When I thought of the French Riviera, I thought it would be very sophisticated, expensive and hardly anything for children to do, but my Dad really wanted to see Monte Carlo, so we caved and put it in the plan. I should know better by now than to make judgements about a place.
We arrived from Paris on the fast train. It was a nice ride through France and then cliff side with many stops along the coast. The night before we left Paris, we had purchased a take-away roasted chicken, potatoes cooked in the chicken fats and some cheese. We feasted on our cold lunch and it was wonderful. I was so thankful to have real food instead of the packaged items being sold on the train. The children made friends with a sweet little French girl and they played in the isles while the adults enjoyed some quiet and the pretty views. (It might not be interesting views for all, there were mostly farms, but I love gardening and found the farms to be amazing to see!)
We ended up in Nice with all of our bags and coats after a rainy, dreary week in Paris. We couldn’t get our coats off quickly enough! I do a ton of research before our vacation, so I knew we had to exit the station and head just one block to the tram. Google maps is an amazing resource that gives you train/bus/tram stops and routes when clicked on. Some cities like Paris don’t have the bus routes on Google Maps, but they are adding more information all the time. You can plan out the best routes from one place to another and put them on your schedule. This strategy saves time and you will be less stressed if you feel like you know where you’re going. Also make note which is your stop. All of this information is on Google Maps. The Nice trams require a ticket, validation (which is the case in much of Europe) and then you are off through Nice.
We passed an amazing playground and the kids wanted to jump out immediately, but we were anxious to get to the hotel and rid ourselves of our bags, coats and long sleeved shirts. It was so hot!
We got off at our station, Palais des Expositions and walked to our hotel. We knew the walk would be safe because thanks to Google Maps, we were able to “walk” the street before we ever left home in the USA. Bring up the city you are visiting on Google Maps, click on the little yellow man on the bottom and then click on the street you want to “walk”. Again, all cities don’t have this option, but many, many do. Check it out!
We checked into a Novotel, an inexpensive chain hotel that had good reviews. We thought the hotel was great and it even had a rooftop pool that the kids were dying to try. We dropped our bags, coats and changed clothes to head to Old Town. We decided to take the tram and got off right behind Old Town, crossed the tracks and headed into town.
Nice is a very cute place filled with little shops to buy lots of souvenirs and fun items. We found a gelato shop for a nice mid-afternoon treat. We kept heading downhill and ended up at the ocean! It was a beautiful blue and we got onto the beach right away. There was a small area of sand, but most of the beach is full of smooth stones that are not so smooth on the feet. The ocean was a somewhat steep incline on these rocks, so I walked the children down and proceeded to get soaked by a giant wave. Great… soaking wet clothes for the rest of the night! Thank goodness it was very warm. I felt like the ocean was very rough and way too rough to let the children play in the water without us also swimming. They were disappointed, but recovered quickly as we strolled along the promenade. We took lots of pictures because the scenery was quite beautiful.
We ended up further into town at Place Garibaldi. There were plenty of restaurants to choose from and we had a good dinner. We hopped on the tram and walked to our hotel. The children were determined to take a dip into the pool, so my husband graciously took them to the roof while I relaxed. They came back pretty quickly because the water was too cold! It was October after all….
The next day we woke up with plans to relax and just have a walk around and possibly a dip in the pool next door in the sports facility. We ate a lovely breakfast at a cafe near our hotel. It was just cappuccinos and pastries filled with chocolate. If all the Italian places in Place Garibaldi didn’t let us know we were near Italy, the breakfast sure did! The pastries were much more donut like than croissant like and lots of folks were speaking Italian instead of French. The children enjoyed watching patrons hand the cashier money, but the change come out automatically from the machine.
We headed to the sports complex to ask about the cost of using the pool and the rules for swimming. Turns out the boys had to wear speedos and us girls could wear our normal suits. Part of our mission would be acquiring some swim suits. We visited the amazing playground that we had passed on the tram and the children really enjoyed several hours climbing and just relaxing at the park. We walked to Place Garibaldi and had a yummy lunch of tapas and salads. After lunch we asked some strangers to direct us to a store where we might find bathing suits and we eventually found a store that was something like a French Walmart. I can’t remember the name, but we did find a suit for my husband. It was a little tight pair of short shorts. We couldn’t find anything for my son (It was October) so we ended up buying a little set of boys boxer brief underpants that we figured would look like a swim suit. Fingers crossed that they would not notice.
We got to the pool, went into the very clean locker rooms and then got into the pool. It was a small area of different depths (we did not enter the lap pool) and the children really enjoyed themselves. I am so thankful that my sweet husband will even wear a speedo to make his children happy! After a few hours we were getting hungry and decided to head back to the hotel to shower and change for dinner.
We walked through Old Town and enjoyed the ambiance and energy of the place and then my husband checked Yelp (a restaurant App) to find a good place for dinner. Honestly, we were tired of French food and even Italian food with a French influence and wanted something completely different. He was able to find some good reviews for Ma Nolan’s Irish Pub and we headed that direction.
What a relief the pub was! The servers spoke English and we ordered a bunch of fried junk food along with beers. Delicious and perfect for us at the moment.
We headed back to our hotel with full bellies and having dreams of our flight in the morning.