I bloody love skyscanner, I do. After spontaneously clicking ‘purchase tickets’ whilst browsing flights to anywhere in the world one miserable Tonsilitis-ridden day, I was fully set up to travel solo to Nice for a few days of sunshine and good times. Granted, some people found my decision to go on holiday alone a little bizarre- some were
downright alarmed at the concept- but all I’m saying is, travelling solo can be a right laugh and is something I highly recommend to anyone who’s ever considered it.
Nice sits on the South coast of France, a little to the right of St Tropez and a little to the left of Monaco and Italy, which makes it a great base for exploring the surrounding areas if you don’t fancy staying in the city for your entire trip. What helps this is the fact that it’s so easy to get around even without hiring a car or booking onto a crazily-priced tour. Public transport in the area is so easy to use and affordable; and you’re more likely to stumble upon a hidden treasure than you would be sitting on a tour bus, that’s for sure.
DAY ONE- NICE JAZZ FESTIVAL
Getting from the airport to the city is pretty darn tooting simple if you ask me. You could get a taxi but I’ve heard that they’re kind of a rip off so chose to get a bus, which for €6 is a pretty good price. In no time at all I was cruising alongside the Mediterranean, loving life big time, but also sweltering hot because I chose to wear leggings for the flight. Don’t wear leggings in Nice in July, people. It’s just plain stupid, and you deserve every ounce of sweltering discomfort that you get.
The beaches in Nice are pebbled paradises with parasols in shades of blue which all tone rather nicely with the sea- they’ve clearly thought this through. Most of the more majestic-looking hotels along the seafront have their own private beaches where you can pay for a sun lounger and get some cocktails to go with it if you feel that way inclined. You know how it is when you’re in Nice.
But now down to the main business of the day. As I was walking through the Place Masséna, which is a big square in the centre of Nice, complete with amazing fountains which children can run through throughout the day (I’m jealous), I discovered that there was some kind of massive musical event taking place that evening. In my mind this obviously meant that it was destiny that I should attend, so I bought a ticket on the spot and wham-bam-thankyou-mam, went to Nice Jazz Festival at 7pm that very night.
If you ever happen to be in Nice around the time of the Jazz festival, let me tell you it is well worth a visit. A few hours in I found myself at the front of a strange jazzy-moshpit type situation, sandwiched between a guy my age who appeared to be dressed in the theme of the Italian flag (complete with matching bumbag), a collection of very scene looking girls, a couple who were at least in their 60s who were jumping up and down like they’d only just discovered jumping, and a mum and dad with two young children on their shoulders, also clearly loving life. If you’ve never heard of Too Many Zooz before, definitely check them out because they were INSANE. Particularly the saxophonist, who was playing his instrument like it was some kind of weapon, for goodness’ sake. What a guy. Jamie Cullum was headlining that evening, and let’s face it, he’s a bit of a full on legend as well.
DAY TWO- ÉZE
The medieval village of Éze is situated not too far along the coast from Nice, perched on top of a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean, so after breakfast at Chez Josephine I decided to get a bus there to see what it’s all about. A word from the wise- I spoke to a woman at breakfast who told me she’d visited the village as part of a tour the day before but was disappointed that they only got 40 minutes to explore. This is why DIY tours are always the way to go, in my humble opinion. It’s also rather spectacular to be at the front of the bus going round all the twists and turns of the mountain roads on the way up there.
The medieval part of Éze is right at the top of a mountain, and it’s a fairly steep climb on cobbled streets to get up there- but despite the slightly touristy vibe, totally worth it. The streets are incredibly narrow and seem to wind their way up and up forever, until right at the very peak where the Jardin Exotique is situated. It costs €6 to get in, which is barely anything, and completely worth it for the views alone. Basically, many years ago a rather rich lad decided it would be a brilliant idea to cart a load of cacti up the side of the mountain and plonk them on top, and nowadays there are cacti, succulents and sculptures galore up there- all of which combine to make for a very beautiful, breathtaking experience.
