Nice: Where NOT to go

Monte Carlo or bust (Photo: Dallas Stribley / Lonely Planet Images)
Monte Carlo or bust

Stay local

First up, don't book into a chain hotel. Although more visible on the Web, groups like Best Western and Holiday Inn make up a small proportion of the quirkily charming mix of hotels in the South of France. Check out our hotel guide or get some tips on small family-run places on Trip Advisor.

J'adore les Américaines

Eze and Saint-Paul-de-Vence are picture perfect village perchés, or hilltop villages, but are ludicrously overrun with camera-toting Americans and Japanese year-round. The tour buses have not yet found nearby Haut-des-Cagnes or Vence's old town. Both are authentic 500-year-old villages where artisans still work and cooking smells still waft through the narrow lanes.

Monte Carlo or bust

For all the hype, Monaco is little more than a gambling mecca covered with 1970s tower blocks: think Bris Vegas without the lamingtons. The security is astounding — CCTV cameras in elevators, car parks and even on the beach. Safe, but hardly colourful.

The saving grace is the city-state's world-famous GP circuit that runs along Monaco's streets. Grab a map from the tourist office then tour it on foot while making revving noises and pretending to talk to your race crew via imaginary intercom.

If you've got it, flaunt it

At the other end of the coast, St Tropez's ostentatious display of nouvelles richesses in mid-summer may put some travellers off. But those who can afford it might revel in the company of Cristal-chugging Ukrainian oligarchs, London financial types and wannabe models with their sugar-daddy squeezes. Yeah, we can't afford it either, but boy is it fun to watch! Le Voile Rouge is the best places to catch the action.

Not my station

Unless you're looking for an amorous transaction, the train stations of Nice and Cannes are not places to hang around after hours. There's a taxi rank outside. Fortunately the seediness is not on par of either the London or Sydney incarnation of Kings Cross Station.

Pocket change

If you look foreign, or worse — still only have the words merci and pee pee to your name — you may end up short-changed. Sadly it's the traders on the coast's vibrant food market vendors who are the worst culprits. It's best to count your change swiftly and overtly to avoid 'confusion'.

Nice's Cours Saleya market is a prize offender, but if you stick to the 20 or so organic stalls facing Place Gautier (look out for the AB Agriculture Biologique signs) you'll find flavours and friendliness in equal measure. More serious chefs should try the 150 stalls in the Libération street market just north of Nice-Ville train station. It's an epicurean vision of unpasteurised cheeses, olive oils and more than 20 different varieties of tomato.

Rapide comme Mark Webber

The machismo, dash and love of wine that runs though the French male psyche dominates their driving ability. Combine this with a near complete dearth of parking, plus summertime jams along the Côte d'Azur, and you'll understand why France's public transport system ranks among the worlds' finest.

Got any more places to avoid? Have your say using the comments form below.

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