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Top 7 Daytrips from Nice

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Nice, France's second-largest tourism center and a dignified queen of the Cote d'Azur, certainly has plenty to offer the tourist. Still, this area of France is filled with wonderful hilltop perched villages, upscale resort cities, an independent principality and neighboring Alps villages. Find out the best daytrips from Nice so you can maximize your vacation time.

1. Cannes

Cannes is pricier than its bigger sister, Nice, but it also has more elite shopping and the year-round sparkle left by Hollywood's annual descent on the city. Most famous for its annual film festival, this is a lovely city to visit any time of the year. The beach is sandy, there are rows of upscale boutiques and the dining is fab. Let's do "dejeuner," doll! This is about 30 minutes away by train.

2. St. Paul de Vence

Saint Paul de Vence is a charming hilltop fortified village in Provence, filled with art galleries, boutiques and sidewalk cafes. It's hard to find something ugly about this quaint village. A walk through its winding streets reveals elegant fountains, vine-covered stone walls and statues tucked into nooks in the walls. There are breathtaking views of mountains and sea. Even the ground below is attractive, as the cobblestones are laid into the shapes of flowers. It's about 40 minutes away by bus.

3. Principality of Monaco

Monaco certainly feels like France. After all, its land borders on all sides are French. But this tiny principality is its own world, filled with luxurious casinos, upscale shopping, a thriving nightlife and world-famous auto racing. This is about 20 minutes away by train.

4. Sospel

Head for the sky by visiting Sospel, a charming Alpine village. Although it isn't in the high Alps, the town is situated at an altitude of around 3,000 feet. The village is quaint, with lovely medieval streets and trompe-l’œil façades. Despite its close proximity to the city of Nice, this is an ideal stop for outdoor activities. There are opportunities to hike, ride on horseback, mountain-bike and fish. It's 30 minutes away by train.

5. Avignon

Yes, you can visit the seat of the papacy without leaving France. During the Middle Ages, the Pope moved to this city in Provence for a brief stint. Besides the former Pope's palace, there is much to see in Avignon. Wander the pedestrian shopping areas, cruise the Rhône River or indulge in Provençal cuisine. Three hours away by train.

6. Villefranche sur Mer

This small seaside village is so close to Nice, yet so different. The beach is small and sandy. The village features a handful of shops and restaurants. The old town's narrow medieval streets are oozing with charm. The town also has a great produce market on Saturdays and a second-hand market on Sundays. It's a 15-minute train ride from Nice.

7. Villeneuve-Loubet

What could be a more relaxing way to spend a vacation day than a visit to a spa town? This village features two thassalotherapie spas serving up a diverse mix of therapies and treatments. The town also boasts a medieval chateau, a museum of culinary arts and a splendid Bay of Angels coastline. It's a 20-minute train ride away, situated about halfway between Nice and Cannes.

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