My first time in the French Riviera was with my dad back in 2018.

He had planned a whole father daughter tour of France, starting in Paris, then St. Remy, and finally Nice.

Out of everywhere on our itinerary, he was sure that I was going to love the riviera the most.

Well, he was right.

I’ve been back almost every summer since (except for 2020 because of COVID).

In fact, I just got back from spending a month there, and am already gearing up to go again in a few weeks!

After spending so much time in the Cote d’Azur, I’ve been to a lot of the little towns and villages along the coast.

Let me use those experiences to help you plan the perfect day trips from Nice to some of these gorgeous places below.

1. Antibes

The first time I visited Nice with my dad, we had one day on our South of France itinerary that wasn’t spoken for.

When we asked a local where we should spend it, they told us quickly that Antibes was the town to go to.

We quickly fell in love with its charming seaside village vibes. This town seriously feels like the one from Beauty and the Beast.

It’s seriously magical.

In fact, these days, when I’m in the area, I always stay here. It’s truly one of my favorite places on the planet.

In fact, just in the last year, I’ve spent about three months total living in Antibes.

Grab a coffee and croissant at Nomad before heading to the beach to start your day.

Then check out the Picasso Museum in the old Château Grimaldi. You’ll see a ton of Picasso’s he painted while living in town, plus a couple works by Rothko.

If you’re a hiker, check out the stunning hiking trails along the Cap d‘Antibes. I was absolutely blown away by how beautiful they were.

Local’s Tip: You must get gelato from Gelateria del Porto in town. I’ve tried a lot of gelatos over my time in Europe, and this is my all-time favorite place.

Directions: Antibes is about a 20 minute train ride from Nice-Ville

2. Menton

Menton is an absolutely delightful and colorful town on the riviera that’s well-known for its citrus, especially its lemons.

I had a lovely time there last summer when I took a day trip there and arrived around lunchtime.

It was really pleasant strolling around and grabbing a lemon gelato to enjoy on the beach.

After that, I did some exploring and shopping before indulging in a delicious dinner near the seaside.

While you’re there, check out Musee des Beaux Arts.

This art museum is inside a garden filled with Europe’s most extensive collection of citrus trees.

You can also swing by Musée Jean Cocteau for a really cool collection of the French artist’s works.

Directions: You’re looking at about 20 minutes in the car or 36 minutes on the train.

Book a tour and experience the best of Menton, plus a few other nearby towns!

3. Villefranche-sur-Mer

If any of you watched the second season of Emily in Paris, Villefranche-sur-Mer is going to look really familiar.

It’s the scene where Emily gets off the train in the South of France, and was also used as a stand-in for St. Tropez throughout the episode shot in the area.

I loved strolling around this area last summer. I went early in the morning with a pain au chocolate and coffee in hand to enjoy the beach.

After, I explored the town and stumbled upon The Chapel of St Pierre des Pêcheurs, which dates back to the 14th century and was painted by Jean Cocteau, was cool to see.

Though I wish the inside had been open, it looks incredible.

Afterward, I found a quiet little cafe next to the marina and indulged in an Aperol Spritz and a few snacks.

Honestly, it was the perfect day. I highly suggest you follow an itinerary similar to mine.

Directions: It’s a 20 minute drive or train ride from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Take it easy and enjoy one of these tours while you’re in Villefranche-sur-Mer!

4. Monaco

The best part about being in Europe is that it’s fairly easy to hop into another country on a day trip, especially when that country is Monaco.

It’s a beautiful little sovereign city state that’s well known for being where Hollywood actress Grace Kelly became a Princess in 1956. 

Even if you’re not a gambler, you’ll want to hit up their famous Casino de Monte-Carlo, just to see the gorgeous building and ridiculously expensive cars parked outside.

You’ll also want to check out one of the oldest aquariums in the world, Musée Oceanographique. With over 6,000 marine life, it’s a brilliant spot to bring kids.

Directions: Either way, you’re looking at about thirty minutes of commuting either via train or car.

Book one of these exciting Monaco tours to enjoy while you’re visiting!

5. Èze

I went to Èze for the first time last summer, and it totally surprised me it was quite a long and steep walk from the train station. 

It was so long and steep, in fact, that I gave up and decided to come back a week later with my dad, since we’d absolutely be taking an Uber up the giant hill.

A week and a very steep but beautiful Uber ride later, my dad and I made it to the village of Èze.

This medieval village, clinging to the edge of a mountain, with stunning views of the Mediterranean, absolutely blew my mind.

Walking around this tiny little village felt like being on a movie set, and the views from Le Jardin Exotique made it really feel like I was in a film. 

There’s also plenty of shopping. Just bring your walking shoes, because even after taking a car to the top of the village, the entire village is all built on a hill, so there are lots of steeper bits to walk through. 

Local’s Tip: If you love artisanal oil and mustard, stop by Deli’. My dad and I had the best lunch there (massive salads), and enjoyed a little tasting. 

