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Trip report-- just got back last night!

Tierra Verde...
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Trip report-- just got back last night!

First of all, thank you so much to SelkieNice and all of you on the forum who helped plan this trip. We’d been to the Cote d’Azur before, but found numerous subtle tips here that made everything go smoothly. Our 20th wedding anniversary was spent enjoying cloudless sunny days with culture, cafes, glamour, beaches, museums, and wineries.

Friday August 27- After flying from Tampa to Newark, NY, we flew the relatively new, all business class Open Skies Airline to Paris Orly. The experience was not quite as good as first/business class on the major carriers, but it was 1/2 to 1/3 less for full reclining “Biz-Bed” seats.

Saturday August 28- Well rested upon arrival in Orly, we took a one hour Air France flight landing in Nice just after noon. We had packed smartly so wheeling our luggage one half mile to the train at Gare St. Augustin was easy. The station was unattended and someone had jammed something into the coin slot in the ticket machine, so we enjoyed our free ride to Villefranche. (We always tried to pay for train travel, but ended up with two free rides out of 6 on the trip with no enforcement issues.)

Walking down the steps with luggage at the station in Villefranche was a bit of a hassle, but the picture perfect postcard view more than made up for it. We had reserved a “comfort room” on the third floor with a balcony over the water at the Hotel Welcome. Check in was a snap and we explored the town a bit.

Our first bus ride of the trip was indicative of our whole experience— crowded, somewhat hot and stinky, but the best value at 1 Euro. I can’t imagine the crowds during the middle of the summer or Grand Prix week. Gare Routiere in Nice is well located for exploring the old town and Cours Saleya. After dinner the final promenade party of the summer began with bands, fireworks, and lots of locals. We capped the night by being politely escorted out of the lobby of the Hotel Negresco after admitting we weren’t there for dinner or drinks.

Sunday August 29- We had never made it to Eze before, so the day began on busses 81 and 83 through Cap Ferrat and Belleu to Eze. The views lived up to all expectations, and luckily we beat the “boat people” there. Since we were staying in a hotel for the week we considered ourselves locals as opposed to the lowly cruise ship tour groups:) We had trouble descending the garden steps because bus loads were ascending.

The afternoon was spent under 78 degree sunny skies at the beach in Villefranche. The “sand” was a bit courser than I remembered, but significantly better than the rocks in Nice and elsewhere. Wonderful views of Cap Ferrat, Villefranche, cruise ships, (and female beachgoers). For dinner we were happy to return to Le Cosmo next to our hotel in Villefranche. The first appetizer on their menu is the snow crab salad. It is a delicious blend of fresh avocado, artichoke, and the crab meat of about 6 legs—wow!

We returned to our hotel for a night cap. The balcony takes what would be a small, but nicely appointed room, and turns it into a private resort experience. Nothing will ever take away my memory of sipping wine in a bathrobe looking out over the café-lined quay across the water to Cap Ferrat.

To be continued…

Nice
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1. Re: Trip report-- just got back last night!

I was just thinking about you and wondering how your trip went .I'm looking forward to reading more... =]

Carlisle, United...
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2. Re: Trip report-- just got back last night!

"We considered ourselves locals as opposed to the lowly cruise ship tour groups"

How rude!

No doubt you bothered to learn french before you came?

Tierra Verde...
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3. Re: Trip report-- just got back last night!

Sorry, but that was intended to be a joke. That is why it was followed with :) Yes, we know enough french to be polite.

Carlisle, United...
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4. Re: Trip report-- just got back last night!

OK, no offense taken and sorry for my barbed comment as well. It's just that we were on a Med cruise in July and stopped off at Monte Carlo, loved it and are flying out to Nice on Thursday with our grandson (17) as his birthday treat. We're booked into Hotel Le Versailles for 5 nights. Also booked with Liven Up for DH and grandson to drive a Ferrari Spider from Eze.

Cruises are a great way of finding out which places you'd like to return to, to see properly. They also boost the economies of the individual ports and believe it or not, are relaxing and fun.

Tierra Verde...
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5. Re: Trip report-- just got back last night!

I should have mentioned that we first found Villefranche on a Royal Caribbean cruise out of Barcelona. And, as you said, we loved it and keep coming back.

Carlisle, United...
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6. Re: Trip report-- just got back last night!

