Situated at the Eastern end of the French Riviera, Nice acts as a travel hub for many locations and attractions along the Cote d’Azur and also for some across the nearby border with Italy. Nice airport has long been a major arrival point for visitors to this part of France and provides a stopping point for many low coast airlines that bring passengers to the area.
Nice airport is quite large by any standards and has a wealth of facilities to satisfy the large tourist volumes that pass through. Check-in and baggage processes are very efficient and there are plenty of car-hire options to choose from. Nice airport is linked directly to a modern road network which provides fast motorways both westward towards Cannes and eastward towards Italy.
Drive along the A8 motorway to the east and you will quickly come across signs to the principality of Monaco, home to the famous Grand Prix and also to many wealthy individuals attracted to the country because of its advantageous taxation rules and glamorous image. Monaco can claim many records, including being the most densely populated sovereign country and the second smallest country in the world. The principality claims tourism as its main economy and strangely, although the casinos in Monaco are famous, citizens of the country are forbidden from using them. Although Monaco is not part of the European Union it does use the Euro as its currency.
If you pass Monaco and continue eastwards from Nice you will approach the Italian border within 30 kilometres. Just across the border are two locations worthy of a visit. Despite is vast history and wonderful architecture, the town of Ventimiglia has become famous for its Friday street market which causes the place to become gridlocked with visitors, including many who travel across from France for the day. The market has gained a reputation of being one of the biggest black markets in Europe and many of the products there are fake replicas of designer goods. Sunglasses, watches and clothing of all the top brands can be found, but there are also more traditional market goods such as food and flowers. It’s certainly a fun place to visit on market day.
Further east into Italy and the start of the Italian Riviera is marked by San Remo, a beautiful tourist destination which its own abundance of history. Local shops and markets, as well as two marinas and many hotels and restaurants make the pace an interesting one to stay in and of course the weather in this part of the world is usually warm and sunny.
A journey to the west of Nice along the coast road takes you first to the old town of Antibes. The walled town of Antibes has a long history dating back to 43BC when the town fell under Roman control for the next 500 years. Now Antibes is a town attracting a young population but also a nautical one. The marina at Port Vauban is the largest single yacht harbour in Europe with space for over 2000 yachts. Many of the yachts that are too large for the other marinas along the coast seek moorings here.
Cannes is an attractive coastal resort only 15 miles West from Nice that also benefits from an upmarket image. There is plenty to see and do here but for many a stroll along the famous Boulevard de la Croisette, which is flanked at both ends by impressive marinas, is enough to pass the time. The international film festival that takes place in Cannes every May sees the place transformed, as celebrities and film professionals take over the town. Almost 25,000 film industry and press are attracted to the festival and for anyone not associated with the event it is probably wise to avoid seeking accommodation in the town unless you are prepared for the high prices that come into play during the period.
If Nice and Cannes are a little too busy for you, then a trip further west along the Cote d’Azur will take you along a spectacular coast road to many quieter places. Frejus is an example of many of the small towns along the coast here. Typically a marina provides the focal point here, playing host to yachts owned by the rich and famous who have chosen to own one of the many luxury villas in the hills around the town. As well as the coast, the hills and mountains to the rear of the town are also part of the attraction. There are many wonderful walks to be made here and there is also a famous Mountain Bike event, the “Roc Azur” which takes place in October every year.