Cocody Beach, Holiday Inn, St Laurant du Var - the daughter's favourite beach

Saturday 21st July

entrance to Cocody beach, St Laurant du VarHusband flew home last night so daughter and I are at a loose end for a few days until my sister flies out for a week. Under instructions not to shop so decided a private beach would be a good compromise; a controlled expense.

We found Cocody beach by chance a couple of years ago and we usually try and come once or twice each summer. Cocody Beach is part of the Holiday Inn Hotel in St Laurant du Var but you don't have to be a guest to use the beach.

It costs 17 euros for a lounger which comes with a head shade and 7 euros for a child giving them use of the three circular swimming pools. There are various other options for loungers from 12 euros for a basic mattress to 30 euros for a 'VIP Bain de Soleil' whatever that might be. If you are staying in the area with a young family there are also options for buying a season pass for unlimited entry.

swimming pool at Cocody BeachIt's the three circular grouped pools which are the big attraction for my daughter plus chance of meeting English children. Mostly French there today so she made friends with a young girl and practised her French. I like the loungers with the attached sun shades and the copious glasses of free water.
The loos/showers/changing rooms are fairly respectable too. Overall, it's a relaxed and peaceful place to spend a day, a change going to a real beach resort rather than Nice which is a busy city with a beach attached.

For a family with young children, here or maybe Cros de Cagnes, the next area along, would a be place to consider if you worry about the hustle and bustle of Nice. The children will love the pool, one is a toddler-sized and you are just a short bus trip away from Nice and the fully pedestrianised strip makes it very safe for strolling. The Holiday Inn has a free shuttle to the airport too.

The three pools are enclosed with a glass safety fence and if pool-side life doesn't appeal, then there are loungers, mattresses etc dotted around the rest of the area and uniquely to this beach, it is sandy and attractively laid out with tables/parasols and loungers. The rest of the public beach at St Laurant is pebbles but the Holiday Inn import the sand specially. There are two restaurants, one quite informal, the Transat Cafe, you can stay in swimwear if you like and the other a bit more formal - the Salon Maribou.

From the Transat Cafe, free beakers of ice cold water are available if you can catch the waiter's eye or just go to the bar. You can also buy ice creams etc. The cafe is fairly basic but the portions are generous and it's averagely priced, Nicoise Salads about 12 euros and ham baguettes about 7 euros. if you choose a pool side lounger you can have coffee but not food brought to your table. If you are out of the pool area, you can either eat in the open-air restaurant or have the food brought to your table.

Attached, and with direct access if you wish, to Cocody Beach is Glisse Paradise water sports, offering water skiing, inflatable donut rides, paragliding and Jet skiing.

We went to the restaurant for a late lunch but gave up waiting for even a menu to appear after 20 minutes so we went off and had a cheeseburger from a small fast food bar at the start of the promenade. large number of restaurants and cafes along the stripYou don't have to eat on Cocody beach. If you come off the beach, there is a pedestrianised strip with about 15 restaurants all along. You could even walk an extra 5 minutes and be in the food halls at Galerie Layfayettes in Cap3000. Due to our shopping ban, we were avoiding Cap3000 but we have plans when my sister is here...

St Laurant du Var is just the other side of Nice airport. It's like a small holiday resort, no cars, a line of restaurants, hotels and apartments and a strip of beaches and a wide prom for strolling. I think the generic name for the whole beach is Atoll Beach and Cocody is the small sandy part belonging to the Holiday Inn.There is an active sailing/windsurfing school at one end plus the huge indoor shopping mall, Cap 3000. Cocody Beach would be a good place to leave your husband or significant Other in charge of the children or off on a jet ski while you do a little shopping, particularly as the sales in Nice continue.

To get to St Laurant du Var and to Cocody Beach, take the 200 or 52 bus from the Gare Routiere in Nice, 1,30 euros and hop off at Cap 3000 shopping mall, walk towards the sea and turn right at the sailing school and along the prom until you reach the Holiday Inn and Cocody beach, it takes about 5-10 minutes from the bus stop.

Some of the 200 buses don't turn into Cap 3000, you can jump off on the road leading away from St Laurant and cut through the retail estate and approach the Holiday Inn from behind, it's trickier, best get a 200 that goes to Cap 3000, it will say so on the front or ask the driver. Check the time table to see bus times for going back to Nice. This summer, they were every 30 minutes at 16 minutes past and 14 minutes to each hour. We got to the stop with about 9 minutes to spare and managed to jump straight on a 52 on its way back to Nice, very handy.

