When we first heard about the secret life of a ski-lover on the Côte d’Azur, we were taken aback. On a clear day, we are told, you can catch a view of Nice like no other, as you cast your eyes out from one of the ski resorts of the Riviera, all the way to the turquoise waters on the coast…

It’s something locals know. But have you heard of Isola 2000, Valberg, Gréolières-Les-Neiges and Turini Camp d’Argent? If you love hitting the slopes you should.

And yet, while we are in the region for the Rugby World Cup, we keep discovering – or should we say seeing – evidence of another side of the area. And we can tell you all about the views.

A view of Nice – and beyond

After snaking away from the Allianz Riviera Stadium, where the World Cup action unfolded, we wind upwards towards the hilltop villages of the region.

Sandra Ottaviani of Inspiring Côte d’Azur is taking us to the villages of Vence, Saint Jeannet and Carros. Here, atop the ‘Baou’ – the local term for the flat section of a cliff or mountainside that pushes out – we get breathtaking view of the region. Up here the pace feels slower, more relaxed than in the already-relaxed Nice. But the views are worth jumping up and down about.

view of Nice

Carros (via Explore Nice Côte d’Azur)

In the last stop we swing by the Château de Carros, renovated and now housing art. But you still get a sense of what makes life here so unique, even to this day.

And from the lookout point, as we pause over a Pan Bagnat, we can see right past Gilette and the Mercantour mountains.

What about the wine…

There’s an end-of-school feel to our visit at Domaine de La Source, the vineyard just over 20 minutes from the town centre of Nice.

It’s the end of their harvest, and as we prepare for a wine tasting, you can feel that mixture of giddiness and relief from those involved with the family-run operation. They are proud of what they do and rightly so.

It’s a beautiful spot, snuggling into the hills, but it’s le Bellet wine that has the attention. At one point, the owner Carine laughs at Rugby World‘s suggestion that the white is ‘dangerously’ drinkable. But up here, you can lose track of time in the most-fittingly Niçoise fashion.

And it’s the regions climbing upwards, inwards and away from the sea that surprise most. They aren’t so much hidden gems as soon-to-be discovered destinations. We’re lucky to have had the time to appreciate them.

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