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Nice Uncovered: Walks Through the Secret Heart of a Historic City

Where to Stay

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Before choosing a hotel you have to decide where to stay on the French Riviera. Should you make Nice your base? Or Cannes? Or, where? Yes it's true you can make a day trip to pretty much everywhere in the region no matter where you're based, but it's worth thinking about your tastes, budget, and holiday habits before deciding on where you'll be laying your head at the end of the day.


Nice is by far the most popular base for a Riviera holiday and for good reason. Here are the pluses:

a wide range of hotels from hostels to five-star luxury
the charming and effervescent Old Town, packed with bars and restaurants
the baie des anges, Promenade des Anglais, and 7km of beach, most free
a wealth of museums, churches and monuments
centrally located on the coast; easy for day trips to Monaco, Antibes, Ventimiglia

And the minuses:

a big city with all the noise, bustle and traffic of any metropolis
shingle beaches that are not kid-friendly
a parking nightmare

Nice is perfect for

young people on a budget who can eat and drink cheaply in the Old Town
first-timers who want to see the most in a short time by making easy day trips
music fans looking to enjoy the Nice Jazz Festival in July
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Cannes is classy but avoid the Cannes Film Festival when accommodation rates are sky-high if available at all. Here are the pluses:

sandy beaches, shallow, calm bay perfect for kids
La Croisette, the seaside promenade perfect for a quiet stroll
wide range of shopping: high-fashion, small boutiques, European brands
easy day trips to the Ile St Lerins, hill villages, even St-Tropez
toney nightlife free of riffraff
fine dining

And the minuses

expensive, particularly the hotels and beach-restaurants
very bling-bling, not so cultural
dressy; don't even think about walking into a restaurant in a tee-shirt and shorts

Cannes is perfect for

fashionistas looking to show-off their resort-wear to those who can appreciate it
families planning to spend a lot of time on the beach


For glamor and the illusion that you're living a James Bond life, there's nowhere like Monaco. Here are the pluses:

belle-epoque architecture and the gardens of Monte Carlo
fairy-tale streets and the Prince's Palace in the Old Town
the Casino of Monte Carlo
world-class nightlife with nightclubs, discos, jazz bars and elegant cafes

And the minuses

expensive, particularly the hotels which are weighted toward the high-end
not for walkers; many hills and residential districts, few promenades
over-developed with nature banished to gardens and the beach

Monaco is perfect for:

gamblers, duh
nightowls with big bank accounts


The westernmost point of the Riviera, Menton is a favorite retirement spot for French people. The town comes to life in February for the Lemon Festival. Here are the pluses:

a long strip of sandy beach and a seaside promenade
attractive Old Town to explore
within easy reach of Roquebrune's Buse beach and Cap d'Ail's Mala beach
enjoy the attractions of Monaco without paying Monaco hotel prices

And the minuses:

indifferent dining
not much to do at night
nothing at all to do off-season

Menton is perfect for:

families on a budget looking forward to long days on sandy beaches
repeat visitors to the Riviera who want to make easy day trips to Ventimiglia and the Italian riviera


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