We are in the land of Mediterranean food at its best. The food is simple and healthy, bread, wine and olive oil, as well as fruit, vegetables, fish, cheese and nuts and voila! here we were we willing to continue to enjoy all these delights.
SECOND STAGE From Cannes to Monaco
Off Cannes we continued along the Mediterranean coastline to Antibes and Nice where besides the beach and famous people we saw the most famous market of the Riviera, the Cours Saleya. And from Nice to Monaco. The idea was also to drive to the mountain villages of Saint Paul de Vence, Mougins, Eze, Coaraze and Saint Agnes. The whole journey, of about 150km, takes about three hours,but there are so many places to stop by, to visit and even stay overnight that I suggest to allow two or three days, or even more, for this itinerary. The tour may be designed around Nice or any other town or village as the start and end point. You may also take the public bus to all destinations within the Alpes Maritimes region. The entire Cote d”Azur is linked by bus, there are many regional companies, some more frequent than others. Check Lignes d’Azur bus company and Rapides Cote d’Azur.
We went to Mougins to have dinner at Le Moulin de Mougins, a very good recommendation from our friends in Cannes. The restaurant is also a 4 star hotel in Avenue Notre Dame de la Ville in a mill that dates back to the 16th century. Outside is a pleasant veranda and a terrace, try to make reservations at the terrace. Lunchtime offers two prix-fixe menus, 49 Euros and 39 Euros. In the evening, three prix fix menus, 90 Euros, 120 Euros and 180 Euros. Mougins is a nice mountain village 8km north of Cannes by the D6285, with a great gastronomic tradition.
LES ROSEES 238 Chemin de Font Neuve, Mougins. The hotel is a 400 year Provençal house, has 5 charming suites, the St. Honorat suite is the one I liked best. Prices go from 190 Euros to 320 Euros, depending the season and the type of room.
Just 12km from Cannes along the coast is Antibes – Juan les Pins. It has the same environment as all coastal towns, luxury yachts, a lot of rich and famous especially in the Cap (the peninsula) but more relaxed and more familiar. It’s actually all the same, the difference is that Antibes is also a very nice historic old town and has public sandy beaches. There is a train “le petit train” that leaves from place des Martyrs de la Résistance and winds through the narrow streets of Old Antibes, passing the Provençal market, Port Vauban and continuing to Juan les Pins.
Plage de la Gravette Antibes
COURS MASSENA Covered market in Old Antibes, just a few blocks away from the Musee Picasso. Every day except Mondays, from 6a.m. a 1p.m. This is a French Provençal Market, one of the best of the Cote d’Azur in a very typical atmosphere. You will find spices and herbs stalls, olives, vegetables, fruits, flowers, sausages, fishes and delicatessen, even fresh made socca in a wood burning oven.
HOTEL LA VILLA Avenue Saramantel. Cap d’Antibes. Quiet and charming four star small hotel, located a few meters from the beach, selected by the Michelin Guide 2011 as the most pleasant hotel in the area. Prices from 250 Euros per double room.
LE BASTION 1 av. Général Maizière (ramparts). Antibes. Restaurant and lounge bar, garden on the lounge side, terrace under the palms, salon area with plasma TV and windowed wine cellar. Sunday brunch 38 Euros. Menus dinner: 38 et 58 Euros.
LE FIGUIER DE SAINT ESPRIT 14 Rue Saint Esprit. Three star Michelin restaurant, in a charming house close to rue Saint Esprit, the oldest street in Old Antibes. Expect to pay 100 Euros tax inclusive per person. All inclusive with drinks.
Cheese market by Tim Gage
From Antibes we left to the mountain on Route des Serres to Saint Paul de Vence, 17 km away from Antibes. I loved Saint Paul de Vence. It is a fortified village built in the 13 Centruy, you have to walk the so picturesque streets from Porte Royale to Port du Sud to discover magnificent facades of 16 and 18 Century. Saint Paul is a maze of streets full of flowers, squares, fountains, ateliers of artists and artisans, the village is a tourist place, if you look for something less touristy then go for Vence, just 3km from Saint Paul which is more relaxed and realistic.
“AU MARCHE d’ YVETTE” You will find fruit, vegetables and flowers. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays beneath the wash-house at the entrance to the village, Place du Jeu de Boules. Saint-Paul de Vence
PLACE DE GAULLE. A country market selling local produce made by artisans and farmers from the area. Every Wednesday morning between 9.30am and 1pm. Saint-Paul de Vence
VENCE The lovely little market of local produce takes place every morning at the place du Grand Jardin. (Allee des Fleuristes). Every Wednesday the place also serves as a meeting place for local antique dealers and secondhand book sellers.
