One of the world's most famous and glamorous resort areas, the French Riviera, continues west from the Italian Riviera and Menton to Monaco, Nice, Antibes and Cannes along the Mediterranean coast.
The French Riviera became a most fashionable resort in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was particularly popular with the British upper class. Winston Churchill was a regular visitor and often stayed in Coco Chanel's villa where he wrote his memoirs. Once a winter resort because of its mild climate, it slowly became more popular as a summer resort.
Not the cheapest place on the planet to visit, Getaway decided to hop aboard a DriveAway scooter and take the road between Nice and Monaco on a budget.
Nice is France's fifth largest city. It is the cheapest place to stay on the Riviera with lots of mid-range and budget accommodation available. Its neighbouring cities, Cannes and Monaco, are really expensive and many people sleep on the beach illegal but the local gendarmerie choose to turn a blind eye.
Beaches in Nice are of fine pebbles, so chairs are a good idea. Most hotels along the main promenade have private beaches. The palm-lined Promenade des Anglais was established by English expats in 1822 and at night the trees twinkle with fairy lights. It overlooks the Baie des Anges Bay of Angels.
The Principality of Monaco covers just 1.95 square kilometres. It has been ruled by the Grimaldi family for most of the time since 1927. It is made up of four main areas Monaco Ville, the old city on top of a 60 metre crag, Monte Carlo and its famous casino and grand prix motor race, La Condamine surrounding the harbour and Fontvielle, south-west of Monaco Ville. Citizens pay no taxes, making it a haven for the rich and famous.
The journey between these two places takes around 40 minutes, depending upon which of the three corniches you choose to take. The trio of roads hugs the cliffs, each higher up the hill than the last. The upper and lower continue to Menton, while the middle corniche ends in Monaco.
The lower road Basse Corniche skims the villa-lined waterfront. It follows the train line and passes through Villefrance-sur-Mer, St-Jean-Cap Ferrat, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Eze sur-Mer, and Cap d'Ail. It is certainly the most scenic route.
Moyenne Corniche middle road clings to the hillside and travels through little perched villages. The twisting road can be hair-raising. In fact, it is the road on which Princess Grace of Monaco was killed in a car crash.
Grand Corniche upper road is the quickest way, but not as scenic as the other two.
Scooters are the easy and fun way to negotiate these roads. You can rent a Yamaha YP125 scooter from DriveAway before leaving home and get around the countryside just like the locals.
They are simple to manoeuvre through narrow laneways and small medieval villages along your travels. Parking is easy, and with the price of fuel in Europe, renting a scooter is an inexpensive alternative to driving a car.
DriveAway can also arm you with a GPS navigator, loaded with all the maps you will need for your holiday. They can be mounted in any vehicle, including scooters.
Best Western Premier Hotel West End is on the Promenade des Anglais, facing Baie des Anges. Built in 1842, it offers the ambience of a belle époque property. It has been continuously renovated and the 126 room property is one of quality and charm.
Its restaurant, Le Siécle, faces the Mediterranean and offers gourmet dining in an art deco setting.
In summer guests relax in La Palmeraie terrace bar which has a live band. In winter, the British-inspired Horse Guard Bar is the place for cosy moments.
The south of France.
Best Western Premier Hotel West End has rooms starting at around $190 a double a night.
DriveAway Holidays has scooter hire from $100 a day. You must be at least 23 years old, and have held a full and valid driving licence for a minimum of two years. Helmet rental is included and they are mandatory in France. GPS rental is $9.90 a day.
Emirates has flights to Nice.
Valid for travel between February 1 to October 31, 2008.
Prices quoted correct at Nov 8, 2007.
For more information
Scooter Rental Nice
Phone: 1300 363 500
Best Western Premier Hotel West End
31 Promenade Des Anglais,
Nice FR-06000 France
Ph: +33 4 92144400
Fax: +33 4 93888507
Best Western Australia
Reservations: 131 779
French Tourist Bureau
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