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French Riviera--is it worth it?

If days are limited, is the French Riviera worth the 6 hour train ride from Paris, or is it a lot of really nice, expensive beaches?

Posted by
4719 posts

The beaches aren't anything special and the place is starting to look tired and dated. I much preferred exploring the old towns in the surrounding area. If you're going to hire a car and explore I'd say go for it otherwise I wouldn't bother personally but to each their own.

Posted by
21313 posts

France has many wonderful destinations. You don't have to spend 6 hours on a train to get to a great place. I like the Riviera towns and Provence (spent about a month there last year and I don't do beaches at all), but I'd never recommend that someone go all the way to the southern coast for just a few days. For one thing, it's an area that needs some time so you can visit both coastal towns and hill towns. And I wouldn't want to choose between the Riviera and Provence.

You can get a good look at Alsace in a few days. You can get to Colmar in 2-1/2 hours; the large city of Strasbourg is even closer.

Lyon is great and is also only about 2 hours from Paris.

Many people love the Loire Valley (I wouldn't--I'm not a palace person).

Those are just three examples. There are lots of beautiful small towns that are closer to Paris.

Posted by
2002 posts

Well I have spent some time in Nice, and personally love it. Lovely area, very relaxing, charming Old Town.

Posted by
776 posts

Your choice of course. I don't do beaches or waterfront stuff. But there are marvelous art museums, art sites like Cocteau's chapel, Picasso's chapel, Matisse's chapel and lovely inland towns. Problem is that on a short trip you won't be able to manage all of that and you just might not be searching for art destinations. Maybe Brittany would be a better choice for you. A guide book should help with your decision.

Posted by
11292 posts

Actually, many of the beaches aren't "nice" - they're rocks. Only a few towns have sandy beaches. And some of the towns have expensive sections, but even the two most famous for that - Cannes and Monaco - have other attractions.

I agree with acraven, though - I think it's worth seeing, but I don't think it's so special as to be worth a long detour on a short trip, although others obviously disagree and love it. For me as a city person, Lyon is a much more worthwhile detour, but as acraven says, a lot depends on your interests and tastes.

How many nights do you have? Can you arrange to fly into Paris and out of Nice or vice versa, so you can eliminate backtracking? Does the Riviera particularly draw you, or are you going just because it's famous? Give us more details, and we can give a more tailored response.

Posted by
2 posts

We say it's COMPLETELY worth the 6 hour train ride, to the French Rivera, from Paris!

Take the train from Nice to Cannes, it was less that 10 Euros and only took 40 minutes! (The cities are pronounced, Nice, like english "niece", in French (thats my english phonetics) and Cannes, is "can", in French pronunciation. Those are English Phonetic Spellings for french pronunciations of those City's Names). Make sure to use the train, because it's cheap, runs low down on the hill, by the coast, to/through, the coastal cities of Nice, Cannes, and the tiny, Municipality/Princedom/Country, of Monaco (in Monaco's District of Monte Carlo, think Jams Bond, you can rent a Chaise Lounge, on an expensive sandy beach, at an obscenely expensive hotel, for a bundle of Euros, if that interests you....(That's your really nice, expensive beach you spoke about.)
Per Rick Steves' advice, we made Nice our home base, in The French Riviera, when my mother and I went on a tour of Europe, for the whole month of May, 2014 .
We spent 5 nights in Rome, flew to Nice first thing in the AM, and spent 2 nights in Nice (a total of 3 days, on the Rivera), then few to Paris for 7 days. Then we took the EuroStar Train, under the English Channel, to London, for 8 days. What a Blast!
Spending our first day, in the Riviera, in Nice-- walking around, taking the light-rail through the city, shopping and seeing the sights. We also walked along the beach, on the amazing, super-wide, wooden boardwalk, that runs a good mile of the beach in Nice. (Nice's beach is golf-ball-sized-and-larger-rocks, but the Ocean is AMAZING colors of blue and green!

Its SO worth the 6-hour trip! The French Riviera is BEAUTIFUL!!!
But the best beach is in Cannes, and we spent our second day at the Cannes Film Festival, and on the FREE, White-Sandy Beach! We watched BIG Yachts in the harbor and on the ocean, ate the very best Chocolate-ChoicolateChip muffin, from the Train Station, in Cannes. I took a quick nap under a thin sheet, on the beach (we used Rick Steves's Large Ponchos, to lay on, on the sandy beach), while my mom walked along the warm water-line.
We spent our 3rd, and last, French Riviera Day, in the tiny, Costal Country of Monaco! They were preparing for the Grand Prix of Monaco. We ate, 2-Euro, Hot Fudge Sunday's at McDonalds, in Monaco, overlooking the French Rivera's beautiful Blue-Green Water through a wall of windows!

