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Two weeks and more in South of France

Just like everyone looking for input about a trip I taking on Aug 25.

I will be staying with a friend in Grasse for a couple of weeks. She will have some free time but most of the time I will be solo. I then have a friend arriving for a month. Here are my first world problems :) My aim is to enjoy the area and not been in a mad dash rush as I do have time.

For the first two weeks I was thinking about doing some day trips from Grasse to the surrounding areas by train or bus. For that I was thinking of 5 or 6 days for the day trips. I could then drive to Montpelier for a few days and do the surrounding areas. Or I could just have a car and take a few short trips and still use Grasse as my base? What do you think would be the best use of time :)

Then when my friend comes we could do more extensive trips as we would have a car. We could even go into northern Italy for a few days.

Any suggestions for places and amount of time in the area would be greatly appreciated and the best method of transport as well. I do have a rental car booked for all the scenarios :) I have Rick's book and will be using that as a guide too.

Thanks everyone.

Posted by
484 posts

Sounds wonderful!

From Villefranch-sur-Mer, we visited Eze, Cagnes sur Mer to see https://www.cagnes-sur-mer.fr/culture/musee-renoir/ and Monte Carlo to tour Palais Princier which was beautiful! Loved all of it!

We haven't been to the perched medieval village of St Paul de Vence but it seems to be gorgeous and very popular!

Posted by
6515 posts

Our favorite day trips from Nice, not far from Grasse, were Antibes and St. Jean Cap Ferrat . We visited many other places but these two stood out. I would love to stay in both of them on a future trip. Beautiful, interesting, sites to see.
We took a bus to Cap Ferrat and a train to Antibes. St-Paul de Vence is mostly art galleries not a “real town” anymore. But pleasant enough to walk through. I would not describe it as gorgeous though. Visit nearby Vence to see the lovely Matisse chapel.

Posted by
18741 posts

Other possibilities:

  • Nice, of course: It has at least 6 art museums, a small medieval district and a lively market. I'd want multiple days there, because I like art.

  • Menton: Tourist-swamped medieval center, but two nice hillside gardens that are lightly visited.

  • Entrevaux: Medieval village located on a rather costly private rail line, but you could drive to it.

  • Vence: As opposed to St-Paul-de-Vance, Vence doesn't get a lot of tourists. It has a large medieval district. Don't show up at the beginning of the afternoon siesta if you want to see other folks out on the streets.

  • Biot: Smallish place known for glass production. Does get tourists, but not as many as a lot of other spots. It's inland and not terribly far from Grasse. There might even be bus service. I approached it from the opposite direction, the coast.

  • Tourrettes-sur-Loup: Highly recommended to me by a local as a lovely, atmospheric spot not flooded with tourists. I ran out of time before getting there.

I was also sorry not to get to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, on the Gorge du Verdon. Aside from scenery, the are is known for ceramic production.

I'd move to a more convenient location before trying to explore Provence. Even Aix-en-Provence would be nearly a 2-hour drive each way from Grasse, and it's a good-sized place so not a short stop. Folks with cars often seem to like staying in Saint-Remy-de-Provence. It has no rail service, but you could bus from there to Arles and Avignon if you wanted a break from driving every day.

Rick has a book focusing on southeastern France. It has a lot more information on that area than you'll find in the general book on France. I hope that's the one you have. If not, I suggest picking up the more-focused RS book or perhaps Lonely Planet or the Eyewitness Guide. As much time as you'll have in that area, it's definitely worth having more info.

You'll need to monitor the rules for traveling from France to Italy and back to France. Be sure you know what the current rules are. You might need to be tested, and I'm sure you wouldn't want to have to quarantine.

Posted by
939 posts

Here’s where you can go by direct train from Grasse for the day:
Nice (1h 15m) – stroll the Promenade des Anglais (4-miles) and visit the Chagall Museum.
Villefranche-sur-Mer (1h 30m).
Monaco (1h 45m).
Antibes (45-minutes).
Cannes (30-minutes).
And here’s where you can go by direct bus from Grasse:
Eze-le-Village (1h 30m).
Vence (45-minutes) and then take a bus to Saint-Paul-de-Vence (15-minutes) and back to Grasse (1h 45m).
Instead of going to Montpelier, I would stay in Grasse and rent a car to see:
Cap Ferrat (1h).
Grand Canyon du Verdun (2h).
Saint-Tropez (1h 30m).
Instead of going to IT, have you been to Provence? If not then drive from Grasse to Avignon (2h 45m) and make Avignon your home base to explore Provence. If you do go to IT, drive to Monterosso al Mare (4h 15m) and spend time in the Cinque Terre.

Posted by
75 posts

Those are all such great tips. I appreciate you taking the time to respond and if you think of anything else, feel free to let me know :)

Posted by
7530 posts

Folks, If you drive to Montpelier, you are going to end up in Vermont. It's easier to drive to Montpellier from Grasse.
Menton won't be flooded with tourists now, and most tourists there are Italians from northern Italy. There must have been a festival or something going on, Anne.
For France, especially if you are driving, I recommend the green Michelin series. RS books have their place and utilities, but for what you are doing the Michelin books cover in more depth. Good for slow travel.

Posted by
457 posts

As pointed out by MaryPat above, you can expect some of the journeys will take a while to get from Grasse. Cannes is your local hub. You can then transfer to the coastal line. Mouans-Sartoux (cute center, not so cute ring) is reachable by train and Mougins is also nearby (also available by the 600 bus)

In Cannes, there is a Ferry to St. Honorat (with a large monastery and winery). There is also ones to St. Tropez and Sainte Marguerite.

Beyond Tourettes Sur Loup is Gourdon, a lovely (if a bit commercial) village perchee. The Gorge du Loup is there and some hikes.

If you go to St Tropez, you can head to smaller nearby places like Ramatuelle (with the famous beach) and Gassin. I also enjoy that stretch of road up to Hyeres. From Hyeres, you can take a ferry to the Porquerolles (islands).

You are close to the Gorge du Verdon and the Luberon. There is a lot to see in that area before you head further west.

You can easily venture into Northern Italy (travel restrictions permitting). There are charming hill villages like Acquadolce and seaside resorts like Bordighera and San Remo.