A “Nice” way to travel around the French Riviera!

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There is a lot of hype behind the French Riviera for it’s beauty, beaches and luxury lifestyle. Keyword: luxury!! It is not a cheap area to stay, however the following may help you save some money, while still allowing you to see some of the most attractive tourist areas such as Monaco, Nice and Cannes!

Originally my plan was to start in Monaco and take the train to Nice and then Cannes until I started looking up the price of hotels! I couldn’t find anything for under €180 a night and there were no hostel options except for in Nice. As it turns out, these areas are not far from each other so I decided to stay in a hostel in Nice which was right in the city’s center and it only cost me €30 a night (there were others for cheaper). Once you are in the city’s center, everything is close by so you can walk or take a tram/bus if you are feeling a bit lazy!

1. Castle Hill (Colline du Château) – Surprisingly, there’s no castle, as it was totally destroyed in 1705, however the area does give you the most stunning views of Nice! There is also an amazing waterfall, along with playgrounds and parks where you can take a picnic or grab some light food like sandwiches and snacks. I am warning you though, it’s a tiring hike up the stairs to the top, but it is completely worth the effort.

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2. Place Garibaldi – It is the oldest square that can be found in a large city. Place Garibaldi has many shops, cafes and restaurants that you can pop into while visiting. You can find it at the edge of Old Town and by the port area.

3. Place Masséna– The main square in Nice which has restaurants, stores and sometimes events/festivals. The thing that really sets this square apart is that it’s aligned with seven white statues on top of poles called “Conversation in Nice” and represents the seven continents. Each statue is facing the direction that the continent represents and at night they light up in a multitude of colors.

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4. Flower Market – Walk around and enjoy the colorful plants and exotic flowers. The market is open everyday from 6am-5:30pm except for Mondays and Sunday afternoons. You can find it within the Old Town.

5. Promenade Des Anglais– If you want to walk along the beach then this is where you would do it. This long walkway brings you along the Mediterranean and is lined with beaches, restaurants, hotels, biking paths and great views. You can spend plenty of time strolling along the promenade and that time is best spent with a gelato in hand!

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6. Old Town – This is a cute area to walk around with its narrow, cobblestone streets and is lined with restaurants and shops.  If you want to try some authentic French street food or buy some souvenirs, this really is the place to go.

7. Beaches – Warning: these are stone beaches! This is not something that I was aware of before I visited the beach, but once I did, I realized that it was incredibly uncomfortable when I was trying to lay out on a bunch of rocky stones, so bring a beach mat with you. Some hotels/hostels let you rent them for free or for a small cost, so check with your accommodation before making your way to the beach. There are of course plenty of places to purchase a relatively cheap beach mat near by if that is your only option.

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Now that you have seen all there is in Nice, its time to go explore the rest of the French Riviera!

1. Eze – This hilltop medieval village is only a 15 minute bus ride, there is no train option. If you are also planning on going to Monaco then you can take the bus to Eze and afterwards take a bus from Eze directly to Monaco. You would have enough time in one day to see both as long as you are an early riser. Make sure you pay close attention to the bus schedule. The bus only runs once every hour. I was late by one minute and had to wait for the next one. 

2. Monaco – Go to the infamous the Monte Carlo Casino and stare in awe at the over the top luxury cars! It is a 20 minute train ride or a 50 minute bus ride depending on traffic. 

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3. Antibes – Known for its yacht port, Picasso museum and Medieval market. It is on the way to Cannes on the train and is about a 20 minute train ride. I didn’t go because there was bad weather in the morning, however I was told that you would have enough time to stop off there before you moved on to Cannes.

4. Cannes – Home of the Cannes Film Festival and the quintessential of celebrity glam! Its is about a 45 minute train ride. If you take the bus it can take up to two hours or more. The beaches here were the best that I found during this trip.

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5. St. Tropez – If you want more beautiful beaches and scenery, then this really is a lovely place to visit. It is a little further out taking about an hour and 45 minutes passing Cannes along the way.

Transportation

While getting around all of these areas in France, you can take the bus or tram for €1.50. The train stations are in each area except for Eze. The trains drop you off in the city’s main area and is walking distance to most areas of interest or close to bus stops depending where you want to visit. 

If you are staying in Nice and flying in/out of the Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport, you can take the standard bus which is €1.50 and takes one hour or you can take the airport bus which is €6 and only 20 minutes.

Want to see more of Nice? Check out my Photo Essay! 

On top of the world! Exploring Mt Pilatus

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If you ever wondered what it would be like to visit Mount Pilatus in Switzerland just close your eyes and imagine yourself on top of the world overlooking the country while being surrounded by clouds! Standing 7,000 feet high on the mountain, I had a complete panoramic view of Lake Lucerne and the Swiss Alps. It was an incredibly surreal moment. To get to there, we left from Lucerne and took a scenic boat ride along the lake which dropped us off at the foot of the mountain. 

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After we’ve arrived, to get to the top we had to take the Pilatus railway which is the world’s steepest cogwheel railway. It was a relaxing, beautiful 30 minute ride to the top. Tip: Bring a sweater with you, even if you go in the summer it gets chilly on up there!

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Once I made my way to the top, the views were breathtaking. You can spend the whole day exploring if you wanted to as there are many different areas of the mountain that are accessible for walking and hiking. There are also fun activities you can do such as rock climbing and the Pilatus rope park which looks like a blast! It is a daredevil’s  dream course with tightrope walking, zip lining, free falling and tree climbing. 

