If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you know that a couple weeks ago, I took quite the trip, visiting the South of France, Italy and Budapest! I mulled over how I wanted to recap my trip on the blog and figured it would be easiest (and shortest) to recap city by city. So… starting with where it all began, today I’m sharing a little guide to Nice + Monte Carlo.
I always had lofty expectations of the South of France. I grew up reading US Weekly and for years I saw the stars jetting off to Cannes for the film festival every May. It was always painted in such a dreamy, picturesque way that from the age of eight, it has consistently been on my list of places to visit. When I arrived in Nice, right off the train I could feel the sense of ease that comes with the ocean air. The buildings were charming and candy colored and I knew I liked it right away… plus, just stepping off the train you felt like you were on vacation!
As we went through our stay, Nice actually waned on me. Perhaps it was it’s similarity to California or just that there’s not a ton to do unless you’re laying out to tan (which sadly, it was too cold to do), but as time went on the charm I initially felt wore off. Has anyone else had a similar experience?
Monte Carlo (Beware of the topless ladies!)
What I really loved was our day trip to Monaco (which we sadly didn’t bring our bathing suits to because we thought it would be too cold- who knew going thirty minutes east would make such a difference!). As you’ll soon find out, Monaco was my preference over Nice for its beauty, plethora of activities and overall essence of decadence and fun.
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After weighing our options, we decided that Airbnb was gonna be the way to go for this whole trip (it might have also been that I had just watched this TED talk and it made me love the company!). Starting off in Nice, the experience could not have been better! Our apartment was super central and on a really fun (and car free) street that had all sorts of cafes, bars and shops! The apartment was spotless, cozy and had everything we needed. Seriously can’t recommend this place enough.
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Eat Fenocchio Gelato // While by no stretch of the imagination is this gelato the best I’ve had, but it’s definitely the best in Nice. With a few shops around town and usually a line to accompany it, it’s definitely worth a visit. They have tons of fun choices but beware that they don’t let you try any! I so wanted to try the lavender which I had heard was amazing, but sadly wasn’t able to.
Colline du Chateau Overlook // I’ve never met an overlook that I didn’t like, and this one in Nice was no exception. It’s a pretty easy hike to the top with nice views all along the way. Plus, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the irony of life when one of the railings had painted on it, “Je t’aime plus haute que les étoiles” which is the same sentiment of a phrase my mom has always said to me. Just a little cherry on top.
Visit Monte Carlo // Only 30 minutes by train (and seven euro), Monte Carlo is a must do. After all, Monaco is the second smallest country in the world! (P.S. You don’t need your passport, nor do you get a stamp- ha!) It also might be the least expensive way to knock off another country on your list. The picture below is right off the train station- amazing, right?!
Eat Beach Front in Monte Carlo // Monte Carlo is all about glitz and glam, but it’s also one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The water is breathtaking and the sun was shining bright, which made a beachside lunch a no brainer. There are all sorts of restaurants to choose from and you really can’t go wrong with any of them! Here we had piña coladas and caprese… an odd mix but it so damn good!
Enjoy a crisp Côte d’Azur Rosé // While the rosé wasn’t quite as inexpensive as I imagined it would be (I mean, they make it right there, come on!), it was still so fun to drink rosé in one of the places they actually make it.
Go to the Monte Carlo Casino // Although this requires a bit of dress (not nearly as much as it used to *sigh*), it’s worth looking the part in Monte Carlo. The Casino is such a classic and historic piece of Monaco’s history that it felt wrong not to go. We went around 4pm which was definitely not the move. If you’re gonna go, wait until it’s later so that you can really have the full experience. While older French and Italian men were gambling away unknown large amounts of money, there wasn’t the air of decadence that I know exists at night. We walked away loosing five euro on the slot machines and not understanding any bit of the legit gambling that was going on (it was in French after all!), but it was still really cool to see. (My picture didn’t turn out, but the Hotel de Paris is right next door… you get the vibe)
See the View from Princes Palace in Monaco // While it is a bit of a walk to get there, the view is breath.tak.ing. After I caught my breath from all the stairs and steep hills, I stood in awe of the majestic beauty that is Monaco. Plus, it’s pretty cool that from the view you can almost see the entire country. Baddass? I think yes.
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Le Negresco Hotel // Possibly the biggest identifier of Nice, the Le Negresco hotel is sadly no longer open to the public. However, when you’re walking by on the boardwalk, it’s definitely something to look out for as it is truly so pretty!
Rocky Beaches // I had absolutely no idea that the beaches in Nice are all rock! Therefore, it’s not the most comfortable beach experience I’ve ever had. If you’re going to Nice to mainly enjoy the coastline and play in the water, I would suggest looking for a hotel that has a sand beach.
Have you visited Nice or Monte Carlo? What did you think?
Up next: Venice, Italy