Due to the pandemic, this summer we organized the holidays a month and a half before leaving (including the choice of the destination) consequently we had to adapt to the few hotels left available for the two central weeks of August and we spent more than usual. We were at the mercy of the constant change of rules, we had unexpected costs, but in the end we managed to spend two weeks visiting and relaxing (14km on foot a day!) as we like! We traveled by car in order to be autonomous and decide each move directly there.
Period: 5-20 August departing from Milan.
Stops + hotels (to book the hotels we used Booking with the free cancellation formula up to a few days before departure due to the pandemic):
- MENTON2 nights Hotel Palm Garavan (base to visit also Monte Carlo)
- VILLEFRANCHE-SUR-MER 3 nights Hotel La Villa Patricia (base to visit Nice, Èze, Villefranche-sur-mer)
- ANTIBES 4 nights Hotel Le Collier (base to visit Antibes, Saint-Paul de Vence, Grasse, Cannes, Cagnes-sur-mer)
- SAINTE-MAXIME 3 nights B&B Hôtel Sainte-Maxime Golfe de Saint Tropez (base to visit Sainte-Maxime and Saint Tropez)
- HYERES 2 nights B&B Hôtel Hyeres (base to go to Porquerolles Island)
- MENTON 1 night Hotel Pavillon Imperial
In our Instagram account @perfectlyimperfecttrips, you can find all the videos of the trip in the stories’ highlights!
1st STOP ∼MENTON
Our first stop was Menton. We stayed at the Hotel Palm Garavan, very nice directly on the sea, ideal for a short stay of 1/2 nights. Menton is very characteristic with colorful houses overlooking the sea, also ideal for a weekend away as it is only 3 hours from Milan. The yellow staircase leading to the Basilica of San Michele Arcangelo is super instagrammable and the architecture of the Jean Cocteau Museum is very particular, although the interior was not open to visitors, it was worth seeing even only from the outside.
Of all the restaurants we tried, the one we liked the most was the Italian restaurant Cote Sud:
2nd STOP ∼ MONTE CARLO
The next day we wanted to start the day with a super instagrammable photo, with a view from above on the whole coast, from the famous Tête de Chien promontory, but unfortunately, after reaching it with a thousand curves and a nice uphill hike, we were enveloped in fog … so wasted effort, we couldn’t see anything! We got back in the car and reached Monte Carlo, which struck us for the majesty and ostentation of supercars, yachts and luxury boutiques. The inside of the famous Casino is worth seeing because it is really special: admission costs € 17 but € 10 is returned in a voucher for slot machines or for a cocktail.
3rd STOP ∼ NICE
On the third day we left for Villefranche-sur-mer which we kept as a base to visit Nice, Èze and Villefranche-sur-mer.
The hotel we chose was very nice: Hotel La Villa Patricia, it was in a great location, very close to a bus stop, so we avoided using the car for a few days and paying for parking in the various cities. We hadn’t even chosen breakfast included, but we changed our mind when we smelled the scent of croissants in the morning… I recommend you include it in your reservation! Super abundant and with homemade jams, really good.
After leaving the suitcases at the hotel, we first went to Nice and got the Nice Museum Pass since admission to one museum cost € 10 while the 72-hour pass included admission to all municipal museums for € 15 per person (MAMAC, Charles Nègre Museum of Photography, Matisse Museum, Jules Chéret Museum of Fine Arts, Anatole Jakovsky Naive Art Museum, Massena Museum, Palais Lascaris, Nice / Cimiez Archeology Museum, Museum of Prehistory of Terra Amata, Museum of Natural History, Prieuré du Vieux-Logis). Choose well on which day to buy the pass also according to the closing days of the museums you want to visit.
The first museum we visited was the MAMAC : the Museum of modern and contemporary art.
Right next to the MAMAC, we saw the very particular Tête Carrée: a “square head” 30 meters high and 14 wide, it is a monument-sculpture not accessible to the public that houses the offices of the Louis Nucéra Municipal Library. To end the day we then strolled to Place Massena, a very special and instagrammable square with elegant arched buildings, checkered floors and statues by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa.
The next day, we started the day by returning by bus to Nice to conclude the visit of the city. We started from the famous Cours Saleya market: flowers and local products are sold, but the peculiarity is also given by the awnings of the stalls all colored in stripes.
