A new day in a new country is always exciting, especially when the weather can be unpredictable. October in the Riviera can bring thunderstorms at a moments notice. We narrowly missed the flooding of Nice & other parts of the Riviera by 3 days. I was hoping desperately that the weather Gods had spent their fury for the time being. All my fears were laid to rest as we were greeted by a clear blue sky on day 2.
As we were travelling on our own and had no fixed itinerary of sightseeing. We could go where we pleased, provided we reached the hotel booked for that night at the end of the day. After a breakfast of theplas brought from back home we were ready to leave for the picture postcard medieval Eze le Village.
Eze is a short bus ride away from Nice and leaving early, knowing the bus schedules, opening times of the Jardin Exotique ( Exotic Garden – Just showboating my French) on top of the village beforehand helped us beat the mad crowd that Eze is known for.
All the effort is made worthwhile by having the place almost to yourself and getting photos of the better half with no one else entering the frame. Every corner of Eze makes you whip out your slr. It’s that beautiful. Winding narrow cobbled lanes, stone houses with well maintained flowerbeds, a beautiful ruined fortress converted to a cactus garden capping the village and views of the coast from the garden which make you forget the beautiful cacti on display.
Three hours went by without us realising it and it was time to take our bus back to Nice. By the time we left busloads of tourists were entering the village. Stomachs were growling loudly by the time we reached Nice and we marched straight from the bus stop to a boulangerie ( showboating again) to have a pizza on the go for lunch as there is no better place to sit and eat a take away pizza than the Cote D’Azur. We couldn’t leave Nice without another go at a different flavour of wonderful gelato by Fennochio at the bubbling square called Place Rissoti. Satiated we dragged our bags down the stairs of the hotel and took the tram and connected to the bus number 100 to Villefranche sur Mer.
Villefranche sur Mer is a small town located along a deep bay and a favourite with the Cruiseliners in the region. The hotel chosen was the Hotel Darse which was at the Darse harbour which is the oldest part of Villefranche. The hotel is a steep 10 minute walk down winding roads and a path through a garden from the main road and bus stops. On the way down I was already dreading the day after, when I have to drag the luggage back up to the bus stops.
The Hotel Darse is a small sea facing hotel overlooking the picturesque harbour and the Cap Ferrat peninsula. I had booked a sea facing room and once I lugged the luggage up three flights of stairs ( Yes! No Elevator again! But I knew that when I booked) I immediately liked what I saw. Huge room and a balcony with a great view to spend the evenings after sightseeing. Totally worth the effort!!
After quickly arranging our stuff we left to see the supposedly extravagant Villa Ephrussi Rothschild. We are manic tourists remember!! The Villa is on the Cap Ferrat, a thin strip of land protruding into the Mediterranean. Again it was a short bus ride away, reaching the villa we were underwhelmed. Opulent it may be by European standards, once you have seen the palaces in Rajasthan everything else appears to pale in comparison. The rooms are decorated from ceiling to floor and the china collection in which every piece of a set is subtly different is worth taking a look at. The gardens are well manicured and shaped like the hull of a cruiseliner and the musical fountains are good. We skipped another Villa nearby , the Villa Kerylos, as it was supposed to be less extravagant than this and didn’t seem to be worth the effort. After exiting the Villa we went to one of the rare sandy beaches of the region in Plage Passable and saw the sun go down there. Satisfied with the days effort we returned to the hotel and bought groceries on the way to make sandwiches for dinner. We are budget travellers remember??
Post dinner we sat on the balcony till it went dark and retired for a well earned nights sleep. The plan for the last day was the glitz and glamour of Monaco and even higher views from a Ancient Roman monument at La Turbie. That is topic for another day , another post.
Till then.. Au Revoir!!
Very beautifully written and explained.