The past couple of years, we’ve been taking our summer vacations over the Fourth of July holiday to meet our parents in Europe. We usually start to plan things at the beginning of the year and throw out places to go. This year, my dad said he was going to enter the ticket lottery for the Euro Cup since it happened to be over the Fourth. When he was notified he got tickets to the quarterfinal game in Marseille, it didn’t take much convincing to decide that’s where we’d spend our summer vacay.
We didn’t want to spend the entire 10 days in Marseille and wanted to pick a central location. After a ton of research, we decided Cannes would be home base, and we’d take day trips from there to other towns along the Cote d’Azur. Here’s what we did, and what I would suggest for a long week of sun, sand and rose:
Since I am a psychopath when it comes to researching flights, I found the most cost effective and time saving option was flying from DFW to Lyon, with a short layover in London. My parents drove from their house in Frankfurt to pick us up in Lyon, but you could either take trains, buses or rent a car from there. From Lyon, we drove two hours to Avignon for the night.
We went straight from the plane to the car, driving to Avignon. Avignon is almost exactly halfway between Lyon and Cannes, and allowed us a little break in our trip. The town is charming and well worth exploring for a few hours. We stayed in amazing Airbnb in the heart of town, and got to explore some.
The next morning, we drove to our Airbnb in Cannes. Again – I cannot recommend Airbnb enough, especially in a city like Cannes, where hotels are insanely overpriced. We rented a two-story villa in an amazing location that not only had two hot tubs, but one of the best views in the city, for seven nights. For all of that, we paid what approximately two nights would be in a comparable hotel.
We explored Cannes for a few days and absolutely loved it. Although it’s an amazing town, it’s worth it to take a few day trips if you’ll be there for an extended time. Our trips were:
- Monaco: a short train ride (2.5 hours) from Cannes. It was a beautiful place, but not our favorite, and we found it a little overhyped.
- Nice: a shorter train ride from Cannes, and one of our favorite places. We stopped first at a little Italian restaurant recommended by a friend, and had one of the best meals we’ve ever had. After that, it was beach time and exploring the old town (Nice’s beaches are rocky, so we recommend going to a private beach club where you can rent a chair for about 10 Euro)
- Marseille: we drove here because we were going for the game, but you could also take the train. We’d heard mixed things about Marseille (Germans think it’s a dirty city). However, we didn’t find that was the case. You could definitely stay a night here, as it’s a little bigger of a city.
If you’re looking to explore the French Riviera, I really think Cannes is a good home base. We would’ve liked to explore more, but ran out of time. Other suggestions are:
- St. Tropez: our Airbnb host said to take the boat to St. Tropez, as traffic gets really bad. We’ve heard it’s a little touristy, but hey, you’re in the South of France in summer, so you can’t expect much else.
- Iles de Lerins: you can take a short ferry from Cannes to this small island for the day. Perfect opportunity to enjoy a picnic, as there aren’t really any restaurants on the island.
- Aix-en-Provence: this was almost a stop on our road trip from Lyon, but we opted for Avignon instead. Next time, we’ll definitely stop in Aix-en-Provence.
- Antibes: referred to as the “cultural heart” of the Cote d’Azur, this town right outside of Cannes can be reached by train. Relax on the beaches, or explore old town and the Musee Picasso.
As Lexi said, this trip was arguably one of the best ones we’ve taken. If you have recommendations for other cities or places to see in the South of France, let us know! We’re already looking forward to returning.
xo – kels