TOILE BLANCHE 826, chemin de la Pounchouniere. Saint-Paul. A chic boutique hotel and restaurant with fantastic views. Price range: low season 165- 210 Euros, High Season 220-350Euros.
LE HAMEAU 528 route de la Colle. Small and charming hotel with 17 air-conditioned rooms and suites. Price range 105-230 Euros.
LE SAINT PAUL 86, rue Grande. This beautiful hotel in the heart of Saint-Paul de Vence is member of the Relais & Chateaux. Rates from 300 to 710 Euros. Rooms are stylish and have balconies with beautiful views of the city and the valley.
LE VIEUX COUVENT 37, Av. Alphonse Toreille – Vence. An elegant restaurant in the former chapel of a seventeenth-century convent. Regional and classic cuisine by Jean Jacques Bissieres, member of Maitres Cuisiniers de France.
After this memorable visit to Saint Paul de Vence drop back to the coast to Nice. Driving distance between Nice and Saint Paul de Vence is of 18km.
Nice is the capital of the French Riviera and the fifth most populous city in France. Nice is well-known for the Promenade des Anglais and the Hotel Negresco, the museums, the beautiful landscapes but not for the beaches, which are quite stony. The Paloma Beach (pebbled) southeast of the port of Saint-Jean-Cap Ferrat, is one of the French Riviera’s best beaches and is just eleven km from Nice. Cap Ferrat is a very exclusive residential area, in the style of Sotogrande in Andalucia, Spain. It is a small pine-forest peninsula with large walled villas, terrace cafes and restaurants along the harbor. You can visit Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on foot by taking the coastal path.
Nice cuisine uses local ingredients and has local dishes as socca, pain-bagnat, salade nicoise, soup au pistou, and the most famous market in the Riviera, the Cours Saleya in Vieux Nice.
LE COURS SALEYA Between Place Massena and the Old Town. The Cours Saleya is not always a food market, it also serves as a popular flower market that runs from Tuesday to Sunday from 6a.m. to 5.30p.m. On Mondays is antique and bric a brac market. Some tips: if you buy some food to be eaten immediately just ask the vendor to cut it up for you and to open a bottle of wine, perfect por a picnic at the square, go early to avoid crowds and parking problems, bring a basket or get a woven shopping bag at one of the many stores at the market, bring cash.
FISH MARKET Place St. Francois daily except Monday, from 6a.m. to 1p.m.
MARCHE ARTISANAL Paintings, crafts and kitsch on Cours Saleya every night during the summer 6:00PM – 12:00PM
OLD BOOKS, POSTCARDS Place du Palais de Justice. Books first and third Sunday each month and postcards last Saturday each month.
Le Cours in 1890
HOTEL DU PETIT PALAIS Ancient residence of Sacha Guitry right in the residential district of Cimiez, one of the most beautiful parts of Nice. Each of its 25 rooms provide panoramic view of the Baie des Anges or open up onto the terrace garden. Lovely hotel. Price range 130-230 Euros depending the season and type of room. Gay friendly hotel.
HOTEL SUISSE 15 Quai Rauba Capéù. The seafront location is excellent, has 38 rooms and a suite decorated in an italian contemporary style, nice hotel. Room rates from 106-265 Euros for a double with no balcony to 114-285Euros for a room with a view and balcony.
VILLA LA TOUR 4, rue de la Tour. This small hotel is a former 18 century convent in the heart of Old Nice, near the flower market and only 10 minute walk from the beach. Price range 50-167 Euros.
NICE PEBBLES Holiday Boutique Apartments for rent.
HOTEL NEGRESCO Salon Versailles. “For nearly a century, the mythical palace NEGRESCO has dominated the Promenade des Anglais on the Baie of Angels, its magical name evoking a certain “art de vivre”.
LA MERENDA 4, Rue Raoul Bosio. Does not accept credit cards. The small and popular restaurant offers good french food at affordable prices.
LES EPICURIENS 6, place Wilson. French traditional cuisine, excellent restaurant and service. Average price: 40Euros
CHEZ PIPO 13 rue Bavastro. People go there to eat a socca, near the oven or on the terrace, an apéritif or a meal but also to have a good time with friends or meet friends. We recommend Pipo for those in a budget and for the excellent soccas, but also pissaladière, pizzas, and wine.