Checkmate!

We were on Norwegian Jade.

We've been to Tampa as well, (not on a cruise ship) and visited Busch Gardens.

London, United...
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7. Re: Trip report-- just got back last night!

Loved the report - with you every inch of the way - the world is a messy place, not everything lives up to our expectations every time, but you did well, very well. Heres to the next time....

London /Nice
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8. Re: Trip report-- just got back last night!

Great report

Did anyone else see the English violinist and Russian accordianist on the quay 2 weeks ago; they were first class.

the view from the station over the bay has to be one of the best in the world;

I was disappointed with the removal of the beachside bar and with the water quality; Whilst Nice beach can be a PITA or should I say PITF the water quality is much better than Villefranche--the bay seems to trap the water and of course there are boat moorings which can pollute. Paloma Beach on Cap Ferrat was good but also suffers a bit from the lack of water movement

Tierra Verde...
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9. Re: Trip report-- just got back last night!

Glad you like the report so far. Other than being a bit cold, the water quality seemed quite good in Villefranche. We did notice workers checking the water each morning, and skimmer boats working some afternoons. Their efforts were impressive.

Part two coming later today.

Tierra Verde...
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10. Re: Trip report-- just got back last night!

Our trip report continued:

Monday August 30- After grabbing a quick croissant and coffee, we began the 45 minute walk along the water, past the train station and the beach to steps leading up into Cap Ferrat. We took turns posing in front of a couple dream homes along the way. Much of the walk was in the shade and free of traffic until nearing our destination of Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa. Not quite Versailles, but an interesting tour. The fountains and seven themed gardens had views that challenged Eze. The smaller yachts anchored below were 75 feet long. The biggest was well over 200 feet, using the helicopter on the bow as a reference to measure.

We took the bus down into Belleau for sandwiches and a walk around the town, and then returned home to Villefranche. 2.50 Euros allowed us to enter Chapelle St. Pierre next to Welcome Hotel. Its walls are beautifully painted by local artist Jean Cocteau. Then a quick walk down nearby Rue Obscure “hidden street” which has a fascinating history as well.

We cleaned up for dinner at Hotel de Paris next door to the Monte Carlo Casino. The experience was unforgettable, but don’t ask what we spent. At the casino Mercedes and Porsches were valet parked down the street. Only Bentley’s, Ferrari’s, and Lamborghini’s were displayed up front. Even if you don’t plan to gamble, walk into the gorgeous main lobby. Passports, proper attire, and 10 Euros each allowed us to enter the elegant back rooms where the tables were.

We are experienced gamblers, but have never seen anything like the Blackjack room. The quiet, somewhat darkened room was intimidating. Gamblers instinctively whispered because no slot machines rang. 40 foot ceilings and acoustical elements like drapes and fabric-covered walls added to the stillness. The minimum bet on this Monday evening was 25 Euros. We were up a couple hundred in the beginning and left victorious (which means down only 100). In the taxi on the way home we joked about writing a book titled: “Europe on 500 Euros a day.”

Tuesday August 31- Got an early start on the train to Cannes with Carte Isabelle tickets in hand. For 12 Euros each, we could ride trains all day. It was a short walk down to the Mediterranean, and then along the water to the film festival hall. We posed on the red carpet, had a great omelet at a nearby brassiere, and headed back to the train station bound for Antibes.

Gare Antibes puts you within a 5 minute walk of the amazing yacht-filled harbor. We walked right along the docks, past the castle-like city walls, and then through the arch into old town. Enjoyed the huge open air covered market and then walked less than a football field to Chateau Grimaldi which houses the Picasso Museum. The temporary exhibits disappointed, but Picasso’s art was great of course. The foundations of the museum are of an ancient Greek town, which later became a Roman castle. And as recent as 1860 the building marked the border between Italy and France.

Since we blew through Cannes in the morning there was time to take the bus to nearby Juan Les Pins. We chose to pay for a private beach so we could change clothes and enjoy lounge chairs and drinks. The sand quality was great all along YLP, and the families seemed to be enjoying the last days before rentree. The service was good at Plage Esterel, but we really had to use French to communicate. After a fun, busy day we took the train back to home and enjoyed dinner at Le Cosmo (again!).

To be continued with part 3 of 3 coming soon…

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