10 Top Day Trips From Nice  (You may never go back home)

10 Top Day Trips From Nice (You may never go back home)

Day trips to explore the South of France is easy and fun.

Take your time.

Niched along the Mediterranean sea, the French Riviera stretches from Saint Tropez to Menton, although the actual borders differ according to whom you ask.

Quite a few places along the way are on many people’s wish list. You know,  the hype, the glitz and sunshine year round.

You can live it up with a memorable family adventure, a romantic escape or do fun stuff with friends or whatever you’re into.. like being surrounded by a jet-set crowd, beach addicts or blending in with nature.

Base yourself in Nice, Antibes, Cannes or even Menton. These cities are large enough to offer plenty of things to do.

When you’re ready to explore a bit further out, rent a car, take a bus if it’s available or the train.  But I’d recommend renting a car for sure so that you can plan things your way and it allows for more flexibility.

Plus a lot of the southern charm can’t be seen on a bus.

 

clouds in car mirror day trips

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Day trip or road trip? Who knows, your day trips could easily turn into a long weekend  🙂

Each city, town, village and remote hamlet below have their own charm and each deserves attention.

Some day trips involve longer drives while others are very close, it’s up to you and your mood of the day

So let’s look a little deeper on what this side of the world has to offer and how to sparkle up each moment together.

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DAY TRIPS TO ST TROPEZ

Saint Tropez is a small fishing village with many narrow streets leading to charming homes, outdoor markets, and stunning views from the old port.

In the summer it becomes the playground for the rich and famous.

Just be aware that its natural feel vanishes for a couple of months during July and August and is replaced by large crowds!

High-class parties on private beaches, upscale restaurants, and chic boutiques are a few reasons why it’s so crowded during July and August.  You can join the beautiful people on the beach or just admire the yachts along the port.

It is however still a mythical place to visit, even for a day or two, as St Tropez is actually quite small.

 

st tropez fish eye vew port day trips

 

Just wander around, climb the stairs at the port to check the view. Have a good coffee while people watching.

Go to the outdoor market. Watch a typical game of “boules” at the Place des Lices.

Take a photo in front of the “Gendarmerie” as this is a famous facade for a classic 1964 french movie “Le Gendarme de Saint Tropez”. Last year it was turned into a museum for the fans.

In the same small square, you can admire the new statue of Brigitte Bardot, an icon in Saint Tropez.

Getting to Saint Tropez by car in summer can be a bit nerve-wracking as traffic backs up quite a bit.

 

red convertible tropez day trips
Even if you have a cool car, traffic can be looong and frustrating during summer.

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Your best bet is to leave the car in one of the large parking areas on the outskirts and walk 15 minutes to the center of town.

If you plan to just spend the day, another option would be to take the ferry (only during summer months) in the morning from Nice or Cannes.

Even closer, take the green boats (Bateaux Verts) from  Saint Maxime.

Or take the train to St. Raphael, the closest train station, and then a bus into Saint Tropez, but the traffic problem will be the same.

Note: St. Tropez to Cannes by car -1 1/2 hour without traffic.

 

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DAY TRIPS TO CANNES

 

wide view cannes day trips

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Cannes has been and still is THE meeting spot of the rich and famous and those who want to see them up close.

During the summer months, Cannes is extremely packed with people watchers, beach lovers, chic cars,  party people and tourists from all over the world.

If you can manage coming here in winter (still very sunny),  then your overall experience will be more serene 🙂

Otherwise, there are still few things not to miss in Cannes and a few places worth the effort.

 

  • La Croisette

    High-class hotels and upscale shops line the Croisette, which is the main avenue that runs parallel to the beach.

    This is where most tourists spend their time as it is concentrated with restaurants, cafe’s and of course the beach.

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High class hotel carlton day trips
Carlton Hotel on the Croisette, Cannes

 

 

  • Le Suquet

    The oldest part of town and worth strolling a few hours along the small narrow cobblestone streets. Lots of shops and restaurants.

