Nice and Eze
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Nice and Eze

Rick and Marla's Visit to the French Riviera

Story Written by Rick Archer
April 2011

On the day that our cruise ship docked at Villefranche, Marla and I took a guided bus tour of the Riviera area.  We had booked this trip through Royal Caribbean. 

Other members of our group rented a car and took in the sights on their own.   As a rule, I prefer to avoid the ship's tours, but Marla and I evaluate each port on an individual basis. 

While many of our group took tours in Capri, Marla and I had planned our own trip instead.  Same thing for Rome - Marla and I embarked on a cross-country walk across the city on our way to see the Roman Forum.   In Florence, Marla had scheduled a tour for our group and saved everyone a lot of money in the process.

However, for the Riviera, we did things differently.  We found a tour that provided a bus at the dock, a trip to the city of Nice as well as to the medieval town of Eze and to the famous city-state of Monaco.   For Marla and me, this convenient package with an overview of the area was hard to resist. 

Our guide for the trip was Monique.  Monique was very French.  She spoke her excellent English with a French accent.  She talked with an air of French sophistication.

Monique was tall and thin with short blonde hair.  Despite her height, she wore stiletto heels with a very fashionable dress that revealed her lovely long legs.  Monique was now in her sixties, but I imagine she was quite a knockout in her younger days.  

Monique liked to flirt and talk sexy.  She teased a lot as she described places and things.  She purred her cadences and occasionally growled like a cat in heat.

Generally Marla and I have similar impressions about many people, but Monique was unique.

I adored Monique; Marla couldn't stand her.  C'est la vie.

Our cruise ship was too big for the harbor, so we had to take a tender into shore.

Here in the Riviera, they have curbside parking lots for boats!

Our tender dropped us off where the red star is.  The buses were inside the citadel.

The blonde is Monique.  She was flirting as usual. 

Throughout the day wherever we went there were marinas.


We didn't spend much time in Villefranche other than to get off and get back on the ship.
It is an attractive seaside community that spread out all along the coastline.

One of the picturesque features of the Riviera are the rolling hills. 
The buildings of Villefranche are spread out wherever a site can be found.

This is Nice.  Not 'nice', but Nice.  It is pronounced like 'niece'.
Crossword puzzle enthusiasts soon learn that 'Nice' is often used to deceive them.
A clue that refers to a 'Nice season' is looking for 'ete', the French word for summer.

We didn't do much in Nice except drive around and look at places. 
One of the highlights of Nice was this stunning Russian Church

Outdoor food markets appeared on every corner

One of the places Monique pointed out was the Negresco Hotel featuring
the Chantecler Restaurant and a very impressive art collection.

Mary Cioffi and Sherry Thornton weren't on our bus, but since all the buses stopped
at the same places, we ran into them several times during the day.

I had a great deal of fun teasing Marla about the nude beaches of the Riviera. 
Marla had the last laugh.  Alas, I didn't see one naked breast all day long.

Nice had a lovely walkway alongside the beach.  One thing they don't tell you in the guidebooks is that this particular beach has no sand.  It is nothing but rocks!

Talk about tall.
Many buildings like this lovely hotel overlooking the Mediterranean were 8 stories!

Besides more tall buildings, the backstreets of Nice were extremely narrow. 
With cars parked on either side, the one-way traffic had trouble moving through


Marla and I couldn't resist having coffee and croissants in a Nice square. 
It was the definitely the highlight of our visit to Nice.

Ohmygosh, the temptation to eat everything in there was overwhelming.

Everywhere we went on the Riviera, houses were merged with the hills

After we left Nice, Monique was Nice to stop the bus
so we could get out and take pictures.  That's our ship in the harbor.

Here is a hospital carved out of the side of the mountain. 
See where they had to blow up part of the mountain just to get a parking lot.

Here is a glimpse at the infamous Villa Leopolda, one of the most valuable estates in
the world.  Monique told us a wild tale about a Russian billionaire who was busted at a
ski resort for using prostitutes by the French police in 2007.  Then in 2008 this same
guy bought the estate.  Before he could close on the deal, he tried to get out of it.
Not surprisingly, he was sued by the owner for trying to renege on the deal. 
Monique added the verdict was up in the air.  Remind me to check on the status.

Can you believe all the boats in the water?  I asked Monique and she said that was nothing.  In the evening, the harbor is clogged with boats coming in the for the day.

Monique added that the roads in the Riviera are so narrow and so full of traffic
 that many people find it easier to commute to work using their boats.

I see I have my favorite grey 'Isle of Capri' teeshirt on.  I am such a tourist.  All that is missing is the camera, but I guess some bystander is using it for our picture.
Isn't it nice to be happy and healthy even if we aren't particularly wealthy?

Here is a parking lot at a private estate.
Check out that car in back.  Rolls Royce perhaps?
Notice how the cars are parked to reduce the chance of theft.

I spoke of foothills, but these were a lot closer to being mountains than hills.

Homes could be found at every level of the mountain.  Thanks to the 'tiered effect',
each home had an unobstructed view of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.

There's that car again.  How about that for a back yard?   The incline was very steep.

