Monday, November 13, 2017

Must See In Nice, France - Preparing For Our Mediterranean Cruise


The second port of our vacation in Europe, and our first stop after we board our cruise ship in Barcelona, Spain, is Nice, France.  Although our cruise itinerary says Nice, France, our port is actually in Villefranche-sur-Mer.  Our ship will arrive at 9:00 am and we will probably have to be back to the ship by 6:00 pm as it departs at 7:00 pm.  We will research Nice and Villefranche-sur-Mer then decide what we "must see".  Hopefully we have time for everything on our list.  If not we will follow the edited version of our itinerary.  What I really want to do the most in France is have some French Onion Soup!   

Port 2 - Nice (Villefranche) France

Nice is the largest city in the French Riviera and the region's biggest draw because of all it has to offer.  You can find museums, a beachfront promenade and much more.  We will travel by train from our port in Villefranche to Nice.  I heard that there will be a tourist information area at the port where helpful people will point us in the direction of the train station, or to any other transportation.  It should take us 10 minutes (2 train stops) to get to Nice's main train station, Nice-Ville.  To get to the start of the walking tours we would like to do in Nice, we will have to find the tram once we arrive at the Nice-Ville station.  We will take the tram in the direction of Hopital Pasteur which will take us toward the beach and Vieux Nice.

Walking Tour 1 - Promenade Des Anglais Walk is a straight mile walk down the beachfront that starts at Hotel Negresco.  You have to be a guest of Nice's finest hotel to enter but if you confidently walk in and explain, when asked, that you are going in for a drink or for shopping you should be let in.  One of the things we will be looking for, if we make it past the doorman, is a huge chandelier that is made up of 16,000 pieces of crystal.  Also, in addition to historic and modern art to enjoy, there are bronze portrait busts of Czar Alexander III and his wife Maria Feodorovna.
Across the street from Hotel Negresco is Villa Massena a palace built for military hero, Jean-Andre Massena and his family.  The admission price for the Massena Museum is 6 Euro for adults.  If you are a fan of Napoleon and Josephine, you can see lots of their belongings including Josephine's cape and tiara and Napoleon's death mask!  The gardens that surround the palace were designed by Edouard Andre, the landscaper who designed the gardens of the Monte-Carlo Casino.  The gardens are free to enjoy.
The sea will be on our right as we start our walk down The Promenade.  We will take our pick of a number of rocky beaches to enjoy.  The average temperature in Nice in late September is low to mid 70's.  It won't be warm enough to swim, but we will definitely find a spot to sit and relax.  I will make sure to bring an empty water bottle to collect some sand.  (Look here for a craft idea using vacation sand.)  There are several beach restaurants on The Promenade.  I will be keeping my eye out for French Onion Soup!  At the end of the walk is Albert I Park.  We are excited to enjoy this park with many statues, sculptures, fountains and even a tiny bronze Statue of Liberty.

Walking Tour 2 - Old Nice Walk is a leisurely hour walk through Nice's old town.  It starts at Place Massena and takes us down several streets until we get to Castle Hill. Place Massena, with it's checkerboard pavement, is a 30 acre square where we will be looking for a towering modern swoosh sculpture, men sitting on top of high pedestals (they are lit at night which make them look like they are floating above you) and finally Apollo holding his beach towel.  We will have to walk past him to get into the old town.  
Rue St. Francois de Paule will take us into the heart of Vieux Nice.  On this street we can peek into the Alziari olive oil shop that has been in operation since 1868.  La Couqueto is also on this street and is a shop that sells santons (hand painted clay figurines).  We may have to buy a thing or two here.  Further down the street, we will pass Nice's opera house and admire the beautiful facade and what I am most excited to find on this street is Patisserie Auer's chocolates.  I read that Queen Victoria occasionally shopped here.
Cours Saleya is Nice's main market square.  You can find produce and flowers here.  The flowers that they sell are are the ones they use to make perfume.  I can only imagine how heavenly it must smell in this part of town.
Rue de la Poissonnerie is where we will be looking for Adam and Eve.  We will have to look up at the first floor of the first building on our right as we turn onto this street to see them.  We will also be looking for a small church, Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation.  It's the most popular church in Nice because it is dedicated to St. Rita.  She is the patron saint of desperate causes and desperate people and she has a special place in the hearts of the locals here.
Rue Droite is where we will be looking for Espuno's bakery.  Their house specialty is a tart that is stuffed with Swiss chard, apples, pine nuts and raisins.  It sounds like something we really should try but it all depends on how much chocolate I bought and ate two streets back!  Also on this street is Eglise St-Jacques.  Like St. Rita's church, it is a Baroque style building.  The definition I found for Baroque is "richly decorated with many ornaments, stucco, false marble, cherubs and medallions."  It sounds like a lot to look at.  It will be fun to compare the two churches.  There is a mansion, Palais Lascaris, on this street.  It houses a collection of antique musical instruments on one of its four levels.  There is a charge (6 Euro) to go in.  We may check it out if we have time.
Place Rossetti is the end of this walk.  We can check out the Cathedral of St. Reparate and have a gelato at Fenocchio in this square before we head back to Villefranche or if we have time, we can venture up Castle Hill first.

Castle Hill offers sensational views from the top of the hill.  We can either climb up or take a free of charge elevator up.  Besides for the views, there is a park, playground and cafe at the top.

Our port city is Villefranche-sur-Mer, a small town with narrow streets and a beach.   The promenade that leads to the beach is lined with fancy seafood restaurants.  There is a town square, churches and a castle to see.  There is also a grocery store in the town that I would love to get a chance to shop in.  If we have time to kill before our ship leaves this port we will definitely stroll around the town and beach. 

We can't wait to see all these amazing sites.  Any other suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated!













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