Schedule time to take day trips from Nice.
The French Riviera stretches from Saint Tropez to Menton along the Mediterranean sea, although the actual borders differ according to whom you ask.
Quite a few places along the way are on many people’s wish lists. You know, the hype, the glitz, and sunshine year-round.
Live it up and have a memorable family adventure, a romantic escape or do fun stuff with friends.
There’s something for the jet-set crowd, beach addicts, or on the contrary, just blending in with nature.
When you’re ready to explore, rent a car, take a bus or take the train for your day trips from Nice.
But I’d recommend renting a car so that you can plan things your way with more flexibility.
So let’s take a look at which day trips from Nice are worth the effort.
1. DAY TRIPS FROM NICE: ICONIC ST TROPEZ
Saint Tropez is a small fishing village. Its narrow streets lead to charming homes, outdoor markets, and stunning views from the old port.
During the summer Saint Tropez becomes the playground for the rich and famous. Very bling bling.
Just be aware that its natural feel vanishes for a couple of months during July and August and is replaced by large crowds!
High-class parties on private beaches, upscale restaurants, and chic boutiques are a few reasons why it’s so crowded during the high season. You can join the beautiful people on the beach or just admire the yachts along the port.
It is, however, still a mythical place to visit, even for a day or two, as St Tropez is actually quite small.
Just wander around, climb the stairs at the port to check the view. Have a good coffee while people watching.
Go to the outdoor market. Watch a typical game of “boules” at the Place des Lices.
Take a photo in front of the “Gendarmerie” as this is a famous facade for a classic 1964 french movie “Le Gendarme de Saint Tropez”. Last year it was turned into a museum for the fans.
In the same small square, you can admire the new statue of Brigitte Bardot, an icon in Saint Tropez.
When you take day trips from Nice, especially to Saint Tropez beware that summer traffic is a real thing. It can be a bit nerve-wracking as traffic backs up quite a bit.
Your best bet is to leave the car in one of the large parking areas on the outskirts and walk 15 minutes to the center of town.
If you plan to just spend the day, another option would be to take the ferry (only during the summer months) in the morning from Nice or Cannes.
Or take the green boats (Bateaux Verts) from Saint Maxime.
You can also take the train to St. Raphael, the closest train station, and then a bus into Saint Tropez, but the traffic problem will be the same.
Note: St. Tropez to Cannes by car -1 1/2 hour without traffic.
2. DAY TRIP TO CLASSY CANNES
Cannes has been and still is THE meeting spot of the rich and famous and those who want to see them up close.
During the summer months, Cannes is extremely packed with people-watchers, beach lovers, chic cars, party people, and tourists worldwide.
If you can manage coming here in winter (still very sunny), then your overall experience will be more serene 🙂
Otherwise, there are still few things not to miss in Cannes and a few places worth the effort.
* LA CROISETTE
High-class hotels and upscale shops line the Croisette, which is the main avenue that runs parallel to the beach. This is where most tourists spend their time.
- LE SUQUET
Take a stroll in the oldest part of town for a few hours along the small narrow cobblestone streets. Lots of shops and restaurants.
The best reason to explore the old town besides its old charm is the view all the way up to the top at the castle ruins.
CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
In May the population seems to triple before this famous Film Festival.
Well-known actors, producers, and celebrities are present to hopefully receive an award and be photographed walking down the red carpet.
On the list of day trips from Nice, this one is worth it if you’re into the latest movie
Fans form crowds early morning to secure a “sidewalk” spot and get a chance to see their favorite people.
A few steps from the Palais des Festival, check out Le Chemin des Etoiles (Walk of Stars) near the Tourism office. It’s really not as impressive as it sounds! But if you’re there, take a look at the small handprints made by some famous stars.
CANNES OUTDOOR MARKET
.Cannes has several outdoor markets, but the Marche Forville is one of the largest with quite a variety of products.
It’s located close to the center of town, or you can park in the lot nearby for 1 hour free.
Every day except Monday, you can enjoy this covered market and get lost in the maze of choices, including high-quality local produce, flowers, bread, cheese, meats.
And of course fresh fish from local fishermen.
When you’re finished take a break in one of the many cafes nearby and think about what you’ll be having for lunch 🙂
Related Reading: 4 Colorful Markets in Nice
- CANNES BEACHES
Well, it is a seaside town after all!
Although easy to get to, the beaches on the Croisette are mostly private and very expensive. There are some public beaches but unless you like being sandwiched try the far end of the Croisette towards Port Canto.
However, whichever beach you choose to laze in the Mediterranean sun, get there early!
Another option is to take the car and go further towards Mandelieu La Napoule.
