Thursday, July 1, 2010

The French Riviera - Trip Report

So, if you follow my blog then you know that we have been traveling quite a bit lately.  You also know that we recently visited the south of France for a planned long weekend.  However, due to a little SNAFU, our 3-day trip, became a 2-day trip.  So, I will start off by saying that you certainly need more than 2 days to do this trip justice, and in fact, even after 3 days you will still wish you could stay longer - this place is just that beautiful.

We flew into Nice, and took the #210 Xpress bus directly into Cannes - this was very easy and comfortable  - about a 30-40 minute ride.  The bus dropped us off right at the main port in Cannes, and our walk to the Intercontinental Carlton hotel was pleasant with very little luggage.  The Carlton is a classic, elegant, historic hotel - it is everything that you imagine a hotel like this would be - great location, rooms and service.  We checked into the hotel and immediately headed out to explore as our time was very limited.

Now, many people will say that Cannes is not the best "home base" for a trip like this, and while I can see their point - if you like sandy beaches (and not pebble beaches like Nice has) and you really want to relax - then this is the place to be!  In Cannes, we strolled the Promenade, took in the gorgeous views of the beach, grabbed some lunch, stood on the famous Cannes film festival red carpet, and checked out the Port and Old Town Square - that about covers the things to do in Cannes :)

From there, we took a train into Monaco where we spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening.  In Monaco, we walked from the station to Palace Square - on the way we saw the Grand Prix de Monaco race track - at Palace Square, we took in some awesome views of the city and sea below us, the Prince's Palace, the Fontieville district, the Cathedral of Monaco, the Cousteau Aquarium (which was built on a cliff, just amazing!!), and the Jardin Exotique - from their we headed back down to the port and checked out the big boy yachts and grabbed dinner.  While at dinner, we met a really fun American brother and sister who were touring France and Italy with their parents - we ended spending the rest of our evening finishing our bottle of wine (and theirs) and having great conversation!

Here's the thing -we missed out on seeing the famous Monte Carlo casino - our dinner and conversation took longer than expected and we really were enjoying ourselves!  We had to catch the last train from Monaco to Cannes, and weren't able to see the casino - my one regret of the trip really, well that and totally getting our departure airport from London wrong, causing us to miss an entire day! - but a great excuse to go back and visit this beautiful place again!

Once back in Cannes, we were pretty worn out and called it a night.  We woke up early the next morning, grabbed a quick breakfast and hung out a bit on the beach in Cannes.  After checking out of the hotel, we took the train back into Nice - where we would fly out of later that evening.

Once in Nice, we headed towards the Avenue Jean Medicin, Nice's "main street".  We arrived at the Place Massena and took in the sights, the fountains and architecture.  What was really cool is that the president of France was hosting several African dignitaries in Nice this particular weekend, and they were having lunch at a restaurant nearby, so security was everywhere and crowds were waiting to catch a glimpse of the government officials.  From here, we walked to Cours Saleya, Nice's main market square and then over to the Promenade where we hung out on the pebble beaches, took some cool photos and explored the area.  When it was time, we grabbed a taxi and headed back to the airport.

We were exhausted, and we needed more time - but this was a great weekend - and we certainly found a place that we want to see again!

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