We still talk about the truffle mustard and lavender olive oil we bought there. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

Directions: You’re looking at about 25 minutes in the car or an hour on public transport.

Skip hiking up the giant hill to Èze, and ride up with one of these tour groups!

6. Cannes

Most people have heard of Cannes, thanks to their famous International Film Festival that takes place every May. 

When you get to Cannes, stroll down the Boulevard de la Croisette. It’s basically like the Rodeo Drive of Cannes.

You’ll walk right by the infamous red steps of the Palais des Festivales

Go ahead, stop and take a red carpet photo. You know you want to!

If the weather is right, swing by the nearby public beach to catch a few rays.

Then, if you’re in the mood, indulge in a bit of the nightlife. 

Summers in Cannes are lively since they have tons of popular clubs that feature a rotation of famous DJs.

Directions: Cannes is a 50 minute drive or 40 minute train ride from Nice.

Check out one of these popular activities in Cannes!

7. Île de Sainte Marguerite

While you’re in Cannes, hop on the ferry Île de Sainte Marguerite.

This small island is the perfect spot to relax on the beach, away from the crowds of tourists in Cannes.

The north coast of the island is home to star-shaped Fort Royal, which is now a maritime museum with lots of Roman and Moorish artifacts. 

But, originally, it kept prisoners in the 17th-century like it’s most famous one, Man in the Iron Mask.

Directions: Take the train to Cannes, then ride the ferry 15 minutes to Île de Sainte Marguerite. 

Book your ride over to Île de Sainte Marguerite to guarantee a ticket!

8. Saint-Paul de Vence

Saint-Paul de Vence is another fairytale perfect village that you’re going to want to take a million photos of.

Perched on a hilltop between Nice and Vence, this isn’t the easiest place to get to—in fact, it’s still on my French Riviera bucket list.

While you’re in town, you’ll want to check out the medieval ramparts from the 16th-century, and the Espéron Tower.

You can also visit the Maeght Foundation if you want to check out the art scene. The best part is that entrance is free!

Local’s Tip: If you’re there in December, keep an eye out for their annual truffle market. It’s a foodie’s dream.

Directions: To visit Saint-Paul de Vence, you must drive about 30 minutes.

If you’re nervous to drive to Saint-Paul de Vence, join one of these fun day tours!

9. Cap Ferrat

Cap Ferrat is home to one of my favorite places on the riviera, Villa Ephrussi

This gorgeous pink mansion, including its massive gardens, is next level.

Normally they’re only open during the day, but a couple evenings every August, they open at night and throw a beautiful party, with live music, candles everywhere, and champagne. 

If you can time your visit just right, it’s an absolutely magical experience. 

Fair warning though, you’ll have to take an Uber back to your hotel afterwards because the trains in the area don’t run past about 9pm.

If you don’t make it to the villa party, or it’s just not your thing, there’s also a really beautiful hiking trail in the area.

I haven’t hiked it yet, but my local friends tell me it’s got absolutely stunning views!

Directions: It’s about 25 minutes via car or 50 minutes via train to reach Cap Ferrat. 

Check out both Cap Ferrat and Beaulieu-sur-Mer on one of these days tours!

10. Beaulieu-sur-Mer

Just next to Cap Ferrat, you’ll find the little commune of Beaulieu-sur-Mer. 

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it was the setting for that film with Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway a few years ago, called The Hustle.

While you’re there, you’ll want to visit Villa Kérylos.

It’s a giant mansion with an amazing view of the Mediterranean, plus an extensive collection of art, furniture, and Greek artifacts.

After that, go have lunch down by the marina, or grab some rays at one of the public beaches.

Directions: Beaulieu-sur-Mer is a 25 minute drive or train ride from Nice.

11. Cagnes-sur-Mer

It’s easy to see why the painter Renoir retired in this beautiful and low-key fishing village with its beautiful coastline and wooded area. 

While you’re exploring, stop by the Renoir Museum, which is in his previous home.

You’ll see tons of pieces, including ones that were painted during his time in the home.

How cool is that?

Obviously, because it’s the riviera, you’ll also want to hit up the beach or sign up for some water sports.

Directions: You’re looking at a roughly 25 minute car ride or about 25 minutes on the train. 

12. Grasse

Grasse is an adorable, and very pink little town, that’s known for its perfume.

While you’re there, you can tour the Musée International de la Parfumerie to learn all about the history of perfume.

There are also multiple perfumeries that offer tours and even classes on mixing your own personal scent.

I haven’t done these yet, but am hoping to one day get back to Grasse to mix my scent.

While you’re in town, swing by Chocolaterie Maison Duplanteur to treat yourself to something sweet. I really loved the rose chocolates I got when I was there.

If you want to treat yourself to a Michelin starred lunch or supper, make reservations at nearby La Bastide Saint Antoine.