OLIVIERA 8 Bis rue du Collet. An olive oil shop and a restaurant serving seasonal and well prepared dishes, each matched with one of the range of oils. Average price 35 Euros including wine.
Coaraze, also named the Sun Village, is 27km northeast of Nice on the D15, about 35 minutes drive into the hills. There are also everyday buses from Nice to Coaraze, except Sundays. Classified as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages of France”, was built in 1629 in the sandstone mount at the foot of Mount Férion. The medieval village has ancient stone houses and narrow cobblestone streets and is really lovely.
Coaraze has only 620 inhabitants, so do not expect a lot of hotels or restaurants.
L’ALIVU 816 route des Baisses. Charming guesthouse with four charming rooms , a small swimming pool and a restaurant offering evening meals. Price: 100 Euros the double, breakfast included.
AU FIL DES SAISONS 7 Place Alexandre Mari . Traditional cuisine, menus change each week depending on the market produce. Budget 15-30 Euros.
LE JOUNCAS 129 Route Col Saint Roch. Pizzeria.
The village of Eze, 32km south of Coaraze on D15 road, situated between Nice and Monaco, is a picturesque village, one of the most beautiful villages in Provence. The site covers the three “corniche”: the “haute corniche” suspended between sea and sky, the village of Eze itself a little lower on the “moyenne corniche” and finally, on the Mediterranean, the small resort of Eze-Bord-de-mer. The village has a medieval past, the old buildings and narrow streets were built around the base of the old castle, however despite being very cute is totally tourist, lots of souvenir shops and all it entails.
MARKET The market is held every Thursday morning on Place Colette with a wide array of offerings.
LA BASTIDE AUX CAMELIAS 23 C route de l’Adret (accès par le chemin de la Trinité. Guest house in a XVI old house in the middle of the park Grande Corniche overlooking the mediterranean sea. Price Range: 130-150 Euros
CHATEAU EZA rue de la Pise. My favorite 5 star hotel in Eze is the former residence of Prince William of Sweden. The twelve rooms and suites are magnificent with fireplaces marble bathrooms and terraces with spectacular views. Most of them have private entrances that lead down to the narrow winding streets of the town. The restaurant is rated by the Michelin Guide. High season rates from 450 Euros.
AUBERGE DU CHEVAL BLANC Place de la Colette. Regional food, fish, pizzas. Menus 14 Euros
LA TAVERNE 9, rue Barri. Pizzeria
Eze looking towards Cap Ferrat by Karl Holland
Driving from Eze 8km west on the D6007 we arrived in Monaco. Monaco is the land of luxury and elegance and the House of Grimaldi th Royal family of Monaco. The Principality is the second smallest country in the world, behind the Vatican City. The official language is French, but English and Italian are widely spoken. It is a glamorous place of great culture, great dining and enviable situation facing the Mediterranean.
The historic heart of the Principalityis home to the Prince’s palaceand the Cathedral. The Changing of the Guard takes place in the palace courtyard every day just before noon (admission free). The exhibition of H.S.H. Prince Rainier III’s private collection of Antique cars is located on the Terraces de Fontvieille. This remarkable exhibition brings together almost 100 classic cars of all ages, as well as six coaches belonging to HSH, Prince Rainier III of Monaco. The Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra gives summer concerts in the cour d’honeur of the Prince Palace in July and August. Nice areas to wander about are the main harbour, Port Hercule in La Condamine and the small commercial centre of rue Grimaldi and rue Princess Caroline. The Galeries du Metropole Hotel Metropole, next to Montecarlo Casino, is an exclusive shopping gallery home to 80 luxury boutiques and decor, the best designer brands are in Espace Mirage. The Casino’s Square and surrounding streets, the Avenue des Beaux Arts and the Avenue Monte Carlo are the most expensive. The Boulevard des Moulins is part pedestrianized and has small galleries.
Palais de Monaco
MARCHE DE LA CONDAMINE Market on Place d’Armes, near the railway station, open daily. The open air markets sells fruits, vegetables and flowers, and the covered market sells butchery, bakery, special foods an wines. So lovely that both indoor and outdoor markets have a fountain, cafes, and hand-painted vegetable tiles beneath your feet
MARCHE DE MONTECARLO Covered market on Ave. Saint Charles, open daily, closed for lunch. Has delicatessen, bakery and dairy, frutis and vegetables. Both markets have delivery service.
