Thursday, February 04, 2010


If it's day three of the cruise it must be France! Although Nice has its own port, for whatever reason our ship stopped at Villefranche, and we were tendered from the ship to the small town of Villefranche. In addition to Nice, it was also possible to visit Monaco, as well as other small towns in the area. One of the nearby towns is known for its perfumes, so I’m sure this is a busy place when the ships arrive.

Once again we decided not to take one of the ship’s excursions. In addition to being (in my opinion), very over-priced, there’s also the whole group thing to contend with: everybody off the bus, everybody into the shop, everybody back on the bus, everybody into the museum, everybody back on the bus……you get the idea. Also there’s no chance to linger if you find someplace you want to explore further, no time to wander and browse, or just relax and enjoy the view. We had decided to take the bus rather than the train to Nice, based on the advice of people from the CruiseCritics message board. It was a short ride, only cost €1 each way, and allowed us to watch the scenery as we rode.

Unfortunately arriving in Villefranche meant we had to be tendered in, and although the process went smoothly, it was still just another delay. In order to facilitate things, in addition to the ship’s tenders they also used locally operated tenders, which was what we ended up on – much to our dismay. As we disembarked from the tender, the gangway from the tender to the dock was a curved piece of metal, not the usual straight piece with raised edges for ‘steps’.
curverd gangplank
There was a man standing on the dock, presumably to take our hand as we disembarked. He didn’t offer Art his hand, and as Art walked down this curved gangway his feet just slid out from under him and he came down HARD! on his back. I looked at the man and said “Sir! You should be offering your hand to everyone! This gangway is dangerous” His reply? Not “I’m sorry”, not “Sir, are you okay?”, but to me, “Why didn’t YOU help him?” I said, as calmly as I could, “Because he was in front of me, and because it’s YOUR job!” He turned to the woman behind me and said (in French) “These Americans should learn how to walk.” Gosh, I wonder how that stereotype of the arrogant French got started! Welcome to France!

Luckily Art wasn’t seriously hurt and decided that the best thing to do was to keep moving, so we walked up the hill to the bus stop. We wanted to get to Nice as early as possible before the open air market closed, and because this was the off season, we weren’t even sure there would be an outdoor market. The bus for Nice arrived in just a few minutes, and luckily Art was able to get a seat. When we arrived at the bus station in Nice the old town was just a short walk away, so of course that’s where we headed.

Nice FranceThe old town of Nice was very, very charming. Seeing the strings of lights zigzagged over the narrow streets made me wish we could be there at night when it must be magical. We wandered past cute shops, noticing both the differences and similarities in the shops and goods from what we were used to seeing in Italy.

Nice France

Eventually we came to the open air market. I’m sure it was much smaller on that December day than it is in the summer, but it was still a respectable size, and not crowded to boot. Olives and mushrooms, spices, sea salt, handmade soaps, flowers, fruits and vegetables, and of course fish! Through the city walls we could see the ocean, just across the street. All in all a very charming place!

handmade soaps at the outdoor market

spices at the outdoor market


more olives


fat mushrooms

burnt orange roses

fuschia roses


cafe menu

beachAfter browsing through all the stalls and making a few purchases, we crossed the street to the broad promenade, called the “promenade des Anglais” – “walk of the English”. The curving bay of Nice is beautiful, lined with a rocky beach and going on for what seems like miles. We strolled for quite a while, just enjoying the sun, the ocean and the people.

pumping water

We headed back to the old part of the city to find something quick for lunch, and a bakery window filled with pizzas and quiche seemed the perfect choice. We sat at the one tiny table outside the shop, watching the world go by, including this man who was filling his containers with water from the public fountain.

wine shopAfter lunch we went in search of an amazing wine shop we’d seen earlier. I know very little about wine in general, but this shop was so interesting it didn’t really matter. Art spoke with the clerk, who spoke English, as well as Italian (and of course French), and we bought a bottle of red wine on his recommendation. It didn’t cost much, but later we were glad it didn’t, since it wasn’t really that good.

wall of wines

French wine

We meandered back towards the bus station, and caught the next bus back to Villefranche. The walk back down to the small harbor was pleasant, and Villefranche looks to be a nice town. The cafes were filled with people sitting outside enjoying the sunny day, but by now Art really wanted to take a hot shower and relax a bit after walking all day.

When we got back to the ship we did report the disembarkation episode to guest services, and later in the evening Art stopped by the medical unit. The doctor there was outraged to hear what had happened and how we had been treated. He gave Art some pain medication and a muscle relaxer to help him sleep. Luckily he didn’t feel too bad the next day, as is sometimes the case, so I guess we were lucky that our vacation wasn’t ruined by an inattentive and arrogant boat worker.

There are more photos from the cruise and all the ports we visited on our FLICKR PAGE.

Labels: ,


At 2/04/2010 08:45:00 PM , Blogger DougPhillips said...

Hi Barb,

Enjoying your posts about the cruise. We've only done one - not a big fan because of some of the things you mention - will likely try another one over the next few years - but not in the Med. - much more fun driving around France & Italy.


At 2/04/2010 08:47:00 PM , Blogger DougPhillips said...

Hi Barb,

Enjoying the account of your cruise.

At 2/05/2010 05:17:00 AM , Blogger Barbara said...

Thanks Doug. For some cruising is a passion, and the destination seems to be secondary. For me, a transatlantic cruise was always a dream.

We once thought of taking an Adriatic cruise, but then realized that we already knew we wanted to visit all the ports for more than just a few hours, so we decided not to take the cruise.

At 2/05/2010 09:30:00 AM , Blogger Bob and Rosemary said...

What a wonderful time you must have had (in spite of the few mishaps)! Looking forward to more installments.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home