Please sign in to post.

Help with Nice itinerary - Villefranche Sur Mer/Cap Ferrat vs. Monaco

I’m currently in the Loire Valley and heading to the French Riveria tomorrow and need some help with my itinerary! Due to some travel challenges, I’ve had to change my itinerary and now have one day less in the region.

I’ll be staying in Nice and had planned to spend one day in each of the following: Nice, Villefranche Sur Mer/Cap Ferrat, Monaco and Antibes. Now that I have one less day, I need to eliminate one of those options (or perhaps compress my plans a bit?). I’m torn between Villefranche Sur Mer/Cap Ferrat and Monaco - I know they’re very different, but I’m looking for your suggestions as to which to choose.

For Villefranche Sur Mer/Cap Ferrat, I’m interested in the Villa Ephrussi and Plage de Passable, in addition to Rick’s self guided walk for both towns. The guidebook says Monaco is a “Riviera must” and I’d plan to do Rick’s Monaco walk in addition to visits to Prince’s Palace, the cathedral, Monte Carlo and La Turbie. I don’t think I could go wrong either way, but would greatly appreciate insight and feedback!!

Posted by
6112 posts

I would eliminate Monaco. The location is stunning, but it feels soulless to me - the historical part of Monaco is too manicured, and the modern part has some pretty drab architecture in my opinion. As for Monte-Carlo, the casino is beautiful but that's about it.
But that's only my opinion of course :-)

Posted by
3961 posts

We were in the Loire Valley in September 2013 and ended our tour in Nice. Six of our tour group chose to extend our stay another night. We added the Matisse & Chagall museums and a wonderful visit to Monaco. We took the bus there & the train back. Was it worth visiting? We enjoyed the gorgeous scenery, history, architecture and a wonderful seaside lunch to celebrate the end of a memorable journey. I understand that the train stops in Eze, but we didn’t have the time to stop. Whatever you choose you can’t go wrong. Enjoy!

Posted by
7624 posts

I'm with Balso -- I'd visit a village like Roquebrune Cap Martin over Monaco which as noted has a stunning location but nothing much else.

Posted by
7021 posts

Monaco is a must see. If you can stop at Arles, also that ancient Roman Aqueduct Pont du Gard is worth a stop.

Also, I recommend visiting Saint-Paul de Vence

Posted by
24949 posts

I certainly didn't consider Monaco a must-see when I spent over 2 weeks in Nice in 2015. Thus I can't compare its virtues to the other places on your list, but I did see and enjoy them. If I went to Monaco my main interest would be the gardens, but I know some others are interested in the car collection. I believe the aquarium is quite good, but there are good aquariums in the US, so with limited time along the Riviera I'd focus my sightseeing elsewhere.

To clarify, the train stops in Eze-sur-Mer. The picturesque Eze you see in photos (sometimes called Eze-Village) is a bus or taxi ride uphill.

Posted by
559 posts

Faced with the same choice two years ago we read the RS guidebook carefully and chose Villefranche and Cap Ferrat. It was a great day. For us, I’m sure it was the right choice.

Posted by
2187 posts

I would skip Monaco in favor of seeing Villa Ephrussi and Eze le Village.

Posted by
31123 posts

I love the three-dimensionalness of Monaco - how you can get everywhere in the very hilly city/country on the nearly level by using all the free escalators, moving pavements and lifts/elevators. It all holds together in a very unusual way, like an mc Escher painting.

For absolute Monaco trivia collectors, the view from the upstairs McDonalds dining room in the Centre commercial de Fontvieille district over the small harbour is exquisite, and you look up the Rocher too.

The Japanese Garden on top of a carpark is cool too.

I love the whimsicalness - the creative use of as much of the three dimensional space as possible for the benefit of those who live there. Some people go there for the rich and famous, or to avoid them. I couldn't care - I did Jury Duty in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica - for me they are just part of the scenery. It was fun having lunch at the next table to a former world champion Formula One driver, but I didn't bother him and he didn't bother me.

I go as often as I can.

