Beautiful and unique finds along the French Riviera
Did you read the post about Don and I eloping? What an intimate special couple of days for us. The day after we got married, we traveled home to pick up our daughter and set off straight away for our honeymoon (with a baby in tow)!
Our wedding was pretty spontaneous, so equally, our honeymoon was to be a small getaway on a small budget. My sister lives in the French Riviera, and Don and I had never managed to get out there to see her since she moved.
Going to France was the perfect excuse to include her in our marriage celebrations and to kill two birds with one stone – visit family and have a honeymoon too!
Surviving a French heatwave
We expected France to be warm and comfortable weather, boy we were surprised! France was experiencing a major heatwave with temperatures reaching 35-degree Celsius, and we were not ready for it. We were lucky that we were staying with my sister, Sarah, who has a lovely air-con home and car, so traveling around the area was much more comfortable than taking public transport.
One downside to the heat was timing our outdoor time to the temperature. Breakfasts on the beach were out of the question. However, we came up with a better idea. Midnight beach snacking!
During the night, the temperature was much more enjoyable, so we snuggled our sleeping baby into her pram, packed a few cold beers, wine, and snacks, and enjoyed some late-night dining and swimming. It was such a lovely relaxing experience.
The beach was very quiet apart from a few loved up couples, and on one occasion, we could easily see Mars from where we were sitting. It was a moment to cherish.
Alongside staying local, we also traveled out towards Nice, Cannes, and some quirky little villages in between to truly get a feel for the French Riviera.
- Use aircon where possible. If you open a window or door then turn the A/C off as this is counterproductive and will cost money.
- Use a mosquito net if you are outside with your pram at night time.
- You might be tempted to let your baby chill in shorts, a hat and tons of suncream (guilty) but apparently the french frown at topless babies so find the lightest clothing you can.
- French restaurants are open late as the locals tend to dine late (think 8-9 pm).
It’s nice to be Nice
Nice is a truly beautiful area with gorgeous traditional French-style buildings, a long beach, and some really fun parks to explore. One of our favorite things about visiting Nice was taking Emma through Promenade du Paillon so she could play on the swings and experience the water jets.
- There are a few ice cream shops dotted about Nice, particularly in the center area where the shops are. We recommend the violet and rose ice cream (separate flavors).
Promenade du Paillon
I recommend enjoying a couple of hours in the Promenade du Paillon, especially on a ferociously hot day. It is very fun, especially for kids, and very wet, but you will dry off so quickly as you walk through the rest of the lovely park, which leads you through the old town of Nice.
- This place is extremely busy on hot days and it’s hard to find a spot to sit. If possible, don’t sit near the toilet block – it stinks!
- You can stand on the jet holes and direct the water with your feet. The kids love doing this to people and spraying them.
Castle Hill / Le Chateau
Another highlight for us was Castle Hill. Castle Hill or Le Chateau sits atop 370 steps, which you can either climb, take a tourist train, or take a slightly hidden lift (which is perfect for prams). You can find the lift via an underground tunnel. The views from the bottom of Castle Hill are just as beautiful as the ones from the top.
Beautiful gardens, an incredible waterfall, and stunning views await you at the top of Castle Hill. There is seating throughout the gardens and play parks for children, along with a small cafe at the top.
I would recommend taking a light picnic or a couple of sandwiches with you as the cafe has a very light menu. Just above from the cafe, there is a viewpoint over the old town, which allows you to take some stunning photos.
Overall, Castle Hill is something you should experience, and I think a visit here is a must for anybody exploring Nice.
- There are parts of Castle Hill you can only experience if you take the steps.
- At the top of Castle Hill, at the viewpoint, there is sometimes a musician. It’s a really romantic spot, especially when someone is playing the accordion.
Can you Can-Cannes?
We visited Cannes on a whim, really because we were residing only ten minutes away. We visited in the evening, and it was clear from the start that Cannes homed an affluential society driving in Lamborghinis and arriving at palatial nightclubs.
As we decided to visit Cannes late, we didn’t delve beyond the coastline into the city (which I’ve heard has some lovely buildings and castles). Instead, we stuck to the beachfront of restaurants and bars all of which had very long waiting lists!
My advice for anyone visiting Cannes is to go during the day to experience the true beauty it has to offer and, if possible, hang around for the night to watch the beautiful bars and people light up the coastline.
- Firstly, expect your self-confidence to get a kick in the teeth. (joking, kind of). Cannes is full of supermodel people.
- At the end of the Cannes waterfront strip, there is a merry-go-round perfect for little ones and families.
- If you want to eat on the waterfront then consider booking in advance.
Finding peace in the busy Riviera
Luckily for us, we stumbled across the most lovely little village, and I can truly say I felt so relaxed and happy there. Mougin is such a calm, artsy and peaceful area half an hour (via car) from both Nice and Cannes and is definitely worth an afternoon of your time.
The village is wonderfully petite, and we walked around it multiple times, exploring every art exhibition, fountain, side street, and tiny restaurant. We also enjoyed some delicious food and Pina Coladas.
- There are art galleries discreetly hidden all around this little village.
- If you are driving, park your car below the village in one of the car parks then walk the steps up to the village.
- Mougin is a great place for foodies and creatives, but if you want to eat here then make sure you arrive before late evening. Otherwise, reserve a table.
We spent a week in France and it really was such a great experience. The French Riviera is a seriously stunning place and I recommend it to anyone wanting to experience southern France.
I hope this post has given you some insight into The French Riviera and our tips help you out. Have you ever explored this beautiful area of France? Let us know in the comments!