Bastille Day on the Opera private beach in Nice

14th July 2007

Bastille Day in France.

Opera Plage - Nice Opera House is the building on the left at the back of the beach across the Promenade des Anglais

We had planned to go to Antibes for a day on a sandy beach but decided not to risk disruptions to train/bus transport on this French public holiday.

Decided instead to go to a private beach in Nice. There are two big advantages to using the private beaches, the first is sun loungers which keep you off the hard pebbles, it's bliss, plus there is matting to walk to the sea and to the restaurant etc. The second advantage is the lack of paraphanalia required for a day in relative comfort on the free public beaches. It's quite arm-toning, carrying parasols, fold-up chairs, picnics etc. The biggest disadvantage of the private beaches is the ban on bringing your own food and drink but it is understandable.

view from Opera Plage looking east, you can see the trees on the Chateau HillThe Opera Beach is close to us and one of the cheaper private beaches, 12 euros a day for a lounger and parasol. Bit of a swizz as we paid for 2 loungers but only got one parasol and we like the sun but only from the shade of a parasol. The loungers were all squeezed up next to each other. For 25 euros, you can get a main course and a drink included with your lounger and parasol. We have been to this beach before, it's not the best. The loos are not great, the floor is always soaking and the service is a bit haphazard but it is great to be off the pebbles. We usually take a couple of beach chairs to the public free beaches but it is a performance carrying them sometimes. Nice pebbles - jelly shoes essential even on the private beachesDaughter doesn't get her own lounger, she scooches up with me or husband or lies between us on her lilo, she's in the sea most of the time. I've written a bit about private beaches in Nice, the link is here:

Private beaches in Nice

It takes ages to catch the eye of a waiter. For lunch, husband and daughter shared a ham and cheese baguette and a plate of chips brought out to our loungers, there are small tables at hand. This is the cheapest option rather than moving to the restaurant area for a proper lunch. If you prefer to eat a light meal at your lounger you can choose any meal from the main menu or ask for a snack menu, they will usually oblige, it's mostly baguettes or chips. There is a sign by the entrance saying 'no picnic allowed' meaning you can't bring your own food and drink. It's OK to just leave the beach buy a sandwich or go to another restaurant, leave your towel on the lounger and you can return when you want. Once you are installed on a private beach though, it's an effort to get dressed again to go and find lunch and all around I could see people surreptitiously eating their own food and drinking from their own bottles of water.

We paid 4,50 euros for the baguette, 6 euros for the chips and 6 euros for a glass of beer. Lemonage was 3,50 euros and I had a coffee for 2,50 euros so we did it on the cheap really, plus I sneaked in my own picnic. The waiter was happy to bring us free carafes of water.

Opera beach is pretty crummy I have to admit, if you want more luxury and nicer surroundings then it is worth paying a bit more and going the Castel Plage on the left or Beau Rivage on the right. The Beau Rivage is about the best you're going to get in Nice.

Summer holiday in Nice 2007

Sunday 8th July 2007

Daughter finished school on Friday so we are off to Nice for a month. Daughter and I flew out of Liverpool Sunday evening. Dear husband had to stay behind to work but will fly out on Wednesday, no doubt expecting a clean studio and a fridge full of beer.

Flight delayed 30 minutes but fairly uneventful and arrived in Nice around 10pm, bags too heavy to cope with the express bus so we took a taxi, 28 euros, the cheapest fare in five years, no idea why. Found out a couple of days later that the 98 express bus continues on past the usual end stop, the Gare Routière, to the Port until September which we probably could have managed inspite of two large bags.

Monday 9th July 2007

Woke to no food in the house. I am determined to lose the 20 extra pounds I have gained over the last couple of years so I got up and went for a run. Very pleased that I kept going for 23 minutes without stopping. The rest of the day we unpacked and shopped. The sales 'soldes' are on everywhere in France. I bought two pairs of shoes from Arche, they are the only make of shoe I can wear as I get very sore feet. So comfortable I wore my new sandals out of the shop and for the rest of the day.

Stocked up on a couple of T shirts from Petit Bateau, 30% off the stock and dropped by at Hermès to look at scarves. Found a scarf I have been coveting but in a colourway I've not seen before, they will hold it until husband arrives to give the OK. There were a few sales things in the back, winter ready to wear and some lovely shoes if you were a size 36. Saw the new bag - the Victoria fourre tout I think it's called, big but it can be shouldered, not for me though. Unlined which makes it light, still over 2,000 euros. They had some white Picotin bags which are gorgeous plus a fairly rare Barenia leather Picotin in the smallest size. Daughter very fond of the Picotin in white but as it is about 2 years pocket money, she'll stick to the cheap bags from Aratto for 6 euros each. She did well in Arrato, lots of bling for about 17 euros.

