Nice

Jane’s top 10 Villefranche gigs – ENJOY!

Ever visited Villefranche-Sur-Mer?

So many off beat, interesting, exciting and downright brilliant things to do in and around Villefranche-Sur-Mer (VSM) on the Côte d’Azur France, it would be remiss not to share my favorites. View the list as confirmation for ‘Heck yeah I’m booking my ticket now!’ or valid argument for ‘Bugger off, that’s not my gig.’ Your choice.

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20130908-100542.jpg20130908-100550.jpg20130908-100556.jpg1) The village clutches to it’s heart an ‘old town’ which includes the Rue Obscure, a 14th century defensive passageway which fell victim to urbanization over the centuries and became completely covered. St Michel’s Church with obligatory bell tower serving as village alarm clock and Saint Peter’s Chapel decorated by Jean Cocteau and devoted to fishermen. The villas bathed in soft hues of terra cotta, clotted cream and dusty tangerine, crowd narrow alleyways lined with restaurants, bars, clothing and gift stores, a Boulangerie-Patisserie, mini CoOp market and the essential Tabac (phone recharge, mags, papers, tobacco) all pushing up against a spectacular harbor foreshore; as well as…

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20130907-195131.jpg 2) Du Plage des Marinières, the local beach. Fee free too. Smooth pebbles, heavenly on hot summer days averaging 29-34 degrees, water so deliciously cool and salty you can toss the Floaties and indulge in submerging ears to listen to the swoosh of the ocean bed below, eyes heavenward to admire the ridiculously deep blue sky while pondering a visit to…

20130908-100734.jpg20130908-100741.jpg20130908-104613.jpg20130908-104710.jpg3) The ancient Citadel, once a fortification now housing Le Hotel de Ville actually the town hall; intriguing art and sculpture exhibits with zero entry fee, a nightly open air Cinema for minimal euro, uber cool vibe and compulsory language grasp, plus art centric gardens in which to view the harbor which is…

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20130908-101536.jpg 4) The deepest port in the Mediterranean and where you can (a) park your maxi yacht right in front of the many restaurants lining the harbor, give the crew the night off and/or (b) demand your cruise ship does likewise (agenda tick given the volume of cruise ships in the bay) where you can feast on Moules et Fruits de Mer (mussels and seafood) while you plan a…

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5) Walk to Beaulieu-sur-Mer, the neighboring harbor jam packed with yachts and sea craft , more beautiful beaches, a backdrop of cliffs upon which houses cling precariously. You may refer to this village as Beaumont-sur-Mer if you enjoyed ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin; a movie script rumored to have been written for David Bowie and Mick Jagger…which leads to turning right at…

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6) Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat where you can admire the €€€ real estate belonging to ‘notable’ gentry including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Stroll along the beautiful Promenade Maurice Rouvier from the Beaulieu Bay de Formis side of the Cap and while there check out Villa Nellcote (the gates that is) where the Rolling Stones recorded ‘Exile on Main Street’ (in between Keith indulging in or brushing off the French constabulary for drug misdemeanors) while also…

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20130908-112414.jpg20130908-112509.jpg20130908-112601.jpg 7) Taking in the glorious Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild where Rothschild imagined and designed her gardens as a ship’s deck; temple of love at the bow, the Villa from which to admire her work (well that of the hired help, all required to sport red berets with pompoms) at the stern, the garden itself flanked with l’Espalmador bay to starboard and the Fourmis bay port-side. Observe and admire the musically synchronized fountains and while on the famous Villa roll you may also wish to…

20130908-114318.jpg 8) Marvel at Villa Leopolda up there on the VSM mountainside backdrop; possibly the world’s most expensive real estate where (a) battles over integrity maintenance were fought and lost with royalty, (b) a banker’s wife sued and won a Russian billionaire’s renege on a €35M deposit (on a sale originally touted at €500M, later refuted to be just €375M) and (c) in which a number of movies have been filmed including ‘To Catch a Thief’ starring Grace Kelly prior to her becoming a ‘local’. Which of course brings us to…

