared to the residential nature of most of other parts of the French Riviera. The cities has many nice shops and restaurants, as well as sandy beach to relax on – perfect way to wrap up the day. One thing to note here is that, if you long for soft sand, then you have to drive west to Antibes and beyond, because beaches around Nice are composed of pebbles and rocks.