I’m sitting here wondering how an entire month has already past since I arrived in France! The past month was all about learning to live in a foreign country and also some adventure outside of our little town. We rented a car for a few days and drove to a few locations inland here in the Riviera and I just wanted to point out a few spots to check out if you ever visit. This inland Riviera driving tour is perfect to do in an afternoon and will allow for an entirely new perspective of this region.
First things first, renting a car. This is actually quick simple to do and really affordable if you’re only taking it for a day or two. We rented from Europcar which is located right at the Nice Ville train station. Renting a car won’t require much more than your passport and a credit card. You may want to check with your credit card to see if they will cover your car insurance so you can decline all coverage offered by the car rental agency. Their optional insurance can often be expensive.
We stopped in 3 locations: St-Paul-de-Vence, La Turbie and finished off our day in Eze-le-Village. There are a few other towns close in proximity but these are 3 of my favorites.
St-Paul-de-Vence is one of the oldest medieval towns in the French Riviera. The winding alleys and narrow streets are filled with art galleries and shops perfect for exploring. As you enter the village you’ll be greeted by Café de la Place which is the perfect place to stop for an espresso and croissant before you start your walk around town. Some mornings there is a market in the square located in the front of the market and if you’re lucky enough to be there in the afternoon you might catch some locals playing boules. As you make your way towards the back of town you’ll find gorgeous views of the surrounding area as well as a cemetery and the burial plot of artist Marc Chagall.
You can find a handful of adorable little restaurants within the walls of the town to grab a bite to eat or a scoop of gelato. If you’re looking for a fancy lunch or dinner then check out La Colombe D’Or which certainly is on the higher end of the pricing scale or just grab a snack at a smaller restaurant before leaving town.
La Turbie was the next stop on our driving tour where the most notable tourist attract is Le Trophée des Alpes. Climbing to the top of this monument will give you amazing views of Monaco from above. It’ll cost you €6 to enter the park and climb the monument and walk around the park to take photos. I’d say it’s worth it for the view.
Per the recommendation of Rick Steves we enjoyed lunch at Restaurant La Terrasse which is stationed right at the entry of town. The restaurant offers great views and Helen and Jacques who run the restaurant are super pleasant and helpful. They are very welcoming to tourists and are more than happy to chat with you about things to see and do in the area.
Finally, we stopped in Eze-le-Village perched high above the sea. Not to be confused with the seaside town of Eze, Eze-le-Village can be reached easily by bus or obviously much easier by car. One of the notable stops is the Fragonard Perfume Factory where you can take a free tour of their laboratory and learn about the trade secrets of making perfume and cosmetics. Unfortunately we arrive too late for the tour but they also have a shop where you can explore all of their scents and take home a gift. It certainly can be a little overwhelming visually and to the senses so I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who is sensitive to perfumes.
Château Eza is another notable stop if you’re interested in a coffee or tea or cocktail later in the day. They have an amazing terrace with a beautiful view but if you want to really treat yourself you can stay for a meal. Be warned that it is rather expensive and they have a strict dress code if you’re staying for dinner. They also offer 5-star hotel accommodations.
For €6 you can check out J’ardins d’Eze which is an old château that has been transformed into an amazing exotic garden with stunning views. It certainly is a great place for photos and a good way to spend time while you’re in Eze-le-Village.
My preference is just strolling around the various winding alleys and exploring the shops and galleries. There are a few adorable spots where you can grab a glass of wine and a flatbread for a snack and relax. My suggestion would be to to in the evening and walk around and then marvel at how the sunset casts beautiful light on the old church and buildings within the village.
This may seem like a lot to do in one day but if you plan your trip just right it’ll feel pretty enjoyable. It certainly has a much different look and feel that the beach towns down on the water and will make you feel like you’re in a different land to explore what these beautiful villages have to offer!