LES PUCES DE FONTVIEILLE Flea market open on Saturdays 9:30am to 5:30pm on the Quai Jean-Charles Rey, immediately next to Port de Fontvieille.
La Condamine Farmers Market by wfbakker2
COLUMBUS HOTEL Doubles from US$250. The hotel Columbus is a luxury contemporary hotel with a laid back attitude.
There are 181 guest rooms overlooking the Mediterranean sea, too many in my opinion, I prefer smaller hotels. Doubles from 145 Euros.
HOSTELLERIE JEROME 20 Rue Comte de Cessole, La Turbie In the heart of an old presbytery, Reachable by a medieval alley from the burg, the hotel has five rooms and a gourmet restaurant.
LE CAFE DE PARIS Open from the morning until midnight, Le Cafe is one of the terraces most frequented in Monaco, a place to see and be seen. Situated a few meters from the casino of Monte-Carlo.
RAMPOLDI 3, avenue des Spélugues. Italian and French cuisine. Movie stars, sports celebrities and beautiful people are regular guests. The average price à la carte, service included, without drinks is 60 €
ZEBRA SQUARE BAR 10a Ave. Princesse Grace. Top Floor Grimaldi Forum. A chic and busting place to eat, dance and have some drinks.
QUAI DES ARTISTES 4, quai Antoine 1er . Restaurant, café and brasserie. The average price à la carte is 45-65 Euros.
There’s a lot of sightseeing around Monaco. The small village of Sainte Agnes, the seaside resort of Cap d’Ail, and Menton, the last town before de Italian border, also named the “Pearl of France”.
Just 18km northeast Monaco on the D22 is Saint-Agnes, at an altitude of 800m above sea level. The drive to Sainte Agnes is not easy, for the road is steep and narrow, has many curves and twists around the mountain. The views are spectacular -for your co-driver-, despite the demanding drive, the walled town of Sainte-Agnes is worth visiting. I recommend not driving this road at night or in fog, in a clear day it is worth the trip. There are some casual restaurants in the village, we had lunch at Le Logis Sarrasin, 40 rue des Sarrasins and i must say the food was fantastic.
Sainte-Agnes is classified as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”
Cap d’Ail stretches just two km to the west of Monaco. The walk along the coastal paths takes you to two of the three Blue Flag public beaches in the area, the Marquet Beach and the Mala Beach (pebbled beach). The market for organically grown produce takes place every Wednesday at Square Beaverbrook from 08:00-13:00.
Menton is a small charming town facing the Mediterranean Sea, very close to the Italian border, 10km from Monaco on the Basse Corniche road. Is the first town in the Alpes Maritimes to receive the designation of City of Art and History and is also known as the “Pearl of France”. With all these names, I think it deserves a visit. The Old Town is pedestrian – walk along rue Saint Michel and rue Pieta- most points or interest are walking distance, so allow an entire day to see the Place St. Michel, the Basilica of St-Michel-Archange and the museums and gardens, which are many.
Menton at night
The pedestrian area between the Campanin gardens and the sea is lined with shops and restaurants. There are five markets in Menton, some daily and some weekly, these are the hours and days of opening of markets and flea markets in Menton.
MARCHE COUVERT Located at the Quai de Monleon, daily Monday to Sunday. There are around thirty merchants who sell fresh produce, vegetables, fruits and meats.
SUMMER NIGHT MARKET The artisan market takes place in the summer months at the foot of the Old Town near to the Bastion.
MARCHE DU CAREL Regional products and gastronomy, Tuesdays 7a.m. to 1p.m., Carel.
ANTIQUE MARKET Every Friday in place Herbes, from 7a.m.to 1p.m.
PRODUCE MARKET Every saturday morning from 7a.m. to 1p.m., quai Napoleon III
Deli stand at the covered market by funadium
MIRAZUR 30, avenue Aristide Briand. Michelin starred restaurant, budget 30-60 Euros.
LE CAFE DES ARTS 16, Rue de la République . Budget 15-30 Euros. Stylish and laid back bistro, daily specials made with fresh produce, salads, fresh pasta and grills. Good homemade desserts.
I’m done with this journey I hope it has been useful, as summer approaches in this southern part of France we must do our best to enjoy our vacations!
- Traveller’s Guide: The French Med (independent.co.uk)
- A Tour Along the French Riviera Food Markets (itinerariesnow.com)