The French Riviera

Written by Donovan January 6, 2015 Category: Europe, France Tags: , , Comments

The French Riviera is a stretch of the Mediterranean coast between Cassis and the Italian border. It  may be renowned as the lap of luxury, but scratch a little deeper and there’s romance of a different kind. Even when I visited the French Riviera in winter, it was surprisingly sunny and the temperature was hoovering around 15 deg, which was nice weather. You can go to the beach for a swim. Visiting this place in winter would be good because you can avoid the summer crowds. In summer, many French would flock to the French Riviera for the long holidays to soak up the sun, while in autumn the waters are still not too cold for swimming and there would be less people too.

beautiful skies, chilling on the beach during winter

In Nice, do visit the Cathedrale Orthodoxe russe St Nicolas which is an ornate building with its six gold-leaf domes being the largest Russian Orthodox church outside Russia. Most of its buildings have Belle Epoque architecture.


Villefranche-sur-mer is a picture-perfect town that has served as a backdrop for many movies, including Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief and Robert de Niro’s Ronin.
From kitschy pop art accessories in vivid colours to feathery throw rugs, Eze has exclusive crafts and creations made by the artists who reside there.


Eze is an artist’s hamlet set high on a cliff with narrow paths and low-roofed cottages that looks like  a scene from a fairytale. In the nearby seaside town of Eze-sur-mer, there is a path not far from the train station that leads up to Eze-le-village, a small medieval hamlet perched high up above sea level on a cliff, with a small sheltered beach at the bottom, providing you with awesome views of the Mediterranean. In the past it used to be a fortress overlooking the sea and protecting the villagers of the town. Many of the hamlet’s old buildings have since been converted into galleries and souvenir shops.


Onwards to Monaco, it is a sovereign city-state, even smaller than Singapore. At 1.95 km2, Monaco is the world’s second smallest country after the Vatican. Nevertheless, it is home to casinos and the playground for the rich and famous, as seen from the numerous fancy sports cars zooming past on the windy mountain roads of this small principality. In May, this tax haven plays host to the Formula 1 Grand Prix. My favourites in Monaco were the tranquil Japanese gardens, the harbour with glitzy yachts and beautiful sailing boats, the famous Monte Carlo casino with an interior that looks fit for royalty. Monaco is surprisingly quiet and its picture-perfect views make ma wonder if this was real; it was probably this sense of isolation that attracts the exclusive rich, due to its status as a tax haven.

Tips:
-Nice is a convenient gateway to the French Riviera. Singapore Airlines flies to Paris and from there take a TGV (high speed train) to the south of France in around three hours. Alternatively, fly Air France to Nice with a stopover in Paris.
-Public transport from Nice to other parts of the French Riviera is easy and inexpensive, from €1.50
-Explore the Cote d’Azur with the Nice Riviera Pass. The ticket gives tourists free access to guided theme tours, museums and historic sites; as well as free gifts and discounts in shops and restaurants. It covers the cities of Nice, Antibes, Biot, Cagnes-sur-mer and Monaco.
-In Nice, visitors can use the pass for free, unlimited access to “Nice le Grand Tour” buses. The buses have open top decks and stop at the city’s main attractions, where passengers can hop on and off.
-The one-day Nice Riviera Pass is €24. Two- and three- day passes are also available. Passes can be bought at visitor bureaus in Nice or online. For more information, visit www.nicerivierapass.com/en/index.php
-Enter the casino in Monaco for free in the afternoon instead of paying the €10 admission fee. You are allowed to view the general gambling areas, though private rooms are not for viewing.


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