Passing through Nice? Also, take the time to visit the hinterland of Nice, which is full of medieval villages and breathtaking landscapes!
Between sea and mountains, far from the rhinestones of the Côte d’Azur, the hinterland of Nice deserves a day trip or a few days.
Explore the small hilltop villages clinging to the hills, walk in the footsteps of Henri Matisse or Marc Chagall, walk the steep paths of the Mercantour National Park to meet crystal clear lakes, or discover the bright colors of “Colorado Nice.”
Whether you are a sporty, contemplative, or art lover, you will not regret your stay in the hinterland of Nice. Here are our 10 must-see places to visit in the hinterland of Nice.
The 10 Best Things To Do in The Hinterland of Nice
If you come to make a getaway in the hinterland of Nice, Vence is a must. Along the picturesque cobbled streets, you will come across medieval houses, arcades, fountains, squares.
Do not hesitate to push the door of the galleries to meet the Venetian artists and their creations: painters, sculptors, ceramists …
This village inspired many painters such as Henri Matisse, who designed the famous Chapel of the Rosary, also called “Matisse Chapel.”
The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Nativity is a mosaic by Marc Chagall representing Moses saved from the waters you can contemplate.
For fans of modern and contemporary art, visiting the museum within the Château de Villeneuve is a must. Be sure to admire one of the oldest ash trees globally that is said to have been planted in 1538 by Francis I.
Finally, Vence is very well located. By opting for a holiday rental in Vence, you offer yourself a central position in the hinterland of Nice, in addition to enjoying an authentic setting.
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Considered the world capital of perfume since the seventeenth century, Grasse has seen the birth of mythical fragrances.
To discover this pretty colorful city called “City of Art and History,” stroll through its typical streets and take the time to admire the pastel facades, the Place aux Aires with its fountain and arcades.
Climb to the square stone tower of Saracen, the former tower of the Lookout of Grasse, 30 meters high, from where you will have a panorama of the old town.
Become a perfume expert by visiting one of the historic perfumeries, Fragonard, Molinard, or Galimard, and participating in an olfactory workshop where you can create your fragrance.
Finish your visit to Grasse with a must-see: the International Museum of Perfumery. The latter traces 4,000 years of history. That’s the thing that makes Grasse worth visiting.
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Perched on top of a green hill, Saint-Paul-de-Vence is an ideal destination if you love art and history. Many artists, painters, poets, and writers drew their inspiration from this picturesque city: Picasso, Braque, Modigliani, Matisse, Miro, Chagall, and Prévert and Giono.
The village also owes its notoriety to the actors who stayed there. This is the case of Simone Signoret and Yves Montand, who met in 1949 at the Colombe d’Or and married in the village a year and a half later.
Let yourself be charmed by its cobbled streets, arcades, fountains, many art galleries. Art lovers will also not miss the visit of the Folon Chapel or Chapel of the White Penitents and the Maeght Foundation, which brings together one of the most important European collections of works of the twentieth century.
Warning: if you plan to visit Saint-Paul-de-Vence in the middle of the tourist season, you will not be alone. Indeed, the village attracts about two million visitors every year!
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This medieval city, established on a rocky outcrop, deserves its place among the most beautiful places to visit in the hinterland of Nice.
Nicknamed “the City of Violets,” Tourrettes-sur-Loup has been cultivating this delicate flower for more than a century and a half.
The village comes alive every year in March on the occasion of the Violet Festival. While waiting for the next edition that will take place in 2022, let yourself be surprised by the scent of violet ice cream.
Then, stroll through the flower-lined alleys, a cornet in hand, to admire the vaulted passages, old facades, and old houses housing workshops and art galleries.
In addition, do not leave without visiting the sixteenth-century church of Saint-Grégoire and the Château des Villeneuve and its belfry.
A 5.5 km hike from the Domaine des Courmettes will take you to a 360° viewpoint between the Mediterranean Sea and the Mercantour mountains from the village.
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Located 1 hour from Nice, Gourdon is a charming stopover during a stay in the Côte d’Azur city. Clinging to the top of a cliff 760 meters above sea level, it offers an exceptional panorama of the green Wolf Valley and the Mediterranean coast.
After strolling through its narrow streets lined with medieval white stone houses, visit the imposing feudal castle surrounded by gardens designed by Le Nôtre and the Romanesque church of the twelfth century.
Attention: do not confuse this village classified among the most beautiful in the country with Gourdon in the Lot, which benefits from the label “Most Beautiful Detours of France.”