Then walking along the famous Promenade des Anglais, which runs along the sea, we reach the majestic Hotel Le Negresco: inaugurated in 1913, over the years it has hosted illustrious personalities such as Salvador Dalì, Princess Grace of Monaco, the Beatles, Louis Armstrong, Elton John. Inside there are also incredible works of art, it seems to be in a museum and for this reason we decided to take a break with cappuccino and Coca cola just to be able to admire the inside.
Right next to the hotel, before having lunch at Hard Rock, we visited the Villa Massena museum which was included in our pass:
In the early afternoon we reached the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas, really beautiful, we only saw it from the outside because there was a wedding!
We ended the day returning to the hotel and visiting Villefranche-sur-mer, super characteristic with the houses all colored directly on the port. Dinner was also excellent: we ate a very Italian pizza at the Marechiaro restaurant.
4th STOP ∼ SAINT-JEAN-CAP-FERRAT & ÈZE
The next day we went to visit the majestic Villa Ephrussi De RothSchild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat (very close to our hotel in Villefranche). Both the internal visit of the villa and the external visit of the numerous thematic gardens are truly beautiful. From an exotic garden to a Spanish one, from a Japanese one to a Florentine one, etc. and it is worth just walking around enjoying the magnificent sea view (in the stories’ highlights on our Instagram account @perfectlyimperfecttrips you can find the complete videos of all the gardens as well as of the rest of the trip).
After spending the whole morning in the villa, we took a bus to reach Èze and visit its famous exotic garden. Amazing, but don’t go there at lunchtime like we did, we were dying from the heat!
5th STOP ∼ ANTIBES & CANNES
The next morning we left for Antibes which has a beautiful old town. We spent the whole afternoon just wandering around the narrow streets of the city, while the next morning we took the train to go to Cannes. We preferred not to use the car to avoid the traffic of mid-August and not to pay for parking. The train station was very convenient in front of our hotel and the journey time was only 15 minutes. Honestly, however, Cannes did not thrill us, beautiful high fashion shopping streets, less beautiful the absurd queue to take a photo on the famous red carpet.
Dejected by the tour in Cannes that left us nothing, we returned to Antibes and dined in a very good creperie: La creperie du port.
The following days we spent relaxing on the beach and also went to visit a very nice outdoor shopping center on a day when the weather was not the best: the Polygone Riviera. I recommend: if you plan to go to the French Riviera in August book the beaches in advance because we have lost so many hours to find a beach with availability and in the end we found only very expensive ones and with mandatory lunch (also very expensive, for example a salad € 23).
6th STOP ∼ SAINTE-MAXIME & SAINT-TROPEZ
This was one of our favorite stops, especially as regards Saint-Tropez that we fell in love with. Having the hotel in Sainte-Maxime, we used the ferry (Bateauxverts) to reach Saint-Tropez, very convenient with trips every 15 minutes throughout the day.
From this area onwards we found much more beautiful and comfortable beaches than those encountered in the first part of the trip, in fact in the first stages the shores were very small, with narrow beaches and all the beds stuck together. We found ourselves very well instead in the beaches “Plage Le 44” and “Tiki beach Ramatuelle“:
7th STOP ∼ HYÈRES & PORQUEROLLES ISLAND
Reached our next stop, Hyères, we immediately headed to the Villa Noailles which we had planned to visit.
We ended the day visiting the city, while the next day we left very early to visit the Porquerolles island for which we had great expectations. We were actually a bit unlucky, due to large fires at that time, only after buying the ticket they told us that only two beaches on the island could be visited. In addition, the whole island can only be visited by bike, but you have to be really trained to reach some beaches between climbs and descents under the sun. Basically we didn’t even take a bath! For that day the only two beaches available were very crowded, but we still saved the day by visiting the beautiful Fondation Carmignac which is located on the island. A place of art that can only be visited on bare feet, very suggestive.
8th STOP ∼ SAINT-PAUL DE VENCE
Finally, on the way back, we went to Saint-Paul de Vence. It seemed very nice to us and we regret not being able to visit Grasse which was a short distance away. It will be the excuse to return to the French Riviera again and visit other cities! Also noteworthy is the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul de Vence:
Follow our trips also on our Instagram account Perfectlyimperfecttrips