The Côte d'Azur (an area often referred to as The French Riviera here in the U.S.) is definitely somewhere we all should go. Kate McLean, who recently traveled to the area and is sharing her journey with us today, describes her experience as a mix of contrasts: "The blue waters remind one of the Caribbean while still maintaining the elegance of Europe's cathedrals, historic sites, and refinement of food. I would recommend it to any couple looking for a honeymoon which combines adventure and discovery of a culture heavily steeped in relaxation and beauty."
To get to Nice, the area's largest city and main airport, you have a few options: fly into the area via a layover (commonly either in London or Frankfurt), or go direct to Paris and take the train down. Kate opted for the rail route: "My recommendation would be to fly to Paris, spend a day or two in the city then commute via train to Nice. The train systems are efficient, clean, comfortable and a lovely way to see the beautiful countryside of France."
GETTING AROUND & GETTING BY
In her spring-time trip, Kate was greeted with weather similar to a Floridian winter: "... clear blue skies, light ocean breezes and bright warm sunshine." She started off in Nice, which, while bustling and touristy in parts, did have a lot more to offer visitors. Opting for a more quiet home base, though - which Kate highly recommends - she stayed in an apartment near Villefranche-sur-Mer. Quiet and quaint, the town overlooks the rocky Mediterranean coast and is situated right in between Nice and Monaco, both a short train ride away. It's a popular vacation spot, and weekly rental homes are available.
A FEW IDEAS
Kate soaked up the Côte d'Azur with visits to Nice, Monaco and the charming village of Eze.
In Nice, the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral is a popular destination. Opened in 1912, it was commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II; its onion-shaped domes, bright colors and ornate detailing make it easy to spot from the streets.
Kate found the hilltop village of Eze to be a charming retreat, packed with art galleries, cacti and hilltop ocean views. She suggests it as a perfect backdrop for a romantic honeymoon, with luxe lodging at Château Eza.
With a total area of less than a square mile, Monaco is the second smallest and most densely populated country in the world; it's also a playground for the rich and ridiculously chic, and a great spot for celebrity and yacht watching.
For a taste of the glam and charm of Old Monaco, head to Café de Paris. It's the place to see and be seen while experiencing that iconic bustling Parisienne brasserie feel.
One of Kate's favorite things to do is one of mine, too: "One of the best parts of the trip was sampling the local fare. Rosé wine paired with freshly baked crusty baguettes and locally sourced cheeses was a recurring and fantastic meal."
Being situated next to the sea, there was no lack of seafood. My favorite meal of the trip was a large pot of mussels steamed in butter and white wine and served with a side of pommes frites used to soak all of the briny ocean juices after the crustaceans were gone. We lingered in local pastry shops indulging in expertly crafted and delicate pastries which the French are known for while lazily people watching... another French favorite.
My bags are packed! Who's with me?