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6. Mercantour National Park
The Mercantour National Park is a must for hikers and lovers of the great outdoors. There are 600 km of maintained and marked hiking trails and 11,000 plant and animal species.
At the bend of a trail, you may have the chance to see ibex, chamois, marmots, or mouflons.
The more athletic will be able to indulge in more extreme sports such as mountain biking, canyoning, water hiking, but also via Ferrata.
The Valley of Wonders will immerse you in Prehistory with its 40,000 rock engravings discovered in the nineteenth century.
Finally, in the village of Saint-Martin-Vésubie, nicknamed the “Suisse niçoise,” the Alpha Park tells the story of man and wolf, who returned naturally in 1992. An unforgettable encounter with this mythical predator!
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7. Daluis Gorges
Looking for a change of scenery and thrills? Discover the Gorges du Daluis! This site, nicknamed the “Colorado niçois,” is an essential detour to do in the hinterland of Nice.
These vertiginous gorges, looking like canyons, will delight fans of white water sports. Waters in which they can practice canyoning and rafting.
Furthermore, the road connecting Guillaumes and Daluis offers stunning views, such as at the Bridal Bridge, a haven for bungee jumpers, or at the clue of Amen. foot, a path from the Pont de Berthéou to the Belvedere du Pont Sublime offers a breathtaking view of the cliffs.
After the hike, make a stop at the fortified village of Entrevaux, topped by an imposing citadel.
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8. Train des Pignes
It is impossible to visit the hinterland of Nice without boarding the magnificent Train des Pignes. The railway line connects Dignes les Bains and Nice (3h20 journey), crossing exceptional landscapes between palm trees, olive trees, and mountain landscapes.
If an even more unusual experience tempts you, board the Train des Pignes steam to immerse yourself in the charm of the travels of yesteryear. It will take you to discover the city of Entrevaux and Annot, the land of sandstones.
The Train des Merveilles is another tourist train from Nice. The latter takes the Nice-Tende railway line and crosses grandiose landscapes.
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9. Cave of Saint-Cézaire
Do you love old stones and breathtaking landscapes? Dare to embark on an underground journey by visiting the Grotte de Saint-Cézaire, one of the most fabulous underground riches of the Côte d’Azur.
15 minutes from Grasse, the site offers a guided tour almost 40 meters underground. You will also find several acrobatic courses in the trees, a discovery trail, and an orienteering race. An original outing to do with the family!
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Ranked among the most beautiful French villages, Seillans is a small hilltop village overlooking the plain between the southern Alps and the Massif d’Estérel.
Its ochre-colored houses, steep alleys, rustic pockets, and small squares make it a picturesque stopover.
The village seduced the painter-sculptor Max Ernst, who ended his life there and admired works at the Waldberg House. Today, the site houses the Max Ernst Museum and the Stan Appenzeller Donation.
But Seillans is also about visiting the hinterland of Nice in medieval times. The feudal castle, the Saracen Gate, the twelfth-century chapel, and the eleventh-century church are excellent testimony to that time.
How to go in the hinterland of Nice?
To visit the hinterland of Nice, you can opt for a plane by landing at Nice-Côte d’Azur airport, which is the 3rd airport in France.
You will therefore find many companies serving the destination. To find a flight offer at the best price, do not hesitate to use a flight comparator such as Skyscanner. It is then possible to rent a car to explore the area.
You can also use public transport. However, if the price is affordable, comfort and travel time will be disadvantageous.
The rail network well serves the area. From the stations of Nice, Grasse, Cagnes sur Mer, and St Laurent du Var, there are bus connections to reach the hilltop villages.
The car is the ideal means of transport to travel around the region if you want to follow our guide to things to do and places to visit in the hinterland of Nice. The A8 motorway, known as the Provençale, serves Nice. The journey will take nearly 9 h 30 min from Paris via the A6,7h 50 min from Bordeaux via the theA62 and 8 hours from Strasbourg via the A2.
Where to stay in the hinterland of Nice?
If you visit the hinterland of Nice, you will not lack accommodation solutions. Hotels, cottages, holiday rentals or unusual accommodation (perched huts, yurts or “bubbles”…) … You will have the choice!
If you enjoy old stones and resorts, you should consider one of the hilltop villages. The best possibility is to opt for an Evancy holiday rental in Vence.
The village is well located, in addition to offering a resort setting. Tourrettes-sur-Loup or Gourdon, the eagle’s nest of the Côte d’Azur, are also good options.
To visit the Mercantour National Park, you can find accommodation in Ascros, Ilonse or Moulinet.
You now know what to do in the hinterland of Nice. Enjoy your visit!