We landed in Nice which is an easy airport to navigate and decided to make the town of Antibes the home base for a few days as it has easy access to all the other towns we wanted to hit and it has some great charm all in its own. There is a market every night (except Mondays) with local fruits/veggies/spices/flowers called Marché Provençal and you can find many good restaurants right near that market. We picked up candied violet and rose (to drop in a glass of champagne or eat on its own) and fresh Herbs de Provence.
In Antibes, there is a historic and beautiful hotel called Eden Cap du Roc that is a must-see/stay. Dinner at the cliffside restaurant (Eden Roc…) there was our favorite meal of the entire trip. So many gorgeous photos lined the walls of celebrities and chic French people on holidays staying at the hotel over the years.
Day 2 we hopped over to Cannes where the famous film festival is held every year. The boardwalk along the beaches there is lined with different beach clubs where the food is fresh and divine, the music is loud, and the atmosphere is fun! We picked up some local art on the sidewalk and made it into a few of the luxury stores along that same beachfront walk (YSL, Gucci, Balenciaga)
Day 3 we had originally planned on doing in St. Tropez, but gathered that Cannes and St. Tropez were similar in that both had beach clubs. Also, St. Tropez was a bit of a trek (about 2 hour car ride or longer boat ride each way) so we decided to hit the fortress in Saint Paul de Vence which is a bit inland and lives on top of the mountain has incredible views of the ocean and towns leading to it. It is a historic fortress that has been turned into shops, galleries, restaurants and fromageries. Adorable small cobblestone pathways lead in and around the fortress and it’s a perfect place to grab perfume or local soaps.
Day 4 we made our way up to Monaco to the legendary town of Monte Carlo. We stayed at the Hermitage Hotel which is right next to the most famous casino in the world - Casino Monte Carlo. The cars, yachts, stores, outfits and people-watching was next level. We were there the weekend of the Monaco E-Grand Prix (which we gathered is the electric car version of the legendary Formula One Monaco race) so this serves as the “test run” for setting up all the spectator stands and traffic re-routes.
Day 5 we walked from our hotel up to the Palace of the Prince of Monaco ( Palais princier de Monaco) and around that historic village. The building that houses the Musee Aquatic is even more stunning than the palace. The seaside tulleries surrounding the village were beautiful to walk around as well.
Day 6 was another day in Monte Carlo just doing a bit of shopping. Shopping for luxury items such as a designer handbag or clothing is best in France! The prices are anywhere from 10-25% less on most things and ON TOP of that you get a form that saves you the VAT tax. The store will give you a form that you take to the airport (follow the signs to VAT refund) and you scan the form and should be good to go and get the refund back. Went to Nice that night to stay close to the airport and walked along the boardwalk, fountains and a few beautiful churches there. We didn't spend a lot of time in Nice by choice because the other cities were higher on the to-see list!
All in all it was a great trip (and pretty easy flights to and from SLC International airport) full of culture, delicious food, shopping, art and beautiful beach weather!
Tips for South of France travel:
-Uber worked great for us to get around except it isn’t available in the tiny country of Monaco but your hotel can arrange transportation.
-the trains/trams from Nice airport were clean ans pretty easy to navigate. (There were kind and helpful fellow travelers willing to help if you asked around)
-most people working in the restaurants and hotels in the cities we went to spoke English.
-be willing to walk (and pack great sneakers) because it’s the best way to explore all the towns and see the beautiful architecture, historic sights, how the locals live and to get your steps in!