The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.

Posted by on in Activities, Walks, Beaches & Day Trips

A tri-nation vacation

Did you know that it possible to visit three countries in one day while holidaying on the French Riviera?  If like me you have an insatiable thirst for other countries, other cultures, traditions, languages and food then you'll love being able to go to Monaco and Italy while on holiday at Lou Messugo gîte.  OK so Monaco isn't really very different from France but it is a different country and it has such a glamorous reputation that it's certainly worth a few hours of your time.

monacoLou Messugo to Monaco takes about 50 minutes depending on the traffic.  The most direct route is to take the A8 autoroute but the coastal drive is much more attractive, passing through Nice, Villefranche sur Mer, Eze, Roquebrune Cap Martin and Beaulieu - all worthy of visits in their own right.

The must-see sights in Monaco include the Old Town and Royal Palace, the magnificent Musée Océanographique, the harbour with its super yachts and the famous Casino. Depending on your interests there's more.  For Formula 1 fans a drive around the Grand Prix circuit really puts into perspective just how crazy this race is.  For celebrity spotters you may be lucky and see one of the Monaco royals in a bar or simply walking around town as they are very unhindered by security and the trappings of wealth and fame.  The same goes for other slebs who choose to live here as there is no paparazzi in the Principality  Star spotting usually bares fruit, but even if you don't see anyone you skating monaco copyright Phoebe Thomasrecognise you will see wealth - phenomenal wealth!  It's all around, unavoidable and often very vulgar.  But there's another side to Monaco; its less known side.  I love the Jardin Exotique with its huge collection of cacti and other "exotic" plants from far off hot lands.  I also love that in this crowded and very steep town you can walk from place to place using a system of very efficient public lifts and walkways. Infact you can practically walk the length of the Principality in clean well lit underground walkways using these lifts to avoid the traffic. I love swimming at Larvotto beach where despite being surrounded by highrise blocks of flats you swim amongst fish in a protected marine park!  And I love skating on the outdoor rink that replaces the swimming pool on the port every winter.  

Moving swiftly on now to Italy.  The border is only 45 minutes from Lou Messugo but count on an hour to Ventimiglia and 75 minutes to San Remo or Dolceacqua.  As I said before I love living so close to another country, so close that we often go for lunch and have even been for breakfast! Crossing into Italy I'm instantly envelopped in that "travelling" feeling where I can't understand the language and everything's somehow more interesting because of it.  And every time we get back from a trip to Italy I vow to learn Italian....

ventimigliaVentimiglia is a bustling town with an infamous market every Friday.  You can find everything and anything here, including an awful lot of contraband and fake designer goods.  But it's not the only reason to visit.  It lies on the Roya river and has a pretty old town, plenty of good restaurants and excellent coffee!  However when we go for a daytrip to Italy we tend to go to Bordighera, San Remo or the area around Dolceacqua. The route between Ventimiglia and San Remo is known as "the flower coast" and you'll notice plenty of glasshouses covering the hillsides.  Together with olive oil, flowers make up the main industry of the area so gorgeous plants, flowers and palm trees are a lovely feature of this area.  Nurseries are everywhere and San Remo is even called "la citta dei Fiori".  

beach huts bordighera copyright Phoebe ThomasBoth San Remo and Bordighera have elegant boulevards of Art Nouveau buildings and have both attracted their share of famous residents, notably Alfred Nobel and Claude Monet respectively. Bordighera has a delightful seafront with restaurants and blue and white changing huts on the beach while San Remo has an attractive harbour.  There's plenty to do and see in both places but the best thing in my opinion is just to choose a restaurant and while away the day eating, drinking and watching the world go by.

Do you like to visit other countries while already abroad?  


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  • Guest
    Sylvia @ Happiness is homemade dimanche, 05 avril 2015

    I can't wait to go to France soon! We're planning to visit my OH relatives and spend some time in Paris is possible :)

  • Guest
    Fritha Strickland samedi, 04 avril 2015

    I've never done this but makes so much sense to! thanks for sharing! x

  • Guest
    Zena's Suitcase vendredi, 03 avril 2015

    This sounds like a trip to add to the bucket list, I would never have realised you can do this so thanks for sharing

  • Guest
    cherished by me vendredi, 03 avril 2015

    Oh how lovely, what a treat to be able to do that.

  • Guest
    Erica Price vendredi, 03 avril 2015

    How fabulous to have 3 countries in such easy reach!

  • Guest
    Kara vendredi, 03 avril 2015

    We love exploring and visited Albania whilst on holiday in Corfu - never forgotten the terrifying coach drive

  • Guest
    http://Sonya Cisco vendredi, 03 avril 2015

    Now that's does all sound gorgeous! Must plan a trip that way very soon!

  • Guest
    Lori Taylor Arnold jeudi, 02 avril 2015

    What a great idea, I would never had thought to visit two other countries while holidaying in one and you've made it sound so easy to do! x

  • Guest
    Clare Nicholas jeudi, 02 avril 2015

    I love visiting as many places as I can when away.
    Looks like a great holiday

  • Guest
    globalmouse mercredi, 01 avril 2015

    I love Monaco - I was lucky enough to work with my Godmother there when I was a student and have amazing memories of that time - we flew in by helicopter! It's a beautiful region that whole coastline.

  • Guest
    Mummys little blog mardi, 31 mars 2015

    wow looks great and that you had a awesome time.

  • Guest
    Michelle mardi, 31 mars 2015

    Wow it looks like you had an amazing time! xxx

  • Guest
    Joanna Imran lundi, 30 mars 2015

    Great experience, visiting multiple locations! I'd love to do something like this one day, visit another country when we go somewhere abroad

  • Guest
    Sarah Bailey lundi, 30 mars 2015

    What an amazing place to visit, it sounds like you had a wonderful time.

  • Guest
    Louisa lundi, 30 mars 2015

    Wow, to be able to pop to Italy for breakfast!! How amazing. You are in an excellent location for adventures and exploring different places.

  • Guest
    lisa prince lundi, 30 mars 2015

    oh what an experience, looks like you had a fabulous time I'm very jealous

  • Guest
    angela hamilton lundi, 30 mars 2015

    Looks like you had a fantastic time, I love visiting different places when I'm on holiday x

  • Guest
    Maargret samedi, 22 septembre 2012

    Your gite is so well located. I love combining different places in one vacation. It's like a mini holiday within a holday. :)

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Guest dimanche, 24 juin 2018

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