Nice France boat port

The French Riviera: Where to Visit + Stay!

May 27, 2024

Nice France boat port

Europe was always the dream for us, and we made the goal of going for our 10 year anniversary. That came and went with babies and moves and many life expenses, but we kept hoping for someday. This year we will celebrate our 16th anniversary, and over New Year’s we decided now is the time no matter what life would bring next. (We found out we were pregnant a few weeks later.) We booked two airplane tickets to Nice, France and planned a week along the French Riviera.

We had initially debated traveling both Spain and France, but knew we wanted to really experience one location without having to hop around too much. Plane tickets to Nice were the best price and the closest to other coastal towns we had heard so many good things about.

nice france beach club

The week leading up to our trip was a total circus, and we doubted if we would even make it on the plane. Tornadoes in Atlanta ended up causing delayed and missed flights as well, but we were not going to give up at this point! By the time we landed in Nice, we were just so happy to be there we didn’t bother trying to sleep. We packed in a full day of exploring this beautiful city before crashing in our Airbnb.

Sulyara market - Nice

(Sulyara Market)

The beginning to mid May is such a good time to travel! It was 70s and warm with very minimal crowds. Nice is a more touristy destination, and there were some busier spots than others. We chose an airbnb right off the port in a quieter corner that we could just walk to coffee, the cathedral, restaurants and old town easily. The Sulyara Market in old town is full of flowers, fresh fruits, artisans, and the famous socca stands. It was a 15 min. walk along the coast to get there with little beach club spots on the way.

Old town has restaurants on every block of every street, and unless you want a fancy 5 star experience, you don’t need to make reservations this time of year. We chose a few outdoor patio locations for dinner that had good ratings. It was a fun place to see lots of activity, and taste the local specialties. The gelato was so good we had to stop twice for it. I wish we had a little more time there than we did!

antibes boutique hotel

We had a hard time choosing between Menton and Antibes for our next stop, but found this boutique hotel in Antibes that was hard to pass up called Hotel Mas Djoliba. It was half the fun of the stay in this town with a quiet pool, lush gardens, and patio breakfast. It was a quick walk to the coast to see the breathtaking view on and then walk into old town to experience the local shops and restaurants. We tend to like the quieter local spots so Antibes feels a little touristy at night. However, in the mornings you can find beautiful courtyards and corners to enjoy a coffee, pick up some snacks at a market, and sit by the mediterranean.

antibes france- french riviera

(Promenade Amiral de Grasse)

place des martyrs de la resistance

(Place des Martyrs de la Resistance)

antibes catholic church saint bernadine

(St. Bernadin)

le comptoir antibes

We had our absolute best dinner here as well. We found it by chance – a small indoor spot on one of the cobblestone streets called Le Comptoir de la Tourraque. It was reservation only so we grabbed a later time slot. A very kind server was working every table who we really enjoyed talking to, and the food was exceptional! If you ever get the chance to go, prepare to have the most memorable dinner and dessert!

Villefranche sur mer France

(The street where our apartment was in Villefranche.)

(The view from our windows!)

From Antibes we took a quick train to Villefranche-sur-Mer which is a small village 10 minutes from Nice and central to other Cote d’Azur villages we wanted to explore. It was such a unique place. It is built upwards, so our apartment took many steps up to get to, but easily walkable. We stayed in this apartment that we found online. The bedrooms/bathroom were tiny, but the living room and view were fantastic.

The Plage des Marinières

(Plage des Marinières)

The Plage des Marinières beach is a 5 minute walk. It is a small pebble beach that is crowded in the summer, but at this time of year it was barely full. We brought our beach chairs the apartment provided and parked it for a few hours watching the boats, sun soaking, and sipping drinks!

Eze france

(Jardin d’Èze)

We took a quick uber ride to Èze for a daytrip – which was absolutely incredible. It is an old town of stone buildings and paths that sits on a high hill. When you make it to the gardens on top you can overlook a good portion of the French Riviera. It is one of the more beautiful places I have ever been. You can buy a ticket to the exotic gardens all the way on top. It felt like an easy hike up, but not be the best if you are super pregnant or have knee issues;) I think I barely made the cutoff of potential labor inducing scenarios. You can pay a higher price point for a meal at the Chateau, but we were totally find grabbing lunch at one of the resturaunts on the way down and having possibly one of the best burgers of our lives.

ephrussi de rothschild

Another quick and memorable day trip you can take from Villefranche is to St. Jean Cap de Ferrat to the Villa et Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild. I wasn’t expecting this to be one of my favorite days of our trip! It is only 17 Euros to tour the 4 acre gardens and the 1900s home designed by Beatrice Rothschild along with famous cabinet makers, painters, and gardeners. The gardens are designed so that as you walk through you experience different types of plant families and themes. It is nestled high on St. Jean Cap so it overlooks the sea on both sides. When I walked through the rose garden it felt like a piece of paradise. Gabe’s garden loving soul was also in heaven. There is a quick water fountain show every 20 minutes set to music which is also fun.

ephrussi de rothschild
ephrussi de rothschild

Inside the home you can pick up a pre-recorded audio to listen to as you walk from room to room that shares fun facts and history of the home and the life of Beatrice Rothschild….a pretty fascinating life story at that! There is a restaurant as well on the Villa with indoor and outdoor seating and the best views you could imagine. We had lunch here to finish the tours and lingered as long as possible;) Truly a remarkable place!

There are many small villages along the French Riviera that we would have loved to continue to explore, but that is just motivation to head back one day. This trip felt surreal in many ways. I kept telling Gabe that I felt so grateful to be experiencing it all because I was so aware of what a gift it was to be there together. The days felt very long in a good way because turns out, you can squeeze so much into a day when you aren’t going by your children’s schedules! 😉 We basically ate and sipped and explored all day every day, and by the end felt fulfilled and ready to journey home!

eze france

The trip back is very long depending on where in the U.S. you live. Since we live in OH, we did a 10 hr flight to Atlanta, plus an additional connecting flight to Columbus. With the layover time and time chance, it was 20 hrs. of travel from the time we started to the airport till the time we landed back in OH. It wasn’t too bad adjusting back though, and I would absolutely do it again.

Let us know if you have any questions about the above, and we would be happy to answer!

Leave a Comment

  • Wow what a marvelous trip thanks forhe knew so long with pictures. I love to travel and also had the same thought that at 10 years we should do something but 10 years into a marriage with children just feels like a blink of an eye and the kids are still awfully little to leave for long. I feel like I could just use your itinerary though if we ever did get over there. What amazing sites.

    • Yes I know exactly what you mean! 10 years in wasn’t the right time, but a lot can change in a few years! Gus Hopefully you can refer back to this one day!

  • I know what you mean about the long days! We took a whirlwind trip to Hawaii last fall (only two days) for a wedding, but it was so relaxing and restorative not having kids for a few days! Every day felt like about three normal days. Even the flight was a treat- six hours of not entertaining kids and being able to read or nap was amazing! Sounds like you had a beautiful time, and I’m so happy for you! I would love to make it to Europe again someday…

  • What is the dress you’re wearing in the last pic? I didn’t see it in the post about what you packed!

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