Can’t stop, won’t stop. To continue my 2019 resolution of 1 new country per month, we planned a trip to Monaco for September. The best way to get to Monaco is by taking a short train ride from Nice, France.
This is why we chose to fly to Nice, which turned out to be super nice city btw! And might as well throw in a few other cities within the French Riviera while you’re at it. We ended up managing 2 cities per day. The plan was Nice on Friday, Menton and Monaco on Saturday, and Cannes and Antibes on Sunday. Nice was our homebase for the weekend.
Here. we. go!
Per usual, we took our super early 6AM flight out of Geneva on Friday and arrived in Nice by 8AM on October 25, 2019. We were picked up from the airport by a driver, complimentary from Booking.com. This was my first time arriving at a destination and not having to think about transportation. It was stress free getting picked up. Definitely a luxury I could get used to if I can afford it (I generally don’t think it’s worth the money).
We arrived way too early to be able to check into our hotel, so we just walked around with our luggage (mines a small backpack). On the way to look for a cafe to work from, we walked through this cool plaza and saw the Fountain of the Sun. It’s weird, and probably in my top 5 favorite fountains.
Right nearby is a pretty park, Promenade du Paillon. This green space has a large reflecting pool with fountains that dance around artistically.
We stumbled upon an open market not far from the park, Saleya Food Market. The market is open weekly from Tuesday through Saturday.
There was a constant flow of customers ordering from Socca du Cours, so we did the same. We got the socca, which is basically like a pancake or crêpe. This one was moist and had a slightly sweet flavor.
At lunch time, we found ourselves nearby Ancien Chateau. The location looked interesting from afar. There were two ways to go up towards the park, either by walking or by taking an elevator. Since we were pressed on time, we took the elevator.
The line to take the elevator was fairly fast. Also there wasn’t any entrance fee.
At the top, there were plenty of gorgeous views over Nice.
We took a long stroll around the park, which also turned out to have historic landmarks within it. There was cafe too. It was too beautiful outside to not get a tiny glass of white wine to enjoy the sun and views.
We chose to walk down instead of back tracking via the elevator. The Israelite Cemetery was on our way down, which turned out to be quite fascinating and full of history.
By now lunch time was over, and it was time to make our way back to the hotel to get our rooms. All of the little streets in Nice were simply beautiful. It’s quite clean in comparison to Paris.
For dinner we went to Restaurant La Taca d’Oli. I got the gnocchi and Erick got the muscles. Both were delicious.
There’s actually a lot to offer in Nice. But it can be hard to distinguish what’s for tourist and what’s not. It feels like everything is for tourists! At least the streets are walkable and the weather was great at night.
We had a couple night caps from Skylounge Nice Bar & Rooftop. I was a little hesitant to go to this bar at first because it was in a hotel and felt kind of fancy. I’m glad we checked it out however. It’s really small, but the views from the terrace are decent.
M E N T O N
On Saturday, we took a train from Nice to Menton. The train ride to Menton was only 40 minutes long, and really easy to navigate.
When we arrived in Menton, I didn’t know what to expect. I was afraid that I made a mistake picking this location, but it ended up being one of my favorites from the entire weekend.
Menton sits on the border of France and Italy. Because of this, there are influences from both cultures which can be observed by both the people and landmarks.
Like all of the cities that we’re visiting this trip, Menton is a coastal city. You don’t realize how nice it is to see the ocean until you no longer have easy access to one. Living in California my whole live, I’ve been spoiled!
I love all of the buildings in Menton, even the broken ones because of all the underlying textures. It has character.
We walked through another market. There were several tables selling only whole truffles, and for dirt cheap (at least for the common black truffles, not sure about the white ones).
Saw these flowers on a building and thought they were unlike any other flower that I’ve ever seen before. They almost look poisonous, and are very big! Just looked them up, it’s a Aristolochia Gigantea, aka Dutchman’s Pipe. Wonder if I could buy this for my future home, hehe.
Some more shots around Menton, just because I can’t get enough. If only I had a better camera, because this place is a photographer’s dream.
Even Erick had fun taking photos. He was telling me to pose!
We took some photos in the plaza area outside of Basilique Saint-Michel-Archange. The Basilica was under construction, so we couldn’t actually go inside. Outside was good enough for me. Like I said, I’m in love with this city’s yellow building architecture.
