The history of Nice stretches as far back as the Phocaeans, who founded the city in the 4th century B.C. As such, it is a fascinating place, brimming with a perfect mix of ancient history and modern amenities.
However, the beauty of this city is its prime location along the French Riviera. On a day trip from Nice, you can access a whole host of breathtaking destinations across France and Italy, from the lush ravines of Verdon Gorge to the vineyards of Provence.
The French Riviera — also known as Côte d'Azur — is a stretch of coastline along the south of France, well-known for its glamor and charm. The region includes A-list celebrity hangouts such as Monaco, with its dazzling casinos and designer shopping boutiques.
However, those wishing to see the more traditional side of the French Riviera may take a day tour that includes the medieval hilltop village of Èze, filled with cobblestone streets and surrounded by turquoise waters.
Alternatively, get swept up in the aromas of a dozen market stalls offering local produce such as cheese and honey in Antibes. On these excursions, you'll usually explore the home of cinema, Cannes, as well as the race tracks of Monte Carlo.
Along the southeastern shores of France lies the Provence region, famed for its mouthwatering wines and bountiful lavender fields that you can frolic in throughout the summer. The main city of this corner of France is Aix-en-Provence, which is linked to a number of esteemed artists, such as Paul Cezanne and Pablo Picasso.
Provence excursions often focus on the glorious countryside and historic villages of the region, which includes Gourdon. You may also have the opportunity to visit the perfume capital of the world, Grasse, where you'll learn how fragrances have been created here since the 18th century.
Just to the west of Nice is the small yet utterly enchanting town of Villefranche-sur-Mer. It is known as the best spot in the region to gain a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea and the collection of hilltop villages scattered across the landscape.
This town is so close to the city that you can participate in a Segway tour from Nice, or alternatively, enjoy the ease of an electric bike tour to transport you there on two wheels. If you’re looking for a different type of sightseeing tour altogether, jump into the mild ocean surrounding the village to see urchins, barracudas and amberjacks.
Ever since the 1960s, Saint Tropez has been attracting millionaires, celebrities and jet setters for their summer getaways. The luxury resort town is located along the French Riviera and as such is home to several idyllic beaches, filled with powdery sands, warm waters, and a relaxing vibe.
An excursion to this part of France will give you the opportunity to see how the wealthiest members of society live, as million-dollar speedboats cruise past you on the harbor.
Enjoy strolling through the elegant streets of Saint Tropez or hop on a boat tour to see its picture-perfect shores from the water. On a day trip here, you’ll also visit the “Little Venice of Provence” — Port Grimaud. This township was created in the 1960s by the architect François Spoerry and was purpose-built to imitate the Italian city.
The canyon that forms Verdon Gorge snakes through the landscape of Provence for over 25 kilometers, halfway between Nice and Marseille. At points, the ravine drops to around 700 meters, creating a dramatic scene of towering limestone formations, a sea of verdant greenery and a trickle of turquoise running through the middle.
Often named the “Grand Canyon of Europe,” Verdon Gorge is a prime spot for wild swimming and birdwatching. Alternatively, on your day trip, try canoeing in Verdon Gorge and explore the canyon from the water as you gently paddle along.
Just a stone’s throw along the coast from Nice lies the Italian Riviera. Formed of a myriad picturesque villages running along 350 kilometers of Italy’s coast, this area is famed for its pristine beaches, traditional charm and its plethora of exceptional buildings painted in vibrant hues.
Day trips to the region typically travel to the market towns of San Remo and Ventimiglia, and many also stop at the French town of Menton on their way back to Nice, in order to admire the colorful houses that line its shores.
If you want to experience an unbeatable view stretching over the mountains and coastline of the Italian Riviera, head to La Turbie. This ancient town features the “Trophy of the Alps” — a spectacular monument celebrating Emperor Augustus.
While the town of Valbonne was formally founded at the end of the medieval period, archaeologists have found evidence to suggest this area was inhabited as far back as the Iron Age.
Snuggled in between Cannes and Antibes, Valbonne is an interesting passing place for anyone heading west along the coast from Nice on a day tour.
Here, you can sit back and watch the customs of Provençal life unfold slowly before you. Or, if you’re looking for a more energetic way to spend your time in France, participate in a walking tour in Valbonne, where you’ll find artisanal crafts, boutiques and art galleries.
If you take a day trip east of Nice, you’ll come across the town of Dolceacqua — perched perfectly just over the Italian border, in the Liguria province. While the town is small, it made a grand impression on the painter Claude Monet, who was captivated by its historic stone bridge.
In fact, the artist spent many days in this Italian village, reimagining its streets on paper. Alongside its artistic ties, Dolceacqua is known for its rich red wine and abundance of olive trees, all of which you can explore at your leisure on an excursion from Nice.
Sainte-Marguerite Island is the largest of the four Lérins Islands, just off the coast of Cannes. While the isle is an easy ferry ride from Nice and is home to several scenic walking trails, its mystical history is what draws in an array of visitors. The island's impressive fortress was once used as a base for prisoners, convicted of a wide range of crimes.
Among these inmates was the "Man in the Iron Mask" — an anonymous prisoner who has still not been formally identified over 300 years later. Day tours to Sainte-Marguerite Island enable you to learn about this mystery at your own pace and find tranquility in peaceful eucalyptus forests.
Saint Jeannet has a history as a stronghold for over 500 years between the 13th century and the French Revolution. While its castle was once used as a lookout for intruders, Saint Jeannet has transformed into a sleepy town, nestled between the city of Nice and the French Alps.
Most excursions to Saint Jeannet revolve around sampling its fruity tipples. This small village that could be easily forgotten produces some of the rarest white wines in the world, which are produced using traditional techniques. Wine tasting tours in Saint Jeannet also journey on to Saint Paul de Vence to compare vineyards and grape flavors.