Amazing Day Trips to Take From Nice by Boat

The beach at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat makes a pleasant day trip from Nice
The beach at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat makes a pleasant day trip from Nice | © Gerardo R Correa / EyeEm / Getty Images
Chrissie McClatchie

As the capital of the French Riviera, Nice sets the scene for a chic yachting adventure. Around the port which leads on towards the Promenade des Anglais, traditional wooden fishing boats jostle for space alongside private yachts and the large passenger ferries that connect the French mainland with Corsica. The streets that crisscross behind the marina are full of trendy bars, cafes and boutiques, but these day trips are worth setting sail for.

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Villefranche-sur-Mer

The pretty waterfront town of Villefranche-sur-Mer is a splash of pastel-coloured buildings, set against the bright blue of the Mediterranean Sea. With one of the deepest harbours along the French Riviera, the bay is popular with vessels of all sizes, from small pleasure boats to cruise liners. The 16th-century citadel houses a beautiful garden and several museums, as well as an open-air cinema in the summer months. At the entrance to the port, rooftop bar Achill’s attracts an international crowd looking for cocktails with a view.

This leafy peninsula around the coast from Nice is the priciest postcode on the French Riviera. In prime position is the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, once a grand private residence of the Rothschild family, now a museum with nine themed gardens. For a taste of the high life, enjoy a drink on the terrace at the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, a fancy Four Seasons hotel. The coastal trail around the headland leads past rocky alcoves and pine trees.

Beaulieu-sur-Mer

Belle Epoque buildings and a fruit tree-lined promenade give Beaulieu-sur-Mer an air of understated Riviera glamour, although you may spot a celebrity or two over lunch at African Queen restaurant on the port. The olive trees of the nearby Jardin de l’Olivaie provide cool shade for a lunchtime picnic — stock up on supplies at the Super U supermarket in the centre of town. At the water’s edge, Villa Kerylos is a remarkable residence inspired by the noble houses of ancient Greece.

Paloma Beach

By the port of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat with views across to Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Paloma Beach (open May to September) is the quintessential French Riviera beach club. A timeless feel has made the spot favourite with film and TV producers — scenes from the 50 Shades of Grey franchise and Emily in Paris were filmed here. Sun loungers can be rented for the day and watersports equipment, such as stand-up paddleboards, for the hour.

Èze-sur-Mer

If you’re in the mood for table dancing at lunchtime, the parties at the turquoise-themed Anjuna restaurant and beach (open April to October) are legendary. Across the road, you’ll see signposts for the start of the Nietzsche Path. The track is a steep ascent to medieval Èze, the walled village perched on a rocky outcrop above the Mediterranean. You’ll need sturdy shoes and water, but the views from the top are worth it. Take a breather in the botanical gardens, then enjoy the trail back down.

Monaco

The supercars and superyachts have made Monaco a byword for luxury and the bite-sized principality (equivalent in size to New York’s Central Park) is a place you need to visit at least once in your lifetime. The ornate Monte Carlo Casino is flanked by designer boutiques and a three-star Michelin restaurant, Le Louis XV, headed by Alain Ducasse. The quiet streets of the pedestrianised Le Rocher neighbourhood open out onto the Prince’s Palace. Time your visit for 11.55am and you’ll catch the changing of the guards.

Île Saint-Honorat

The Island of Saint-Honorat, Cannes, France

Île Sainte-Marguerite and Île Saint-Honorat, collectively known as the Iles de Lérins, are located just off La Croisette in Cannes. On the smaller of the two, Île Saint-Honorat, you’ll meet a long-standing monastic community with a very modern environmental mindset. You can tour the 15th-century Cistercian monastery and taste the wine from the on-site vineyard, but you’ll need to ensure you take all your rubbish with you when you leave as there are no bins on the island.

Cannes Underwater Eco-Museum

Swimwear and snorkelling gear are the only equipment you’ll need to enjoy one of the French Riviera’s more unusual attractions, the Cannes Underwater Eco-Museum. At depths of up to 5m (16ft), close to the shore off the Île Sainte-Marguerite, British artist Jason deCaires Taylor has sculpted towering portraits of six local residents using environmentally-friendly materials – his first installation in the Mediterranean.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

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