Renting a car in Nice Airport. Source: Depositphotos.com
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Last Updated: 2 January 2024

Nestled on the shores of the Mediterranean, Nice Airport (Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur) is not only a gateway to the glamorous French Riviera but also the third busiest airport in France. Its unique location, sandwiched between the sea and the mountains, makes it a scenic arrival point for travellers worldwide.

Renting a car in Nice Airport is an excellent idea for those wishing to explore the Riviera's many charming towns and scenic coastal roads at their own pace, ensuring a more personalised and flexible travel experience.

In this article, I propose a day-long road trip starting from and returning to Nice Airport, designed to take you through the enchanting hilltop villages nestled in the Nice Hinterland, offering a journey filled with breathtaking views and cultural richness.

🎦 Watch our short video on the French Riviera, which will inspire you to explore this beautiful site in south-east France ⤵

A Road Trip from/to Nice Airport

The hinterland of Nice (arrière-pays niçois) is a region that combines the charm of the French Riviera with the tranquillity and natural beauty of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. 

The hinterland is set against a backdrop of rolling hills and mountains, including parts of the Alps. It extends from the Mediterranean coast into more rural and mountainous areas, offering a diverse landscape that ranges from coastal views to rugged terrain.

Renting a car in Nice Airport. Gourdon. Source: Depositphotos.com

Renting a car in Nice Airport - Gourdon. Source: Depositphotos.com

Scattered throughout the hinterland are numerous picturesque villages and small towns. These settlements often feature historic architecture and narrow winding streets and are rich in cultural heritage. Towns like Vence, St. Paul de Vence, and Grasse are well-known for their artistic communities and medieval history, and in the case of Grasse, for being the world's perfume capital.

Renting a car in Nice Airport - Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Source: Depositphotos.com

Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Source: Depositphotos.com

A day-long round-trip itinerary

To avoid overwhelming you with information (and publishing a long, very long article), I will limit the tourist details of this road trip in the Nice Hinterland from/to Nice Airport.

⚠️ Please note! This is a road trip through the countryside of the hinterland of Nice. The route is, therefore, an excellent way to get a general feel for the region. You'll unlikely have time to explore all 12 sites in a single day.

From/to Nice Airport (100 km / 62 mi)

The 12 sites crossed by the circular route are :

  • Cagnes-sur-Mer
  • Saint-Paul-de-Vence
  • La Colle-sur-Loup
  • Pont-du-Loup
  • Le Bar-sur-Loup
  • Gourdon
  • Saut du Loup waterfall
  • Courmes waterfall
  • Tourrettes-sur-Loup
  • Vence
  • Saint-Jeannet
  • Saint-Laurent-du-Var
Nice Airport and Hinterland Itinerary

Click here to view the Nice hinterland road trip on Google Map.

Renting a Car in Nice Airport

To start this road trip, you will need a car. If you are leaving the airport or train station, I recommend the DiscoverCars website, which will allow you to compare car rental offers from Nice.

At Nice Airport, a wide selection of car rental options is available from top French and international vehicle leasing companies. The rental desks in the arrivals area remain open until 10 pm.

In Terminal 1, you can locate these desks to the right of the Information Office, near Entrances A1/A2. For car collection and return, go to the dedicated Car Rental Centre, which is behind Car Park P5 near Terminal 2. If you arrive after 10 P.M., you can proceed directly to the Car Rental Centre.

The Car Rental Centre, a modern facility spanning 60,000 m2, is conveniently located near Terminal 2, just behind Car Park P5. It houses five leading car rental agencies from the Nice area, providing them with state-of-the-art operational facilities. For pedestrian access, exit the terminal and follow the marked and protected footpaths leading to the “Car Rental Centre,” crossing Car Park P5.

Learn more about renting a car in Nice Airport on the official website.

Where to stay in Nice

Click here to get a list of accommodations in Nice or simply browse the map below:

Booking.com

What to do and see in Nice

Below you will find many activities to help you explore the fascinating city of Nice:

Nice Airport: The Starting Point

One of the most striking features of Nice Airport is its approach over the Mediterranean Sea, offering passengers breathtaking views of the French Riviera.

