French Riviera is said to be very beautiful and so indeed it is. Cannes and Nice are two cities on the shores of Mediterranean with historical and cultural importance. The city of Nice is actually called Nissa Le Bella in Nicard which means Nice the beautiful. It is the fifth largest city of France and second largest on Mediterranean coast after Marseille. If you intend to visit Riviera in my opinion this is a must visit place. Cannes has history to tell since 2nd century BC but in recent times is more famous for film and advertising festivals which take place here every year.
If you are staying in Marseille, these cities are perfect place for a day trip. There are plenty of trains, TER & TGV, leaving almost every hour in that direction. If you are travelling with a Eurail or Interail pass, most of these are free for you. One can take a train from Marseille early morning and get to Cannes in 2hours. Spend half a day there till lunch and head forward to Nice. Cannes to Nice would not take more than an hour. Fast trains take around 30 minutes and slow ones 45 minutes. Spend your whole evening there and then you can either come back to Marseille or head to Monte Carlo if you intend to visit that place the next day. I would suggest if plan is to go to Monte Carlo, spend the night at Nice and then head ahead in the morning. The stay at Nice will most probably be cheaper than Monaco Monte Carlo. But, if you are planning to travel back to Marseille take the 7 PM out from there because there will be no other direct train after that.
Now traversing both these city is pretty easy and one can do on foot. In Cannes when you get out of the station, cross the road and take any of the lanes in front of you going away from the train station. They all will take you to Boulevard de La Croisette , it is the road running parallel to the shore with Vieux Port on one side and Nemo Plongee Club on other. This is your play area for half a day trip. If you have reached on a winter morning, walk along the shore watching magnificently blue water and sun above it. You might bump into a couple of nice people who will tell you a thing or two about the city and how they met an actor from your country who was there for the film festival. Walk towards Vieux Port and before that who will reach the famous Palais de Festival, where all these film and advertising festivals take place. Walk a little further from Vieux Port and cross the bus station you will find yourself on a narrow lane going upwards. Keep following the route and you will reach the famous Musee de la Caste and Notre-Dame-de-l’Esperance. More than these structures here to relish, is the view of the city from the top. From this vantage point you can see the whole curve of shore spread in the front. By now you should be out of your breath and rushing for the station to take the train to Nice.
At Nice railway station, get out and walk to your left. After a while you will come to a crossing with tram route running perpendicular to you. Take the right from there, and you are walking in the main market street of Nice. This is a good place to have lunch, if you haven’t noticed we have missed that in Cannes. You will find a lot of restaurants in lanes on your right. Going straight ahead on the road you will reach the square. Enjoy the beauty, take a little rest and walk straight ahead. You will reach the sea shore. By now you will start seeing road signs showing you direction to touristy places. Sea shore here is amazing, you ask me how? It is a pebbled shore and when sea water recedes it makes a roaring sound, this coupled with late afternoon sky creates an amazing feel to the place. We ended up spending considerable time clicking pictures by the sea. Walk to you left along the sea and you will reach steps taking you up the old chateau. Walk up and fast, you would want to have your chateau trip done to reach a small waterfall at back of it before sun down to see amazing sun set from the top. There is an artificial waterfall on top of old chateau premises and the falling hue of setting sun makes it look very beautiful. An amazing place to click pictures, you get view of two sides of the city from here. Nice has much more to offer so you can stay for another day and go a hill top to an observatory. But, if you are planning on getting back the same day get down the chateau, you can take the back side route with steps on it to go through an old church at the back and cemetery. You would do good to remember that last train is at 7 PM.
This how more or less my one day trip to these cities was, if you need more information do write!