I lake Cap Ferrat too, and Villefranche-sur-Mer, and I especially like Beaulieu-sur-Mer. And I like to walk along the path next to the shore.

I just find Monaco unique.

Posted by
614 posts

It all depends on your perspective. For some people, it is a bucket list item. But it is limited, and it may be possible in a car to visit multiple spots in a long day if you cut out a walking tour or two (VSM, Villa Ephrussi, up to Eze and on to La Turbie -- or skip -- ending in Monaco in the late afternoon).

If you did have a car still you could combine Antibes with a trip to St. Paul de Vence and Vence. Even by train you could add another destination to your Antibes visit, or add some beach time (although it is cooler now)

Posted by
6205 posts

Hi Alexandra,

I spent five nights in Nice in Sept. 2019. I took the bus over to Villa Ephrussi to arrive just as it opened. For me, I enjoyed the gardens even more than the villa, so I headed to them first and took lots of gorgeous photos with no one in the photos. The villa is beautiful- the whole setting just spectacular. Be sure to have a coffee/pastry break on the terrace or have lunch there.

The next day I took the train to Menton to walk through the Italian hilly area with all of the interesting lanes of warm oranges & golds - again lots of special photos (one enlarged into a canvas in my office). On the way back, I stopped at Monaco, mainly to add the country stamp to my passport. I probably only spent an hour and a half there because the extraordinary wealth just didn’t appeal to me.

In Nice I took a food tour and enjoyed it so much - history, culture and great food in one tour!

Have a great time!

Posted by
397 posts

This sounds like a great trip! Definitely keep Villefranche Sur Mer/Cap Ferrat in your plans. The scenery there is spectacular and the town has such a charming waterfront. Since you are staying in Nice you would not necessarily need a full day there and could still go to Monaco from there for a couple of hours. In Nice we strolled along Promenade des Anglais, walked by the port and WWI memorial, took the stairs to Parc du Chateau to Bellanda Tower for the views, saw the Old town flower market and cafes in Vieux Nice on Cours Saleya and Place Massena. These could all be done in the mornings or evenings while you are in Nice and still allow time to take the bus to Monaco during the day. Monaco is unique. In Nice we took the bus from the Le Port bus stop and got off in Monaco at the Place d'Armes stop and walked up to the Prince's Palace and got a combo ticket to the Palace and the Oceanography Museum where we had lunch on the rooftop cafe. Then we walked up the stairs across from the aquarium and took the bus to Place du Casino to see the Casino and Cafe de Paris, and got on the bus there back to Nice. Certainly doable, depending on what you enjoy and are interested in. Have a great time!

Posted by
10119 posts

Delete Monaco and focus on Cap Ferrat and Antibes. They were our favorite day trips when we spent two weeks in Nice.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you all for your thoughtful suggestions and thorough replies - I really appreciate it! Now that I’m here in Nice (and absolutely loving it!!), I’ll see how my days pan out and if there’s an opportunity to go to Monaco, I will. If not, I’ll save it for another trip!

Posted by
31123 posts

if you take the train to Monaco from Nice (or even to Menton which passes through) sit upstairs on the right hand side facing forwards. As you leave Nice the beach of Villefranche sur Mer will come into view and the train stops right at it. Most trains call at each of the few stations giving great views, and as the train moves it pops into and out of little tunnels giving beautiful peek-a-boo views of the stunning Med.

Posted by
105 posts

I just spent 2 nights in Nice and am now spending 2 nights in ville franche sur mer. I really like ville franche, it is smaller so it’s more my vibe, and we went to cap feret yesteray. Today we went to menton (which I loved) and then decided to stop in Monaco on the train which passes through on its way back to ville franche. It was a hot sunny day, excellent weather however the downfall of that is everyone wears masks even outdoors in monaco. It was soo hot! So keep that in mind. No where else in France so far have I seen everyone wearing masks outside so I assume it was a law, I saw lots of signs. Also catching the train back from Monaco to ville franche it was sooo busy at the station and on the train we were all standing in the hallways and the stairs.