I went to Côte d’Azur, on the French Riviera, for a site visit. One of my customers is organizing a conference in the area next May. As usual, it was a perfect opportunity to spend a few days and to explore the region.
I am already familiar with the area, as I studied in Aix en Provence, and then spent almost 2 years in Nice/Antibes.
In case you travel for business, Nice is a destination that offers many opportunities! There are regular conferences on the coast, whether in Cannes (less than 30 minutes away) or in Sophia Antipolis, which attracts many IT professionals.
I strongly recommend that you spend a few days in the area, you will not regret it.
I spent 3 days there (this time, in an Airbnb apartment located on the Prom (understand: Promenade des Anglais 😉 -BTW it is perfect location-, and here is what my program looked like, in a 2-minute video! … followed by some pieces of advice and anecdotes.
The Promenade des Anglais is very well equipped with cycling paths, you can rent a bike or opt for a “Vélo Bleu” that you will find in all busy areas of the city. I opted for the rent. Personally I rented a commuter bike style, but you can opt for a mountain bike or an electric bike if you’re not up to lot’s of physical efforts.
You can opt for a flat cycling path that will take you to Antibes – it starts on the Promenade des Anglais. Personally, I opted for Nice > Monaco. The ride is about 20 km (so 40 km round trip), mostly on standard road (no cycling path), and I warn you, it goes up 😉 It’s not really a peaceful Sunday ride stylie!
Let’s say that when you venture with a friend who runs for triathlons, hhmmmm … 😉
The panoramas are splendid !! You will go along the coastline, and pass by Villefranche sur Mer, Eze, Menton … To check on you list!
It was early October, but I can tell you that the weather was very mild, and the water felt excellent!
Thanks to Martino, my friend, I enjoyed Roquebrune Cap Martin’s lovely beach!
You have to know that you will not find sandy beaches in the direct surroundings of Nice, so get your feet ready! However don’t worry you’ll quickly forget once you’re in the water! Roquebrune is a nice spot to observe paragliders too.
Indeed – one of the 5 French National Parks! I did it! Count between 1h30 and 2h if you leave Nice. Here again the options is simple: I advise you to rent a car.
The Mercantour is a real breath of fresh air! Nature in all its splendor. Its beautiful alpine scenery reminded me of the Rocky Mountain National Park and of my trip to Colorado (read more about it on the blog!)
Well … I’d better say it right away … it was not a Sunday stroll either. I went up to splendid Mountain Lakes (Lakes of Vens). A difference of height of 1100 meters to go up. Expect a 3-hour climb to go up there.
What a reward when you arrive at the « Col de Fer » at first. It is very windy though. You will reach the French-Italian border! You are in front of the famous Mount Viso, which is the highest peak of the Southern Alps, from its height of 3841 meters. A nice anecdote: the famous film production company Paramount, is said to have been inspired by Mount Viso to create its logo!
And second story: it is at the foot of Mount Viso that the Po, the largest river in Italy, was born.
The real reward will happen 15 minutes later when you reach the mountain lakes! The Lakes of Vens form a chain of 3 lakes, joined by cascades and streams. The largest lake is overlooked by a refuge and an impressive waterfall. They are located 2380 meters high, by the Iron Pass. I have to say I had a little hard time climbing up there, eh! No air because of the altitude…
The whole landscape started to be covered with autumn colors… Gorgeous !!!
One more advice, my friends: think of sunscreen! Personally, I grilled 😉
In the hinterland of Nice -whether it is in direct proximity or further north to the Alpes de Haute Provence – you will find wonderful stone villages. On your way to the Mercantour National Park (you pass by ski resorts like Isola 2000), if you have some time, I advise you to stop at Entrevaux. It is a lovely medieval city that will offer you splendid panoramas, and plunge you into another era. The entrance to the village with its towers is particularly impressive.
Le Vieux Nice (Old part of the city) is the ideal place to experience local cuisine Niçoise. Any real tourist should taste the local specialties while traveling!
Take time to taste pissaladière, socca, farcis, olives… head to the glacier Fenocchio where you can find quite unusual flavours!