One of the best things about Europe is their amazing train system. I mean, it's amazing. Did I say it was amazing? As such, getting around makes it so much easier. Although our friends had a cute Fiat, which got us around pretty well, but we did take a train to Monte Carlo under €10. Here's my recommendations on side trips in South of France.
Eze is a tiny medieval village nestled in the mountaintop. Once you get there, you'll see some stunning views of the French Riviera. We've been told that that their Jardin Exotique d'Eze, along with its cacti, offers amazing views. But we got lazy and decided to get a drink instead at Chateau d'Eza. I mean, when in France, amIright? Again, although we drove there, one can grab a train from Nice and be there in 10 min. #worthit
The glitz, the glamour! Does the town need an introduction? I think not! Easiest way to get there is, you guessed it, via train.
Our trip involved getting on the boat to go to Ile Sainte-Marguerite where the legend has it that the Man in the Iron Mask was prisoned. Moreover, you will find a monastery where monks make their own wine. But in the words of our host's dad - it's just wine, it's not worth €30.
If you get a chance, get a pan bagnat, a Niçoise specialty, an oil soaked tuna sandwich that is to die for. Then after a whole day of exploring, hit up La Pizza Cresci for some 1/2 pie pizzas.
We happened to be there during August 15th festivities (Assumption of Mary) or as we called it "French July 4th." Our friends rented beach chairs, while sipped our champagne and literally felt every explosion.
3) Monte Carlo, Monaco
Monte Carlo is approximately 20 minutes away from Nice. For a cheap price of €8 and some change, you'll be transported into nouveau riche. Depending on your point of view, you'll either love it or hate. Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Bentleys lined up the streets and you can actually see the bumpers that they use during Formula 1 racing. Personally, we thought "eh" and went back to Nice. It was still had stunning views and beautiful architecture.
Want to feel like Daenerys and get some dragons (although she didn't live in castle but...)? Or like a Medieval princess? Go to Enterveaux! Nestled in a valley, which the name literally says, gives spectacular views, once you climb to the top of the Citadelle, of course.
Although we were utterly unprepared, footwear wise, except for my S.O. and it was pretty damn hot, we were determined to get to the top. Occasional breeze was a relief. Once we were on the top, though, the sweeping valley views were beyond anything. Kinda made me wish I had a glider so I could just zip down.
Bonus, this is a lesser known place and the town is not swarming with tourists like Eze. It does offer the same Medieval feel but more rustic AND it was also on our way to St. Julien-du-Verdon (see below). So you get to see more on the way to awesome :-)
5) Saint - Julien - du - Verdon
This is a quaint little vacation town swarmed by the Dutch during the summer months. The location is around a man-made lake created by a dam. Our hosts told us that during the winter months, the dam is utilized more which results in less water. But then again, ain't nobody going to swim in the winter, so...
Again, we drove to the location and our friends had their parents' country house where we stayed. It's about an hour and 1/2 from Nice along a scenic mountain drive. I might suggest a dramamine for motion sickness if you're susceptible to it.
Our hosts fed us fantastic French lunch after which we spent the afternoon swimming. Later in the evening we went to "town." My friend's directions were "You'll see the fountain. To the left is the Church, to the right is the bar." My response was "So I should confess my sins then go drinking?"
We continued with our drinking during dinner, finishing it off with some Génép, a traditional Alpine herbal apertif. My friends' family has a tradition of playing dice at the end of the meal and upon reaching a certain number, one doesn't have to do dishes. I scraped by the first time (though I did offer to wash them), but I lost the second time :-) Had it not been for our friends, we would not have discovered this gem. Totally worth the trip!