A trip to Paradise on Earth – South of France


So this Blog is much delayed, but then who says that this needs to be written as soon as the deed is done. It’s always a good time to share learnings from travel no???

September 2013 was an exciting month for me! Perhaps the one month where I actually spent 3 weekends in three Different Countries  and also the month when I went to the place I dreamt of going to since I was 16 – Eze in the South of France.  So the itenarary was

Paris -Nice- St.Paul De Vence- Eze-Monaco-Nice-Dubai   – All in 2 and a half days.

I was travelling with two girl friends, and let’s admit none of us were the kind who could rough it out or backpack, but we did not rent a car at all and I must admit that it was easy to get around and yes I now have memories that will last me a lifetime. I do intend to go back someday and spend a lot more time in these places, this was defenitely the itsy bitsy tip of the iceberg!

So we landed in Nice, quite early around 8 am.  We flew Easy Jet. The flight took off at 6.55 and we landed in Nice at around 8.20. The Ticket cost around 100$. I would say that was a great deal. Only watch out when you book your ticket also be sure to book extra luggage and they are also pretty particular about cabin baggage and it’s weight. We tried to save money by moving closer to Orly only to realise that getting there costed us about 45 Euros and then the drive to the airport, which was barely 3 kms away was about 37 euros because of the luggage and the time. Otherwise Westin  – the hotel we stayed at has a shuttle, but that starts only at 6 am.

Anyhow, I loved the timing we chose because I got to see the gorgeous French riviera as we landed. The sea is a rich blue, and calm and serene, my heart sure was beating faster as I looked at it. I must admit that I saw a lot more fashion in South of France than I did in Paris. But I guess when one travels by metro and walks to monuments and doesnt do  fancy dinners, you are not going to feel drab. But to me South of France evoked a very luxurious vibe. I defenitely spotted more solitaires and Hermes for sure!

We had booked in to the Ibis Nice Gare – which actually simply translates into Ibis Nice Station. We were lucky that a bus from the Airport landed right in front of our hotel, simply at 1.5 euros. A far cry from the rip off, of 37 euros that we experienced in the morning on our drive to the airport which was simply 4 kms away!  We took the bus this time, and it was pretty simple. And I would do it again for sure!

We reached the hotel, while we were not very happy with it, what works for it is definitely connectivity and the fact that it is cheap and cheerful. per night charges at Rs. 8K for a double room in Nice is a blessing. But yes the area is a bit seedy with A Sex Shop right opposite. We made a mental note to look for another place. But wanted to start off our holiday first. We had breakfast in a Cafe at Place Grimaldi as we could not check in until 12.

Nice is an excellent location if you want to travel to other places around. There are Buses every half an hour to most of the destinations like Cannes, St. Tropez, Monaco, Eze. It is also centrally located and seems to offer accommodation across price Hotels are very helpful and you can collect the bus schedule from most places in Nice. The only downside of using the bus is that you would need to leave your destination at 8 pm, as the last bus for the day plies at 8 pm. But if you’re using a train then its a different story altogether.

So we set out to St. Paul De Vence. We took Bus no. 400 and reached there in about half an hour. The village is quaint and transports you to an old word charm. As we entered we saw a group of old people indulging in a game of Pétanque (is a form of boules where the goal is to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet (literally “piglet”)  while standing inside a starting circle with both feet on the ground. The game is normally played on hard dirt or gravel, but can also be played on grass, sand or other surfaces. Similar games are bocce, bowls – Source Wikipedia)

In the charming village we dined at  Le Tilleul  -a  table on their sunny terrace. As I sipped from my glass of wine and ate my decadent salad with generous helpings of  Chevre, I felt like   bourgeoise , in the company of my friends One of our best meals no doubt . We walked around the provencal village, which was charming and felt straight out of a fairy tale. It is a village that Ive seen often in my dreams and my imagination.

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We caught the same bus to head back to Nice and got off at the promenade. We decided to walk into hotels and ask them if they had rooms available and for our luck we did get a fantastic Room at the Mariott, which is just off the promenade. We decided to move in next morning and then head to Eze – the place I have dreamt of going for way too many years of my life!

To get to Eze, we simply had to get on bus No.112 . This bus leave about 6 times.  So we had read that one just has to do the  The three Corniche drive. Well we wanted to except the drive was going to cost us about 500 Euros, so we decided to take the bus. The concierge also told us that it wasnt advisable to do the drive without a driver, because we were considering the bus. However we decided to go ahead and visit Eze and Monaco that day. Nothing had prepared us for the beauty of the bus ride. The bus to the foot of Eze – Bus No 112 leaves every two hours. The same bus goes till Monaco, so we decided to get off at the foot. Driving along the coast and feasting on dark blue sea and rocky cliffs, I dont think it is a sight that I will ever recover from. Eze is only 6 kms from Nice, I was so sure I could simply run till there as I can clock in 8 kms with ease, but it just seemed like a much longer drive.

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We reached the foot of the hill and had to wait an hour because the bus that goes up the hilltop would arrive only at 2pm. They have tourist offices all across the Riviera and extremely helpful people, giving you directions and advice. We never felt lost or scared through the trip. We reached Eze and bought some perfumes and some other goodies. We then climbed up to the Jardin Exotique D’Eze. It’s a steep climb after you pass through the village. The village houses some luxury “Relais & Chateaux” hotels , Cafes, vintage shops, restaurants. We had eaten at the foot while waiting for the bus, so we did not eat anything there.  One pays about 6 euros to enter the garden, while it is a bit steep, the view is a memory for a lifetime. We shopped a bit at Fragonard – I bought a french chiffon gown. As I had to take something that would be a permanent keepsake Right??

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We took the bus to Monaco. Again it did not take us more than half an hour to get there. I am not going to talk too much about it, as we did not do much in Monaco. We entered the Casino, but none of us wanted to gamble – Well at 95 bucks a Euro, we had better use for our Money. We took the 6.30 pm Bus back to Nice and then walked along the promenade and had Dinner again at a very charming restaurant by the promenade.

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The next morning I decided to go for a run, it was such a gorgeous promenade. I also made fantastic time. I clocked my fastest Mile, and that record has remained unbeaten yet. Hopefully I will break it in another country. We hung around and went to the vielle village. We wanted to go to the flower market, but frankly I was hard pressed for time as I was leaving for Dubai that afternoon.  I was flying Emirates from Cote D’Azur. I bid adieu to my friends, envious that they were going to continue to bask in the loveliness but I was preparing myself for indulgences of a different kinf.  I tok a cab, for which I paid 20 euros for a 3 kms distance. And the cabbie himself looked like a supermodel. These people are just too stylish in France!

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I was so pleasantly surprised with the ease with which we could travel. Buses at your disposal, and so cheap 1.5 euros for every trip is very very affordable. Also I dont know why people consider the French rude, I met only pleasant, happy and helpful French people. Their flirt, they tease, they tolerated my broken french they help and they live in one of the most picturesque parts of the world. Sigh, I do wis I return to Paradise Soon!

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