For our Euro summer trip, there was one city I definitely wanted to visit and that was Grenoble, because of all the endless tales I had heard from Sumit about his internship. So, why not visit South France along with this city. We were going to be in Switzerland after our Germany roadtrip. So this was the plan for the last leg of our trip through South France. Its is a comparatively shorter trip, but you could spend more days in each of these beach towns.
Day 1: Arrive in Nice
Day 2: Bike to Monaco and spend the day in Monaco
Day 3: Train to Cannes ->Antibes -> Lyon
Day 4: Day in Lyon -> Drive to Grenoble
Day 5: Bike day in St. Michelle -> Drive to Lyon ->Train to Paris
Day 6: Fly out of Paris
When to go:
|Crepes + Coffee = France
Where all to go:Southern coast of France is popular for its beaches and the coastal drive. We didn't drive along the coast but that is always an option. Here is a route that I had picked along the coast.
Nice, Monaco, Cannes are most popular, but there are smaller beach towns which also make for a good relaxed vacation, eg: Antibes, Saint Tropez.
Marseilles is a big city in the south with popular connections to take trains from or fly in to.
Getting around:Europe is of course well connected with public transport, so you don't need any car unless you want to drive around. Our trip was a mix and match of both. Between cities which were more than 2-3 hours away, we preferred public transport, or else we rented a car.
Getting to Nice:
So, of course, we picked option two. We had to pay a couple of hundred euros extra for returning the car in another country, but it would save us more in reservations and re bookings.
We drove through southern Switzerland, near Mont Blanc, and norther Italy, close to Turin. The drive and the tunnels are a beauty. Its amazing how the bridges have been built connecting mountains and tunnels have been built cutting right through these giant mountains. It was an adventure as it was unplanned, but good thing was, we made it. We were in Nice at midnight and driving through narrow streets and one-way alleys of Nice was a challenge we hadn't signed up for. Luckily we found street parking as we had to return the car the next day, we didn't have a hotel with car parking.
Haash! A long day, but we reached Nice!
MonacoPlan was to bike to Monaco. Sumit had found a bike rental shop in Nice and he left early, around 8 or 9 am to return the car and rent a bike as soon as he could in the morning. He was planning to bike to Moncao and I had plans to meet him there and spend the day with him in Monaco.
More details about biking to Monaco and the city are here on the Monaco blog page.
|Lamborghini by the dinner table
Walking along the beach in the cool evening breeze is definitely a memorable experience. Lot of food carts, caricature artists, crepieres along the beach. The city side of the street, Promenade du la Anglais has a lot of hotels and casinos and plenty of restaurants to pick from. You can spend a few days here easily, without getting bored. Its a crowded city, so don't rent a car and prefer Uber or walking around. We had dinner at a really good Lebanese restaurant, Ya Habibi.
True to its reputation of opulence, there was a Lamborghini parked right outside our restaurant and it was a picture-worthy moment to have dinner with a luxury car casually parked right behind you on the street.
|Outside the red carpet
Pretty little walkable town with small cathedral somewhere in the middle. The shopping was fun and I went crazy at Mango store as we don't have many of those in US and they had an awesome 70% discount going on! Yayy! Grabbed a bite sometime in between all of this.
AntibesNext up was Anitbes. It is 15 minutes ride from Cannes. A cute little beach town. But, while on our way to train station, we realized that Sumit had forgotten his biking jersey in the hotel room as it was drying in the bathroom! It was his IronMan Canada jersey, so we couldn't leave it behind. Hence, we went all the way back to Nice, got the jersey and came back to Cannes and then headed out to Antibes.
I always have stories from our trip, don't I?
Anyhow once we reached Antibes, we picked a beach to go to from many beaches listed online. We went to Plage LaGrauppe. We took an Uber from the station to get to the beach. Loads of activities at the beach and an Italian restaurant with private showers to offer. Its a lovely coastline here. I would advise you carry or rent an umbrella here as it gets super duper hot. There is a Picasso gallery here which we didn't have time to visit, but it did sound interesting.
A few hours and we were off to Cannes to get on our train to Lyon now. Train was super comfortable and so glad we chose to ride the train instead of driving. Fours hours just flew by. We reached Lyon and we staying at Ibis hotel close to the train station. Tiny rooms, but comfortable. Luckily we reached just in time to watch the FIFA semi final of Croatia vs Russia extended thirty minutes and the penalty shootout.
Here is a link to the walking map that will help.
|Our hotel in Grenoble
GrenobleIn the evening, we headed out to Grenoble. First up, we went to Inria. It was about time I got to see this place. What beautiful location. Surrounded by tall mountains. Being a weekend, we couldn't get in. But was totally worth the visit. We drove around the city first and then headed out to Fort Bastille, but the roads were so narrow that we ditched it. If you intend to go, must take the funicular/gondola. The town is super cute and a great place to spend a few laid back days. We ate at a really good Indian restaurant, Bombay. Then we drove around the old residence and then to the old town. We were staying at beautiful hotel, in the lovely old town area. Since we had to park, we had to drive around a few loops to find an overnight parking spot. The old town area had some good restaurants and a lively ambience.
Biking around Saint MichelleEarly morning we left for Sanit Michelle and headed straight to the bike rental shop, Velo rental. This is a village at the foothil of Alps and a good starting point for very interesting bike routes. Some of the bike routes around are also a part of Tour de France routes. At 9 am, we were at the shop and Sumit got his bike and was ready to head out.
|6 hours to spare
|Now who finished his ride!
|Col du Galibier
Back to Paris:Around 4 pm we headed back to Lyon for our train to Paris at night. We were stuck in traffic first and then, had a tough time refueling our car beacuse it was a diesel and the nozzle type wasn't available at all gas stations. Luckily we made it in time at the station with full TEN minutes to spare before the train! Whew! it was an adventurous day for sure. But we got on our train back to Paris and on our flight back home.
- Make reservations early to get good hotels in Nice.
- Always prefer a train ride over flying. More reliable and super comfortable.
- Indian vegetarian food may be tricky to find, but not hard.