Travelling to Paris and the French Riviera : A 9-day itinerary
Updated: Jan 27, 2022
Thanks to the Eiffel Tower and Emily in Paris, France is at the top of many travellers’ bucket list. I visited Paris more than a decade ago, and returned last month when Europe was experiencing its fifth wave of Covid and Omicron was just getting started. Thankfully, I returned home unscathed. A trip there has its risks in a pandemic, but the country does have numerous restrictions in place to quell the spread of the virus.
Here’s my detailed guide on travelling to Paris and the French Riviera.
Visiting France during Covid
As of 10 Jan 2022, here are the entry requirements to enter France. Do note that the rules may change anytime - check here for updates.
Take a negative antigen/ PCR pre-departure test 48 hours before departure.
Two doses of the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines are needed to qualify as fully vaccinated. Do note this may change soon, as more countries require a booster shot.
A health pass (pass sanitaire) is needed to enter most indoor venues, stored as a digital vaccination certificate on the TousAntiCovid app. I previously applied for conversion of my Singapore vaccine cert into a health pass online, but France has now changed their system. Tourists can convert their certs into a health pass for a 36 euro fee at most pharmacies in French cities like Paris and Nice.
Visitors travelling to France who possess vaccine certificates issued by Singapore need not convert them. Head over to Notarise to generate a QR code and scan it on the application TousAntiCovid for the certificate to appear.
A surgical/ FFP/K92 face masks is required in all indoor venues, and outdoor venues like city centres.
When I visited in December 2021, cases were numbering around 40,000 to 60,000 a day. However, it wasn’t as chaotic on-the-ground as I imagined it to be.
Life and business was going on as usual, and all the major attractions were open. I also saw numerous Covid testing sites ( usually pharmacies) where you can walk in and take a pre-departure test.
Map of the places I visited in France
Here’s a map of all the places I visited in Paris, Nice and Mont Saint-Michel, so that you can plan your itinerary according to location.
Day 1: Landing in Paris
Now on to the fun stuff! I took a red-eye flight via Singapore Airline into Paris, and landed just before 8am.
As I intended to visit both the French Riviera and Paris, I decided to stay in Nice first. I took a domestic flight from Paris to Nice via EasyJet.
Flight time was around 1.5 hours, and I gave myself a 4-hour buffer for transit at the airport. Domestic flight tickets cost around $200 per person, including the addition of baggage.
I landed in Nice just before 2. There are some pretty awesome views of the French Riviera on the landing at Nice’s Côte d'Azur Airport, so be sure to look out the window!
Getting to Nice from the airport: Travel from Nice’s airport to city centre (Jean Médecin station) is fuss-free by tram. The tram T2 comes every 8 to 10 minutes, and the journey took around 35 to 40 minutes.
Tram tickets cost 1.50 euros per trip, and a 10-trip ticket cost 10 euros . These can be bought at vending machines near the trams. Be warned - the 10-trip tickets give you 10 physical tickets so bring something to store them in.
Where to stay in Nice: I checked into my hotel at ibis Styles Nice Centre Gare, where I based myself for 4 nights. I can’t recommend this enough. The location was amazing - a 10-minute walk to the train station, and one tram stop away from Nice’s old town. Rooms were spotless and spacious and there was free breakfast every morning. Rates were very decent in December too.
Being pretty tired from the flights, I rested in the afternoon, and headed to Italian restaurant Il Carretto near the hotel for dinner.
This turned out to be one of the best meals of my entire trip. The owner is Sicilian-born, and the Sicilian dishes like the involtini ( Sicilian fresh pasta wrapped in eggplants) and pistachio gnocchi were divine! If you’re in Nice and a sucker for Italian food, please make a bee-line for this restaurant.
Hours:11:45am–2pm, 6:45–10pm daily. Closed Sunday.
Cost: 15 to 20 euros per main
Address: 11 bis Av. Baquis, 06000 Nice, France
Day 2: Exploring Eze Village and Ville-franche Sur Mer
I was up bright and early for a day trip to Eze Village. I choose to visit this gorgeous hilltop commune near Nice after seeing pictures of it online. Can’t say no to sweeping views of the Mediterranean coastline and Medieval-style architecture right?
