Guest Notes for Episode 468: Beach Hopping on the French Riviera

Categories: Family Travel, Provence

Discussed in this Episode

  • Cannes
  • Antibes
  • Nice
  • Villefranche-sur-Mer
  • Beaulieu-sur-Mer
  • Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
  • Menton
  • Monaco


  • Hi! I’m Jessica Osborn and I live in Arizona. The summers can get into triple digits here, so we escaped the heat to the French Riviera last July 2022.  The irony is that we traded the dry heat for humid heat.  Thankfully we took advantage of the Mediterranean Sea during our trip.
  • I traveled with my husband and my daughter; Noelle who was 4 years old at the time.
  • I’ve been listening to your podcast for the past 5 years! I look forward to your weekly episodes to feed my Francophile addiction.

Trip Logistics

  • 7-hour train from Florence to Nice since we had been traveling through Italy and spent a week in Florence.
  • We rented an apartment 5-minute walk to beach and 10-minute walk to train station.
  • Stayed 8 nights in Nice.

Towns and Beaches from West to East

  • Cannes (40 minutes from Nice)
    • This is a stretch, but I get old-timey Victorian boardwalk vibes here with a high-class twist. Carousel, Ferris wheel, ice cream vendors along the boardwalk.
    • Best place for high-end shopping because they are all walking distance on the main road next to the beach.
    • Soft sandy beaches, delicate waves, loud music.  Good place to splurge at a beach club.  We rented lounge chairs and umbrellas at the historic Carlton Beach Club, since 1930 (€45 a chair). Great showers and changing room.  I recommend booking online a head of time especially in the summers.
    • Cute old town that winds up a hill with amazing views of the riviera.  This is where we grabbed a casual dinner.
    • Highlight:  Fireworks Contest.  There are 6 evenings in July and August where countries compete for the best fireworks presentation, choreographed with music.  The audience can go online to vote.  I believe the Norway was the winner last year.


  • Antibes (25 minutes from Nice)
    • Provence vibes with stone architecture, Provencal market, town square is quaint, perfect for aperitivo and alfresco dining.
  • My favorite place for boutique shopping (jewelry, linens, olive oil)
  • Best place for Yacht spotting.  It’s called Millionaires row since it is the home to Europe’s wealthiest yachts.
  • Beach is under the ramparts, crescent shaped so the water is very calm, gravel like sand.
  • Highlight: Watching a thunderstorm under the arches of the ramparts, playing in the rain with the locals.


  • Nice
    • I think my favorite city in France. I could live here. I love the pastel and art deco building, it’s very walkable, and very family friendly.
    • Hiked up to Castle Hill Beautiful waterpark, views, playground for kids.
    • Flower market/Cours Seleya has wonderful food, flower, flea, and night time markets. Monday flea market is my favorite…you can find vintage Chanel, perfumes, home goods, etc.
    • Old Nice – get lost, have dinner there where restaurants spill out into the streets. Stop for Fenocchio
    • Cool off in the football field size fountain park
    • Entertaining street performers, musicians, dance classes take over the squares at night
    • Beach is very rocky. I recommend water shoes here. Water feels like a wave pool.  Saw lot of fish so bring snorkeling gear or goggles. Great please to visit at night to swim and people watch.
    • A meal at Hotel Negresco is worth the splurge.



  • Beulieu-sur-Mer/Saint Jean Cap Ferrat (10 minutes from Nice)
    • Mini Monaco vibe (casino, clean, glitzy). Seems mostly residential.
    • La Petite Afrique Beach is the most shaded. Volleyball court and water sports for rental.  We didn’t go to the beach that day because we spend our day walking and touring the villas.
    • Highlight: We walked the elevated shoreline path called promenade Rouvier to the Villa Ephrussi Rothschild. We rested and cooled off in the tea parlor for lunch.  The gardens (French, Spanish, Provencial, Japanese, Florentine, Exotic, Stone, Rose) are spectacular. Fountain show runs about every 30 minutes.


  • Menton (40 minutes from Menton)
    • Italian vibes, colorful old town, close to the Italian border and food has heavy Italian influence.
    • Known for the Fete du Citron, runs 15 days in February and March. Kind of like a carnival with parades, fruit, and citrus exhibits.
    • It took the longest to get to the beach and old town from the train station. I recommend taking the 45 minute Le Petit Train tour to learn about the history and it takes you up the hills for amazing views.
    • Library
    • Pirate ship
    • Sandy beach amongst the sail boats. There is a floating dock to swim to.



  • Pack for day trips: water shoes, sunscreen, snorkeling gear, shampoo for the showers.
  • Download Rail Europe for train times and to book tickets. Trains run often. We probably waited 20 minutes at the most to get on the next train.  Be prepared for packed train cars.
  • Thoughts on Monaco: In my opinion, Monaco doesn’t capture the essence of the riviera.  I remember it being a jungle of concrete high-rises, hilly, not much to see but the casino, Vegas style high-end shopping, and not easy to get to the palace or aquarium.  I recommend a half day visit just so you can say you’ve been there.
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Categories: Family Travel, Provence