Oh the French Riviera. A playground for the rich and famous to escape the stress of their day to day lives while laying on their yachts and sipping champagne. And even if you have champagne taste on a beer budget (or yacht taste on a kayak with a hole in the bottom budget) a visit to the South of France is definitely doable. Nice, France is known as one of the top spots in the South of France and makes for the perfect home base during a trip to the French Riviera. With crystal clear blue waters, mouth-watering inducing restaurants and bars, and tons of sites worth exploring, a trip to Nice is sure to keep you busy yet relaxed during your adventure. However, if you’re looking to trade in a beach day on Nice’s stone beach with a more comfortable white sand beach, or simply just want to go explore a new town, the following destinations make for the perfect day trips from Nice, France.
Where Is Nice, France?
The city of Nice is located in the French Riviera in the southeastern coast of France. The region surrounding the French Riviera is referred to as the Côte d’Azur and contains many unique and historical cities. This area of France is situated along the stunning blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea making it the perfect place for a relaxing beach vacation. Nice, France is located just about 30 km from the border of France and Italy and has a direct train between the two countries.
How Do You Get To Nice From Paris?
There are four main ways to travel from Paris to Nice that cover a range of schedules and budgets. By far the quickest way to travel to Nice from Paris is by plane. A flight from Paris will take just slightly over an hour, making it the quickest option for your adventure. While you might think flying is the more expensive travel option, budget airlines, like RyanAir and EasyJet, offer many direct flights out of Paris for an affordable price. Depending on when you are searching for your flights and what dates you want to go, you might be able to find flights for just a few euros. Just keep in mind, that many of the budget airlines do not include luggage with their tickets, so costs can add up while flying. If you’re looking for a scenic travel day, traveling by train is sure to leave you speechless. Enjoy views of France as you speed through the countryside in a direct train from Paris. There are eight direct trains that leave from Paris Gare de Lyon daily and whose journey takes roughly six hours to complete. Expect to pay anywhere from one hundred to three hundred euros for your train journey. If you are hoping for a more affordable travel option, traveling by bus is possible as well. While the average journey will take about fifteen hours to complete, you can expect to pay about half the cost for a bus than you would for a train. Lastly, for a more leisurely journey, consider renting a car to do a road trip from Paris to Nice. The journey takes about ten hours to complete but can be completed over multiple days to shorten the daily driving time.
How Many Days Do You Need In Nice, France?
How many days you need to explore Nice and the French Riviera will ultimately depend on what type of vacation you are aiming to have. While Nice has many unique sites, most of them can be seen over the course of about two days. However, if you want to add on extra adventures, like renting a boat for the day, you can easily extend your stay a few more days. If you’re aiming to have a relaxing beach vacation, Nice does not have the best beach options. Nice has stone beaches, so unless you are willing to shell out some extra money to pay for a lounge chair, you’ll likely want to take a day trip to a neighboring town with white sand beaches. Still, if you’re not looking to pack up your suitcase and move to a new town in the French Riviera every two or three days, Nice makes for the perfect home base for a week-long vacation as it is just a quick train ride from many nearby cities and beaches.
What Are The Best Day Trips From Nice, France?
After exploring Nice, France, head to Gare de Nice-Ville and hop on a train to the following nearby cities and beaches. Train rides are quick, affordable, and make for the perfect day trip adventure.
Menton previously formed the border between Provence and Genoa and is now located very close to the Italian border. Due to these cultural influences, this charming town will have you feeling like you stepped into a French version of Cinque Terre. Upon arriving in Menton from Nice enjoy a short, scenic walk along the coastline that guides you into the town center. Marvel at the many boats in the marina and stacked buildings in vibrant yellows, pinks, and oranges hues. Get your booty workout in for the day by climbing the stairs that guide you up through the town to the Saint-Michel Basilica. The winding cobblestone streets of Menton can keep you entertained for hours. However, if strolling about and window shopping isn’t for you, head to the Bal Rahmeh Botanical Gardens which will feel like a little piece of paradise. Menton is known for their lemons, so while visiting make sure to try some lemon shaved ice and spritz on some of their infamous lemon cologne. Here you will find many beautiful white sand beaches with lots of restaurants along them. For a more relaxing day trip pack your swimsuit and spend the day sunbathing in the sand and swimming in the warm Mediterranean Sea.