Eze Village is extremely compact, you can in fact walk around the whole commune in around 2 hours. One must-see is the Le Jardin Exotique, a sizeable botanical garden filled with succulent and Mediterranean plants. This is where you get those classic coastline views you see in pictures of Eze, when making your way to the top of the garden.
After visiting the garden, I strolled along Eze’s quaint cobblestone streets. Many shops were closed during the winter, but it’s nice just admiring the buildings’ medieval architecture and picturesque setting.
I had lunch at Le Nid d'Aigle near Le Jardin Exotique. Whilst the restaurant had good reviews, the food was somewhat underwhelming. My medium steak came well done, which is always a big no-no for me.
Getting to Eze Village by public transport: If staying in Nice’s city centre, take the tram from Jean Medecin to Vauban station. From there, walk to Vauban bus station and take bus 82 to Eze Village.
After lunch, I headed from Eze Village to the seaside commune of Villefranche-sur-Mer. During winter, this is another sleepy town. When I came on a weekday afternoon, majority of the shops were closed.
Still, it’s a lovely place to walk around. From the train station, you can walk down all the way to the Plage des Marinieres beach, and take some great shots of the bay at the far end of the beach. The waters are dotted with yachts, and the pastel-coloured buildings make for some pretty scenery.
Getting to Villefranche from Eze Village: Take bus 83 from Eze Village to Beaulieu-sur-Mer train station. From Beaulieu, take the train directly to Villefranche-sur-Mer station.
Most restaurants in Villefranche close in the afternoon and re-open for dinner, so I chose to head back to Nice - just 10 minutes and two stops away by train.
Dinner was at the highly-recommended Chez Moi. This small French restaurant had only one man serving and cooking, and the meal was delightful. Highlights include the famous chicken and the duck confit, as well as the delicious escargots.
Hours: 11am–3pm, 7–11pm daily. Lunch starts at 12pm on Sundays.
Cost: 25 euros for a starter, main and dessert
Address: 2 Rue Paganini, 06000, Nice, France
Day 3: Day trip to Menton
This day was spent exploring the lovely town of Menton, a 40-minute train ride from Nice. Dubbed the ‘Pearl of the French Riviera’ thanks to its micro-climate, it’s not quite as famous as other glitzy locales like Cannes, Saint Tropez or the uber-rich country of Monaco.
Nevertheless, I chose to skip the more famous destinations in favour of Menton. Why? Cities like Cannes are pretty quiet during the winter, and are more well-known as being summer getaways for the rich and famous. After Googling them, they didn’t look quite as scenic as Menton as well.
Menton was a perfect choice, even though it rained for a while on the day of my visit. For the best scenery, I recommend walking along Menton’s beachfront avenue - the Prom. du Soleil. Continue walking along the coast all the way to the Old Port Of Menton, where a slip road (the Quai Impératrice Eugénie) leads you to stunning views of Menton’s old town.
I had lunch at La Belle Escale, a delightful Italian restaurant with yummy swordfish pizza and fantastic service.
La Belle Escale
Hours: 9am–3pm, 6:30pm–12am Tuesday to Sunday. 8:45am to 4pm, 6:45am to 12:15am Monday.
Cost: 20 to 30 euros per main
Address: 25 Quai Bonaparte, 06500 Menton, France
After lunch, I headed into Menton’s old town for a self-guided walking tour. Photo stops along the way include the Basilica of Saint Michael Archangel and the Rue du Vieux Château, a charming narrow alleyway with Italian-style homes.
Continue walking uphill along the Rue du Vieux Château and you’ll get to the Cimetière du Vieux Château, a hauntingly beautiful cemetery that was one of the highlights of my Menton visit.
Completely empty when we went, the tombstones were exquisitely-designed, and the views of Menton’s beach were gorgeous. Just remember to be respectful and not step on the graves.
I then headed down into the heart of Menton’s old town, to the Rue Saint-Michel shopping street. This lively street is lined with shops on every side, and even street stalls selling snacks like arancini ( a delicious fried Italian snack).
Since Menton is famous for its lemons, visit the Au Pays du Citron store for food and drinks lemon related. I recommend buying the lemon financiers and limoncello!