I went down to the beach in the evening back in Nice, but was accosted on the way back to my B&B by a French lethario who somehow fell in to step with me as I was crossing the road and then was unshakeable for at least ten minutes. Some people need to learn that as a general rule, there is no hidden meaning in the word ‘no.’ I don’t know how anyone could possibly hear that and think the next step in the conversation is probably to put your arm round the poor person you’re talking to, but this guy did. At which point I forcefully peeled his arm off and declared ‘IT’S A NO FROM ME, PAL.’ He still didn’t get the glaringly obvious hint, claiming that I’d broken his heart, and didn’t leave me alone until I told him I was on the way to meet my mum and dad at our hotel. Great thinking, me.
DAY THREE- MONACO AND BEAULIEAU-SUR-MER
Conveniently, Chez Josephine– the BnB I was staying in- is situated right next to Nice Ville train station. Amazingly, a return ticket to Monaco is a mere €7.80. These two factors combined made visiting Monaco kind of a no-brainer.
Monaco is a tiny but fascinating country…it’s incredibly densely populated but also incredibly wealthy, and I feel like everyone who lives there is highly likely to own their own yacht, and possibly a couple of exotic animals as well. On the climb up a slope to the Prince’s Palace, if you turn and look out across the Port Hercule, you can see pretty much the entire country- that’s how tiny it is. I spent most of the morning exploring and then bought lunch from a cafe to eat in the shade of the Princess Grace Botanical Garden, as the sun was getting pretty full-on by that point.
On the train back I decided to get off a few stops early and check out a little town called Beaulieau-Sur-Mer, which is on the same route. I don’t know whether technically you’re allowed to hop and hop off at any old stop, but made an executive decision to feign ignorance if anyone questioned my foolish actions. But it was totally fine because no-one did…what a result, I tell you!
Beaulieau is way more family-orientated than the beaches in Nice, and as a lass aI’m ll by herself, I felt fine about leaving my things to go for a swim in the sea. Which isn’t to say that there’s some kind of crazy no-families-allowed rule at the Nice beaches, it’s just that having spent the evening before chilling on the beach there, there were way more people coming and going than at sleepy little Beaulieau. It’s also a sandy beach as opposed to the pebbles in the city, which was a nice contrast.
Dinner was an interesting experience, mainly as I decided to go for a full-blown restaurant meal alone. Don’t get me wrong- cafés I can handle, and the odd light lunch, keeping it casual, but dinner in a restaurant seems to be a whole different ballpark. Also, I’m pretty picky about where I eat in touristy locations- I don’t mind spending more money if the meal is good, but I definitely don’t want to get ripped off because I’m a tourist for bog-standard food. That is never a laugh. I sat outside at Le Café des Fleurs which is right in the middle of the flower market in the Old Town and 100% worth it because the food is fresh and the vibe is good. And once you get over the fact that you’ve gone out for dinner by yourself, it’s pretty beaut to just take in your surroundings and watch the world go by.
DAY FOUR- MONT BORON AND THE OLD TOWN
Mont Boron is another classic viewing point, and I chose to walk the whole way to the top for a pretty stunning view of the city and the surrounding mountains. Close to the summit is a beaut waterfall which, if you’re feeling particularly sweltering, is the ideal thing to walk past as the mist will cool you down a little. Good one, mist.
I only took hand luggage with me so had to be fairly minimal with buying presents for friends and family but I bought a few bits and pieces in the Old Town after strolling up and down the market. Disaster struck, however, when I somehow managed to give away a box of macarons to a homeless man with a scraggly beard and one arm. I only offered him one but he obviously got the wrong idea and thought I was giving him the lot; he looked so happy that I didn’t really have the heart to take it back. I mean, that would’ve been downright rude of me, wouldn’t it!?
The real moral of my time in Nice is that if you’re presented with opportunities to just casually go and do something awesome, you should probably just go. If you happen to be walking past a jazz festival with tickets going spare, you should probably just go. If you happen to stumble across some cheap flights on Skyscanner for a time when you’re fully available, you should probably just go. What I’m getting at here is, spontaneity is the spice of life.
Farewell Nice, you’ve been beaut!