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September 12, 2008

Villefranche-sur-mer and Eze

Filed under: Provence 2008, Travel — anotherheader @ 6:47 am



After an uneven nights sleep with our body clocks adjusting, we awoke and headed to Villefranche-sur-mer. “Villefranche-sur-mer,” you might be asking, “Why go there?”. Or, maybe, you weren’t asking that. In any event, it turns out, Villefranche-sur-mer was one of the places that I passed on a train journey many years back. It looked idyllic at the time. I wanted return and stay someday. With that, we headed out from Nice to Hotel Welcome in Villefranche-sur-mer.

Our rental car is clearly labeled so as to give the native drivers a sporting chance!

Our rental car is clearly labeled so as to give the native drivers a sporting chance!

The 13 km trip from Nice to Villefranche-sur-mer took us about 1.5 hours to complete in the face of the heavy Sunday French Riviera traffic with baguette toting mopeds and motorcycles weaving in and out amongst the cars, trucks, and tour buses. In the end, there was even a queue of cars waiting to get into the parking lot used by the hotel. Apparently the queue at least was an unusual event triggered by the antique and art fair in the Village on Sunday.

A room with a view--Villefranche-sur-mer (from our room)

A room with a view--Villefranche-sur-mer (from our room)

After a lunch and a tour of the town, we headed up, by taxi, to the Village of Eze for the sights and dinner. Our taxi driver was an attractive Corsican woman. As we pulled out of Villefranche-sur-mer, her colleague traced the sign of the cross on his chest as if to give us protection on the drive up. Our driver insisted that we have nothing to worry about!

We decided to take a taxi up the hill to the restaurant rather than drive up ourselves, as the roads were tight and twisty in the hills above Villefranche-sur-mer. Further, we figured (correctly so, as it turned out) that there might be excessive wine consumption with our dinner that could impair our return trip. The roads to the restaurant were in fact winding, requiring several three point turns on the switchbacks as our driver skillfully worked our taxi up the hill.

The only defense against the cruise ship hoards

The only defense against the cruise ship hoards

Eze is an old, perched village that exists at a strategic point between what today is modern day Italy and the Provence region. It exists largely intact with less than 20 year round residents inside its walls. There are two luxury resort hotel/restaurants and a sprinkling of art and jewelry shops tucked into its narrow alleyways. The Village was particularly beautiful under the highlights of the setting sun.

Eventually we worked our way over to Chateau Chevre d’Or (House of the Golden Goat, or something like that) for dinner. The restaurant has been given two Michelin stars. The service was spectacular and the setting was amazing with the meal starting with a glass of champagne and canapés on the terrace over looking the Cote d’Azur that, from our perspective, seemed to be vertically below us. At the end of the meal, we returned to the terrace under the stars for coffee drinks and sights of the lights of the French Riviera far below us before we headed down the hill to our hotel.




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