    The best reason to explore the old town besides its old charm is the view all the way up to the top at the castle ruins.

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sunset cannes day trips

 

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  • Cannes Film Festival

    In May the population seems to triple before this famous Film Festival.
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    red carpet film cannes day trips
    The calm before the storm, Cannes Film Festival

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    Well-known actors, producers, and many celebrities are present to hopefully receive an award and be photographed walking down the red carpet.

    Fans form crowds early morning to secure a “sidewalk” spot and get a chance to see their favorite people.

    In 2018 the dates for the Cannes Film Festival are May 8 to May 19.  Are you going?  🙂 If not there is always next year!

    A few steps from the Palais des Festival, near the Tourism office, you can check out Le Chemin des Etoiles (Walk of Stars). It’s really not as impressive as it sounds!  But if you’re there, take a look at the small handprints made by some famous stars.

 

  • Outdoor Market

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outdoor market cannes day trips
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Cannes has several outdoor markets, but the Marche Forville is one of the largest with quite a variety of products.

It’s located close to the center of town, or you can park in the lot nearby 1 hour free.

Every day except Monday, you can enjoy this covered market and get lost in the maze of choices, including high-quality local produce, flowers, bread, cheese, meats.

And of course fresh fish from local fishermen.

When you’re finished take a break in one of the many cafes nearby and think about what you’ll be having for lunch 🙂

If you want to venture further out for some more markets check here.

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  • Beaches:

    Well, it is a seaside town after all!

    Although easy to get to, the beaches on the Croisette are mostly private and very expensive. There are some public beaches but unless you like being sandwiched then try the far end of the Croisette towards Port Canto.

    However, whichever one you choose to laze in the Mediterranean sun, get there early!

    Another option is to take the car and go further towards Mandelieu La Napoule.

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DAY TRIPS TO ILES DE LERINS 

For some quiet time away from Cannes, these 2 islands are a good option even if a bit on the expensive side when traveling as a family on a budget.

Iles de Lerins are made up of 2 islands.

A small one named St. Honorat and a larger one named St Marguerite.

St.Honorat has a monastery which you can visit (buy a ticket). The monks onsite sell “homegrown” foods and wine and that could be a good local souvenir to take back home.

The other island, St Marguerite has a few more infrastructures like shops and a few restaurants (but expensive). This one may be a better choice for families who like to walk for a while along woodsy paths.

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woodsy path lerins day trips

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Explore for a while before finding the perfect secluded spot where you can relax by the water, have a nice picnic or go for a swim.
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small creek lerins day trips

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The water is a clean blue and the coves are rocky and shady.

No cars, only human feet, and bicycles.

It takes about 20 minutes by ferry. Go early in the morning as the ferry sometimes stops around lunch time and the return ferry stops late afternoons.

Check the timetables at the tourist office or at your hotel, as they do change depending on the season. Price around 15euros.

Note: Cannes to Antibes: 15 km / 9 miles

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DAY TRIPS TO ANTIBES

antibes sea town in distance day trips

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You’d think it’s just a seaside town for vacationers. But real people live here and real life happens – in spite of the fact that it’s not very big.

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  • .Old Town

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antibes old town day trips

 

Most people who visit spend their time in and around the Old Town.

A mixture of colors, spices and cobblestone streets. Full of charming narrow alleys and squares, where you have plenty of choices for eateries, small shops, and outdoor people watching.

With a few exceptions, the area within the medieval walls is pedestrian.

The coziest sandy beach is just outside the old town entrance near the old harbor, only a few minutes walk depending on where you are in the old town.

 

  • The Old Fort (Fort Carre) 

 

antibes fort view day trips

 

This 16th-century military fort is unusually shaped and worth a look if you are into history.
It’s a bit of walk from the old town and the signs can be confusing, so get a map at the tourist office. They are very helpful.

Once there, your ticket will allow entry as well as the services of a guide for a short tour of the fort (but depending on the season, it’s a hit or miss for a bilingual guide).

