We are taking a cruise of the Western Mediterranean and have a day where we go into port at Villefranche-sur-Mer. We have the choice of going to Eze, Monaco, Nice or Cannes. We enjoy history, beaches, and beautiful scenery. We aren't big shoppers so that's not as important to us but we do love great regional food. Any suggestions?
Given that you enjoy food and beautiful scenery, Eze and Nice would win for me among your four. The view of the Med from the chateau at Eze is unequalled, plus the chance for a $25 Kir (in '03) is memorable as well. We checked the box on Monaco, but the choices of food in Nice were excellent. Didn't go to Cannes so can't weigh in on that one.
Mary , I would so choose either Eze, spend the part of the day having a nice lunch there ( they have some AMAZING restos there , amazing views and good food) , then maybe go down to Eze Sur Mer and spend a few hours at a nice beach , order a drink , sit on a lounge , take a swim, ,nice day. We took the local bus from Nice to Monaco this summer, cost ONE EURO!! and visited Monaco for a few hours just wandering around, then got back on bus and got off in Eze sur Mer for late lunch and swim, one of our best days.. Nice has very rocky crowded beaches..
Mary, To begin with, I'd cross Cannes off the list as it's not worth a stop (IMO). Regarding the other locations.... > Nice would be a good choice, as it has a beautiful old town area, some nice restaurants and of course the Chagall and Matisse Museums. Although you're not "big shoppers", there are some nice smaller shops that are interesting to browse in. The beaches along the Promenade des Anglais are beautiful, albeit a bit "rocky" in parts. You could also visit the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, which is not far from Nice. > Monaco is also an interesting stop. You could watch the Changing of the Guard at the Royal Palace (11:55 daily), have a look in the Church where Princess Grace and Prince Rainier are interred, visit the incredible Oceanographic Museum or just wander the narrow alleys to enjoy the small Cafes. You could also take a short trip Bus trip across the bay to Monte Carlo to see how "the one percent" live (note that the famous Casino has a dress code). Have a look at the harbour to see if the Lady Moura is docked there. It's truly impressive! > Eze - you've received some good information on that so far. If you can find a copy in your local Library, the RS Mediterranean Cruise Ports Guidebook has lots of good information on excursions. Happy travels!
I would consider staying in Villefranche, which is a very charming town, perhaps taking the train to Monaco or Nice. Perhaps less so with a big cruise ship in the harbor, but still pretty nice I would think. We ended our 2003 France trip in Nice, and went to Monaco on the train, stopped at Villefranche on the way back and wished we had stayed there instead of Nice. That said, the oceanside promenade and the old town in Nice were nice. The pebbly beach is kind of unique, something you don't see every day. We generally travel on land but two of our twelve or thirteen Europe trips have been on cruises.. most recently in 2011. Some folks prefer to go with the planned excursion on every stop, but I advise to consider port by port whether you might be able to do better on your own. I think this stop is an example where perhaps you could as the transportation connections are very easy along the Riviera.
I agree with the previous poster that you should consider staying in Villefranche for the day. We stayed four nights and I think it has enough to do for a cruise ship port day. If you decide to go elsewhere, do take the bus and not an excursion. It's fast, easy and cheap. We went to Monaco on a day that several cruise ships were in and it was absolutely packed with groups.
We have stayed twice in Villefranche-sur=Mer and really enjoy it. We've bussed to Monaco, Nice and Antibes. Villefranche is very pleasant on it's own but the day a cruise ship arrived the little town had a whole lot of people. Have you gone to www.cruisecritic.com and checked the Ports of Call forum? I find it very helpful.