Nice is France's largest tourist resort and the fifth biggest city. It has the second busiest airport in France and more banks, galleries and museums than anywhere else outside Paris.
Nice is located at the foot of a hill known as the Chateau, after the castle
which once stood there. Nice's most remarkable feature is 19th-century promenade
des Anglais which runs right along the seafront. It's an eight-lane 5-km highway.
It is only 30 minutes by train...
It is only 30 minutes by train in distance or 10 minutes by helicopter from Monaco.
Back packers, if you plan to have a day trip, it is realy hard to cover in few days because all tourism area are quite falling apart.
The two-hour lunchbreak
Twelve-ish to two-ish can be a difficult time for those accustomed to 24/7 shopping. The French take their lunch very very seriously, and you are just going to have to lump it - they are out to lunch.
Every local restaurant is packed - not a seat in the house - for this daily social ritual. Salad and conversation are the main ingredients: commerce can wait.
After a while you begin to think - have they got it right or us? No brown-bagging at your hot-desk and "lunch is for wimps". For these folk it's called "quality of life". It's economically inefficient, its expensive ( but then they don't spend money on mortgages - in the main they rent) so they can afford it.
So how come they aren't all the size of a house? There is not many calories in a lettuce leaf.
Nice gives you access to everything Riviera
Once you have made the right choice of Nice, you have a wealth of attractions both in, and around Nice.
Within an hour you can be in Cannes, Monaco or Italy. You can be up in the perched villages of the arriere pays (back country), or wandering the cobbled narrow streets of the Medieval villages of St Paul, Vence or Entrevaux. You can be marvelling at the super yachts in Antibes, or lounging on the beach at Villefranche, shopping for fashion bargains in Ventimiglia, or celebrity-spotting in St Tropez. If you are up for a hike, the Grande Corniche from La Turbie offers peerless views over mountain and sea. Even further afield just manageable as a day excursion are Marseilles, Aix en Provence and Genoa. Corsica is just possible, but an overnight stay makes more sense.
What to see?
If you have only one day, most people's excursion of choice is a trip to Monaco. If you have time for more excursions, Antibes is a good second destination. To contrast those, a trip inland to one of the medieval villages is recommended - Haut de Cagnes, St Paul de Vence, Eze Village or Grasse, in order of preference.
If you're a "glitz" person, put Cannes on your list, or be prepared for lengthy travel to St Tropez, both at their best in high season.
If its a Friday, that's market day in Ventimiglia
If you are a "gardens and plants" person, head for Menton or better still the stupendous Hanbury Botanical Gardens at Mortola just across the Italian border. Closer to hand is Jardin Thuret at Cap d'Antibes or the Jardin Exotique high above Monaco. For the best of Spring roses the gardens of the monastery at Cimiez, or open midweek (not July or August) the vast gardens of Villa Eilen Roc on Cap'd'Antibes
If you do adventure sports the gorges of Gourdon are waiting for you. More sedate water fun for the family at Marineland, Biot near Antibes
Want perfect tranquility instead? The isle of St Honnorat, a short boat trip from Cannes.
Or the most stunning views on the Med? Put on your walking shoes and trek up the Grande Corniche to Fort Revere.
If you enjoy wasting money, want to spend the day staring at the exhaust of the car in front of you, and driving in ever increasing circles searching for parking, you're in luck. You can rent a car here too. However bus and train will also take you almost everywhere worth going at a fraction of the cost, and whole lot more fun.
The choice is yours. Off the beaten path has a lot to offer.
Monaco and Monte Carlo
Access from Nice to the principality of Monaco couldn't be easier - TAM 100 bus or train from Gare SNCF will have you in Monaco in less than a half hour. .
Only 2sq km in size, population 3,000 Monegasques, 27,000 tax exiles (zero rate of personal income tax) home to the wealthiest individuals in Europe. The streets are spotless - litter-free - as it has the world's highest rate of policemen per thousand population.
In Monte Carlo you can marvel at the Casino, take pictures of people taking pictures of the casino to confuse them - or go inside, if you are appropriately dressed . The high rollers however only ever play behind closed doors. The Rolls Royces parked outside are for effect, a permanent feature to lure in the punters.
If you are feeling fit for the climb, fantastic views can be had from the exotic gardens (charges, but worth it) and their collection of Cactii, high up on the side of the hill above Monte Carlo looking down over the castle and the harbour.
At Prince Ranier's palace you can see his amazing classic car collection (charges). Fabulous classics, only 6 euro entry
Dont miss the fabulous Musee Oceanographique, what should be one of the wonders of the world with its three story coral reef and shark tank.
In the harbour you will often see some of the worlds most impressive luxury yatchs, like the Lady Moura - said to be the most expensive in the world at $100m. Very big boys toys these.
Walk around the town and count the Porsches, Mercedes, Ferraris, Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Lambourghinis, and the odd Reliant Robin .
If you hanker after Formula One and Grand Prix week the third week of May each year, bear in mind that everything by way of accommodation everywhere goes up 30 - 50% in price, that you can't see a thing anywhere on the route without paying for a ticket, the best of which come in at 300 euro for the day.
Join me to read the lowdown on the Monaco royal family, those wild child daughters, and the real Monaco