If you’re looking for more things to do in Menton, consider visiting the Jean Cocteau Museum, a modern-art museum with works by the famous visual artist and filmmaker. Or take a short train across the border to Ventimiglia, an Italian coastal town where I hear items can be half the price of that in France!
Getting to Menton: Take the train from Nice-Ville station to Menton. The direct ride takes around 40 minutes.
Dinner was spent back in Nice, at fast-food eatery Berlin Mediterranean Kitchen near my hotel. At 10 euros, this was my most affordable meal in Nice. The owner was lovely, and the pita sandwiches were to die for.
Berlin Mediterranean Kitchen
Hours : 11:30am–2:30pm, 6–10:30pm daily. Closed Sunday.
Price: 10 euros for a set including a pita sandwich, drink and fries.
Address: 8 Av. Durante, 06000 Nice, France
Day 4: Exploring Nice
It was finally time to explore the city I had been staying in for the past three days! This began at the Fountain of the Sun in the city centre, with a food tour by Do Eat Better. We met our guide Rachel, and proceeded for a three-hour walk through the old town with multiple food stops.
We visited a traditional Italian grocery store, and tried different kinds of olive oil paired with tapenade.
Next, we headed to a hole-in-the-wall food & wine bar for wine, cheese and charcuterie tastings. This was followed by a stop at Chez Theresa, a stall famous for traditional Nice snacks like Pissaladière ( a tasty onion tart) and socca ( a savoury pancake made of chickpea flour).
After the savouries came dessert at Neron Patisserie, where I indulged in delicious gelato and a decadent rum baba ( cake made with rum liqueur). This was followed by even more sweet treats at Henri Auer, a confectionery shop specialising in candied fruits and chocolate.
After stuffing my belly, I walked it off along the Promenade De Anglais. This is Nice’s beachfront promenade along the Mediterranean sea, where you can simply enjoy the beach and people-watch.
Walk all the way to its east end and ascend Castle Hill, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Nice’s beach and city centre. The hilltop park also has an impressive artificial waterfall built at the end of the 19th century.
Other attractions in Nice are the Place Masséna, its city square lined with art-deco style buildings. Also, the Villa Masséna Musée, housing artifacts from Nice’s Belle Époque era.
I chose to have dinner at Les Amoureux near Nice’s Port Lympia. Run by Italian owners from Naples, this well-known restaurant had a queue before it even opened in the evening! It’s highly regarded for its Neopolitan style- pizza, which was indeed pretty amazing. The panna cotta with pistachio sauce was divine as well.
Tip: Get there at least 15 minutes before it opens if you want to secure a seat. The restaurant is small and fills up fast.
Hours : 7 - 10pm Tuesday to Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Price: 11 - 18 euros per pizza.
Address: 8 Av. Durante, 06000 Nice, France
Day 5: Travelling to Paris
Since today mainly involved travelling back to Paris in the afternoon, there wasn’t much time to sightsee in Nice.
I did, however, manage to squeeze in a morning visit to the St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral. If you’ve never seen a Russian-style cathedral, this is worth a stop! It’s roughly a 10 minute-walk from Nice-Ville station.
In the afternoon, I returned to the airport for my flight back to Paris .
Getting from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to the city centre: There are several ways to get from the airport to the city centre, including taking the Roissy bus to Paris Opera, or the metro from the airport.
After much deliberation, we chose to take a taxi. It’s the priciest option at around 50 to 60 euros. But since it was dark by the time we landed, we didn’t want to take public transport with our luggage and risk being preyed on by pickpockets.
Where to stay in Paris: I was very pleased with my stay at Les Jardins d'Eiffel, a 3-star hotel in the 7th arrondissement. A 15-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, you can even see the structure from some rooms on its higher floor, or from the streets nearby. The room was clean and comfortable, albeit much smaller than the hotel in Nice. My one gripe is it's terrible wi-fi though. Whatsapp worked fine, but if you’re trying to upload photos or videos on social media, it’s extremely slow. That being said, the internet was terrible everywhere in Paris.
