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Emily: In the last series about my trip to France, I talked about how our family of 4 went for our own “tour de France.” With the help of miles earned from credit card rewards, we paid just ~$410 each for our family of 4 to fly round-trip to France in Business Class. And had a luxurious stay in a ~$1,600 per night suite for ~$160 TOTAL.
This series of posts will highlight our time in Nice. And will give you step-by-step instructions so that you can also go to Europe using miles and points! Plus, I’ll share my tips for the cheapest car rentals and the BEST credit cards to use when traveling internationally.
In addition to staying in a beautiful hotel, we enjoyed riding bikes, jet-skiing, and taking a scenic drive into Italy. The best part was forming new, closer relationships with my family…we’d spend hours over meals philosophizing about life, love, and challenges we sometimes face! I’m very grateful that miles & points made this trip possible.
How to Save Thousands Off a Trip to Southern France Trip Report Index:
- Part 1 – Introduction
- Part 2 – The Secrets to Saving Money on Rental Cars in Europe
- Part 3 – Where to Stay | Our Family Felt Like Royalty at This Hotel!
- Part 4 – What to Do | Jet Skis, Road Trip Along the Coast, Visit Italy, Shopping Mall
- Part 5 – Where to Eat
What to Do
Nice is a beautiful town on the southern coast of France. The main activities we enjoyed were:
- Riding bikes along the coast
- Enjoying a scenic drive
- Jet-skiing in the Mediterranean
- Walking around town at night
Renting bikes is pretty easy in Nice (however it’s MUCH easier in Paris). We had to use our skills to figure out the complicated machines. You have to register your email address and payment method before you rent the bikes, but once you do that, it’s fairly easy.
Here are my biggest tips if you decide to rent bikes in Nice:
- Have 1 person signup. Again, it takes time to get an account set-up. So have 1 person in your group do it.
- Return the bikes to a stand as soon as you are done using them. If you want to save money, don’t have a 2-hour lunch while they sit outside. Take them back to a stand. You are charged for the time you use the bike.
- Always lock up your bike. We were standing a few feet away from our bikes and were shocked that someone tried to steal it so close to us in public. This should be common sense, but a reminder never hurts. 🙂
One evening, we had trouble finding an empty stand for our bikes. We’d find one empty slot, but there were 4 of us. We ended up going to ~4 different stands trying to find open slots for the bikes. The stands along the coast were often full, so you may have better luck finding a station inland.
Once we all got our bikes, we rode them along the boardwalk towards the airport. There was a nicely paved bike-friendly sidewalk to ride on.
We stopped to check out the beach and build rock castles.
It was a gorgeous day for riding bikes!
Road Trip to Italy
The next day, we decided to take the rental car out and enjoy a road trip along the coast. This was one of Rick Steves’ biggest recommendations. Plan on spending the whole day out. It’s worth taking the time to visit different towns and even venture into Italy.
Bring some medicine in case you’re susceptible to getting car sick. The roads can be narrow and windy.
It was a gorgeous drive, and it was fun seeing different little towns. We even passed through Monaco.
And we saw a Barclay’s bank! It was the prettiest Barclay’s I’ve ever seen.
We snapped a few pics in Monaco and continued our journey. I’m a long time fan of the late actress Grace Kelly, and visiting Monaco was a bit surreal! She actually died on one of the corniches on which we were driving.
We continued our drive until we got to Ventimiglia, Italy. Ventimiglia is a gorgeous small town. We loved stopping here and walking the streets. I stopped into a small mom-and-pop store and bought an Italian coffee maker that I use at home for my daily java. One of my favorite parts about traveling is drinking what the locals drink and eating what they eat. And bringing back the knowledge to make the same thing at home for my family!
Jered and Alfy went on the jet ski excursion since I was 5 months pregnant. Here’s what Jered had to say about it:
- Jet Evasion – Jet Ski Rentals
- Easy to make reservations online with a credit card with options for 15 min, 30 min, 1 hour and 2-hour rides
We opted for the 1-hour trip, which I thought was the perfect amount of time. When we arrived at Jet Evasion, we were greeted by a group of very friendly French “beach guys.” They made us feel very comfortable and helped us store our belongings securely before taking off (but I still wouldn’t bring any extreme valuables).
We were assigned a guide, who first gave us a brief 5 to 10-minute overview of some basic instructions and safety tips – how to approach a wave, how to fall off, how to get back on, how to start, how to turn, etc.
We departed from the Jet Evasion base at Plage de Carras on the Promenade (Flag 1) toward and past Castle Hill (Flag 3); around the bend of Castle Hill. We stopped in a cove (Flag 4), where he told us the depths dropped to 1000 feet deep!
Cruising further outward, we passed Villefranche (Flag 6), with a perfect view of the half-million dollar estate Villa Leopolda and traveled out as far as Monaco (Flag 8). At this point, we turned around and rode the waves all the way back around the bend of Vielles Antibes (Flag 10 and Flag 11) before finally returning to the Jet Evasion home base.
Personally, I felt that the price was well worth the experience. I gained an entirely new perspective of Nice and the Cote D’Azur from out in the Mediterranean Sea. It was majestic, to say the least – the views of the coast were amazing and can only be experienced by going out into the ocean.
And even though we were with a guide, I didn’t feel tied to any strict rules – he traveled as fast as we wanted to go (I hit 50 mph at one point!), and he tailored the experience to our preferences.
I would definitely recommend partaking in a jet ski experience for anyone who travels to Nice.
Roaming the Streets at Night
One of my favorite things about Europe is that the streets are so alive at night! There are always people out enjoying the city in the communal squares. I wish the US had more of these meeting squares.
It seems like everywhere you turn there’s something beautiful that can inspire you.
It’s fun to sit and enjoy a coffee (or my personal favorite, noisette!) and a croissant in the mornings.
One evening, we saw a live band playing music.
We had a lot of fun dancing with them!
Seeing this band was one of the highlights of our evening walks through Nice.
It cost ~$1,640 for the 4 of us to fly round-trip in Business Class from New York to Europe. I used a combination of miles & points from different programs to book flights for me and my family. Including AMEX Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
The highlights of our time in Nice, France, were riding bikes, driving on the Grand Corniche, going jet skiing, and walking around town at night! The South of France is a perfect place to visit because there are beaches, mountains, and city life all in one!
Have you been to this corner of France before? Share your favorite activities with other readers in the comments!