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Travelzoo Experience: Jaunt to the South of France

One of the most coveted perks at Travelzoo is the Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back on their experience.

After seeing an amazing airfare sale in the Top 20, I jumped on the chance to finally travel to one of my dream destinations: the south of France. I planned to make Nice my home base, but my first stop was a couple of nights in Monte Carlo to channel my inner Princess Grace. This region of the world is notoriously expensive so I prepared accordingly and decided to splurge on the helicopter service to Monte Carlo for 125 Euros after arriving at Nice airport. I highly recommend this mode of transportation. The total air time is only about seven minutes, but the views really were beautiful, and I got to sit up front next to the pilot. Then they take you in a shuttle after landing directly to your hotel. Plus, I jump at any chance to pretend I’m a celebrity so I thought it was money well spent.

I was fortunate enough to snag a really hot hotel deal in Monte Carlo, but I would recommend a day trip only, unless you need ample time to spend big bucks at the casino and marvel at the scores of Bentleys, Maseratis and Ferraris that run rampant around the city.  From Monte Carlo, I took the train back to Nice where I rented an apartment for the remaining eight nights of my trip.  I did like this option as it was quite affordable and I was able to stay in the middle of the old town making for a very authentic French experience. It was lovely to spend my mornings on the terrace overlooking Rue Rossetti with a cup of coffee and a croissant.

While there’s plenty to see in Nice itself, it’s the perfect jumping off point for day trips to other cities along the sea or medieval villages in the hills.  I opted for Cannes, St. Paul-de-Vence and Eze -- all reachable by bus for just one Euro each way. Steer clear from taxis if you can. They’re very high-end vehicles, and as a result they’ll charge you at least 25 Euros for a quick trip of even just a few miles so the fare would be enormous between cities.

Highlights of my trip include spending some time on the patio at Nice’s famed Hotel Negresco drinking rose with an old friend, having mussels at a restaurant on the beach in Cannes with my toes in the sand, bravely trying escargot in St. Paul-de-Vence (good, but “earthy” tasting for lack of a better word), dancing with locals at a late-night bar in Old Town Nice and strolling through the winding streets of St. Paul-de-Vence filled with art galleries and shops where I purchased a variety of flavored olive oils and handmade scented soaps. The theme of my trip was “lady of leisure” so I didn’t make a lot of plans prior to leaving for France. I think this was the perfect way to explore this region because the pace is quite relaxed and the French appear not to have a care in the world. I was more than happy to adopt this state of mind as well. C’est magnifique!

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Tips by
Rachel

Deal Expert, Chicago
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
See more Tips from
Rachel Koller