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The Côte d'Azur or Azure Coast is often known as the French Riviera and although there is no official boundary, this Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France, extends from the Italian border in the East to St. Tropez in the west and includes the sovereign state of Monaco.
Arguably the most irresistible region in France, it remains the most glamorous of all Mediterranean playgrounds. Small wonder it has for so long captivated the rich and famous, the artistic and reclusive, and ever-growing throngs of all year round tourists.
Fly to Nice in two hours from many UK airports or alternatively, why not sit back and relax on the Eurostar train from London St. Pancras International to Nice via Paris. In just over 9 hours, with a quick change in Paris, you can be sat on the beach with a glass of ice cold Provence wine, overlooking the sun spangled beach.
Nice, the capital of the Côte d’Azur, is beautifully curved round the Bay of Angels, where according to tradition, local fisherman used to catch a small species of shark called angels of the sea. A short taxi ride or bus takes you straight to the famous Promenade des Anglais - a magnificent 7km sweeping pebbled bay fringed with palm trees, hotels, casinos and cafes from which to view the most epic sunsets.
You could spend an entire trip just wandering along here or if you’re more adventurous you can even rent a velo bleu or some roller skates! There is no one area of Nice that is the best for sights, museums, food or shopping. Go there prepared to walk a bit or catch a bus, train or tram to get up close and personal.
Make sure your itinerary is flexible and allow lots of time on the agenda to sample the local delicacies and infamous rose wine. One of the highlights for us was Nice’s old town (Vieux Nice), where the real Niçois re-colonise their city, hosts the south's finest flower market on the Cours Saleya.
You will also find many of the city’s busiest bars and restaurants. What’s most striking about this area are the wonderful array of coloured buildings that tower above the shops, stalls and restaurants. If you have time to sit back and try some of the local cuisine, then this is the place to do it.
Traditional Nicoise Cuisine includes:
Socca: a thin chickpea pancake with Genoan origins, sold by street vendors
Ratatouille: tomatoes, aubergine, courgette, onion, and garlic, simmered until delicately flavourful Pissaladière: Nice’s version of pizza—a thick crust covered in caramelized onions, garlic, anchovies, and olives
Salade Nicoise: A salad of tomatoes, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives, and anchovies, dressed with vinaigrette.
Nice’s appeal is universal offering a great location with year round sunshine. You could happily spend a week here but if you get hungry for more Cannes and Monaco are located either side of Nice and are a short train ride away or if you're feeling VIP, hop on a helicopter!.
Glamorous Cannes cannot fail to impress with an abundance of celebrities, couture shops, fast cars and super yachts. The 69th annual Cannes Film Festival is scheduled to be held from 11 to 22 May 2016 where the stars pose in their tuxes and full-length gowns on red carpets to promote their new films. Fine dine alongside the famous and drink till dawn in the seaside town's designer bars.
Equally compelling is the breathtaking double-decker train journey from Gare de Nice-Ville along the coast to Monaco, a sovereign state that is the second smallest and most densely populated country in the world.
It’s also home to the celebrated Monte Carlo Casino and from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th May 2016 you’ll need to buckle your seat belts as it hosts the Formula 1 Grand Prix. The race has been a regular fixture of the world championship since 1955, and its the one race that every driver dreams of winning.
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