I had dinner just opposite the hotel at Bistrot Chez France. This tiny restaurant served up a delicious foie gras and crème brulee, though I found the duck breast a little dry at parts. My husband’s salmon was great though.
Bistrot Chez France
Hours : 12 - 2pm, 7 to 10pm Monday to Saturday. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
Price: 33 euros for an entrée, main course and dessert
Address: 9 Rue Amélie, 75007 Paris, France
Day 6: Montmartre and the Catacombs
My day started at 11am with a food walking tour of Montmartre. I chose Chef PJ's Montmartre Food Tour by Eating Europe, and was so glad I did!
Our guide Chef PJ is an actual chef and restaurant owner, and grew up in the Montmartre neighbourhood. So he was pretty much an authority on how to identify the best foods in the area, and where the best fromageries, boulangeries, patisseries and restaurants were.
Our group of 4 was taken to his restaurant Le Petit Moulin for a lovely sit-down lunch. He cooked beef bourguignon and escargots, and served us numerous types of cheeses. We were also treated to a wine-tasting session, where he taught us how to identify the different notes in wine.
Other foods we ate along the tour included croissants, baguettes, macaroons, chocolate, choux pastry and crepes.
Needless to say, we were stuffed when it ended. And even though the tour was supposed to end at 3, we ended up staying on till almost 5 as we chilled with the chef and enjoyed his infectious personality.
With the tour ending in Montmartre, we took the time for photo stops to see its famous attractions like the Moulin Rouge, Place du Tertre (a square filled with street artists who draw portraits and caricatures of tourists) and Sacré-Cœur, an iconic hilltop church with impressive architecture.
Getting to Montmartre: Take the metro to Blanche station to first see the Moulin Rouge. The other sites like Sacre-coeur are closer to Abbesses station.
After our time in Montmartre, we headed to the Catacombs of Paris for another unique adventure. Tickets can only be booked online on the main website or through tour operators like Getyourguide.com. Same-day tickets are half-price (14 euros), but I only recommend buying this in winter. During the busy summer season, they’re likely to sell out faster.
The catacombs are a truly fascinating experience. They consist of underground ossuaries filled with the skeletal remains of more than 6 million Parisians. As macabre as it sounds, visiting this attraction was quite an educational experience.
You can rent an audio guide form the counter, which will explain the origins of the catacombs. There’s also a mini exhibition underground detailing its history.
Getting to the Catacombs: The nearest metro station is Denfert-Rochereau, and it’s just a 5 minute walk to the Catacombs’ entrance.
After hanging out with skulls and bones, I headed back near the hotel for dinner at an amazing crepe restaurant called Le Crépuscule. Expect a wide-variety of crepes with both sweet and savoury fillings, in large portions!
Hours : 18 Rue Amélie, 75007 Paris, France
Price: 11:30am to 2:30pm, 7pm to 10pm daily. Closed Sundays.
Address: 9 Rue Amélie, 75007 Paris, France
Day 7: Day trip to Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel is one of France’s most visited monuments, and it’s not hard to see why. The tidal island with an impressive monastery and small village is something out of a fairy-tale. It did also inspire Rapunzel's castle from the movie Tangled.
The island is particularly mesmerising when the tide rushes in and surrounds it with water. In the past, no road was built linking the island to the mainland, so people couldn't access it until the tide subsided. Because of its inaccessibility in the middle ages, it remained unconquered by invaders and was even used as a prison.
Now, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one I couldn't wait to visit. It’s all the way in Normandy though, so I opted for a 14 hour group tour from Paris via Getyourguide.
The drive there is 4.5 to 5 hours one-way, so we ended up spending almost 10 hours on the bus, and 4 hours visiting the monument. I thought that was more than enough time though.
We were picked up bright and early at 7am at Place du Trocadéro in Paris, on a tour of about 12 other people. Our guide kept us entertained with stories about the monument, and the Normandy region and its rulers as we made our way.
After a long drive, we alighted and took a separate shuttle bus all the way to the monument. Mont Saint Michel is best photographed from afar, so you’ll probably want to take some scenic shots as you walk towards the island.
After entering, you’ll wind up along its picturesque streets that are reminiscent of a scene from a Harry Potter movie - medieval and very magical. You won’t find any magic shops, but there's a shop selling medieval merchandise (swords and armours), plenty of souvenir shops and a couple of restaurants.