 

inside ramp fort antibes day trips

 

There are several levels in the fort and the main reason to come here if you’re not into history is the view of the harbor and the old town.

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  • Picasso Museum

picasso museum antibes day trips

 

An intimate museum housed in the stone Grimaldi Castle.

You’ll discover another side of Picasso as well as the works of other artists who influenced him throughout his time in Antibes.

Note that until the end of June, the second floor of the Picasso Museum is undergoing renovations. Entrance 6 euros.

Check out the small terrace for some sculptures and for great views!

Note: Antibes to Biot is about 8km/5 miles

 

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DAY TRIPS TO BIOT

Biot is a small treasure.

This 15th-century village has kept its authenticity and its charm throughout time and the good news is that even in summer it’s never crowded.

Many painters and writers have left their mark here.

Below are a few things to enjoy in Biot.

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  • Place des Arcades

    biot arcade day trips

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    Get lost in the old village center. Small sloped streets that spread out in different directions from this tiny spot.

    Enjoy the outdoor exposed artwork and lunch or have a drink on a cafe terrace under the arcades.

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  • Eglise de Biot

    Not far from Place des Arcades is an authentic 15th-century church.

    To enter you must go down a few steps. Beautiful outside architecture and rounded ceiling with stain glass paintings inside.

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  • Museum

    Musee Fernand Leger Take the car a bit further from the center of town visit this colorful museum.

    Fernand Leger is one of the most talented art figures of the 20th century. A gorgeous stained glass window welcomes you at the entrance.

    On the first floor discover the permanent collection and on the ground floor visit the temporary collection. His artwork is also displayed around the shady gardens.

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stained glass biot day trips
Museum Fernand Leger. Photo: Urban Pax

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Note: Biot to St Paul de Vence is about 20km/12 miles.


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DAY TRIPS TO SAINT PAUL DE VENCE

A day trip to Saint Paul de Vence should take a few hours, so try and combine it with another visit. This picturesque village is located inland and not along the coastline.

The medieval 16th-century ramparts lead to narrow cobblestone streets and its central fountain.  The 12th-century tower still stands from the old château. 

There are multiple small squares, and many art galleries sandwiched around every corner.

Foundation Maeght is 1 km from the village and worth a visit for its interesting sculptures around the garden.

For other fun and interesting museums in the South of France, check this post.

For more info on Saint Paul de Vence, read here.

Note: Saint Paul de Vence to Nice is about 18km/11miles

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DAY TRIPS TO NICE

colored boats port nice south france day trips

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When most people think French Riviera, they think Cote d’Azur, they think Nice.

It is a large city but there are a few places where visitors seem to concentrate most of their time.

 

  • The Old Town, also known as the Vieux Nice. A village within the city made up of cobblestone streets and small squares. It can be a labyrinth type of place, but once you get your bearings you’ll understand how to get out 🙂
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  • Cours Saleya. On the edge of the old town, this market is filled with fruits vegetables and flowers. Except for Mondays when there is the antique market. Check it out for the sheer pleasure of seeing fresh produce and typical foods from the region. You can also buy spices, olives and delicious loaves of bread for the day’s picnic.
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  • Promenade des Anglais. Ok, no need to elaborate on this one as its known worldwide! Take a 9km stroll, ride a bike or just sit on a blue chair and enjoy the view. Several private beaches with lounge chairs and restaurants or and public beaches to choose from.
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  • Zone Pietonne: A long pedestrian street lined with restaurants and shops. Have an ice cream, listen to outdoor music during the summer months or just people watch at one of the many outdoor cafes.
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  • Avenue Jean Medicin and Nice Etoile: Shopping shopping shopping! Nice Etoile is a shopping mall. 3 floors with all sorts of clothing, jewelry furniture, kitchen shops and more. Restaurants, snack stands, and juice bars also onsite. Make sure to walk around the port. Take the car to visit the Russian Church. Relax in the Cimiez Gardens.
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For more detailed information about Nice, please read this post.

