10 reasons to visit Nice and the Cote d’Azur during RWC 2023
Nice and the Côte d’Azur region, also known as the French Riviera, is a spectacular parcel of land in the bottom corner of France. More than just a beautiful coastline, the region stretches all the way to the French Alps and packs plenty in in between.
It won’t take much convincing, but here are 10 reasons why you should visit Nice and the Côte d’Azur during next year’s Rugby World Cup.
The 36,000 seat Allianz Riviera Stade de Nice, which opened in just 2013, is an absolute gem and really doesn’t have a bad seat. It’s also just a short tram ride from the centre of Nice. Stade de Nice will host Wales, England v Japan, Italy v Uruguay and Scotland v Tonga during the pool stages.
The Cote d’Azur is also just a few stops on the TGV fast train from Marseille, which will host Australia (hopefully), England, Wales, Japan and Argentina over one Quarter Final weekend in mid October.
There are 13 days between Australia’s last pool game in Saint Ettienne and the Quarter Final weekend in Marseille and there are few better places in the world to fill your time than the beautiful Cote d’Azur.
Want to spend a week or so cruising up and down the Cote d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera? It’s really not a hard sell, is it?
The coastline is arguably one of the most beautiful stretches of land you’ll find anywhere in the world and the towns and beaches you’ll discover along the way are equally as appealing.
Boats, that don’t require licences, are fairly cheap to hire in most towns, or you can pay a skipper to take you to his or her favourite spots. Either way, you’re not going to have a bad time in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Most of the towns along the coast are also connected by a local train line making it super cheap and easy to move around and discover your next favourite place throughout your stay.
When you think of the Cote d’Azur, most people think of the coastline and we were no different. But what impressed Rugby News most about Nice and the Cote d’Azur region was the variety. The region not only covers the beautiful coastline from one side of Nice through to Monaco, but it also stretches out through the countryside all the way to the start of the French alps.
In fact, Isola 2000 is one of the few places in Europe where you can ski with views of the ocean.
The scenery throughout the countryside is incredible and the many quaint villages you’ll discover along the way are near impossible to leave. From the top of most towns, you’ll look over the alps, the French countryside, the entire Cote d’Azur coastline and the Mediterranean Sea. It’s pretty hard to beat.
With 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s pretty hard to find a bad time to visit Nice or the Cote d’Azur, but September and October, during next year’s World Cup will be ideal. The super hot days and the crazy crowds start to disappear by early September but the warm weather and waters remain right through to November.
Interestingly, the local cuisine of Nice and the Cote d”Azur is inspired more from the countryside than the ocean and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Each year, the very best Niçoise restaurants in the region are awarded the ‘Cuisine Nissarde’ label. A panel of locals award this only to restaurants that use authentic recipes, traditions and produce from the region and restaurants are required to reapply annually. When you see the Cuisine Nissarde logo at the front 32 restaurants across the region, you’re guaranteed a great meal and an authentic Niçoise experience.
Cycling and hiking
From the beach to the alps, the Cote d’Azur offers some of the best and most picturesque cycling and hiking trails France has to offer.
For those in lycra, Café du Cycliste has a concept store in the old port of Nice that is well worth a visit. They can set you up with a bike and send you on your way. Check out their Nice Riding Guide here: www.cafeducycliste.com/en_au/la-gazette/nice-riding-guide/.
For the walkers, again the options are plenty. Many of the walks are steep, but the views from the top and on the way up and down make it all worthwhile.
The beach clubs
It might seem silly considering where most of us live, but there’s something pretty special about enjoying a few drinks or a meal on a beach. It’s a cool experience during the day but even more incredible at sunset, or Aperol hour as it’s better known, and it’s really something we just don’t get in Australia.
Nice has some fantastic beach clubs and restaurants just metres from the water and you’ll find similar setups right up and down the Cote d’Azur coastline.
Nice Old Town and Medieval Villages
Nice’s Old Town, just a stone’s throw back from the beach, is packed with fantastic Niçoise restaurants.
Chez Acchiardo is the pick of them and a local institution. A fifth generation family restaurant with ‘Cuisine Nissarde’ accreditation, the place does such a good trade during the week, that they close every weekend and for the entire month of August. If you are in Nice during the week, make sure you pop in. The staff are friendly, the food is amazing and the building is incredible.
Away from Nice, the Medieval villages of Vence and Eze are also must visits. Eze is wedged in on top of a cliff on the coast between Nice and Monaco while Vence is about 30 minutes in land and is a great base to discover the countryside from.
To see how the other half live
You don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy yourself in Nice or the Cote d’Azur, in fact there are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself on a budget.
If you do want to splurge though or if you want to take a peak at how the 0.1% live, there’s also ample opportunity. St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, just a 10-15 minute bus from the centre of Nice, was listed as the second most expensive patch of real estate in the world a few years back, beaten only by Monaco.
While you might struggle to find an affordable AirBnB on the headland, there are plenty of beaches and walking trails that are open to explore. You can also visit le Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, the incredible former residence of Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild.
Béatrice, the heir to the Rothschild banking fortune, built the villa on the most expensive patch of land she could find between 1907 and 1912. Soon after, she divorced her cheating husband and lived large as a single, independent woman until her death in 1934, when she donated the Villa and its surrounding gardens to the public.