An uphill walk will lead you to Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel, the towering abbey at the top of the village. Tickets to the abbey were included as part of our tour, and it’s an interesting place to walk around with its outdoor area overlooking the bay, as well as beautiful cloister and rooms.
Lunch was at Auberge Le Mouton Blanc Restaurant, where we had two dishes Mont Saint-Michel is famous for. The traditional omelette (better described as an omelette soufflé) and crepe. I recommended the omelette, which was light, fluffy and quite unlike any other omelette I’ve tasted.
Auberge Le Mouton Blanc Restaurant
Hours : 12–2:30pm, 7–10:30pm daily.
Price: 20 to 25 euros per main course
Address: 40 Rue d'Auteuil, 75016 Paris, France
Getting to Mont Saint-Michel from Paris: Unless you want to endure driving almost 10 hours to Normandy in one day, I recommend booking a full-day tour. You’ll return to Paris around 9pm, and can grab dinner at a gas station stop the bus will make.
Day 8: The Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Tuileries Garden Christmas market
I woke up early today to take a pre-departure Covid test before my flight back to Singapore. Paris is littered with pharmacies where you can do this, and there were a few just round the corner from my hotel.
I did mine at Pharmacie de la Comete. It was a quick and fuss-free process, with my results coming back within half an hour. An antigen test costs around 25 euros.
After heaving a sigh of relief at my negative result, I walked from my hotel to the Champ de Mars park, a lovely landscaped park with pretty views of the Eiffel Tower.
You can find even better ( but way more crowded ) views of the tower from across the Pont d'Iéna bridge, at Place du Trocadero. Come here at night to see the Eiffel Tower lit up. It also sparkles every hour in the evenings, something quite magical to witness!
I then had lunch at Angelina Paris near the Louvre. This famous tea room is known for its pastries & hot chocolate, with stunning belle epoque–style decor.
I honestly found the croque madame and hot chocolate a little underwhelming. The hot chocolate was way too thick for my liking, and the croque madame pretty average. I did, however, enjoy their Mont Blanc dessert, which is filled with chestnut cream on the inside. Skip the sandwiches and go straight for their desserts.
Hours: 9am - 7pm daily
Price: 14 to 20 euros per main. 9 to 10 euros per dessert.
Address: 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
Angelina is just a 10-minute walk to the Louvre Museum, where I visited next. This famous museum needs no introduction.
Of course, it’s not a visit to the Louvre without seeing the Mona Lisa, though she still is and will be an overrated piece of art. The tiny painting still draws crowds, and there was a 15-minute queue just to get up close for pictures.
In all honesty, the paintings surround the Mona Lisa were just as beautiful and way bigger. All were sadly overlooked in favour of Da Vinci’s muse.
The Louvre itself is massive and sometimes hard to navigate, so I recommend getting a map. My favourite section was the Egyptian Antiquities. It was a museum within a museum, with artifacts like a mummy, sarcophagus, pottery and other beautiful relics. There’s so many other sections to explore in the Louvre, and it’s impossible to cover the large building in one day.
Getting to the Louvre: The nearest metro station is Louvre – Rivoli. To avoid queues outside, I recommend buying skip-the-line tickets, which allows you admission at a selected timeslot.
After leaving in the late evening, we visited the lovely Tuileries Garden just outside the Louvre. Adjacent to it was the Tuileries Garden Christmas market, which was particularly lively and crowded.
If you’re in Paris during the festive season, don’t miss it! There were numerous stalls selling different kinds of cuisine - I saw German snacks like pretzels and sausages, Spanish paella, plenty of mulled wine and desserts like macaroons. Also, stalls selling trinkets as well as numerous amusement park rides like bumper cars.
Dinner was at the excellent Auberge Bressane, with friendly service and classic French dishes like soufflé and fish quenelle in crab bisque.
Hours: 12:30–3pm, 7:30–10:30pm Sunday to Friday. 7:30 - 10:30pm Saturday.
Price: 35 euros for an entrée, main course and dessert.
