Explore the French Riviera like a local

Sandwiched between Monaco and Cannes on the French Riviera, the area around Nice is beautiful, bright, and beachy. Here’s our Chauffeur of the Month Eddy’s advice for your next visit to the area.

The crystal clear waters of the French Riviera. Image credit: Bareta/iStock
The crystal clear waters of the French Riviera. Image credit: Bareta/iStock

Eddy is a jack of all trades. He’s been in the hospitality industry, the airport industry, and in the past year, started driving for Blacklane.

“I used to live next to Paris and I moved 20 years ago now. I live in Cagnes-sur-Mer, a town right next to Nice,” Eddy said.

With Eddy’s newfound independence and two decades of living in the region under his belt, he’s the perfect person to ask for expert travel recommendations.

When to visit

As with most sun-soaked destinations, Eddy said the best time to visit is on the cusp of the off-season.

“I recommend coming in September because the water of the sea is still warm, and you can really enjoy the summer weather without the inconvenience of the crowds and traffic,” Eddy said.

“It’s not too windy… sometimes in the spring, it can be windy… I’ve been living here for 20 years now and it is my favorite month.”

Where to stay

“There is a nice four-star restaurant in a hotel in Cagnes-sur-Mer, Chateau Le Cagnard, located on a very narrow street old street with flowers and plants all around, it’s a very peaceful place,” Eddy said.

“Unless there’s a special event it’s quite quiet, so it’s good for people who want to stay off the beaten track.”

Perched on a hill, the hotel boasts amazing views and is just a couple streets below Grimaldi Castle Museum, which you should also add to your to-do list, according to Eddy.

If you’re looking for something closer to town, Hôtel La Pérouse and Hôtel Le Suisse are right next to the beach and have beautiful terrace views. Closer still is Les Suites Masséna, which has a refreshingly modern style.

Look out to the Fountaine due Soleil from your apartment in Nice. Image credit: bbsferrari/iStock
Look out to the Fountaine due Soleil from your apartment in Nice. Image credit: bbsferrari/iStock

What to do

If the museum in Cagnes-sur-Mer left you thirsty for more, there are plenty more museums and galleries in Nice as well. Highlights include Musée Matisse, which has one of the largest collections of art by the iconic French artist Henri Matisse, and Palais Lascaris, an impressive museum of instruments housed in an even more impressive environment: the restored home of 17th-century aristocrats.

For shopping, the Galerie Lafayette is the place to be, not just because the department store has everything you could want, but it’s also a great place to people-watch and socialize.

“You can meet lots of nice people who are also on vacation,” Eddy said.

Nice is also the perfect home base to explore the rest of the stunning region. The biggest must-do on the Côte d’Azur is to go to the beach, and while the beaches of Nice are still jaw-dropping, Eddy said the best, less crowded beaches are actually outside the city.

His favorite place is Théoule-sur-Mer, 25 minutes drive south of Cannes and approximately 50 minutes from Nice’s city center.

“Over there are some nice beaches and red rocks, which is not the same color as in Nice,” Eddy said.

“It’s not as busy, you can go hiking, you can go snorkeling, there are some nice restaurants there. I like the drive, it’s quite long but there are several really nice places to see by the sea.”

What to eat

“I love the specialties from here,” Eddy continued. “There are some very nice dishes. Le Pan Bagnat, that’s a sandwich with tuna, radishes, salad, anchovies, a bit of olive oil… It’s a very fresh sandwich.”

Spotting local cuisine can be pretty easy in Nice, just look for the term “Niçois” or “Niçoise”. Lou Balico, across the street from Nice’s uniquely designed library, is the perfect place to start.

“It’s quite busy because it’s a popular place, and they do a menu where you can order many small dishes to try everything. I recommend to taste the Farcis Niçois [stuffed vegetables].”

Eddy also recommends Socca, a fire-baked flatbread made with chickpea flour that is known by many names (farinata, torta di ceci, or cecina) but something you’re only likely to find in the Côte d’Azur.

Socca being served from a vendor in Nice. Image credit: SabinaS/iStock
Socca being served on the streets of Nice. Image credit: SabinaS/iStock

Craving seafood? Eddy’s top pick is La Cabane de l’Écailler in Cagnes-sur-Mer, where you’ll find lots of fresh “fruits de mer”.

If all the French food has inspired you to try to make some yourself, La Raiola du Béal in Cagnes-sur-Mer could be your answer. The shop has been in the family for three generations and offers ravioli Niçois, a pasta stuffed with a filling of beef, parmesan, and swiss chard.

“(La Raiola du Béal) in Cagnes-sur-Mer (is) where you can buy really good ravioli niçois, it’s a very small shop but you can buy it there to cook yourself,” Eddy said.


Marlys Klossner

Marlys, a journalism major from Canada, now calls Germany home. She spends her days writing punchy copy and lovely long-form articles, and spends her evenings watching so-bad-it's-bad reality TV. Her prized possessions? Medals from her days as a synchronized swimmer.