When one thinks of the French Riviera, one thinks of a rich playground of millionaires, yachts, glamour, and haute couture. The red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, the roaring of cars at the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monaco or the swirling of the roulette wheel at the lively casinos of the region are intriguing and yet seemingly out of reach to the typical college student. While the region is famous for the above, those events are merely the cherry on top of a full and delicious dessert that is the ‘Côte d’ Azur’. I recently had the opportunity to visit the region and explore the possibilities for college students. What I found is that there are not only inexpensive ways to enjoy the region, but that there is so much to do that you might as well set up camp, unpack that back pack and stay a while.
The region is steeped in thousands of years of history starting with primitive man who first left their mark in the shale of the mountain walls dating back to the Bronze Age. As you might imagine, a lot has happened from then to now, so we’ll stick to current activities for this short travel journal. The region was originally a winter tourist destination, because of its mild winters, over a hundred years before it became known for its sun-drenched beaches. The landscape could be described as the mountains meet the sea. The Azure Alps which divide France from Italy are full of rich and fertile skiing country. The coast has 25 miles of beaches including both sand and pebble.
If you prefer round, smooth hot pebble beaches you will find them from the city of Menton near the border to Fort Carré d’ Antibes. If only a fine sandy carpet will do, then head toward the beaches between Juan-Les-Pins and Théole-ser-Mer. As you traverse these beaches you’ find that in contrast to other regions of France, the residents are warm and inviting to all tourists including Americans. Perhaps it’s the nice sunlight that gives them such a cheery disposition. If not the light, then a genuine understanding and appreciation of their tourism economy.
Nice is not only nice, but it’s quite possibly the "perfect" Euro-pean city. While it has every modern convenience, its Old World charm, cobble stone streets, beach promenades, cultural monuments, abundant museums, spectacular port and culinary artistry distinguish it as a true Medi-terranean gem. You can reach it easily by plane from Paris, as there are almost hourly flights between the two cities. Otherwise you can reach it from train from anywhere in Europe including through SNCF the National Rail Company or one of six daily TGV high speed trains (5 1/2 hours) from Paris. Nice has the 2nd largest airport serving 10 million pass-engers, 2nd largest number of museums and galleries (19), 2nd largest center for tourism, is is the 2nd largest convention city and is the 2nd largest city in hotel facilities.