Address: 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
Day 9: Arc De Triomphe, Seine River lunch cruise and Notre Dame Cathedral
My final day in Paris was first spent at the Arc De Triomphe. In my opinion, this is one of the best places to get a panoramic view of Paris.
I bought skip-the-line tickets from Getyourguide, which offers all-day access to this monument.
After photographing it from across the street, head inside (the entrance is underneath the monument itself). You’ll have to climb numerous flights of stairs, which will take you to the top.
A mini museum details the history of the Arc De Triomphe, which was built to honour French soldiers who fought in the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.
Right at the top, an open-air viewing platform grants you amazing views of Paris. The city is built in such a way that all roads lead to a roundabout with the Arc De Triomphe. It was mind-blowing to see how the buildings and streets are all laid out so symmetrically! Of course, Lady Eiffel is part of the scenic view too.
After seeing all of Paris from above, consider taking a scenic lunch cruise along the Seine River. Mine was by boat tour company Bateaux Parisiens, and included a 2-hour, three-course, sit-down lunch with wine.
If you want to see some of Paris’ landmarks by boat in a leisurely setting, this is the best way to do it! The food was very decent as well, and included French offerings like pie-style duck, braised beef cheek and chicken pate.
You’ll pass by all the landmarks along the Seine too, including Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower and even a mini Statue of Liberty (which was actually France’s gift to the US).
Getting to Bateaux Parisians: Cruise tickets are best bought online at either the boat agency’s website or GetyourGuide. I recommend GetyourGuide for more flexible cancellation. The nearest train station is Bir-Hakeim or Champ de Mars Eiffel Tower.
In the late afternoon, I wanted to take a closer look at Notre Dame Cathedral, which is just a few train stops away from Bateaux Parisiens. Sadly, the cathedral is still undergoing restoration work due to a devastating fire that occurred in 2019.
I was content viewing it from the outside. Though you can still see scaffolding at the back, its facade is impressive to look at. Its surrounding area is very pleasant for a stroll too.
Getting to Notre Dame: I took a RER train to Saint-Michel Notre-Dame, and the cathedral is just a 5 minute walk away. Alternatively, take the metro to Cité station.
We had dinner just opposite our hotel, at an Italian restaurant called Gusto Italia Amélie. The pizza was very decent, though it couldn't beat the one we had in Nice!
Gusto Italia Amélie
Hours: 10am–2am daily
Price: 10 to 15 euros per main
Address: 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
Day 10: Leaving Paris
After 9 happy days in France, it was time to head home.
Remember to show up at the airport at least 2.5 hours before your flight. The queues at immigration were pretty crazy, and we had to wait at least 45 minutes before we could enter the transit/ flight boarding area.
Additional tips for enjoying France
Don’t bother driving in either Paris or the French Riviera. It’s easy to get around by both trains and buses. The Parisian metro is really easy to get the hang of after a day. You can also download the Bonjour RATP app for Paris to get live updates on routes, timetables and delays. For the French Riviera, I downloaded the Lignes d’Azur mobile app for trams and buses, and the SCNF app for trains between towns.
Buying a pack of 10 tickets for the Parisian metro and Nice tram will help you save costs.
Restaurants in Nice and Paris aren't cheap. Expect prices to be especially high in Paris. Many traditional French restaurants only offer two/ three-course meals and not ala-carte items, usually priced between 25 to 35 euros per person.
Make advance reservations for restaurants in Paris. Many are small and can’t accommodate many diners.
Ditch your stereotypes about French people being snooty and unwilling to speak in English! You've been watching too much Emily in Paris ( no crime here, the show is undeniably addictive). In both Paris and Nice, the people we met were perfectly friendly and decent, including a passer-by who gave us advice on how to use the portable toilets. It helped that we were quite self-sufficient and knew how to get around on our own. Waitstaff were excellent too - picking a restaurant with great Google reviews helps
Pickpockets are always a danger in Paris, but don’t be overly fearful. Wear a cross-body bag, and hold onto it tightly in the metro and on crowded places. I also recommend this excellent travel scarf where you can store your passport/ phone safely while out and about.
Notre Patisserie along Rue Amelie has the best croissants in Paris. Buttery and oh-so-sinful!