Ocean vista’s, fast cars, and beautiful mountain ranges – the South of France has it all. Last week I took a short three day trip to the Côte d’Azur aka the French Riviera. Here are some highlights!
After a swift check in at the Fairmont Monte Carlo, me and dad spent the next three hours walking the principality of Monaco. This independent city-state on France’s mainland, is a tax haven for the world’s ultra wealthy, which probably explains the fleet of Rolls Royce’s and Bentley’s outside our hotel.
It wasn’t my first time here, but I was excited to play tour guide for my dad. We began at the city’s most prestigious landmark: the Monte Carlo Casino, an elaborate building, perched on the Mediterranean Sea. Built in 1850, the casino is famous for its high roller tables (I once witnessed a group of shipping billionaires playing roulette with €1,500 chips!).
But before we could enter the epitome of affluence and grandeur, dad was vetoed on account of his sandals! Men must wear shoes inside the casino, despite the 90 degree heat outside. Alas, rules are rules and neither of us are gamblers, so we took a quick pic from the outside and moved on.
As we headed towards the Royal Palace (home to Monaco’s royal family), we passed Port Hercules and the super yachts of Monaco.
If you ever needed reminding of how poor you actually are, be sure to visit the annual Monaco yacht show which happens at the end of September every year. Till then, a fun fact: History Supreme, worth a breathtaking $4.5 bln is the worlds most expensive yacht, reportedly owned by an undisclosed Malaysian business man.
From the port, we hiked up a steep path which leads to the Royal Palace, built on a former fortress. Police and security seemed lax compared to expectations, but their presence was certainly felt, as we were ushered to the pavement, making way for what may or may not have been a very special VIP.
Dad bought an overpriced baseball cap from a tourist store nearby (I was smart enough to pack a hat) and we headed back to our hotel, by now it was 9.30pm and still 90 degrees.
We set off on a 10:30am bus from Monaco to Nice. Public transport is cheap here (€1.50 for a 15 mile trip) but don’t be surprised, if, after waiting 30 minutes in heat stroke conditions, the bus driver decides to bypass you. Skipping stops is quite the norm here. Bus drivers care more about their tardiness, than passengers.
Our first stop was Castle Hill, a public park with outstanding views of the Nice Promenade. Fortunately, our hotel concierge tipped us off about an elevator that you can ride to the top, otherwise it’s a 100m stair climb!
Castle Hill is one of the top attractions in Nice, and I highly recommend it. There’s even a man made waterfall in the park!
A few selfies and some ice cream later, we headed back down to the Promenade (took the steps this time). Next stop: Cathedral Notre-Dame de Nice.
After what felt like 4 hours of walking (in reality, it was 1), we arrived, only to find it was closed. With nobody to ask and no wifi, we settled for another outdoor pic (a recurring theme at this point).
We started the day per usual, with breakfast at the hotel. It’s worth mentioning, only because of the sweeping views across the Med. This was certainly breakfast with a view.
After a carb overload of pastries, delicious breads and freshly squeezed orange juice, we headed to the Museum of Royal Family cars.
The collection was spectacular: vintage cars from the 1800’s through to current day. Dad was in his element (he’s a car mechanic), so I received a masterclass in luxury automobile history.
For anyone considering a trip to the South of France, it’s not as expensive as you think. Catch a flight into Nice (a much cheaper commercial airport), take a bus to Monaco (an express shuttle costs €33 round trip) and choose from a range of hotels to suit any budget. This is one place you must check off your bucket list!
As always pushing for health.