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fitzwater Sep 29th, 2010 10:59 AM

Specific Travel & Logistics Questions - Nice/Villefranche-Sur-Mer/Eze
Hi there - I have 2 specific questions that I wanted to see if any experienced Cote D'Azur travelers might be able to help me with. We will be staying in Villefranche-Sur-Mer from Wed 10/20 (PM) to Sat 10/23 (PM) and are looking to do a few things in the area but will not be renting a car. Given the fact that daylight hours will be precious at this time of year, I'm looking to maximize the time spent "doing" and minimize the time spent waiting for buses and/or trains. Wanted to see if anyone had tips for me for the following Qs:

1. We will arrive at Gare de Nice Ville at 1:30pm and plan to take the train to VF at 1:53, arriving at 2pm. We will be staying at the Hotel Welcome - is this walkable from the train station with luggage? We will have one rolling bag plus backpack each, we are both fit indiviuals and can handle a decent walk, probably won't want to waste more than 30 min though... If not, what is the average cab fare for this trip, and are cabs frequently available at the Gare?
2. We would like to do a mid-morning trip to Eze Village. I've done extensive internet research on this trip from VF and it seems there are really only 2 options sans car: a)bus/train to Nice, transfer to bus to Eze Village; b)bus/train to Eze Bord de Mer, transfer to bus to Eze village. From what I've read, neither bus seems to run frequently or be very reliable on timing. I'm secretly hoping there is a magic bus line out there from VF to Eze Village that I have not found on the internet....anyone? If not, what about walking part of the way? I've read about the walk from Eze Bord du Mer up to the village and that might be a little intense (or maybe not, anyone have specifics on this walk?). And then I thought about this: what about walking to the main road that the 112 bus seems to run along from Nice - there seems to be a stop called 'Col de Villefranche' - is this near VFSM? How long/far of a walk from the Welcome? Could we pick up the 112 from here and ride it up to Eze?
3. What is the most convenient/reliable way to travel from VF to the Nice Airport on Saturday morning for a 1:30pm flight? We are open to a taxi provided it's not too expensive (our max would be $30-40?). I'm not well versed in the trains or buses to/from the airport.

The rest of our trip we plan to check out cities/villages that are along the SNCF train line, so we should be fine riding this route to/from. If I think of more specific travel questions you may see another post from me!

Thank you in advance for your help. I am from Philadelphia and if any of you out there find yourself visiting the city of brotherly love in the future, I will be happy to help you with your travel and logistics Qs!

AlessandraZoe Sep 29th, 2010 12:05 PM

I can chip away at part of this. The Hotel Welcome (good choice) is a spit away from the train station:

Quite frankly, nothing in Villefranche seemed far away from anything. We didn't stay there--we stayed in Nice and rode the train or a bus everyday somehwere--but I made a note that on future trips we'd stay either in Villefranche or in Antibes. And we STILL wouldn't rent a car.

Although we were staying in Nice, we did not take the bus to Eze. So...
--Obviously, I have not walked from Villefranche-sur-Mer to the Eze-sur-Mer train stop, but I think it's pretty doable. We would take day walks along the coast all the time and everything seemed so close.
--We DID hike up to Eze from the Eze-sur-Mer train stop with ease (no pun intended, but sort of appropriate nonetheless). And we walked back down easily. This was NOT the Matterhorn, and I really wonder about anyone who says this was hard. We're in our 50's and 60's now and would not hesitate to do it again--it was so much fun to turn around on the trail and look out to the sea. Keeps you in the moment--know what I mean?

Taxi from your hotel to Nice airport probably isn't bad as far as time and fee but there are probably many options. Just ask the front desk at your hotel about everything you can do. Worse comes to worse, you can hop on a train to Nice and I can guarantee that taxi fare is darn cheap and takes no time.

I reiterate that we found the Cote d'Azur to be one of the easiest and most delightful places in France to use public transportation.

My main reference book for our trip(this was over seven years ago now) was called "Day Trips France" or something like that. It had a Cote d'Azur section in it. Since all family members were art fanatics, we bought Cote d'Azur museum passes and off we went.

There were so many great museums in Nice (a spit away from Villefranche), and after we exhausted those, we just rode trains and buses with incredibly easy connections to visit AMAZING little museums. Went as far east as Menton (on Italian border) and as far west as Cannes. Northern boundary was Grasse (not worth the trip).

jkbritt Sep 29th, 2010 12:36 PM

Any bus trip is 1 Euro each way. Buses run frequently. At the train station - BE REALLY CAREFUL of pickpockets. There are hundeds of incidents per WEEK and the two places that are being targeted by pickpockets are the train station and the tram stops. Keep all valuables - money, cc, passports, airline tickets, etc. in a money belt under your clothing.

fitzwater Sep 30th, 2010 09:55 AM

AlessandraZoe - thanks for the input, this is so helpful.

We will plan to walk to the Welcome and we will plan to walk from the Eze Burd De Mer train station up to the village(both of which I'm happy about - I like getting as much exercise as I can on vacation without deliberately going off to exercise!). I have read in posts on various sites that this walk was "so steep" and "so intense" and "wouldn't recommend it". But I'd like to do it if we can, so thank you for clearing up the rumors! I'll have to report back on the walk. And I have seen some shots of the view from the walk up and they look amazing, so I am looking forward to experiencing that. Any recommendations for a good (not too fancy) lunch spot during/after that journey? A good long walk deserves a good long meal after...

