So, after a spending a night in two different hotels – yes, seriously, the story is here – we left Carcassonne and headed south, this time to the Cote d’Azur. A road trip along this glitzy coastline seemed just too tempting, especially as we had booked a night in Nice. The countryside, travelling south, is flat and sometimes a bit monotonous, compared for example, to the landscape up towards the mountainous Italian border, but many of the roads are like long avenues, lined with these gorgeous bare silver birch trees.
We decided to skirt around Marseilles, not fancying the traffic snarl ups, so joined up with the motorway, which reduced our travel time – and gave us the opportunity to stop off at a very large Carrefour and stock up. Again. Decent wine in Istria and Slovenia is very affordable, but it’s hard to beat French value. Our dream is to have a good wine cellar (or more likely, a large wine rack) and so stocking up on the kinds of wines we wouldn’t normally buy, just seemed to be the right thing to do. Although the groaning car didn’t seem to agree 😉
So, onto St Tropez. I’m not really sure what to make of this place, although to be fair we were only there an hour and it was the beginning of January. I think I just expected something more given its reputation, but I think I liked what I saw. There were definitely plenty of extremely wealthy yachts moored up, and much evidence of people with money, as well as restaurants and bars which I suspect, in the summer, would be very flashy. But, there were also lots of people who just looked very ordinary, going about their business with shopping bags, walking the dog, playing with the kids, or, as we saw in this square, just passing the time, playing boules…
And so, onto Nice. When I was booking our accommodation for this trip, it was all done in a bit of a flurry and I think in my head, I was thinking that Nice was a little fishing port, that would be easy to navigate, that we’d arrive, park up, check in and pop out to dinner. Oh, how wrong was I? As you will all probably know, Nice is not small. It is mahoosive! The first clue we got was the first traffic jam we’d been in since being back in England, as we approached the city. Then, the looming tower blocks. Then the multiple lanes, with railway tracks running alongside and the planes taking off and landing right above our heads. We had GPS directions to the hotel, but these make absolutely no difference when you miss turnings and junctions and you are re-routed and it becomes more confusing and the person next to you is shouting. Needless to say we got hopelessly lost – although in hindsight I think we know Nice quite well now. And driving around in circles, gave me the chance to capture this spectacular sunset. Almost made the drive worth while 😉
Anyways, we eventually found the hotel – the strangely named, Best Western So’Co by Happyculture. Another very funky hotel, and with secure parking right across the road. Yay! However, this particular secure car park also had a height restriction – and with our roof box, we couldn’t enter! Yet another parking dramarama. But, the hotel was fantastic and made sure that our car was safe all night – by allowing us to park in one of their two spaces, right outside the front door, perfectly visible by reception staff, all night. For nothing. No extra charge. A result!
The hotel has a very vibrant and hip feel to it – and the price point was great at just over € 60.00 for the night, including breakfast. Doing a fair bit of travelling recently, we really appreciate a comfortable bed and, if we’re very lucky, a proper bath, rather than just a shower. And Hotel So’Co ticked these boxes. Apart from the initial trying to find it, and then the parking scenario, we picked a good one here. And, being back in a big city – not the quaint little French fishing port I had imagined – meant dinner options were limitless. But, knowing that we would be limited, curry-wise, once back in Istria, we opted for a very delicious one. Although we definitely knew we were in Nice, when the bill arrived 😉
Breakfast in the hotel is a typical continental affair – meats, cheeses, breads, preserves, juice, yoghurts etc. Perfectly adequate to set you up for a day on the road. This time a day on the road to Brescia in Italy…