Lay of the Land
“It is sadder to find the past again and find it inadequate to the present than it is to have it elude you and remain forever a harmonious conception of memory.”~F. Scott Fitzgerald
The South of France has so many facets, so many faces of France that can be seen in one day that it can be overwhelming to map out a visit. You can explore the hill towns on tiny back roads (easier than ever thanks to a good GPS), have lunch poolside at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, shop and people-watch in Cannes and dine under a giant linden tree in St. Paul de Vence—all in the same day.
The department known as the Alpes Maritimes stretches along the Mediterranean coastline, extending from Menton near the Italian border to Cannes and into the hillside, home to such famous perched villages as Vence, Grasse and St. Paul-de-Vence. (St.-Tropez is located further west, in the department of the Var.) The main resort towns in this region are Cannes, Antibes and St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, home to the exclusive Grand-Hôtel du Cap Ferrat, sits to the north of Nice, while Antibes and the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc are located a half-hour’s drive to the south. The picturesque medieval villages, including Vence, Eze and Gourdon, are inland.
International flights arrive in Nice. Visitors should rent a car but be wary that the roads are mostly single lane and traffic can be heavy, especially during the summer.