Hi everyone - I just found out I'm going to a conference for work in Marseille in a few weeks. I'll probably go a few days early and would like to see a little bit more of the French Riviera. What 2 other spots would you suggest going to? Must be train/bus accessible because I won't be renting a car. My travel interests are photography, the outdoors/being outside, and good food :)
We enjoyed a morning in St Paul de Vence - if you like taking pics of old doors and lovely courtyards, this is the place for you. We also enjoyed Nice, of course and we also enjoyed walking around Monaco, and Eze.
My wife and I enjoyed Villefranche Sur Mer, even though we only stopped there for an hour on the way bay on the train from Monaco to Nice. Next time we will try and stay there instead of Nice. Although, I hear that it is a cruise stop and it's a very small town so there is a chance that could overwhelm the place on a given day. (I Googled it and found a site called curisemapper that shows what ships are in port on a given day). Nice can be very gritty but my most lingering memories are of the area around the train station, but the last night we had dinner in the old town and it was a lot nicer. The beachfront promenade is quite nice in Nice. We found Monaco/Monte Carlo to be fine o.k. but not the sort of place we long to return to.
Thank you both for the tips! Looks like all of these places are right around Nice - Would you recommend doing Nice + one of them over going to Nice + Cannes? Or doing one of them + Cannes?
Not that all the other places aren't great, but I would recommend Cassis, much closer to Marseille and lovely - easily reachable by bus. The Calanques there are very picturesque. You may need to arrange a boat trip to visit them. (I no longer have my RS Provence book, so I can't be very helpful about that.)
Note that Marseilles, while on the Mediterranean, is not part of the French Riviera, but several hours away by rail or car.
If you want to see Nice, Cannes, Monaco, St. Paul de Vence, or other places in that area (which are all indeed accessible easily by train or bus from Nice), you'll want to fly into Nice and out of Marseille, and book your Nice to Marseille train in advance for better prices (but since you're traveling in a few weeks, the best prices are probably gone).
If you're flying round trip to Marseille, you can see the places in and near Nice, if you don't mind several hours on the train each way. Again, you'll want to book the trains ahead for better prices.
If you want things closer to Marseille, look into Arles, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Nimes (my favorite, with an almost intact amphitheater and nice town center), and Orange (a bit grungy as a town, but has a Roman theater with an intact theatrical wall). All of these, as well as Cassis, are accessible from Marseille by train or bus.
Love Harold's suggestions, I based in Nimes a couple of years ago Nd visited Orange, Arles, Pont du Gard, and several other places. Nimes has a big bus station behind the train station.
I also loved St-Paul-de-Vence.
Can't comment on Cannes - had planned to visit, but Rick Steves wasn't very big on it...not much to see, I guess, other than the sea front - I love walking the Promenade Anglais in Nice...and going up Castle Hill for amazing views
We didn't do much in Monaco other than wander along the water and admire the Casino from the outside (and window shop the tres expensive jewelry in the shops by the casino) - there was a lovely Japanese Garden we wandered thru (not very large) - I'd probably see Eze before Monaco.
Thank you all so much for the replies and recommendations! I will look into all those places. We are planning to spend 2 days in Nie before we go to Marseille, and thinking we'll take a day trip one of those 2 days to one of the towns near Nice like Villefranche sur mer or Eze.