Our next stop was the Cemetery of the Old Château. Another great place to catch views or have a picnic by someone’s grave. Some of the tombs are quite fancy, I can only imagine how expensive it must be to
live be dead there.
M O N A C O
Around noon time, we were ready to head back towards Nice. But first, Monaco. The train ride was a short 11 minute ride.
You know when you’re riding past or through Monaco. There’s a different air about the place. The train station is fancy, the floors are fancy, and even the tourist somehow look fancier.
Although I was excited to visit the famed Municipality of Monaco, I was a little disappointed. It was fancy for sure, but nothing special.
The Casino de Monte-Carlo was beautiful from the outside (I didn’t think it would be worth it to pay and go inside), but felt very artificial. I don’t know, being there just made me question life, values, materialism, yada-yada. All the stuff we like to think and talk about.
Having lost pretty much all interest in seeing the rest of Monaco, we did the next best thing, we got some gelato. That’s always a picker upper.
Then we had a late lunch at Truffle Bistrot. This was the highlight of Monaco for me. Seeing all that black truffle shaved onto my pasta, and for a very affordable price! You know me, I like a good deal.
We left Monaco after finishing our meal, and headed back to Nice. I had a lovely night walking down the coast and enjoying the sea breeze. Like I said before, Nice is nice. Glad we picked it as our base.
C A N N E S
Sunday afternoon we took the train again, but this time to Cannes. It’s in the opposite direction that we traveled on Saturday, just ever so slightly further.
When we arrived, I wasn’t sure where to go, so I walked straight to Palais des Festivals. Honestly, I’m not so interested in the Cannes Film Festival and all that. We simply showed up to check it out.
What I did find interesting is that in Cannes, they use hands instead of shoes for celebrity imprints!
For lunch, I had originally planned of us to grab something from the Marché Forville market. The atmosphere there was very lively on Sunday. Great for brunch and outdoor chillin’, but Erick wasn’t feeling it.
We continued onwards up a hill looking for food. I saw a sign that said art and told Erick that I wanted to follow the signs. He doesn’t believe in following signs and arrows, but went along with me anyways. It took awhile to get to where the signs were leading us.
Eventually we arrived at Suquet des Art(iste)s – Résidence d’artistes. It was a surprisingly awesome art exhibition and space, who woulda guessed. Well worth the time spent wandering off.
Back on course in search for food, we landed upon Al Brunello. The food was quite good. I enjoyed every dish that I got from the set menu (although it was more expensive than I had realized).
A N T I B E S
Next up, we went to Antibes. This was along the way back towards Nice. I kind of wanted to go to Saint Tropez, but decided to keep that for a possible future trip.
Our trip to Antibes was somewhat unplanned, as I didn’t have any landmarks to visit or anything to do. We just wandered.
I do like carnivals. There wasn’t anything particularly special or different at this carnival from other ones that I’ve been to in the states, so we didn’t hang around too long here.
We walked along the coast until we arrived at Musée Picasso.
Inside were many different works of art by Picasso, like this one below. Quite fascinating art pieces that never fails to put a smile on my face.
In general, there seemed to be a fair amount of local artists around Antibes. I found Antibes to be more enjoyable than Cannes.
There are also a lot of bars just a street over for the museum. That’s where we grabbed a couple of beers.
Antibes is a laid back city with lots of money.
We walked around the port area with all of the yachts. I’ve never seen so many luxury yachts in my life! I even saw ones that had ship crew working on them to prepare dinner on deck. That’s fancy. I’d like to try my hand at boat life someday.
After Antibes, we went back to Nice for the last time and had our last meal before saying goodbye to the French Riviera.
Funny thing is, this last meal that we had in Nice, just so happened to be the same meal that we had the night before. We just didn’t realize that we went to the same family of restaurants (it was under a different name). How annoying, am I right? More so because the food was so-so.
Would I go back to the French Riviera? Heck yea! But probably not the same places. I’d go back to Nice though. In general, I thought Monaco and Cannes were whatevers. Menton was beautiful for photography reasons, and Antibes is like the friend whose rich but doesn’t flaunt it.
If I were to go back again, I’d probably check out different parts of the coast and also visit during the summer time instead. I heard that the beaches in Saint Tropez are nice. Wanna come with?