I went for lunch there last month and it was absolutely lovely, especially the gardens, with the smell of flowers in the air.

Directions: Grasse is a quick 45 minute car ride from Nice, or an hour and fifteen minutes on the train. 

Check out some of these popular day tour options to Grasse!

13. St. Tropez

Do you know the way to St. Tropez?

This small coastal town has been at the top of my riviera wish list for a while now.

This resort town went from sleepy fishing village to international sensation in the 1950s after the Bridgette Bardot film Et Dieu Créa la Femme (And God Created Woman) was released with the town as its setting.

It’s absolutely charming, while still having great beaches and nightlife.

When I go, I enjoy strolling around town and then the port, where I’ll find a nice cafe on the water to people watch from.

Afterwards, I head straight to the beach with a good book.

Hiking fanatics, or those who love a gorgeous view, will want to check out The Sentier du Littoral. It’s a hiking trail that’s next level stunning.

Directions: It’s an hour and a half drive from Nice to St. Tropez. There’s also a ferry that takes two and a half hours.

Make your visit to St. Tropez a breeze by booking one of these popular day trip tours!

14. Marseilles

Since Marseilles is about a three-hour journey from Nice, I’d probably plan an overnight trip.

Once you arrive, head from Canebière station up towards Palais Longchamp for a stroll down popular and beautiful Boulevard Longchamp.

Then head to the port to check out the boats, before enjoying some lunch with a view near the water.

For incredible views of Marseilles and Mediterranean, head to Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde.

It’s a beautiful old church that sits on a large hill, so you know the view is going to be great.

You’ll also want to check out Le Panir. It’s a neighborhood north of the port that’s been inhabited since 600 B.C. when it was ​​home to the Greek colony of Massalia!

If you need a break from the heat, head to MuCEM.

This museum focuses on showcasing the history of European cultures. It also has a super cool design that’s totally Instagrammable.

Directions: Marseilles is two and a half hours from Nice via car, and three and a half hours via train.

Book one of these popular tours of Marseilles while you’re in town!

15. Sainte-Maxime

Sainte-Maxime, is found on the northern gulf of St. Tropez.

According to one of my French friends, it’s basically like a more under-the-radar and affordable St. Tropez, for those of us that can’t afford the crazy rental prices there.

I haven’t been here yet, but am hoping to score a last-minute rental here later this summer so that I can explore both Sainte-Maxime and St. Tropez.

There’s even a boat that runs between towns to make the commute super easy!

I’ve been told the Marche Couvert is an adorable market place to pick up fresh produce for the day.

Even if you don’t need produce, just go anyway. French markets are absolutely adorable and so colorful!

Go​​lfers can check out The International Golf of Sainte-Maxime Course. It’s one of the best courses in the South of France.

Non-golfers head straight to the beach. There’s a few to choose from and they all look amazing.

Directions: Sainte-Maxime is an hour and a half long drive from Nice.

16. Verdon Gorge

Fair warning, you’re going to need a car for a day trip from Nice to Verdon Gorge.

Once you see how beautiful this river canyon is, with its turquoise waters, it may just make you want to rent one to go check it out.

I know I’ve certainly considered it, and would have if I felt more confident in my driving (as a New Yorker I drive little).

There’s a ton of hiking trails in Verdon Natural Regional Park

Not to mention the opportunity to paddleboard, kayak, and canoe.

Nearby, you can swing into Moustiers-Sainte-Marie for a bite to eat. 

The town is home to 12th-century Notre Dame de Beauvoir Chapel, and the Musée de la Faïence, which features ceramics.

Plus, if you time your visit just right, you may even get to see tons of lavender fields in bloom during your drive!

Fun Fact: The Gorge Du Verdon is one of the largest canyons in Europe. 

Directions: Verdon Gorge is about a two and a half hour drive from Nice.

Reserve a spot on one of these popular tours!

17. Mandelieu-La Napoule

One of my friends took me here last summer on a day trip, and it totally blew me away by how beautiful it was.

We went to see Château de la Napoule, an old restored castle that’s a historic landmark.

With its stunning garden, artwork, gorgeous views of the Mediterranean, and a little cafe, this is a place you could spend all afternoon exploring.

Nature fans should check out San Peyre. It’s roughly 430 feet volcanic cone of red porphyry. Once you get to the top, you’ll see some stunning views of the riviera.

Local’s Tip: If you drive, you must take the Corniche d’Or. It’s one of the most beautiful drives along the coast, with barely any resorts in sight. 

Directions: It’s about a 40 minute drive or an hour and 2 minutes from Nice to Mandelieu-La-Napoule on public transit.

Check out one of these popular tours in Mandelieu-La-Napoule!

Final Thoughts

Ally Fort Carre Antibes France French Riviera 2

I hope this list of best day trips from Nice has helped you find the perfect spot to explore while you’re in the South of France.

Let me know in the comments below which place you’re most looking forward to checking out!


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