Related Reading on Beaches
3. DAY TRIPS TO NATURE: ILES DE LERINS
You can do a few day trips from Nice in one day. For example, if you are in Cannes, head to Iles de Lerins.
Iles de Lerins are made up of 2 islands and even if a bit expensive when traveling on a budget, they’re a good option to get some nature and quiet time.
The smaller island is named St. Honorat and a larger one is named St Marguerite.
St.Honorat has a monastery which you can visit (buy a ticket). The monks onsite sell “homegrown” foods and wine and that could be a good local souvenir to take back home.
The other island, St Marguerite has a few more shops and restaurants (but expensive).
This one may be a better choice for families who like to walk for a while along woodsy paths.
Explore for a while before finding the perfect secluded spot by the water where you can relax, have a nice picnic, or go for a swim.
The water is a clean blue and the coves are rocky and shady.
No cars, only human feet, and bicycles.
It takes about 20 minutes by ferry. Go early in the morning as the ferry sometimes stops around lunchtime and the return ferry stops late afternoons.
Check the timetables at the tourist office or at your hotel, as they do change depending on the season. Price around 15euros.
Note: Cannes to Antibes: 15 km / 9 miles
4. DAY TRIP FROM NICE TO ANTIBES
Considering the high amount of visitors year-round, you’d think Antibes is just a seaside town for vacationers. But locals do live here, work, raise families – year-round.
So when considering day trips from Nice, make sure to come to Antibes and experience a mix of real-life and vacation.
- OLD TOWN
Most people who visit spend their time in and around the Old Town.
A mixture of colors, spices, and cobblestone streets. Full of charming narrow alleys and squares, where you have plenty of choices for eateries, small shops, and outdoor people watching.
With a few exceptions, the area within the medieval walls is pedestrian.
The coziest sandy beach is just outside the old town entrance near the old harbor. It’s only a few minutes’ walk depending on where you are in the old town.
- THE OLD FORT (FORT CARRE)
This 16th-century military fort is unusually shaped and worth a look if you are into history.
It’s a bit of a walk from the old town and the signs can be confusing, so get a map at the tourist office.
They are very helpful.
Once there, your ticket will allow entry as well as the services of a guide for a short tour of the fort (but depending on the season, it’s a hit or miss for a bilingual guide).
There are several levels in the fort and the main reason to come here if you’re not into history is the view of the harbor and the old town.
- PICASSO MUSEUM
An intimate museum housed in the stone Grimaldi Castle.
You’ll discover another side of Picasso as well as the works of other artists who influenced him throughout his time in Antibes. Entrance 6 euros.
Check out the small terrace for some sculptures and great views!
Note: Antibes to Biot is about 8km/5 miles
.5. DAY TRIP TO CHARMING BIOT
Biot is a small treasure. And among all the day trips from Nice, make sure to take an afternoon to visit this very small and lovely village.
This 15th-century village has kept its authenticity and its charm throughout time and the good news is that even in summer it’s never crowded.
Many painters and writers have left their mark here.
Below are a few things to enjoy in Biot.
.Note: Biot to St Paul de Vence is about 20km/12 miles.
6. DAY TRIP TO ARTSY SAINT PAUL DE VENCE
Day trips from Nice should include an afternoon in Saint Paul de Vence. This picturesque village is located inland and not along the coastline.
Notice the medieval 16th-century ramparts that lead to narrow cobblestone streets and its central fountain, as well as the 12th-century tower still standing from the old château.
There are multiple small squares, and many art galleries sandwiched around every corner.
Foundation Maeght is 1 km from the village and worth a visit for its interesting sculptures around the garden.
Love museums? Check these museum suggestions on the French Riviera.
Note: Saint Paul de Vence to Nice is about 18km/11miles
.7. DAY TRIP TO BEAUTIFUL NICE
When most people think French Riviera, they think Cote d’Azur, they think Nice. When you’re not taking day trips from Nice you are of course enjoying this great city from elsewhere!
It is a large city but there are a few places where visitors seem to concentrate most of their time.
- The Old Town, also known as the Vieux Nice. A village within the city made up of cobblestone streets and small squares. It can be a labyrinth type of place, but once you get your bearings you’ll understand how to get out 🙂
- Cours Saleya. On the edge of the old town, this market is filled with fruits vegetables and flowers. Except for Mondays when there is the antique market. Check it out for the sheer pleasure of seeing fresh produce and typical foods from the region. You can also buy spices, olives and delicious loaves of bread for the day’s picnic.
- Promenade des Anglais. Ok, no need to elaborate on this one as its known worldwide! Take a 9km stroll, ride a bike or just sit on a blue chair and enjoy the view. Several private beaches with lounge chairs and restaurants or and public beaches to choose from.
