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Saturday,  April 20, 2024 9:44 PM 

PAX On Location: A long weekend in Nice

PAX On Location: A long weekend in Nice
Hortense des Dorides

French expat, Hortense des Dorides is an Ottawa based travel and lifestyle writer. Iceland, Utah, Hawaii or the Canadian Arctic are amongst her recent adventures. In her spare time, she likes to hike and camp.

With Air Transat's summer service from Toronto to Nice, France, in full swing, enjoying a holiday in the French Riviera has never been easier.

PAX recently experienced a four-day long weekend with Transat, uncovering the best things to do and see in-destination.

READ MORE: Exciting new features on board Air Transat this summer

Arriving in Nice at the airport is always spectacular. On one side, you can see the mountains of the Southern Alps, with their snow-capped peaks. On the other, the azure blue of the Mediterranean Sea. And in the very centre lies Nice itself, a contemplative city of 340,000 inhabitants.

The famous Promenade des Anglais, seven kilometres long, runs along the Baie des Anges. On the pebble beach, restaurants such as Beau Rivage, offer the simple pleasure of enjoying dinner, or simply having a drink (of course, rosé!), directly in view of the Mediterranean Sea.

In May the water is still a little cool and few people venture there. In July and August, during the high season when temperatures soar well beyond 30 degrees, beach-goers don't hesitate to go for a swim.

Old city, new connections

Whether in Nice, Antibes or Cannes, the old neighborhoods, facing the sea, are a maze of small streets, sometimes opening onto large squares where local markets and restaurant terraces are installed at the hotel.

On these terraces, the French way of life unfolds. Locals and visitors settle in and enjoy a good meal, accompanied by a glass of rosé, watching daily scenes of everyday life march before their eyes.

Even if your clients haven't rented a car, it's very easy to travel by public transport on the Cote d'Azur, from Nice, to Antibes, then Cannes, for a small fee. 

For example, the trip between Nice airport and Nice's historic old town can be done by bus, for six euros. Our hotel, the Mercure Nice Promenade des Anglais, was ideally located right next to a bus stop.

If your clients are looking to visit multiple cities, the train is also convenient, and all train stations are located in the city centre. 

Three must-do's in Nice

While visiting Nice on a FAM trip, three experiences presented themselves, that everyone who visits must try, at least once:

Drive a vintage car down the coast

Do you remember Grace Kelly driving a beautiful Mercedes convertible, Cary Grant by her side, in Alfred Hitchcock's famous film, To Catch a Thief? The film was shot on the French Riviera from Monaco to Cannes in the 1950s.

Tourists can also take the wheel of a vintage car thanks to the company Rent a classic car, which offers a collection of more than 60 vintage and collector cars. With the wind in their hair, the driver and their passengers can experience the Côte d'Azur just like Hollywood's biggest stars have back in the day.

Explore Saint-Honorat island

Just off Cannes, the island of Saint-Honorat contrasts greatly with the Croisette. Here, no luxury cars, luxury shops or golden palaces can be found. The ostentatious is put aside for the sake of simplicity. Since the fourth century, the island has been home to a monastic community.

Today, the 22 monks, who pray and work silently, produce wines and olive oils in limited quantities. The eight hectares of vineyards are protected from spray, salt and wind by a forest. For half a day or a full day, visitors can stroll on the island, taste wine, visit the Lérins Abbey and the fortified monastery. To get to the island, tourists take a ferry from downtown Cannes (15 euros round trip).

Venture along the Cap d'Antibes coast via the Tire-Poil trail

The Shovel Trail runs for 3.6 kilometres along the seashore, tracing the Cap d'Antibes.

You can also do a complete five-kilometre loop that equates to two hours of hiking. The trail begins on the beautiful bay of Milliardaires, with spectacular views of the sea and cliffs.

The pines of Aleppo, beaten by the winds, contort and almost touch the ground in some places. The trail then follows the seashore, ending at Keller Beach, the favorite beach of Francis Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby.

Getting there

Air Transat currently flies from Toronto to Nice from May through October.

As of summer 2019, passengers heading to Nice will fly in one of two new Airbus A321neo LR airplanes being added to the airline's fleet.

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