For the beach babes and bros visiting Nice, a trip to Cap d’Ail is the number one stop for the picture perfect beach day. With plenty of beach options to relax on, you are sure to find the ideal sunbathing spot. While in Cap d’Ail hike along the Mala Beach Coastal Path which will take you along the best beach views of the city.
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Whether you want to search for royalty, have a need for speed, or hope to hit it big on the blackjack table, head to Monaco and Monte Carlo for an exciting day trip from Nice. From the Monaco train station start your day off by walking the 13th-century Palais du Prince. While you might not see any princes or princesses strolling about, you will get to see stunning views that look down into the marina full of mega-yachts. If the flag is raised, it means the Prince is currently in residence at the palace. Just a short walk from the palace is the Monaco Cathedral where all former princes and princesses, including Grace Kelly, are buried. The cathedral is free to walk through. Just steps away from the Monaco Cathedral is the Musée Oceanographique. Dive deep below the Mediterranean waters to learn about all of the unique creatures that you might find swimming beside you. After wandering about Monaco continue your walk to Monte Carlo. For James Bond fans, a visit to the iconic Casino de Monte Carlo is a must while on your day trip. After trying your luck in this world-famous casino, catch a show at the Opera de Monte Carlo before returning to Nice at the end of the day.
With numerous activities and events year-round, Antibes is the perfect place to visit for a vibrant adventure. Go on a walking tour in the old town to get acquainted with the maze-like streets of the city before shopping for your lunch in Antibes’ Marché Provençal. This market will have all of your senses tingling with excitement. For Picasso fans, head to the Antibes Picasso Museum. Continue your art experience by searching for Le Nomade a giant white statue that shows a man looking out at the sea. After all the walking, grab a gelato to enjoy on the beach before heading back to Nice.
Villefranche-Sur-Mer is just a short fifteen minute (two stop) train ride from Gare de Nice-Ville and is a lovely location for a relaxing beach day. For water enthusiasts, spend the day kayaking or paddle boarding in the calm waters at Villefranche-Sur-Mer. While this is the perfect spot to relax on the beach, it also is a great little town to spend some time getting lost in the winding alleyways. Each building is painted a vibrant color and charming citadels and chapels can be found interspersed throughout the cobblestone streets. For just a few euros, treat yourself to a relaxing day away from Nice.
While it takes close to three hours to get to Cassis by train from Nice, you won’t regret waking up early to go on a day trip to this stunning spot in the South of France. While once considered a “poor man’s St. Tropez,” this fishing town has continued to develop into the charming beach destination spot it is today. Soak up the sun on Plage de la Grande Mer, Plage du Bestouan or Plage de l’Arène. If you want a more adventurous beach option, check out Calanques National Park. Calanques are narrow walled water inlets that will make you feel like you are discovering a secret paradise. Spend your day hiking through the national park and searching for the hidden Calanques. The fortified village of Cassis is worth exploring as well and is full of unique historical sites that will make you feel like you traveled back in time.
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You don’t have to be a movie star to head to this famous city in the South of France. From Nice, catch a thirty minute train direct to this film fanatic’s paradise. Pound the pavement on the Promenade de la Croisette which follows the coastline of Cannes. If you’ve always dreamed about attending the Cannes Film Festival, check out the Palais Des Festivals et Des Congres where the event is put on. With plenty of Gothic churches to explore, Cannes could keep you busy for days just searching for all the stunning churches. If you want to prioritize one, visit the Eglise Notre-Dame de l’Espérance. This church is located at the top of the old town of Le Suquet and comes with breathtaking views of the old town. Finish up your trip in the port or relaxing on the beach.
The South of France of full of adventures. Regardless of where you choose to explore, you are sure to have a great time. From stunning beaches to quaint towns, there is a place for everyone in the French Riviera.
Where would you go to first on a day trip from Nice? Leave a comment down below!