Nice cruises take you to the gorgeous southern coast of France. When your ship pulls into the port of Villefranche (the gateway port for Nice), you’ll be right in the middle of this beloved part of the European coastline known as the French Riviera. Travelers on Villefranche cruises will get the opportunity to head into Nice or head on an excursion to the French cities and towns of Cannes, Eze, St. Paul de Vence, or even the principality of Monaco. However you choose to spend your day in port while visiting on a Mediterrean cruise, you’re sure to be wowed by the culture and beauty of the French Riviera.
Nice has pebbly beaches that provide a scenic backdrop to its glitzy promenade called Promenade des Anglais (the English Walk), a long white path along the beach lined by upscale restaurants and shops. Promenade des Anglais stretches for over four miles. If you’re planning on taking a break from walking it to do some beach lounging, you can rent a beach chair for the day.
Massena Square is Nice’s main square, though its opulent, circle-shaped fountain is likely what you’ll first notice about it. Follow the checkered grounds and you’ll arrive at the red-hued buildings lining one side of Massena Square which house shops and restaurants.
The Old Town area of Nice features some of the city’s most intriguing and historic buildings. One that stands out is Palais de Justice, a Neoclassical building that stands grandly over the adjacent square and houses governmental offices. The square it’s situated on is also home to some al-fresco bars and restaurants that are great for sitting and enjoying the ambiance of Nice’s Old Town and people-watching.
Book an excursion from Villefranche to the world’s second-smallest country, Monaco. While there, you can tour all of the top sites of its glamorous capital, Monte Carlo. Try your hand at blackjack in the lavish casinos, marvel at the large yachts lining the harbor, learn more about the famous annual Monte Carlo Grand Prix car race, and amble down the streets of the Old Town of Monaco, an area of the country that dates back to the 6th century and features Medieval architecture. While in Monaco Old Town, be sure to look for the impressive Prince’s Palace and the Chapel of Mercy.
If you love historic villages, then you’ll enjoy spending time in Eze. Villefranche cruises place passengers in the ideal place to journey to Eze, which is only around five miles from the Villefranche pier. Stroll around medieval buildings and along stone walls believed to date back to 600 B.C. while admiring the village’s vantagepoint on top of a mountain. Within all these incredible buildings, you’ll find art galleries, boutiques, souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes. In addition, there is a lovely garden to walk around. You’ll have to climb some steps to enter Eze, but it’s worth it for the panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea you’ll have from the village.
Another excursion you can take during Nice cruises is from Villefranche to Saint-Paul de Vence, a medieval town that is one of the oldest along the French Riviera. Saint-Paul de Vence has a history of artists living there, and it’s known for its architecture as well as its art galleries and museums.
When in Nice, you’ll love dining or getting a drink at one of the restaurants and bars lining Promenade des Anglais. These restaurants provide prime people-watching opportunities and gorgeous views of the sea. As you might expect, locally caught seafood served fresh is the thing to try while you’re in Nice. If you’re hoping to grab a bite to eat before getting back on your ship, head to the Cocteau’s Church of St. Pierre in Villefranche, which is close to the port and right by many restaurants and cafes.
Nice is the capital of the Alpes-Maritime Department, a region in southeastern France, but it’s far from being all about business. Nice is a popular vacation destination, especially for Europeans, who flock to the southern coast of France to enjoy views of the city’s baroque-influenced architecture and gleaming Mediterranean waves lapping at the white-hued pebbles of the shore. Prior to being a tourism focal point in France, Nice was predominantly a maritime city with roots dating back to 350 B.C., when Greek seafarers founded the city.
Nice cruises pull into port in Villefranche, which has a natural harbor where cruise ships can tender. Your ship will anchor offshore, and you’ll be transported to the pier in Villefranche via tender boats. The cruise terminal where you’re dropped off is small, but there is a tourist information desk. You’ll also be within walking distance of the city center of Villefranche. Villefranche is located about 20 minutes away from Nice. Before you make your journey there, you can enjoy the pretty waterfront village ambiance of Villefranche and the views of mountains in the distance.
From Villefranche, you can take buses to Monaco and Nice for a reasonable price. For a bit more, you can walk to the train station, where trains will whisk you away to Nice, Cannes, or Monte Carlo. Taxis are also available outside the cruise terminal building to take you where you’d like within the French Riviera. Before taking these modes of transportation, be sure you understand the bus time tables and plan accordingly so you get back to your cruise ship on time.
You’ll have no trouble finding shops, boutiques, and luxury brands during your port of call in Villefranche. Aside from the shops lining the promenade, you can find upscale and designer brands at Rue Massena, Rue de la Liberte, Rue Alphonse Karr, and Avenue de Suede. For more traditional souvenirs, visit the little shops near the Villefranche cruise terminal before getting back on the ship.
Nice and the rest of France (and Monaco) use the Euro. You can find ATM machines and money exchange bureaus throughout Nice and other cities and main towns along the French Riviera. Credit cards are also widely accepted by businesses, though it’s always wise to double check, particularly if dining or shopping at a small, family-owned restaurant or store.
When it comes to tipping in Nice and surrounding areas, plan on rounding up. For example, if you order a cappuccino, leave the change or round up to the next whole figure on the bill. If dining in a restaurant, a service charge is often included in the bill, but it’s still common to leave a bit extra by rounding the bill up to the nearest whole figure. Leaving 5% to 10% of the total bill is also a good way to calculate the tip if you’re not sure rounding up is enough.