Note: Nice to Villefranche is about 7 km/ 4 miles.

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DAY TRIPS TO VILLEFRANCHE

villefranche south of france ocean view day trips

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The most charming and sweetest seaside village in the south of France. A perfect place for a day trip. Stay awhile and have a great lunch in front of a beautiful view.

 

Below are a few things to do in Villefranche.

  • The Citadel. The 16th-century architecture makes up the majority of this impressive citadel. In the summer you can watch outdoor movies or listen to an outdoor concert. It houses several small museums.
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  • Chapel Saint Piere des Pecheurs: Entirely decorated and painted by Jean Cocteau in 1957. You could easily walk past it without ever imagining how beautiful it is on the inside. Fishermen would come into this very small chapel before going out to sea. It really is a small gem and worth a visit for a small fee.
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  • Walk…The best way to get a feel for a village is to walk it. Discover where the stairs lead to, what’s behind the next corner, how the colors just blend together like a painting. Get to another viewpoint. Try out a local specialty. Sit on a bench and take it all in.
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Note: Villefranche to Eze is about 12 km / 7 miles

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DAY TRIPS TO EZE

town on hilltop eze south france day trips

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Another great day trip is Eze village is a small medieval upscale village. The entire village is perched up high enough that you can have great views of the coastline and sea below.

You need to park your car at the bottom before the entrance to the village. There is also a tourism office on the corner of the lot to ask for helpful information.

  • Walk around. The streets are narrow and steep but take your time. Go slow.
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  • Chateau de la Chevre d’Or is worth a look. It’s a very upscale and beautiful hotel that blends in the stone medieval architecture of the village.
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  • The church. You can see it’s neo-classic yellow facade as you go up the through the labyrinth streets. This church was built in the 1700’s and in need of restoration. But the beautiful view you get from there is worth the climb.
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  • Exotic Gardens: Once you’ve made your way up to the top of the village, take some time to explore the small gardens. There is a fee (6 euros)  but it is worth it if you like plants, which include a wide variety of cactus. The best part is the view from the top!
  • For more information on the gardens: click here.
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  • Nietzche Path: If you’re feeling up for some exercise, take this path from the bottom up, or vice versa. It is a bit slippery at times so I suggest you only walk it if you are in good condition or have a lot of time to take it slow. The path itself goes from Eze village down to Eze Bord de Mer (the coast) or the other way around!  It takes about 1 hour or so (2km) not counting the stops to take great pictures. Don’t wear sandals.. and bring water.

 

Note: Eze to Menton is about 17 km / 10 miles

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DAY TRIPS TO MENTON

view of menton south of france day trips

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The last city before the Italian border is Menton.

Take your time and enjoy walking around taking within the warm Mediterranean colors. Don’t miss :

  • The Old Town. It is pedestrian friendly and low key. Walk around, buy souvenirs or have a meal at one of the more typical restaurants serving local food.
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  • Basilique Saint Michel: From the Old Town square follow the narrow cobblestone path (steep) to the basilica. Be aware that it’s a bit of a climb but the style is typical of the area and worth a visit. Admire the beautiful views from the esplanade all the way to Italy!   Beware of opening hours, usually closed from noon to 3 but check first as this may change according to the season. On the way back take the stone steps leading down to the beach.
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  • Cimetiere du Vieux Chateau: The old castle is no longer. But the 19th-20th-century cemetery is an interesting site and very peaceful. You will be rewarded by amazing views of Old Menton and the Mediterranean Sea. Find your way from the old town through the cobblestone sloped streets. It’s quite the climb, but go slow and go all the way up!

 

So when you’re ready to take off, visit some of the beautiful ideas above and just explore. During your day trips open your eyes wide. Make sure to take your time.  Get the feel of the place. Enjoy a good lunch. Watch a sunset.

And if you like a certain place enough, turn it into a weekend trip!

Why not?

 

Enjoy Day Trips. Together  🙂

 

 

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