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Travel: Just following the sun doctor’s orders in Nice, France

© A.ISSOCKNice, France.
Nice, France.

Scots physician John Brown’s belief that a change in climate could cure a variety of diseases including tuberculosis triggered a bit of a tourism boom for the Cote d’Azur back in the 1800s.

Dr Brown’s theory about climato-therapy (a change in climate) saw a wave of wealthy – and sick – Brits spending winters among the picturesque spots on the French Riviera. Even Queen Victoria regularly visited – often with her donkey.

Thanks to the natural beauty of the area the aristocracy of the day soon frequented the region whether they were sick or not, turning the sun-drenched coast into a must-visit destination.

And so, today’s tourism magnets including Nice, Cannes, St Tropez and Villefranche owe at least some of their popularity to the good Dr Brown and his prescription of a Riviera recuperation.

For me then, not long recovered from a bout of Covid-19, Nice seemed the perfect choice for a getaway. Dreaming of those blue skies and with plenty of walking in store, I was happy to follow Dr Brown’s orders.

Nice beachfront.

Nice’s added attractions include its easy-to-use tram service to and from the airport plus an excellent, low-cost rail network linking Antibes, Eze, Juan Les Pins and the neighbouring tax-haven principality of Monaco.

Nice attracts a staggering four million tourists each year. Take a stroll – or in our case a cycle – along the famous, four-mile-long Promenade Des Anglais and you soon see why this city is so popular. Stunning museums, striking architecture and a palette of pastel colours, and that azure Med lashing the beach, combine to make it very easy on the eye.

A highlight of our week-long trip was a visit to the pink-coloured Villa Ephrussi De Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, an easy 40-minute walk from the pretty fishing village of Villefranche.

Built by banking heiress, Beatrice de Rothschild, one of those wealthy early visitors to the area, it’s a beautiful, Renaissance-style residence-turned museum housing her art treasures and attracts more than 130,000 visitors a year. The nine themed gardens – including Japanese, Spanish and Florentine – are truly magnificent. Check out one of the best – and most valuable – collections of French porcelain.

The medieval mountaintop village of Eze is another must-visit. We hiked our way to the top via the Chemin de Nietsche, a mile-long trail of steps, rough pathway and steep inclines. It’s challenging and not for the faint-hearted but the views as you climb are spectacular.

Eze itself is charming with some of the most stylish restaurants you’ll find on the coast. But here they benefit from that sensational sea view. Tired but chuffed we’d got there, we got the bus back down! The rest of that day was spent in Monaco, exploring the city nation ruled by Prince Albert from his pink palace.

We walked for miles taking in everything from the world-famous casino at Monte Carlo to the tiny, cobbled streets full of shops stocked with all the superbrands but the only thing we bought was a brolly – thanks to an unexpected rain shower.

Every year Cannes’ famous film festival attracts Hollywood royalty who traipse endless metres of red carpet attending movie premiere after movie premiere.

We checked out the world-famous Carlton Hotel, which is undergoing a $300 million renovation which will see the introduction of a rooftop swimming pool. Work is expected to be completed by next year. The Cannes beach is peppered with endless chic restaurants where you can hire a sunbed and umbrella after lunch to snooze in the afternoon sunshine. Isn’t that what holidays are for?

I saw it all as part of my “prescribed” post-Covid rehab…I’m sure Dr Brown would have given a thumbs up!


Check out the French Riviera Pass, a card costing from €26 for 24 hours, giving free access and/or discounts on a wide range of attractions in Nice and the rest of the Cote d’Azur. See


Peter Samson travelled by EasyJet from Edinburgh direct to Nice. Flights from Scotland also available with Ryanair and British Airways. He stayed in a self-catering apartment complete with terraces in the heart of Nice. Around £84 per night. Visit