- Zone Pietonne: A long pedestrian street lined with restaurants and shops. Have an ice cream, listen to outdoor music during the summer months or just people watch at one of the many outdoor cafes.
- Avenue Jean Medicin and Nice Etoile: Shopping shopping shopping! Nice Etoile is a shopping mall. 3 floors with all sorts of clothing, jewelry furniture, kitchen shops and more. Restaurants, snack stands, and juice bars also onsite.
Make sure to walk around the port. Take the car to visit the Russian Church. Relax in the Cimiez Gardens.
Check this article for more detailed information about Nice.
Note: Nice to Villefranche is about 7 km/ 4 miles.
8. DAY TRIP TO COLORFUL VILLEFRANCHE
The most charming and sweetest seaside village in the south of France. A perfect place to add to your list of day trips from Nice. Stay awhile and have a great lunch in front of a beautiful view.
Below are a few things to do in Villefranche.
- The Citadel. The 16th-century architecture makes up the majority of this impressive citadel. In the summer you can watch outdoor movies or listen to an outdoor concert. It houses several small museums.
- Chapel Saint Piere des Pecheurs: Entirely decorated and painted by Jean Cocteau in 1957. You could easily walk past it without ever imagining how beautiful it is on the inside. Fishermen would come into this very small chapel before going out to sea.
It really is a small gem and worth a visit for a small fee.
- Walk…The best way to get a feel for a village is to walk it. Discover where the stairs lead to, what’s behind the next corner, how the colors just blend together like a painting. Get to another viewpoint. Try out a local specialty. Sit on a bench and take it all in.
Note: Villefranche to Eze is about 12 km / 7 miles
9. DAY TRIP TO ELEGANT EZE
Another great easy day trip from Nice is Eze village.
It’s a small medieval upscale village perched up high enough to offer great views of the coastline and sea below.
Park your car at the bottom before the entrance to the village and check the tourism office on the corner of the lot to ask for helpful information.
- Walk around. The streets are narrow and steep but take your time. Go slow.
- Chateau de la Chevre d’Or is worth a look. It’s a very upscale and beautiful hotel that blends in with the stone medieval architecture of the village.
- The church. You can see it’s neo-classic yellow facade as you go up the through the labyrinth streets. This church was built in the 1700’s and in need of restoration. But the beautiful view you get from there is worth the climb.
- Exotic Gardens: Once you’ve made your way up to the top of the village, take some time to explore the small gardens. There is a fee (6 euros) but it is worth it if you like plants, which include a wide variety of cactus. The best part is the view from the top!
- For more information on the gardens: click here.
- Nietzche Path: If you’re feeling up for some exercise, take this path from the bottom up, or vice versa. It is a bit slippery at times so I suggest you only walk it if you are in good condition or have a lot of time to take it slow.
The path itself goes from Eze village down to Eze Bord de Mer (the coast) or the other way around! It takes about 1 hour or so (2km) not counting the stops to take great pictures. Don’t wear sandals.. and bring water.
Note: Eze to Menton is about 17 km / 10 miles
10. DAY TRIP TO DOWN TO EARTH MENTON
The last city before the Italian border is Menton and a great choice when considering day trips from Nice.
Take your time and enjoy walking around taking within the warm Mediterranean colors. Don’t miss :
- The Old Town. It is pedestrian friendly and low key. Walk around, buy souvenirs or have a meal at one of the more typical restaurants serving local food.
- Basilique Saint Michel: From the Old Town square follow the narrow cobblestone path (steep) to the basilica.
Be aware that it’s a bit of a climb but the style is typical of the area and worth a visit. Admire the beautiful views from the esplanade all the way to Italy! Beware of opening hours, usually closed from noon to 3 but check first as this may change according to the season. On the way back take the stone steps leading down to the beach.
- Cimetiere du Vieux Chateau: The old castle is no longer. But the 19th-20th-century cemetery is an interesting site and very peaceful.
You will be rewarded by amazing views of Old Menton and the Mediterranean Sea. Find your way from the old town through the cobblestone sloped streets. It’s quite the climb, but go slow and go all the way up!
So when you’re ready to take off, visit some of the beautiful ideas above and just explore. During your day trips open your eyes wide. Make sure to take your time.
Get the feel of the place. Enjoy a good lunch. Watch a sunset.
Day trips from Nice: exploring the South of France is easy and fun. Each city, town, village, and remote hamlet below have their own charm and each deserves attention.
Day trip or road trip?
Who knows, if you fall in love with a special place, your day trips from Nice could easily turn into a long weekend!
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Enjoy Day Trips From Nice. Together 🙂