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There are restaurants if you get hungry but I am warning you, it is not cheap. I only bought a pre-made sandwich and a small hot chocolate (couldn’t resist!) and was shocked by how much it cost. The hot chocolate was definitely worth it though.. delicious!! However, if you are not planning on spending a lot of money, I would suggest to pre pack a sandwich to bring with you. Even though I spent more than I intended, I just took a look outside and forgot all about it. I mean.. look at these views!!!

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In late medieval times it was believed that a dragon lived in the mountain. There is a trail that you can take called Dragon’s Path. It looked like a creepy scene from The Lord of The Rings. The clouds surrounding us which looked like fog definitely added to it. I was waiting for Gollum to pop out! I’m glad I was with a group of friends because I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to venture there alone. The creepiness made it more fun to explore though! Unfortunately, we didn’t find any dragons.. maybe they were hiding. 😛

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We came across an abandoned shed with people’s names carved in it so we were able to leave our mark behind!

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Once we were ready to head back down, we had to take a cable car part of the way and then transfer to another one. If you want a more thrilling descent, you can fly down on a steel slide on the toboggan run. I didn’t know about it at the time, otherwise I would have done it! This was one of the greatest experiences of my travels and I hope that I get a chance to go again one day. I would love to see what it looks like in the winter!

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Disneyland Paris!

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Everyone enjoys visiting the happiest place on earth! I had the opportunity to visit Disneyland Paris when I was staying in the heart of the city. Good news if you are a Disney fan.. the park is easily accessible! All you have to do is hop on the train and it’s only an hour away. I have been to Disney World in Orlando, Florida many times so it was fun to see the different park attractions and rides. Disney never disappoints! Next up.. Disneyland in Asia?

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Sleeping Beauty’s Castle 

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I love that Tinkerbell is on top 🙂
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You get to go inside the castle!p12 p13 p15 p21 p19 p22

They have some of the same famous rides that Disney World has such as “It’s a Small World”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “The Haunted Mansion” (called the “Phantom Manor” here) and “Space Mountain” but the inside and outside are different!

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This looked so fun. At the time I was too afraid of heights to try it though!p2

Indiana Jones roller coaster. I wish the one in Orlando had this. We had a blast on it.p27 p29 p28 p30 p31p01 p36 p34 p38

Iceland Road Trip!

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Iceland has a road called The Ring Road that circles the perimeter of the country.  Since Iceland is so small (only 40,000 square miles) you can literally drive around the entire country on this road in a day! I travelled with a couple of friends on a two-week road trip adventure. We started our journey in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik and headed to the South first before making our loop around the country. Check out some of the incredible scenery and interesting stuff we found along the way!

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We saw many beautiful horses along the side of the road! Farmers use the horses to round up sheep in the Icelandic highlands, but most horses are used for competition and leisure riding. 

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Our amazing driver, Marissa!  She drove us around the entire ring road! 

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We got to see the Strokkur geyser in the Golden Circle! It erupts every 5-10 minutes.

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Since horses here have few diseases, Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to return.

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This truck wasn’t so lucky when it toppled off the road. Thankfully no one was hurt! We had to check the weather multiple times a day since it changes fast and is different throughout the country.

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Hot dogs for the road! Yum! 

IMG_0340We found some old houses that were partially built into the mountains. This was done to help withstand the bad weather that sometimes occurs. 

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Crater

Kerið is a popular volcanic crater that is approximately 3,000 years old.

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Overcoming my fear of heights via helicopter

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My favorite part of our Iceland trip was going on a helicopter tour with Helo Iceland. It was an amazing experience! I am extremely afraid of heights so for me it was a fear that I had to overcome. At first when my friends approached me on the idea I wasn’t too thrilled. I have always had this fear, I can’t even stand too close to windows in buildings that are high. I get so nervous I start to shake! I really wanted to go to see the beautiful views from above but I was worried my fear would hold me back. After a lot of debating I went on Helo Iceland’s website and started looking at the photos that have been taken on their tours. It made me realize what a great opportunity I would be passing up. I know that I might not get a chance to come back to Iceland and I knew I would regret it if I didn’t go.

The day of the trip I was nervous all morning. The closer we got to the Helo Iceland, the more afraid I got! While we waited in the lobby everyone was talking, enjoying beverages and relaxing but I just stood around letting my worrisome thoughts get the best of me. I started debating if it was too late to back out. What if I freak out while we are mid-air? As my shakes started up, our pilot came out to meet with us. I started to ramble about my fear of heights but he helped put me a bit at ease, reassuring me with his sense of humor and friendly personality. Then we started to walk out towards the helicopter. It’s time! Here we go! 

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Our captain!

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As I buckled up I started to think of other things. What if the ride is bumpy? What if I get motion sickness? What if we crash? What if I hate it? Ahh! What have I gotten myself into? As we took off the ride was incredibly smooth so I wasn’t worried about getting motion sickness anymore. Whew! One worry crossed off! Then I looked out the window and my heartbeat started to slow down as I saw the most amazing view I have ever seen! I got so caught up in the scenery that my fear started to subside. This was truly a once and a lifetime experience and I can’t believe I almost passed it up because of my fear of heights! That day taught me a valuable lesson. Don’t let your fears hold you back because you will never know if you are actually afraid of something until you try it. It might not be as bad as you think, you won’t know unless you try! Words cannot express how beautiful the scenery was on the trip so I will let you see for yourself! Hope you enjoy my photos!

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We landed on a glacier!

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Thank you to Helo Iceland for providing our tour. All opinions are, as always, my own.