We had a wonderful eight day trip to Nice in June of 2012. This was our second trip in eight months; in October of 2011 we did two weeks between France and Italy, and stayed three nights in Nice, so we had some idea of what we wanted to do and where we wanted to stay. We stayed at the B4 Nice park hotel on the jardins de Albert 1er, just off of the promenade. Our room was upgraded to a top floor ocean view room with tow balconies over looking the park, promenade and the sea. It was a beautiful room with thick wooden beams in the ceiling and a lot of light, as well as a huge bath tub. And in a fantastic location! The park across the street has an amphitheater and there was music every night - we had free tickets to the concert from our balcony! The staff did an excellent job cleaning the room, too. (We were concerned about the hotel before we went, owing to a number of very negative reviews on trip advisor, but these must have been from competing hotels. We had a great stay.) In October we stayed at the Hotel Massena, just off the Place Massena - this is an adorable boutique hotel with great rooms and excellent service. We didn't go back there the second time only because we were going to be in town longer and wanted a hotel on the promenade.
We took an incredible hike up the Chemin de Nietzche, named after the philosopher, who purportedly did this same hike every day from Eze Bord La Mer (15 min by train from Nice) to Eze village. The hike afforded us stunning views of Cap Ferrat and the coast. We stopped a couple of times to watch sea planes land and take off again. We realized, about half way up, that we were the only people hiking up - everyone else was going down. It was curious, but we didn't think anything of it until we got nearly to the top - we'd each brought 3 L of water and it was gone. We'd drunk it all. At the very top of the path, there was a defibrillator box. Note to travellers: don't do this if you have a heart condition, and bring plenty of water! If you're accustomed to steep hikes, though, this one was worth it for the views, though Eze le village is not much to write home about.
We wanted to go to La Turbie to see the ruin, but there is no direct transport from Eze le village to La Turbie, unless you want to pay 40 euro for a cab (we had the option to share one with some other tourists, which would have decreased the cost, but we didn't want to wait). So we walked from Eze to La Turbie, along the Corniche road. This was, in hindsight, a terrible idea. We're lucky we didn't get hit by a car - there is no shoulder and no pedestrian lane, and we had to jump over the guardrail a couple of times to avoid getting hit by speeding cars coming around blind curves. And a fog had descended while we were walking, and visibility was nearly zero. The stupidity of our decision was made completely apparent when we came across a memorial plaque for a young man named Jerome, who died in 2006 at that very spot. The sign was in French, but my fiance 'translated' it for me: "I think it says 'Jerome's fiancee also wanted to walk.'" (May Jerome rest in peace. I don't think I'll ever forget him.) La Turbie is wonderful, though - the grounds of the ruins have magnificent views of Monaco, there were goats frolicking on the rock ledges just outside of the fence that added to the scenery, and the ruins themselves are very impressive. The internet cafe/bar in La Turbie, mentioned in the Rick Steve's guide as having great views, really does. They also have friendly, English speaking service and a great atmosphere. To get back from La Turbie, we took the 100 bus down the mountain to Monaco and returned by train.
From the place Massena, you can go anywhere on the Côte d'Azur for one euro by bus. We took advantage of this twice, taking buses to the pocket beaches on cap ferrat. Both plage passable and Paloma beach on cap ferrat are worth the thirty minute bus ride - plage passable has great afternoon sun and is convenient to the famous Villa de Rothschild, while Paloma beach was sunny in the morning and shady in the afternoon. It is very convenient to the hiking trails around the tip of cap ferrat. The day we were at Paloma beach, the air was so clear, we could see all the way to Bordighera on the Italian coast. Also included in the view was the village perche of Eze, the Roman ruins of the Tropium Alpium, and the tip of Monaco.
Other highlights of the trip included a walk up to Cimiez to the home of Matisse and the monastery where he is buried (Matisse is far better represented in many American museums than he was in his own home, but the Monastery gardens are a must see, both for the flower beds and arbors, laid out as they have been for five hundred years, and the amazing view they afford of the Colline d'chateau and the coast.) we love the walk to the top of the Coline for the view. We ate at every restaurant on the place Rossetti, behind the cathedral, and they are all great. This is my favorite place to dine in Nice - the square has great ambiance and, though the restaurants are all reasonably priced, feels more upmarket than other dining spots. I especially recommend La Maison de la Pizza, tucked slightly back down a side street off of the plaza, for its daily specials and the character of its waitstaff. The food was always fresh and delicious (we always ordered one of the specials, which was written on a chalk board on our table. We don't speak French and there are no English menus or English speaking waitstaff at the restaurant.) We went there twice, and were amazed at the quality and good prices of the food and service. We had a wonderful trip and can't wait to return to the cote d'azur!
Really enjoyed your trip report so far Kate, thanks! Will keep reading...
Thanks! This is the whole report - I had originally broken it up into multiple postings - but then read the guidelines and made it all one post - but the title can't be changed apparently!