Meeting friends in Juan les Pins tomorrow, knowing the French queues can be bad, we bought tickets in advance at Riquier train station - the closest stop to the Port, one stop east of the main train stop Nice Ville. Picked up a new train time table. For J les Pins, we need the slow stopping at all stations trains, it's about a 35 minute ride, a return ticket for me was about 9 euros and about 4 euros for my daughter. The bus 200 to J les P would have been 1,30 euros each way but it's very slow, over an hour.

For supper we had a take out pizza from Choix d'Anna on the corner of our residence, 5 euros a full size pizza, not worth cooking at that price.

Tuesday 10th July 2007

Legs and feet very sore from running. Went out an drank 24 minutes. Up and out to Juan les Pins by train to meet friends staying at the La Juana Hotel. It's lovely there and we spent the day on a private beach - Les Pecheurs, very nice indeed a little further away from the main beaches at J les P , just past the Port Gallice. Had a wonderful lunch there too. No idea of cost as we were guests of our generous friends but I expect it was fairly pricey. I took a card on the way out, there's a website :

If you are visting Juan les Pins and want a luxurious day on the beach with waiter service and a lovely restaurant, this is the place for you. When you want another bottle brought to your lounger, they have a great but very simple system to attract service - you merely clip a red ribbon onto the parasol and a waiter will come. I wish they had adopted this simple technique on the private beaches in Nice where trying to get a cup of coffee requires many minutes of neck-craning and trying in vain to catch the eye of a passing waiter.

Wednesday 11th July 2007

Woke up very sore from running but I am persevering. I haven't dared weigh myself yet, ran for 25 minutes but very slowly as my shins are hurting, no wonder, I am running with the equivalent of carrying 4 large bags of potatoes. Tidied and cleaned the studio and bought beer for the fridge at our favourite supermarket - Ed on rue Cassini it's the cheapest supermarket in Nice, particularly their own label 'dia'. Husband's plane arrived early and have just had a phone call to say he waiting for the 98 express bus. The Nice airport website is great for monitoring flights, lets you know exactly what's going on as it happens.

After 70 minutes another phone call to say he had nearly arrived at the Port, in spite of everything going well and ahead of time, the 98 express bus was a let down - 35 minutes waiting at the airport and a great palaver when it arrived with people struggling off for planes and a huge queue trying to board simultaneously. He got here ion the end and had a welcome cold beer from the fridge. Back to Eds for all the stuff I has forgotten.

We went to Hermès later on to check out a scarf I fancied, got the thumbs up and the sweet assistant brought out another scarf I had been asking about so husband kindly and generously bought both. They are 'In the Pocket':
and 'omnibus' the smaller scarf, one of the new vintage range, a smaller 70cm square compared to the large 90cm carrés. The 'Omnibus' is a re-issue of Hermès' very first scarf design:

Thursday 12th July 2007

Less sore today but ran carefully and slowly for about 25 minutes again. I have noticed for the last few days that the beaches are free from campers - last year there were always several groups sleeping on the beach in sleeping bags, out in the open. Either I'm setting off later or they have been shooed away to help spruce up Nice's image.

We went to the beach today, only half full, the free public one nearest us, next door to Castel Plage private beach. A cold wind made the sun feel deceptively mild. My daughter red her book under a parasol snug under a towel from the cold wind but husband fell asleep in his chair and burned his thighs a bit. I tend to hide away from the sun anyway so I just about escaped. Inspite of burning, it was too cold to swim and too cold to be in the shade so we packed up and headed home. Had an email offering me a job at the end of August so accepted that, phew, I can pay back for the scarves, and shot out to Agnes B which I had been avoiding as I had no money. Nothing left in the sales but bought a simple very plain cashmere/silk black dress for me and a white fleece with fluffy pompoms for my daughter who now fits the Lolita range of clothing at Agnes B - for teens-20s.

Spent the rest of the evening re-jigging flights so that we could all be back home in August in time for by job to start and to stay in Nice as long as possible beforehand. Meal on our balcony. Can't eat out and shop.

Friday 13th July 2007

Ran for about 25 minutes this morning, definitely less painful. After that, had a lazy day, wandered around the Old Town and bought some Nicoise Olive Oil to take home from the famous shop, Alziari, at 14 rue Saint Francois de Paule. It's one of the few, if not only olive oil in France that has Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), like French wine. 16 euros a litre.