The French Riviera is just as beautiful as everyone says it is, and is just as glamorous as everything that you’ve read about it. The Côte d’Azur, or the “blue coast”, is dotted with small towns, all of which are quite frankly, out of this world. For a first visit to the French Riviera, one usually finds the cities of Cannes and Nice to be fantastic places to start. Nice has the bluest water that I have ever seen – anywhere – hands down. When the International Film Festival is going on in Cannes and the red carpet is rolled out, it could make for the perfect day for drinking Rosé and perusing the multitude of shops, all within a half football field from the beach. The very small village towns of Bourmes or Villefranche are also excellent options if escaping the hustle and bustle is what you’re after, but I think that Èze and Monaco are also very rewarding options to consider on any visit – even for a short day trip. Let’s face the facts though, you absolutely can’t go wrong with any town in France.
Pronounced “Ezz”, Èze is a place where I could hideaway in a bougainvillea-covered apartment with aqua blue shutters, eat almost nothing but croissants, and just stare out at the views of the Mediterranean. This medieval town is perched high up on the cliffs, with winding and narrow cobblestone streets filled with tiny shops, art galleries, and places to eat. It is important to note that cars must be parked at the base of the town so there is a moderate amount walking involved. But it is certainly worth the trek up, and there is always the reminder that the walk back to the car is completely down hill. If you are travelling by taxi, there is a drop off area about half way up the hill.
Other Info To Note:
- There is a fee for public toilets (€.50). Also, there are usually never toilet seats in public French bathrooms (that I have ever encountered).
- There is an Exotic Garden at the top of the town with incredible flowers, cactus, sculptures, and some of the absolute best views. There is a fee to enter these gardens (€7 when we were there), but we think that the cost is definitely well spent.
Situated in the South of France, Monaco is the second smallest country in the world (Vatican city is the smallest). In this city state lies a world of no income tax, a Formula One Grand Prix race that takes place through the city streets, and the home of the most famous casino in the world – the Monte Carlo. Ferraris and Bentleys are just ordinary sites. The harbor of turquoise Mediterranean water is crowded with yachts that only exist in such a place as here. The yachts are so grand, some have their own boats that ride on the yacht itself. The leader of Saudi Arabia’s 2.5 million dollar yacht floats among the other massive boats.
Jacques Cousteau, renown French marine researcher (among other things), conducted a lot of his research here in Monaco for many years. The research center is now a museum that you can visit, for a fee. Even the exterior of the building is absolutely beautiful in both construction and placement – right on the sea.
The Monte Carlo Casino exterior and interior lobby are worth a look. There isn’t (currently) an entrance fee or a dress code to get this far. But, depending on the time of the year that you go and time of the day, the dress code and price to enter the area with the table games will vary. It is best to check the Monte Carlo Casino website for the most up to date information. You are almost guaranteed to see multiple “super” cars parked in the parking area at any given time. In the lobby stands the statue of “Lady Luck.” Players shouldn’t miss touching the coins on the way inside the casino for some much-needed luck. (Superstitious fingers crossed, right?)
Other Info To Note:
- The view from La Turbie is without a doubt one of the coolest viewpoints. We are thankful that our local guide was familiar with this spot and suggested it as a Must-See. After all, you can see the entire country in one breathtaking view.
- Grace Kelly is buried inside of the St. Nicholas Cathedral. It’s free to enter this church and see her grave.
While walking through the winding medieval walkways of Èze is quite a different experience than strolling past hundred-thousand dollar super cars and multi-million dollar yachts in the harbor of Monaco, the towns are only an eighteen minute drive apart and are both worth a visit!