Nice Airport from above © Olivier Cleynen - licence [CC BY 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Nice Airport from above © Olivier Cleynen - licence [CC BY 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Nice Airport is just 6 kilometres / 3.7 miles southwest of the Nice city centre, at the west end of the Promenade des Anglais, the famous seafront avenue. It is easily accessible by various means of transport, including buses, taxis, and a tramway line connecting it to the city centre, ensuring seamless travel for passengers.

Nice Airport Tram Line 2 © Snoopy 31 - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Nice Airport - Tram Line 2 © Snoopy 31 - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Facilities and Terminals

Nice Airport comprises two main passenger terminals:

  • Terminal 1: Serving a mix of domestic and international flights, Terminal 1 is known for its modern amenities and a wide range of services, including shops, restaurants, and lounges.
  • Terminal 2: Primarily used for international flights, this terminal similarly offers a variety of dining and shopping options, along with essential services for travellers.

Both terminals are equipped with facilities like free Wi-Fi, currency exchange, and car rental services, catering to the needs of diverse travellers.

Nice airport. Source: Depositphotos.com

Inside Nice Airport. Source: Depositphotos.com

Airlines and Destinations

As a hub for the Côte d'Azur, Nice Airport hosts a multitude of airlines, including low-cost carriers and major international airlines. It connects the French Riviera to major cities in Europe, North America, the Middle East, and beyond. Seasonal flights also expand the reach of the airport, accommodating the surge of tourists during peak seasons.

Nice Airport © nozomiiqel - licence [CC BY 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Nice Airport © nozomiiqel - licence [CC BY 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Economic and Touristic Significance

The airport plays a crucial role in the region's economy, supporting tourism and business activities. It is a critical access point for the luxury destinations along the Riviera, such as Cannes, Monaco, and Saint-Tropez, as well as the picturesque villages of the Nice Hinterland.

➡️ Visit the official website of Nice Airport.

Nice Airport from above © Foma - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Nice Airport from above © Foma - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Nice Hinterland: The Stages

Let's explore the route in Nice hinterland from/to Nice Airport in 12 stages.

1. Cagnes-sur-Mer

Nice Airport - Cagnes-sur-M 🚘 9 km / 5.5 mi

The first stage of your journey is the dynamic town of Cagnes-sur-Mer, celebrated for its mix of medieval charm and seaside appeal. The town's seafront, Cros de Cagnes, is bustling with cafés and offers a lovely beach promenade. I suggest you explore the old town of Haut-de-Cagnes, crowned by the Château Grimaldi, a historic castle turned art museum.

Renting a car in Nice Airport - Le Haut-de-Cagnes.  Source: Depositphotos.com

Le Haut-de-Cagnes. Source: Depositphotos.com

2. Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Cagnes - St-Paul-de-V 🚘 6.5 km / 3.5 mi

This renowned medieval village is a jewel of the Riviera. Saint-Paul-de-Vence's fortified walls encase a labyrinth of art galleries, boutiques, and charming cobblestone streets.

Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Source: Depositphotos.com

An old cobbled street in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Source: Depositphotos.com

The Fondation Maeght nearby is a must-visit for modern and contemporary art enthusiasts.

Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Source: Depositphotos.com

Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Source: Depositphotos.com

3. La Colle-sur-Loup

St-Paul-de-V - La Colle-sur-L 🚘 3 km / 2 mi

A tranquil retreat, La Colle-sur-Loup is known for its antique shops and culinary delights, particularly its traditional Provençal cuisine. The village, with its rustic charm, is perfect for leisurely exploration and enjoying the serene ambience.

Renting a car in Nice Airport - La Colle-sur-Loup © Shakti - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

La Colle-sur-Loup © Shakti - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

4. Pont-du-Loup

La Colle-sur-L - Pont-du-L 🚘 14 km / 8.5 mi

This picturesque area is a gateway to the natural beauty of the Gorges du Loup. It's an excellent spot for outdoor activities like hiking or simply enjoying the scenic views of the river valley and the rugged landscape.

