Guest Notes for Episode 244: Best Place to Stay on the French Riviera

Categories: Family Travel, Provence

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Ali Rodriguez Trip Outline

Our Family

• We’re from Newburyport, Massachusetts
• We’re a blended family of four
o Marianne and I
o Marianne’s teenage daughter, Violet
o Our 2 year-old son, Roman
• Blended diets
o I have been a whole-food, plant-based vegan for 8 years
o Marianne eats a lot of veggies, but she’ll also have fish and diary, or sometimes other meats. What really helps is that Marianne also enjoys eating vegan meals.
o Violet is Vegetarian, and also enjoys vegan options.
o Roman is being raised to eat whole-food, plant-based, but he’s allowed other treats.
• We’re blended in our backgrounds:
o Marianne was raised in Newburyport, but was originally from North Carolina
o I’m originally from Boston, but my father’s family is Salvadoran, while mom is from New York, and her family is Puerto Rican. I’ve lived in New England, Florida, and Oregon.

@chili_sin_carne is my Instagram page. I pretty much just post photos of food, but it’s been fun. Idefinitely included some shoutouts to Koko Green, in Nice.

“Roman’s Holiday” is our YouTube channel, which basically has clips of our family trips. It’s link is: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuhtTikFVPUU7Er-CtEWHBA

Our Trip

We had a three year break in taking vacations when after Roman was born. So when we thought about where we’d like to go for his first trip, France was our choice.

We flew round trip from Boston to Paris (we flew on Norwegian)
• The aim was to spend a few days in Paris, with ten days in Nice exploring the Cote d’Azur
• G7 taxi was a great option for booking a cab from CDG airport to our hotel in the Marais
• This was my second time in Paris, but everyone else’s first time
• I LOVED Hank Restaurant on the Rue des Archives, in the Marais (vegan burger place that was delicious). I also enjoyed returning to L’As du Falafal – a street food endulgance.
• We walked the Marais, some of the Latin Quarter, Saint German de Pre, the areas around the Eiffel Tower, and from the Arch de Triumph to the Louvre.
o The Champs Elysees shopping area, while famous, we found to be too commercial.

The Cote d’Azure!

We were originally going to take the TGV train to Nice, and then fly EasyJet back to Paris to connect on to Boston. Due to track work, TGV trains were limited, so we had to change our train date (cutting off a day in Paris), but then we narrowly missed our TGV train (small communication error with our hotel sending our taxi away, then having to arrange another one, then hitting traffic. We should have planned that better!). So we flew to Nice at the last minute on XL airways. That was definitely the biggest bump in our trip – but we knew there would be a least one. It was costly, and it reminds us to plan that better, in the future.

Nice

• Arriving in Nice: Taxi to Airbnb on Boulevard Gambetta (convenience to beach, 10 minute stroll to d town)
o Taxi was a flat
• Waterfront (Blvd Anglais/hotels/beach, water)
• Old town
• Course Soleya market
• Great stuff for kids (playground, splash pad, carousel)
• Matisse Museum
o Easily accessed by bus
o A great place to visit
• Food:
o Koko Green (https://www.kokogreen.com)
 exceptional vegan restaurant, with limited opening, but absolutely worth it!)
o Chez Juliette (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187234-d774997-Reviews-Chez_Juliette-Nice_French_Riviera_Cote_d_Azur_Provence_Alpes_Cote_d_Azur.html )
 Marianne loved their coc au vin.
o Frites City (https://www.fritescity.fr/ )
 Belgian restuarant
 Great exchange with owner/manager, who loved Roman, and loved my attempts at French)
• Nice Impressions: bustling Mediterranean city, great architecture, beach life, city life, with French-Italian attitude, flare and food.
• Lively TER trains on weekend nights (Roman has a great and helpful playmate on one night with a delayed train)

Cannes

• Waterfront
• Beach —sandy, cold water
• Festival auditorium
• Saturday market
• Cannes Impressions: similar to Nice, slightly more resorty, but great for the sandy beach and beautiful Boulevard stroll.

Juan-les-Pins

• Beach resort town
o Beach just down the street from the train station
• Sandy beach
o Joli’s beach club
o Large yachts
• Juan-les-Pins Impressions: touristy beach resort town, but worth it for a day on the sandy beach

Antibes

• Walked along port, beach, and walled old town (great for yacht spotting)
• Had dinner in old town.
• Antibes Impressions: cute, but not necessarily as breath-taking as some people had told us.

Villefranche-sur-Mer

• A jewel on the Riviera
• Beautiful, pool-like pebbly beach cove
• Ultra-convenient train station, with beach just down the steps
• Beautiful colored town, with buildings and steps feeling like an Italian village
• Villefranche Impressions: the place we’d most like to return

Side trip to Villa de Rothschild on Sainte Jean Cap Farat

• Accessible by bus, but we took Uber there
• Uber (or a private car) is a great connection between the Villa and the center of Villefranche-sur-Mer
• A nice property and grounds to visit, with interesting facts on the audio guide, and breathtaking views of of the sea and nearby Villefranche-sur-Mer and eastward toward Beaulieu sure mer.
• Villa Impressions:
o a great outing, and we’d love to come back and devote a whole day to Cap Farrah, walking its paths.
o This outing felt similar to short road trips we’d taken to Newport, Rhode Island, with its cliff walks and mansions to tour

Menton

• Another Riviera jewel
o Two great stretches of pebbly beaches
o Combines beach resort/casino area, similar to Juan-les-Pins, but also has a smaller beach cove with a beautiful backdrop of colored buildings, a bit more picturesque then Villefranche-sur-Mer, with a port and cute tourist shopping streets (we had a nice meal there)
o They love their limoncello, just like the Amalfi coast
• Menton Impressions
o Another place we’d love to return
o It’s so beautiful and relaxed, it’s worth a stay on its own.
o However the cove at Villefranche-sur-Mer is a bit more relaxed, and only a five minute train to Nice and so on down the riviera
o Last train stop before Italy
 On one day we took the train to Ventimille, and went further on to Sanremo, Italy, which Marianne had wanted to see.

Monaco

• Rodeo drive
• Casino/Hotel de Paris area
• Grand Prix memorabilia
• Monaco Impressions: Jack Nicholson quote: “Alcatraz for the rich.”

Overal Trip Impressions

• French usage is as advertised
o Speak a little French, and some think you speak a lot (Man at Frites City, loved Roman, had 3 kids of his own)
• People on the riviera — French language, Italian feel, high pace.
• How much fun it was travelling with little Roman – we weren’t sure how it would be going to France with a 2 year-old, but now we wouldn’t go any other way. He loved it, and we loved seeing everything through his eyes.
• Tacos — what gives?
o We kept coming upon places that either had “Taco” in their name or prominently featured “tacos” on their menu, but the items were always some kind of panini sandwich or grilled wrap with non-taco ingredients. It perplexed us.
o When we returned home, I found this article in The Guardian regarding French tacos: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/15/move-over-mcdonalds-french-taco-poised-for-global-expansion

Practicalities

• Trains
o TGV for longer distance
o TER along the riviera (lively on weekend nights)
o SNFC app
o Ticket machines at stations

• Taxis – Useful to save time, sparingly
• Uber – useful for parts of excursions and for Nice airport
• Bus (good option on some Nice routes)
• Airbnb – overall good place (a bit of a hike to the train station)
• Supermarkets: great bargain, low prices!
• Diet
o Supermarkets were great for a mix of diets
o Restaurants had good veggie options
o A great vegan option was always a cheeseless pizza (which are excellent in France)

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Categories: Family Travel, Provence