Take another look. Did you notice the chess set the first time you looked?

Here is a stunning look at the medieval town of Eze sitting atop a mountain. 
It has been described as the "Eagle's Nest" community of the Riviera. 
That cruise ship in the harbor shows that Eze is not far from Villefranche

This small medieval village is famous for its beauty and charm. Its many shops,
 art galleries, hotels and restaurants attract a large number of tourists and
honeymooners. As a result »ze has become a "museum village"
People come to see what an old medieval town might have looked like.

You can also see this bell tower from a distance in the picture above this one.
As it turns out, only a
few local residents live here.  The population of Eze is 2500.

You pay a stiff price to see Eze and it isn't just money... it is sweat and effort. 
To get to Eze, you have no choice but to climb a long and extremely steep staircase.

Mike and Anne Harrah stop to take photos.  Mike and Anne met at SSQQ. 
They were married in July 2003.  Mike and Anne were our companions in Capri.
So what is Anne taking a picture of?

My guess is that Anne is photographing this display case.  There were all kinds of fashions on display in Eze.  This unusual little place was actually an incredibly dangerous tourist trap.  The old town featured end-to-end shops selling expensive merchandise.

The word "quaint" was probably coined just for this village.  Everything about Eze is
so precious you wonder if it is a town taken from a fairy tale.  Marla used the exact
same word to describe Eze - "quaint", i.e. old-fashioned attractiveness

The real estate is so expensive no can afford to live here.  So they are forced to put out these mannequins just to give the illusion that it isn't a ghost town.

Here we see Monique explaining the history of Eze to her group.

This cute dance statue retailed for a cool 875 euros.  That's close to $2,000.

Linda Wade on the left met her husband John Monteith at SSQQ way back in the Eighties.  That's Jan Davis.  She is the sister in law of Mike Fagan, one of my best friends.  Mike met his wife Trisha at SSQQ.   We are just one big happy family!

A lovely painting of Eze

Here are Marla and Ann shopping together.  This little town knocked Marla's socks off.  She loved this place!  In fact, when someone contacted her about arranging a trip to France for their tenth anniversary, she made sure their trip included a visit here.

Eze is lined with one inviting shop after another. 

I wonder if one of the 2,500 inhabitants lives in the apartment upstairs.  I asked a shop owner if he lived in Eze.  He frowned and said he needed every spare inch of his shop for more merchandise.  Besides, it was cheaper to live somewhere else.

Another word for this place was 'charming'.  Here Marla and June Singh study the merchandise.  I liked the pink sailboat, but backed off when Marla questioned my masculinity.  She can be tough on the self-esteem sometimes.

I don't know how women are able to withstand the temptation to buy everything. 
Every single shop was a full of delightful things... expensive too.

They say that clothing is used to attract attention. These outfits definitely caught my eye.
I dared Marla to buy that terrifying outfit on the left.  She gave me a dirty look and said I couldn't afford her if she decided to start wearing outfits like that.  That shut me up

Everything was too cute and so colorful! 

Be still my beating heart.  When Marla wasn't looking, I stared at it and wondered
how I could buy the thing without Marla knowing.  Would it fit in my pocket?

Here we have a picture of the narrow walkways of the Eze shopping area.
As the picture on the right shows, this painting is pretty accurate.

Eze was a veritable maze of narrow corridors. 
Without signs, people could get lost very easily. 

When you walk through this place, you feel like you are in a different world. 
As long as we were walking through the shops, we could not see out.

And yet when you do get a view of the surrounding world, it feels like Shangri-La up here.
It is so wonderful being in this beautiful little hamlet way up in the clouds.

To heck with Monaco.  We didn't want to go.  They made us leave against our will.

Like I said, this town must have been extracted from some fairy tale.

I got one last look as we drove away.  This place is precious.


Monique pointed out where the villagers live.  Considering some of the prices in
those shops, I am not sure she was teasing.  Then she pointed to the biggest house
and said that one was hers.  One guy asked if we could come over for drinks. 
Monique smiled and said, "Just you."  The whole bus roared. 
Marla frowned and rolled her eyes.  I kept my mouth shut.  I am learning.

As we departed Eze on our way to Monaco, I couldn't help but notice how green this
area was.  For a place with 300 days of sunshine a year, it sure has a lot of trees.


The picture is a little blurry, but you get the idea.  Eze is thisaway, Monaco is thataway.  Eze is three miles west of Monaco and nine miles west of Menton.

 Post-Trip 1: French Riviera  Post-Trip 2: Nice and Eze  Read Next - Post-Trip 3: Monaco
Pre-Trip: History of the French Riviera  Pre-Trip: Grace Kelly Pre-Trip: Stories about the French Riviera
Barcelona 2009 Home Barcelona Day One Barcelona Day Two Isle of Capri Day Three Evil Map of Rome Day Four
Florence and Pisa Day Five Nice and Eze Day Six Marseilles Day Seven Who Went Formal Pictures
Precruise Information Capri - PreC Rome Reborn Florence - PreC  
The Fabulous French Riviera Nice and Eze Monaco Fast Lane Grace Kelly Cote d'Azur
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