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Day trip over to Italy from Nice?

11 replies

huntingmefin · 15/01/2020 17:06

Me, DH and teens (DD17 DS15) are driving down to Nice in August for 12 days. We are bringing the car (obviously!) and dog. Teens cannot wait despite coming with parents as we have been skint for years and they have never been abroad (unless you count a couple of times in a grotty caravan in rainy north Wales). We have been saving up for this holiday for a long time so we want it to be really lovely for us all.

Me and DC want to be in close proximity to the city and the beach, whereas DH's ideal holiday is an oldy worldy cottage in the middle of nowhere. We've compromised by picking an area on the outskirts of Nice where there is a bit of country but a short drive into the city. DH acknowledges that we'd probably all go mad in the middle of nowhere and the teens also need somewhere with life and atmosphere.

We have 12 days so we're trying to make sure everybody gets to do what they want to do. I've asked both DC to have a look and come to me with things they want to do/places they want to visit. DH also has a few places he'd like to go to. I've been thinking about myself and I've been wondering about a day trip over to Italy. The border is only about 12 miles from where we are staying so it's easily do-able. Has anybody on here visited Italy from Nice? We'd be willing to drive about 2 hours and if there is somewhere we'd really like to explore then we might get a hotel for a night. I went to Rome in my teens and fell in love with it and ever since my heart has been yearning to go back to Italy. I know a smaller town in northern Italy near France will be completely different to Rome but we likely won't be able to go abroad for another few years after this so it'd be nice to kill 2 birds with one stone, and also for the kids to say they have been to France and Italy.

I know any major Italian cities/attractions are too far of a drive for just a day trip but I'm looking at towns/villages near the border. I know Ventimiglia is the nearest place but the general opinion online is that it's a rough and ready working town and there isn't anything there for tourists on a day trip. However I am by no means ruling it out, so if anybody has been I'd love to hear an opinion. Would also love to hear about other places as well. Thank you

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Frazzled2207 · 15/01/2020 17:27

Hello. I know the area a bit.
Ventimiglia is a dump!!!
Don't go there.
San Remo is much nicer and not too far. It might make sense to take the train rather than drive though. Not driven to Sam Remo but don't have good memories of trying to park and drive cars in Italy generally.

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Frazzled2207 · 15/01/2020 17:29

Trains round there are quite cheap and plentiful. You probably have to change at Ventimiglia to get further into Italy though.
Also Monte Carlo/Monaco is very doable, again by train.

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Quartz2208 · 15/01/2020 17:32

Yep the trains are really good - Cannes is near as well Monaco is a must visit and

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Grohnjant · 15/01/2020 18:14

Definitely take the train. So easy and cheap. Maybe stop off at Villefranche sur Mer ( first stop on the train after Nice) on way or way back The beach there is a very fine gravel rather than the huge pebbles in Nice and the beach shelves gently so great for swimming . One of my favourite places in the world . Have a wonderful time

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katzenellenbogen · 15/01/2020 18:35

Don't even contemplate driving to Italy.
We did it last year and it was horrendous once we crossed the border.

The lanes on the motorway are about 3mm wider than an average sized car and you are hemmed in by massive lorries thundering along.

Villefranche is very pretty and you can do Monaco without spending a fortune.

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huntingmefin · 15/01/2020 22:42

Thanks all, I've been reading more about Ventimiglia and it definitely seems like it's not worth it. Seems like it's a regular working class town with nothing for tourists.

@Frazzled2207 I've looked at Sanremo and it looks like the kind of place I wanted. Somebody on Tripadvisor referred to it as Italy's Las Vegas so I'm intrigued as to what they mean by that! Doesn't look like there's a vast amount to do there but it looks lovely and I think it will have enough to keep us occupied for a day. DH likes photography says he likes the look of the Russian church and there seems to be some decent shops for DD and good restaurants. @katzenellenbogen Eek, I'll keep that in mind. I am remembering some horror stories about the drivers in Italy
from when I visited years ago as well...will look into the train.

Some people online seem to say it's not worth it and the French side of the riviera is nicer, but I think it would bother me being a stones throw away from the Italian border and not spending a day there, especially with the kids never having been out of the UK before.

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honeyrider · 16/01/2020 15:38

I've travelled by train from Nice to Genoa, it was almost 3 hours but the view along the coast was lovely.

I did a bus tour of Genoa and saw the tourist sites.

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SJaneS48 · 18/01/2020 08:17

Sanremo is absolutely nothing like Vegas @huntingmefin! We had 4 days there a couple of years ago from Nice (and yes it’s a change in Ventimiglia, whole journey takes less than 2 hours). I can only assume the reference is because it used to be somewhere high society went to gamble in the earlier part of the last century and it has a Casino. Like Nice and Monaco, it used to be a haunt of the super wealthy yachting set, several of whom made their homes there (hence the old Russian church). These days it’s glamour is a bit faded and it’s not the haunt of the super rich but it’s a nice place to visit. The promenade is backed by palm trees and the old town with its winding alleys has charm and does feel like being in Italy, not France. La Pigna is the oldest area and is an alleyway of small winding residential streets leading up on a hill to an old church and park with great views over Sanremo. It used to be a bit of a dodgy area but when we went was absolutely fine, a lot of the small quaint houses there seemed to have been bought and in the process of being tarted up. If I was doing a day trip from Nice to Sanremo, I’d stick to the old town, do La Pigna and have a bit of a stroll down the promenade.

Another Italian option is Bordighera (possibly misspelling this!). We did go to the beach there (v rocky and slopey) and did see a little bit of the town which I wasn’t particularly sold on however I’m pretty sure there are much nicer parts we didn’t see.

Second Villefranche as a day trip - it’s great and a v short train ride. The beach there is much nicer than Nice and the view surrounding you when you are in the sea is pure Riviera. I wasn’t that sold on Monaco, it’s very built up, expensive and there are lots of t*ssers driving super cars too fast. Good for a yacht gawp though and like Villefranche and Sanremo, easy to get to from Nice by train.

The train line along the Riviera connects it all up and there is some lovely scenery so find yourselves seats on the sea view side of the train (the left from memory but could be wrong!). The trains get really busy so get to the platform early. You can save yourselves a bit of time by booking journeys ahead on SNCF rather than queuing at the station.

Have fun! It’s a beautiful area.

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SJaneS48 · 18/01/2020 08:20

Should have checked this! La Pigna is a series of alleyways, not an alleyway!

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Hollyhead · 19/01/2020 21:45

Re Ventimilia - There isn’t anything for tourists but I did have the finest pizza of my life in a restaurant there - the cheese was 1cm deep!

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user1471457757 · 19/01/2020 22:26

If you do end up going to Italy stop off in Menton, just before the Italian border, it's beautiful.

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