We recommend going what we did. We took a cab, on the low road, slowest way to/through the coastal cities), from Nice to Monaco, a 35 Minute ride, with BlueGreen water to see the whole way. It's 14 minutes by train, and you can take the train to Monaco, too, because the train goes all the way from Monaco to, well...Marseille, I think.
So we think it's worth the trip!! AND you can see all thee of those cities, including a few hours on the free sandy beach in Cannes, in one day, cheaply, because of the train. But if you have the spare 50-75 Euros, take a cab, along the low road, for the view of the coast and ocean, between Nice and Monaco.

We stayed at Hotel Victor Hugo Nice, which is a thee-star hotel, that's really nice, has a free, hearty, breakfast, and has 2 balconies, on the corner rooms. It was recommended by Rick Steves' 2014 French Riviera Guidebook.

Posted by
11292 posts

"But if you have the spare 50-75 Euros, take a cab, along the low road, for the view of the coast and ocean, between Nice and Monaco."

You can also take the bus between Nice and Monaco. It runs along the same road, four times an hour, for €1.50.

Posted by
3936 posts

I think the bigger question is what do you mean by 'limited days'? If you only have a few days in Paris, then not really worth it. Would you only be able to stay one night? Not really worth it. We've been to the area 3 times and quite enjoy it...there are lots of little towns along the way and most linked easily by bus or train.

Posted by
512 posts

For a few days, you might consider another side trip from Paris (Normandy, Bourgogne, etc). Many combine it with a trip to Provence or the Italian Riviera (or Barcelona). It's a region of France that still bears an Italian influence, and has a more relaxed, (perhaps more) friendly culture. It's really more than beaches, which is part of the reason it endures in popularity. The same things that drew the famous artists and the international tourists for years -- the light, the water, the weather, the culture, the cuisine, the spectacular vistas, the villages and vibrant cities. We have a place a block from the beach and although we always walk along it, we rarely go to the beach except to have a lunch gazing over the waves (particularly in the offseason).

Posted by
4 posts

Yes, it's worth it! In '12 I stayed a week in Paris and took the train down to Provence (Avigon) and the Riviera (Nice). I had a magical time at each location. While in the Riviera, I went to Grasse (I am a perfume nut) one day and took a minibus tour of the Riviera including Monico. I then took the train back to either Paris or the de Gaulle airport; I forget.

Posted by
2916 posts

When we stayed in Provence several years ago, we took a drive towards the Riviera, and got out of there as soon as we could. I thought it was horrendous. Overbuilt and too many people.

Posted by
21859 posts

It is the occupants of the beaches that are beautiful!!! One of my favorite travel picture was take on the beach at Nice.

Posted by
1775 posts

Guess that depends on your interests and how much time you have.

It is completely different and in that respect can be reached very quickly comparatively.
You probably won't see any really nice beaches. Florida has much better beaches, put it that way.

It is beautiful though.
Nice is a fantastic tourist / walking city.
Some of the hillside towns are really nice and so different than anything in the US or Paris.

For me I would say I liked it but prefer other areas like the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre in Italy.
As the French Riviera is a little too built up in comparison for my taste ; if you are into luxurious things, fine dining and social scenes though it has that covered.

Posted by
3936 posts

Barbara - checking Rome2Rio - it's about 5h 45m by train!

Posted by
11973 posts

A little over an hour to fly out of Orly to Nice. The train station is about a mile from the airport, so taxi there and then train up (or down) the coast.

I don't generally make day trips that are long distances. It's your trip, however, so you get to pick your top things to see.

Posted by
1963 posts

We got the Redneck Riviera down in Bama and the Florida panhandle. Now that's your budget option, my friends. It probably isn't exactly like France.

Posted by
3257 posts

I've never been to the French Riviera, but I bet it's sand is not as blindingly white as that on the Redneck Riviera. But I don't find the accommodations on the Redneck Riviera to be cheap either, unless there are some places I don't know about.

Posted by
512 posts

The TGV between Marseilles and Nice pretty much runs at normal speed, so it takes another 3 hours to complete the full journey to Nice. If you are already at CDG or need to be at CDG, then a flight is more convenient (and can be well-priced when purchased in advance). If your destination/departure is Paris center, the TGV may make more sense. Transport from the NCE airport is relatively cheap and quick (as low as 1.50E on the local bus).

The sands or pebbles in that part of the French Riviera won't be blinding like the Redneck Riviera, I imagine. However, the areas to the west, say Le Cannet, probably are comparable overall (maybe a touch more golden).

Posted by
697 posts

Hey Big Mike, I've been to the Redneck Riveria! FloraBama!!! LOL Interested in this post though, since we are thinking of traveling to Nice for my birthday trip in January. Well, I'm thinking of it and I book the trips so that's what matters. :)

Posted by
1963 posts

Diana I'm looking forward to your post comparing the French and Redneck Rivieras.

Barb I appreciate your clever mix of snark and cynicism.