PalenQ Sep 30th, 2010 10:25 AM

The rest of our trip we plan to check out cities/villages that are along the SNCF train line, so we should be fine riding this route to/from>

From the Cap d'Ail train station, a few minutes toward Monaco from Villefrance, you can take a really stunningly beautiful flat few-mile stroll along an untouched signature Riviera coast of huge boulders with cypress trees clinging to them tumbling into a clear azure-hued seat - with non of the obnoxious over development that you see scarring much of the Riviera's coast line - the iconic Riviera scene etched in your minds' eyes - you emerge at the yacht club in Monte Carlo and can poke around this Mouse that Roared Principality and return to Villefrance by train from the Monaco/Monte Carlo train station (or go on east to Menton, etc.)

fitzwater Oct 1st, 2010 04:28 PM

Great - thanks! How many miles is the walk? Terrain? Anything along the way if we need pit stop or water, etc? (Just for planning ahead purposes...)

julia1 Oct 1st, 2010 05:46 PM

I remember a wonderful day a few years ago of lunch in Villefranche and then a walk around the harbor and over the hill and up to the magnificent gardens of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on Cap Ferrat, and then a walk down to Beaulieu from where I caught the train back to Villefranche. It's an easy and beautiful walk of less than an hour.

In 1905 the Baroness Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild commissioned the construction of a villa and gardens in which she could commemorate her memories of cruising the world on the ship <i>Ile de France</i>. The main garden to the rear of the villa was given the form of a ship, with six smaller secret gardens leading off it. The house is also open and there is a little tea room overlooking the sea. Here are some photos if you're interested:

View of Beaulieu from Rothschild garden:

Interior of villa:

AlessandraZoe Oct 2nd, 2010 05:56 AM

We also did the walk described by Julia1 because of its lovely description in the book I mentioned before:
"DayTrips France: 48 Adventures by Rail, Bus or Car" by Earl Steinbicker.

I don't see a recent update for "Daytrips"--the 6th edition was printed in 2005--but you can get a pretty good used edition from Amazon or B&N with shipping costs for under $10. You can check out the index for yourself on the Google books overview-- --to see just how extensive his section was on the Cote d'Azur. Or you can read the entire book at that site, too.

Anyway, as I was saying, the author's section for Cote d'Azur is huge, and even though I always read at least four guidebooks and do internet research before any trip, this book quickly became our Riviera trip bible. We'd pass the Cote d'Azur section we'd cut out around the our breakfast table at our Nice hotel(Hotel Grimaldi)and take a vote on our next destination(s)for the day.

We did almost everything listed in the index. We did not get to St. Tropez or the Var Valley. The only destination in the book we did not enjoy that much was Grasse, but since that trip gave us an excuse to get off the bus for lunch in the delightful hilltop village of Mougins (not in the book) it was by no means a wasted day.

Villefranche's location relative to Nice and the town's own train station would make all the trips/walks we did from Nice equally doable.

SeeDee Oct 2nd, 2010 12:25 PM

There is an alternative bus connection to Eze, no 83, leaving Beaulieu sur Mer (La Plage stop) or you can pick it up at Eze Bord du Mer.
The Cap d'Ail to Monaco walk is very pleasant and you can add to the experience by careful timing to make lunch at le Cabanon which is right on the pathway, about a mile from your start point.
There is also the option of the coastal path around the Cap Ferrat peninsula, if you have about three hours at your disposal.
There is a dedicated bus connection from Nice rail station to the airport. You can expect to pay over €50 for a direct taxi ride from Villefranche to the airport.

fitzwater Oct 6th, 2010 09:51 AM

Thanks SeeDee. So I would start at the Cap D'Ail train station? Is the trail/route marked? About how far/long is it to le Cabanon, and then on to Monaco? Just trying to time this out approriately. Thanks!

SeeDee Oct 7th, 2010 04:19 PM

Yes, you leave the train station, turning left and take the underpass that brings you down to the seashore (La Pinede restaurant is there). No need for marking on the route as it follows the coastline all the way. Heading eastwards, Le Cabanon is about a mile away; lunch service seems to end about 2pm.

You should make the centre of Fontvielle in under an hour; we made our way through the shopping arcade there to emerge out the other side in Monaco itself.

Having "done" Monaco before, we did not delay there but took a train onwards to Roquebrune, not really realising how far up the hill the old town was from the station. It's a lot of steps but the village has a particular charm, along with Eze-type views and a hilltop citadel. We hopped on the 100 bus back to base (Beaulieu) as there were tunnel repairs ongoing during the summer near Monte Carlo and train changes were in place for those travelling between Menton and Monaco. These works are probably completed by now.

PalenQ Oct 8th, 2010 08:39 AM

the Cap d'Ail to Monaco flat walk can be not much more than two miles, if that. and as said there is only one path, right along the shore - just do as SeeDee says from Cap d'Ail train station.

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