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20130908-114733.jpg 9) Utilising the village as the perfect 20min access to Monaco where you can don your fave Chanel frock or Stuart Hughes suit, add your best Harry Winston bling, tip the driver and head in to roll the dice at the Monte Carlo Casino while pouting for the paparazzi (see Black Amex Down post). Alternatively, to Èze-Sur-Mer where you can trek all the way up to Èze Village (while also admiring Bono’s home clinging to the mountainside); a mere 3 hour, 430 metres from sea level hike…yeah right! There’s a bus – €1.50

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20130908-115025.jpg20130908-115040.jpg10) If that’s not your bag, head in the opposite direction to Nice and dance down the Prominade des Anglaise (see ‘I’m still standing’ post), trawl the nitty gritty back streets and check out la mOMa gallery; Canne, if your anxious to do your best ‘red carpet’ imitation. Now throw off the papps, return to VSM and follow the…

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11) Tiny foot prints enticing you to brilliant works of art deliberately and enticingly hidden throughout the village, then debrief on what the artiste was trying to convey with that massive tangle of fluorescent wool between the trees over a chilled Sancerre while admiring another glorious sunset; after which of course you will..

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20130908-120426.jpg 12) Choose from the array of restaurants to graze on a L’Apéritif (Aperitif), L’Entrée (Appetizer), Le Plat Principal (Main course), Le Fromage (Cheese), Le Dessert (Dessert), Le Café (Coffee) and a Le Digestif (Digestif) to finish the day on a nice note; all the while ruminating on highlights from this beautiful little piece of the famous Côte d’Azur.

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I’m still standing…yeah yeah yeah

Im still standing better than I did before‘ sang Elton John (surprise given the six Martinis he’d just thrown back with Duran Duran) as he pranced on this very street back in ’83…‘lookin’ like a true surviver, feeling like a little kid’ sang I while barely suppressing the urge to skip. And why not? I’m on the Promenade des AnglaisNice…the Côte d’AzurFrance!

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20130901-124126.jpgA quick sidestep to view the beach delights with a six emotion slam dunk. Curiosity, intrigue, surprise, thrill, fear, reverence. She’s frail, 70+, snowy white curls, helped over the pebbles by two burly lifesavers, plunges in, flips over, topless and backstrokes smoothly out to sea, bosoms a bobbing. Elle est magnifique!

20130901-124203.jpgInto a side street to the old town and on through the famous Cour Saleya Saturday markets: poisson and fromage to the left; figues, roses, framboises to the right. Followed by coffee and a wonderfully fluffy omelette with the most interesting frites…slender, concave and just too delish to leave.

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20130901-124343.jpgOnto the hairdresser where Thierry wields scissors like a chaff cutter while a waif with pouting ruby red lips whisks away a fur ball equivalent in size to a small blond rodent. Fringe be gone!

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20130901-124454.jpgAnother coffee, the pure shot of caffeine jet propelling me up the Avenue Jean Médecin and the steps to the Parc du Château, all the while jabbering step count in French, as far as ‘Vingt‘ that is (213 if you must know). Photo op. Back down the other side to the Porte, a cocktail and aperitif, onto the No.81 and home.

Still jabbering. It’s 2am and I’M STILL BLOODY STANDING!’…damn coffee.

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Aching balls and butter pats…

Walked this far, might as well continue

Balls of my feet are aching. A walk from Villefranche-Sur-Mer around the Bd Princess Grace de Monaco, down to Lympia and on to Port Riquier Le Port of Nice will do that. One of those ‘walked this far might as well continue’ moments followed closely by ‘how the feck do I get home’ angst.

Situation needed serious contemplation, and obligatory fortification. Sidestepped into a petite bistro, ordered a vin Rouge and what I assumed would be a cheese platter equivalent to the desperately small cube of cheddar, slither of blue vein, dot of goat’s cheese guaranteed to remain attached to roof of mouth ’till Tuesday, a grape and three small biscuits; the nature of which my beloved homeland is inclined to serve for a mere $20.

