Relaxing on the Riviera

Praveen Agarwal prefers to be a traveller rather than a tourist. After a lot of research on where to go for a family holiday, he decided to take his wife Tripty and two-year-old daughter Aveka to the south of France. Find out how their trip went.

I love to travel with family and friends, but this time around, it was just the three of us. It was a bold decision to take Aveka along, but somehow we knew she’d be a sport. After all, she’s been travelling since she was nine months old! After spending sleepless nights searching for the perfect holiday destination, we narrowed in on a few locations in Europe. We started with the south of France, allotting it three of our 15 nights on the continent.

Finding the right hotel was a challenge, but we managed to do it. We tried to stay as close to all the major sightseeing spots as possible, so we went with the Mercure Nice located opposite the Promenade des Anglais, right in the heart of Nice. Surrounded by eateries and shopping outlets, the place was full of life.

We wanted to feel like real travellers, so we didn’t pre-book any tour packages. This made for an interesting adventure, where we constantly wondered what was coming next! When we reached Nice, we were dropped off at our hotel, where we checked in and immediately left for a walk on the promenade. It was a little warm, but the cool breeze and stunning view took our minds off the weather. It was a very lively place, with airplanes landing one after another.

The following day, we booked a tour of the French Riviera with a local operator. It covered Eze, Monaco, Antibes, Cannes and St. Paul de Vence. Though we got to see many places, we barely got to experience any of them. Of what we saw, we particularly liked Eze and St. Paul. The former is a charming, medieval eagle nest village with breathtaking views. It’s a shutterbug’s delight, as the village is atop a hill and most of the structures are made of rock. We could have easily spent half a day there. Their premium hotel, the Chateau Eza, boasted a stunning view. It was a little late to change our plans, but I’ll definitely stay there next time.

Monaco is among the world’s smallest countries, located between Southeast France and the Mediterranean Sea. The cosy principality consists of one official city-state and, funnily enough, its capital Monte Carlo is home to some of the world’s richest people. Monaco is famous for its prime location on the French Riviera, as well as for the Monte Carlo Casino. There are several small yet beautiful beaches and resort communities, and while we didn’t spend much time there, we did catch a glimpse of the setup for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Cannes was very busy preparing for their famous film festival. It was full of tourists wandering the streets, visiting luxury shops and upscale restaurants. Antibes was an interesting old town with fleets of yachts, making it the largest marina in Europe; a fascinating mix of local fishing boats and luxury yachts. From Antibes, we headed to St. Paul, where many painters and actors choose to spend their time owing to its ambience. Unfortunately, we missed out on a drive down the Riviera. I strongly suggest giving these places a few days instead of visiting them all in a single afternoon.

The next day was dedicated to relaxing in Nice. We had an early breakfast and took a train that ran through the city streets roads. Trains Touristiques de Nice is a great way to see the city, and it took us around to Le Chateau par la Vieille Ville. We were glad we chose a centrally located hotel, as it was convenient to come back and rest, especially since we were travelling with a toddler. We then returned to the bustling lanes of Nice, where we felt like we were at a festival. The music, food and drinks have a way of creating that atmosphere. We made sure to send postcards home, and also did a little souvenir shopping.

The two days we spent in the south of France were a delight, but it was much too short a period to fully explore the place. Luckily, there’s always next time!     
             – as told to Saloni