France: Nice and Monaco

It’s been around nine years since I was last in France, when I was fortunate enough to visit Paris with my family. We visited the Eiffel tower, climbed up the Arc and stood around on a footpath for three hours waiting to catch a glimpse of Jackie Chan when he arrived at the premier of Rush Hour 3. Amongst other things, of course.

When planning where to go in between Ireland and Ibiza, I wanted to tick a few boxes. I wanted to take it easy before I get destroyed by the white isle, I wanted to go swimming in warm weather, I wanted to be in a place with nice looking females and I didn’t want to go anywhere I had been before. With these points in mind, it was a no-brainer when I spied some very reasonably priced flights to Nice, France.

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I flew into Nice in the early evening and took a bus straight to my hostel, Meyerbeer Beach Hotel, which turned out to be a mint choice; two minutes from the beach, very reasonably priced and great staff. I went for a walk that night to orientate  myself with the city, which is actually rather big. It’s split into several districts, with Old Town being the area that you’d typically spend most of your time in as a tourist if you’re not at the beach.

As we all know, Nice was recently subject to a terrorist attack which involved a deluded, cowardly c**t driving through a bunch of people celebrating on Bastille Day. There are tributes laying over the promenade where the attacks occurred. It’s both sad and infuriating to see.

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I’ve never been to Miami, but I have seen lots of 80’s movies which involve gangsters, girls and rollerbladers  cruising down a beach with a big built up sidewalk. This place reminds me of that. It’s a great beach for a morning run, or cycle.

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Old Town is littered with restaurants, bars and a fair amount of touristy shops. It’s not cheap, but actually not too dear when you take into account the location and weigh it up against other similar tourist hot-spots. Having just come from London I thought it was quite reasonable, actually. My hostel was 22 Euros a night, and if you’re watching the budget you can buy wicked pre-made rolls and ready-to-heat pasta from all the supermarkets which keeps the cost down.

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One morning, I rallied up a few troops from the hostel and we made a day trip to Monaco. We took a train from Nice that cost just under four Euros and takes you along the scenic route up the coast. Practically every little beach front town that we went past looked like it was well worth a day trip in itself.

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I always knew this was going to be the case, but from the second I got out of the train station in Monaco it was apparent how much money was floating around, not the least of which was floating on the water. There’s no shortage of yachts in this place.

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If you’re not aware, Monaco is an independent city-state within France, situated very close to the Italian border. It’s an attractive location for the wealthy due to relaxed tax regulations, up-scale casinos and general swag. It’s also well known for an annual F1 race that takes place on the city streets. As a backpacker I would never stay here overnight unless I came upon a wad of cash, so it’s definitely a day-trip destination for me.

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This is the Monte Carlo Casino. I didn’t even try to get in with my jandals and shorts. Apparently you need to be rather well dressed to even get in the front door; a little different than the casino in Auckland, where you can turn up in pyjamas as long as you’re spending your cash in an unwise  manner.

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It’s super rad to be able to walk along the road that’s used for the races every year. You don’t often get to walk the same race track as the ones you used to race on your Xbox years ago. I walked through the famous tunnel part of the track also, and got an obligatory photo.

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Monte Carlo (a ‘suburb’ within Monaco) is home to a couple of beaches too. There’s pretty much everything you could need if you have a lot of money and don’t mind spending it. I didn’t manage to get up to the Prince’s Palace this time but I’ll definitely be back in this area so that’s something I can leave for my next visit.

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After a quick beer on the docks next to the yachts, we headed back to Nice where I met  up with my pal Adam the next day. We’d parted ways after Croatia and agreed to meet up here and spend a week together. We went for a run down the promenade and up the stairs to the lookout point that’s situated in between Nice and Port Nice, which has some wicked views.

And on the other side… more yachts!

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One thing I’d recommend doing in Nice is hiring a bicycle for a few hours and riding up and down the beach and around the city. Adam was keen to see how close we could get to the airport and watch the planes go overhead so we jimmied our way around the rocks, which is another place that affords a good view over Nice as well as a pretty close look at some private jets.

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So yea, Nice was nice. HA! I’d definitely come back here. After Nice, Adam and I rented a car and drove it down the French Riviera. I’ll bang another post up on that in due time.

Thanks for reading!

– Damo

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