Nope…€8 offered up half a side of Roquefort, four dollops of non stick goat offering and two huge gherkins piled atop a salad accompanied by five slabs of Baguette. Holy taste buds batman! What really intrigue20130830-203711.jpgd was the two butter pats in the mix; usually only proffered after one has begged, cajoled and thrown a small but noisy tantrum for the French just don’t get it. Mon dieu! Voulez vous le beurre??? Oui I bloody well want butter! But this time I didn’t, gave that fight up a while ago – I’m an undercover local now remember?
In the interests of upholding my ‘eat everything in site before the budget limps away sobbing soon’ mantra I fulfilled the duty, all the while chortling at the memory of Rossy ordering a four cheese Pizza (when Jen, Ross and I were last in France) and receiving a 5cm deep pile of melted cheese under which a tiny crust tried in vain to uphold its duty.

Rossy’s gallant effort was well rewarded with applaud from we girls and the crusty old codgers nearby. Mine with discovering Bus 81 went right past my abode, the stop just ten meters away and all for €1.20. Merci dieu!!

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20130830-203925.jpgArrived home and discovered this gorgeous woman (and her inherited side kick) atop the Citadel. What can I say?

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Lunching in Portofino bay…

Look kids! Another tunnel, viaduct, tunnel! Nice to the CinqueTerra, the five lands and the sleepy fishing village of Monterosso after an endless drive through the middle of mountains and over gorges. The journey punctuated with a rewarding stop by in Portofino where Ducky suggests an impromptu boat ride. While cruising around SanFortozio we nibble freshly selected market panne, prosecuto, fromage, crimson cherries strawberries enhanced with white Balsamic. The fromage, a gently oozing Brie and aromatic chunk of Roquefort, sadly missing for Pixi’s clearly left them atop the counter  back in Nice. We mourn the loss of this perfect accompaniment to a lazy picnic with a bottle of Louis Roederer Champers.

20110511-110255.jpgDucky deserves this treat for he’s just survived his initiation into driving on the wrong side of the road, dodging oncoming maniacs at the wheel of flaming red Ferraris and random suicidal cyclists on switchback bends and narrow alleyways. And what an adorable place to do so! Absolutely recommended!

Practice replacing ‘merci’ and ‘au revoir’ with ‘grazia’ and ‘arrivederci’ and concur…pop an ‘O’ on the end of all words and we’ll have this new language conquered.

20110511-110325.jpgNegotiate our way to CinqueTerra, check in and as we explore our rooms, find Pixi’s is equivalent to a monastery… expecting a holographic cross to hover above the bed, and still pondering how to access the loo which is kinda under the sink…and as for the prospect of bending down to pick up the soap in the shower? The doubles have rooms a tad larger and as I visit, find Dickie pouring G&Ts atop his bedside table, which is actually a small fridge. Roaring with laughter, we down said aperitifs and toast our new country. Italy.

A stroll down to dine on a cliff edge, watch the sun set and a bright moon rise over the infinity and beyond’ Mediterranean…ahhh! Bellissimo!

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Watching the Corsica-Sardinia Ferry…

Died and gone to heaven! Incredibly clear skies and a crystal azure blue ocean…we are on the Cote d’Azure! Sunning our legs while admiring the Corsica-Sardinia Ferry cut a swath across the Mediterranean, G&T in hand, contemplating our next move, as you do, decisions conclude with a casual stroll along the promenade. The beach consists of grey pebbles rather than soft white sand yet that doesn’t perturb the sun worshippers, one of them a burnt copper hue, aged beyond age recognition, reminds us the movie Weekend at Bernie’s…she’s Bernie!20110510-111257.jpg A napping dog in a pram, plump Russians in their undies along side gorgeous bodies in tiny bikinis.

Sangria on the beach then back to await our additional travel companions, Kim and Donna due in tonight from Vienna. A night in as everyone relives their holiday to date.

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