Nice

the perfect south of france road trip

the perfect south of france road trip

Exactly a year ago, we were in the middle of an 11-day road trip around the South of France.  It was an absolutely massive undertaking to plan, inspired by cheap flights from Madrid to Toulouse and Lonely Planet's France's Best Trips book.  I pieced together many of the different road trip itineraries in the book and added in some additional stops based on blogs and sites I'd read online.  The final plan was very ambitious and had us covering quite a bit of southern France, but the end result was...fabulous (if I do say so myself).  Now, when I think about going anywhere in Europe on vacation, a few places come to mind, and the South of France is without a doubt at the top of that list.

menton, france

menton, france

Menton was our second stop of the day on our (self-guided) train tour from Nice to Ventimiglia, Italy and back again and it's also the last stop for cars and trains before they cross the border from France to Italy.  When reading about Menton online, I noticed that some big statements were made about it - "the pearl of France" is apparently its nickname and it's also home to the fourth best restaurant in the world (see proof here).  Menton supposedly gives a glimpse into what life was like on the French Riviera before developers moved into places like Nice and Monte Carlo, both of which are much larger and a far cry from what we found while in Menton.  

villefranche-sur-mer, france

villefranche-sur-mer, france

After our second night in Nice, we took the train from the center of the city to the first town on the coast in the direction of Italy: Villefranche-sur-Mer.  Armed with our favorite chocolate chip breadsticks from the day before, plus a few new bakery finds (when in France!), we were ready to hop from one coastal town to another all day long.  

nice, france

nice, france

Our time in Nice was definitely a highlight of our trip to France for me.  In retrospect, I don't know if it's necessarily because Nice is an amazing city or if it's because we spent three nights there and took trips from Nice, using it as our base, so it gave us an opportunity to slow down a little bit (the rest of the trip we'd been in a different town every single night, and after a while that can get tiring).  Even though it was only three nights, on our first morning, we found a bakery that we liked, so the next two days we returned...if you've found something good (or delicious), why not stick with it while you can, especially if you have limited time?  

monte carlo, monaco

monte carlo, monaco

We spent our first night in Nice (after sitting through hours of traffic to get to our Airbnb from nearby Antibes) and nixed our plan of driving to different little towns along the coast and instead decided to take the train to Monaco, see how long we wanted to spend there, and then weigh our options based on how our morning went.