Renting a car in Nice Airport -  Gorges du Loup © Olivier Cleynen - licence [CC BY 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Gorges du Loup © Olivier Cleynen - licence [CC BY 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

5. Le Bar-sur-Loup

Pont-du-L - Le Bar-sur-L 🚘 3 km / 2 mi

Situated on a ridge above Pont-du-Loup, this village offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Famous for its citrus groves, especially oranges, Le Bar-sur-Loup has a rich agricultural heritage, making it a fragrant and colourful stop.

Renting a car in Nice Airport - Le Bar-sur-Loup © Olivier Cleynen - licence [CC BY 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Le Bar-sur-Loup © Olivier Cleynen - licence [CC BY 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

6. Gourdon

Le Bar-sur-L - Gourdon 🚘 11 km / 7 mi

Perched atop a cliff, Gourdon is a remarkable site with panoramic views over the Loup Valley and beyond. The village's narrow streets, artisanal shops, and the majestic Castle of Gourdon add to its medieval charm. (Gourdon should not be confused with Gordes, another hilltop village!)

Renting a car in Nice Airport - Gourdon. Source: Depositphotos.com

In the village of Gourdon. Source: Depositphotos.com

Gourdon. Source: Depositphotos.com

Gourdon. Source: Depositphotos.com

7. Saut-du-Loup Waterfall

Gourdon - Saut-du-L W 🚘 9 km / 5.5 mi

A natural spectacle, the Saut du Loup waterfall is a serene spot for nature lovers. The area around the waterfall is ideal for a short hike or a picnic, offering a refreshing break amidst lush greenery.

Saut-du-Loup Waterfall. Source: Depositphotos.com

Saut-du-Loup Waterfall. Source: Depositphotos.com

Saut-du-Loup Waterfall. Source: Depositphotos.com

Saut-du-Loup Waterfall. Source: Depositphotos.com

8. Courmes Waterfall

Saut-du-L W - Courmes W 🚘 0.8 km / 0.5 mi

Tucked away in a verdant setting immediately at the end of a road tunnel, the Courmes Waterfall is a hidden gem, perfect for those seeking tranquillity and natural beauty. The surrounding trails offer a peaceful walk in the heart of nature.

Courmes Waterfall Source: Depositphotos.com

Courmes Waterfall. Source: Depositphotos.com

9. Tourrettes-sur-Loup

Courmes - Tourrettes-sur-L 🚘 11 km / 7 mi

Celebrated for its cultivation of violets, this enchanting medieval village is a delight. The narrow, winding streets are lined with artisan studios, and the village offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Tourrettes-sur-Loup. Source: Depositphotos.com

Tourrettes-sur-Loup. Source: Depositphotos.com

10. Vence

Tourrettes-sur-L - Vence 🚘 6 km / 3.5 mi

Rich in history and art, Vence captivates visitors with its well-preserved medieval town, the Chapel of the Rosary (decorated by Henri Matisse), and vibrant market square. The town has a strong artistic heritage and offers several galleries and workshops.

Vence. Source: Depositphotos.com

Vence. Source: Depositphotos.com

11. Saint-Jeannet

Vence - St-Jeannet 🚘 8 km / 5 mi

At the foot of the towering Baou de Saint-Jeannet, this village is a quiet retreat known for its traditional winemaking and breathtaking vistas. Its quaint streets and rural setting provide a glimpse into the Provençal lifestyle.

Saint-Jeannet © Olivier Cleynen - licence [CC BY 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Saint-Jeannet © Olivier Cleynen - licence [CC BY 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

12. Saint-Laurent-du-Var

St-Jeannet - St-Laurent-du-V 🚘 13 km / 8 mi

As you conclude your trip, Saint-Laurent-du-Var presents a modern contrast with its lively seafront, vibrant marina, and various dining and shopping options. It's a great place to unwind and reflect on your journey before returning to Nice Airport.

