Despite France being one of the closest countries to the UK, I realised that apart from travelling through France by road, I’ve not properly visited France in almost 8 years, and so I thought that this would be the year to change that. I lasted visited France in 2010 when I enjoyed a city break in the southern city of Marseille, and because I have planned to re-visiting early 2018 I thought I’d revisit the south of the country for the chance of some winter sun, so I booked a 4 day weekend break in Nice, on the Côte d’Azur.
Weekend Break in Nice, Côte d’Azur
Flight Time from London: The published flight time from London to Nice is 2h 5m, but the actual flight time is around 90 minutes.
Airline & Airport of Operation: You can reach Nice from London City, Gatwick and Heathrow airports with British Airways, as well as some regional airports across the UK.
Transfer Time to City: Nice’s Côte d’Azur airport is located 5 miles from the city centre, which takes 20-30 minutes in a taxi and costs approximately €30-35. A tram line is currently being built which will connect the airport conveniently with the city centre. However, on arrival I picked up a hired car so I didn’t need to worry about getting to the hotel from the airport, and upon departure I used Uber which was less than half the price of a taxi at €15.
Where to Stay on a Weekend Break in Nice: For this trip I stayed for three nights at Villa Otero in a deluxe room with terrace. Villa Otero is located along Rue Herold, located a few seconds walk from the main train station and just a 5 minutes walk from the city centre and 15 minutes from Promenade des Anglaise.
I booked a standard room package with flights on www.ba.com for £158pp for a three night stay, and upgraded to a deluxe room with terrace directly with the hotel for £25 per night. The room rate includes continental breakfast.
Top Attractions for a Weekend Break in Nice
Visit Monaco for lunch – in a Helicopter!
A helicopter flight is a fantastic experience regardless of where you are, but to arrive into Monaco by helicopter is a truly amazing experience. You can arrive at Nice’s Côte d’Azur airport just 15 minutes before departure by helicopter and collect your boarding pass from check-in. You then pass through a private security channel into the private jet departure lounge where you wait for only a matter of seconds before an executive minibus whisks you across the airport to the helipad where the helicopter is waiting to depart. It takes just a couple of minutes for the six passengers to board before the helicopter gracefully lifts off the helipad for the mere seven minute flight into Monaco.
The flight may be only seven minutes, but the scenery along the Côte d’Azuris breathtaking and you will enjoy every minute. Upon arrival a car awaits to drive you to any location in Monaco that you desire… for me it was Place de Casino! Helicopter transfers to Monaco are bookable online with Monacair for €140pp each way.
I arrived into Monaco late morning so I had some time for a walk in the sun before lunch. For lunch I booked Café de Paris, located on Place de Casino. I was slightly early so I enjoyed a glass of wine outside before lunch. For lunch I started with escargots and a glass of champagne followed by lamb cutlets with a beautiful glass of local red wine and finish a lemon vodka sorbet to finish. Lunch was absolutely delicious and what better way to finish than with a trip to the casino. As you can imagine, the cost of lunch was not cheap, at around €150pp including drinks. Afterwards I enjoyed a leisurely walk around the harbour and a drink or two before returning to Nice, this time by train for the grand total of €6pp! The return train journey took just 20 minutes and, as the station in Nice was just over the road from my hotel, I was back in no time at all.
Hire a car and drive Saint-Tropez for Lunch
On my second day in Nice I decided to take a trip along the coast to Saint-Tropez for lunch. Despite it being my quite a dull and rainy day the scenery along the Côte d’Azur is breathtakingly beautiful, so the overcast weather didn’t bother me at all. I stuck mainly to the coastal roads on the way there and took a route further inland on the way back. For the trip I reserved an Alfa Romeo Guilia, but unfortunately upon arrival they didn’t have any available and so I was allocated a Volkswagen Passat which was quite comfortable. I hired the car from Avis via BA for two days and it cost me around €120 a day.
If you’re looking for a buzzing atmosphere then I would suggest visiting Saint Tropez in the summer, but I wanted a relaxing winter break. Upon arrival it was like a ghost town with only a few restaurants and shops open on the port. Many other businesses were using the quiet season for renovation works. For lunch I had a choice from around three restaurants, and I opted to dine in Bar Du Port. I enjoyed a delicious duck and foie gras velouté followed by razor clam risotto and washed down with a glass of local red wine. My lunch was delicious and I would recommend dining in Bar Du Port if you are visiting Saint Tropez.
Restaurant Recommendation for a Weekend Break in Nice
From my experience, you will really struggle to have a bad meal while visiting France, and during my weekend break in Nice this was definitely the case. I had so many fantastic meals during my stay I could probably write a food guide about Nice, but I am going to focus on one restaurant in particular to feature in this review. La Vigna, which is located along the side of the port.
La Vigna is a traditional French restaurant serving up some delicious traditional French dishes, paired with stunning views over the harbour. During my visit I enjoyed a delicious fish soup, steak with truffle mash and a creme brûlée. A three course meal at La Vigna including wine will set you back around €50pp. I visited on a Friday evening in January and the restaurant was around half full, however during the warmer summer months I recommend reserving a table as it will be busy.
Top Tip: For quick reliable transport around Nice I would recommend using Uber. There is a very large Uber presence in Nice and they are generally half the price of regular taxis.
Currency: France’s currency is the Euro, and at the time of writing this the exchange rate was approximately 1.15 Euros to the Pound.
Weather: I visited in January so I didn’t expect the weather to be amazing, but I hoped it would be better than in the UK though. My first two days in Nice were overcast with spells of light rain throughout the day and torrential rain on my second night. Luckily at around midday on my third day the clouds cleared and I had glorious weather for the rest of the day, as well as the last day.
Best Time To Go: Nice is a destination that can be enjoyed year-round, however interestingly one of the uber drivers during my trip recommended that I return to Nice during May as at this time of year the weather is good but it’s not as busy as it can get during the height of the summer.
Recommended Duration: I visited Nice for three nights and this was the just right amount of time for an enjoyable visit.
Conclusion: After spending four amazing days in the south of France on my weekend break in Nice it has made me realise that I need to explore much more of this beautiful country and experience more of their delicious cuisine.