Today we got up and had a quick Panini Breakfast at the Park Café on-board the Brilliance of the Seas. There were very few people in this area so it allowed us the opportunity to eat and relax as the ship ported into Villefranche, France. At 10:15am we gathered in the Pacifica Theater where Royal Caribbean arranged each group by tour and awaited our tender. After a successful 10 – 15 minute tender ride to the shore we met up with our excursion VFD6 A Day in Nice & EZE Discovery. After departing the tender a walk up a short but steep path was required to reach the awaiting transportation. Our tour included 42 participants and was led by an extremely punctual French woman.
Our tour began with the bus winding its way out of an area surrounded by a citadel and an enclosed fort. The drive included several hairpin turns and therefore makes travel in large motorized vehicles difficult. Luckily our driver seemed very experienced. We were dropped off in Nice near the Reve Theatre Reveil. We began our walking tour from this point wearing a mobile headset that allowed us to hear commentary from the guide. We walked through a very nice park area with the smell of Jasmin alive in the air due to the many plants in bloom along the path. We then crossed a road which was used by the local Tram system and ironically a tram came by just at this time. Next we headed down into the small tight streets of Nice which were alive with both locals and tourists. This is known as the Cours Saleya area. Almost immediately we came to realize this was a place worthy of the visit.
We came to a large square and entered an old Church just moments before a Latin service was to begin. The local townspeople wanted us to quickly exit, which we did, but not before we admired the beautiful alter and snapped a few nice keepsake photos. Next we headed to Marche aux Fleurs in the old city near the seaside. Fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers can be purchased at this city market. A ceremony of the Lord Mayor was in progress adjacent to the market so there was a large police presence in the area. We were given some free time and headed to the café Lou Pilha Lexa that we had passed earlier at Place Centrale. We ordered a Crepe or something similar. All I know is that all the locals were ordering this same thing. This was all the further our lack of French got us and this proved to be quite an event. In the end we got food and sat among the locals to enjoy it. We found the French locals really wanted nothing to do with us and either got up, moved to a new location or just refused to sit with or anywhere near us. In fact they may have gone as far as to sit on each others laps just to avoid us. It was kind of an uncomfortable. Afterwards we found an extremely busy Gelato Shop which again got us completely avoided. We eventually moved to another line and found a nice young French girl who was more then helpful.
Next we proceeded to walk the back streets of Nice until we reached the French Rivera. The Rivera is a rocky beach filled with locals and tourists taking in the sun and heat. The amazing quality of the beach was the beautiful blue water of the Mediterranean Sea. Incredible to say the least! We walked the main road that followed the beach and then climbed many steps to an observation tower. There was an optional elevator inside the tunnel costing a nominal fee but with extremely long lines. After going halfway up, we decided this was far enough for us. We took some wonderful pictures of the French Rivera below. After meeting back with the guide at the flower market it was a twelve minute walk back to the bus at Reve Theatre Reveil.
Next we took a small excursion through the Nice neighborhoods and briefly saw a Russian onion domed Cathedral from the bus. We now traveled to the village of EZE, a medieval village perched on a craggy cliff. The route took us through more twists and turns than ever with even more amazing views of Nice and the French Rivera area. Upon arrival at EZE, we parked the bus just outside of town (no vehicles permitted) and proceeded to walk up the steep embankment to the village. This was tough work both up the embankment and once in the village as the roads and walkways were narrow, busy and uneven with many cobblestones. We walked the village with its Roman walls and fortitude where many fantastic picture opportunities abounded. Our legs were definitely feeling the pain by this point and we were quickly wearing down. Another ancient church at EZE afforded the opportunity to climb a hillside to a higher lookout position of which we declined.
Instead we stayed with the tour leader and headed to Perfume Factory Fragonard. This was about one and a half miles down the road. Once at the factory we were shuttled inside and shown the factory stations and how each one of those worked. There is no active work here on Sundays. At the end of our tour which consisted of seeing two floors of the factory, we were offered samples of the perfumes and the opportunity to purchase at a steep discount. Regardless of purchase, once back on the bus each member of the tour was given an 8ml Eau de toilette Jasmin sample with an included soap just for being a Royal Caribbean customer. A very nice touch!
Next we headed back to the port and our ship for a rest after logging 12,158 steps.
Tour operator: Voyages C. Mathez