Saint-Laurent-du-Var © Olivier Cleynen - licence [CC BY 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Saint-Laurent-du-Var © Olivier Cleynen - licence [CC BY 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Final Destination: Nice Airport

St-Laurent - Nice Airport 🚘 3.5 km / 2 mi

You're back to Nice Airport. Now, let me give you several suggestions for other potential road trips that travellers can embark on from Nice Airport, exploring the stunning landscapes and charming destinations of the French Riviera:

Discovering the Charms of Nice

Description: A road trip exploring the vibrant city of Nice, delving into its rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture, and lively atmosphere.

Nice Harbour AVYNA5L by didesign via Envato Elements

Nice Harbour with ferries to Corsica. Photo by didesign via Envato Elements

French Riviera - Hôtel Negresco, Nice © Miniwark - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Hôtel Negresco © Miniwark - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

French Riviera - Beach in Nice © Dennis Jarvis - licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Beach in Nice © Dennis Jarvis - licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Highlights: Visit the iconic Promenade des Anglais for a stroll along the seafront, explore the colourful Old Town (Vieux Nice) with its narrow streets and bustling markets, and visit landmarks like the Colline du Château for panoramic views of the city. Don't miss the Matisse Museum and the Marc Chagall National Museum for art lovers, and enjoy the culinary delights in the numerous cafes and restaurants.

Duration: This can be a flexible itinerary, suitable for a half-day, full-day, or even a couple of days to immerse in the city's diverse offerings fully.

The Corniche Roads to Menton via Eze and Monaco

Description: This journey takes you along the three Corniche Roads – the Lower, Middle, and Upper Corniches – each offering unique perspectives of the Riviera's coastline.

The perched village of Eze - Stock Photos from Mordechai Meiri - Shutterstock

The perched village of Eze above the Mediterranean sea - Stock Photos from Mordechai Meiri - Shutterstock

The resort of Menton on the French Riviera. Photo: twenty20photos

The resort of Menton on the French Riviera. Photo: twenty20photos

The principality of Monaco - Stock Photos from Aleksandar Todorovic - Shutterstock

The principality of Monaco - Stock Photos from Aleksandar Todorovic - Shutterstock

Highlights: Explore the medieval village of Eze with its breathtaking sea views, experience the glamour of Monaco, and end your trip in the beautiful town of Menton, known for its gardens and lemon festival.

Duration: A day trip with optional stops in charming coastal towns.

Exploring the Hilltop Villages north of Nice

Description: Venture into the rugged hills behind Nice to discover hidden gems like Peille, Peillon, and Lucéram, each boasting a rich history and stunning vistas.

Palais Lascaris © Mossot - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The hilltop village of Peille © Mossot - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Peillon - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The hilltop village of Peillon - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Highlights: Wander through the narrow, cobbled streets of these villages, soak in the panoramic views, and delve into the local history and culture.

Duration: Ideal for a day trip, with time to enjoy each village's unique atmosphere.

Coastal Drive to Saint-Tropez

Description: Head along the coast towards the legendary Saint-Tropez, famous for its beaches, vibrant nightlife, and artistic heritage.

Saint-Tropez by Синявский Борис [public domain]

Saint-Tropez. Photo by Синявский Борис [public domain via Wikimedia Commons]

Highlights: Enjoy the scenic coastal drive, relax on iconic beaches, and explore the historic old town of Saint-Tropez.

Duration: Best suited for a full-day or overnight stay to fully experience the area.

Share the road trip from/to Nice Airport!

Did you enjoy discovering our road trip in the Nice Hinterland from Nice Airport? If so, share it on Facebook or X (Twitter).

Gorges of the Loup near Tourrettes-sur-Loup. Source: Depositphotos.com

Gorges of the Loup near Tourrettes-sur-Loup. Source: Depositphotos.com

About the illustrations in the article

Most of the photos published on this site are ours (© French Moments). However, I have selected some photos (including the Featured Image of this article) from Depositphotos, a commercial platform that brings authors of high-quality licensed stock photos, graphics, vectors and videos together with appreciative buyers. 

Renting a car in Nice Airport. Source: Depositphotos.com

Featured image: Rent a car in Nice Airport and explore the Nice Hinterland. Source: Depositphotos.com

Gems of Paris by French Moments
About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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