A Surprise Visit to Villefranche
When we opened our eyes this morning and saw the whitecaps outside, we knew we were not going to be able to tender into St. Tropez.
It wasn’t long before the Captain of the Journey announced he was looking for a more sheltered harbor; and not long after, he broadcast we would anchor off Villefranche.
The crew scrambled to get together some on-shore options, and we chose to take an excursion to St. Paul de Vence, a beautiful, hilltop village right out of a medieval movie set. It turned out to be a warm sunny day, and the new harbor was nice and calm for the tenders to get to shore. Villefranche is beautiful, and also has major city walls left from the fortifications built when it was a part of the House of Savoy, and defended itself from the French.
We drove along the coastal La Promenade des Anglais through Nice, and were surprised at just how quaint, picturesque, clean, colorful and interesting it all looked. St. Paul was absolutely charming, with narrow, winding alleys filled with high-end art galleries and beautiful shops. Fitting for an area that inspired Matisse, Chagall and Picasso.
We capped it off by sitting in a café at the entrance to the village and watching the local bocce players. They played on a sandy court with no edging and the traditional smaller balls. It was amazing to watch them toss the ball in the air for a dead hit on the competitor’s ball, and then nestle their ball right up to the pelota. They took the game to a whole new level.
I loved everything we saw today, and can see why so many count this part of the world among their favorites.
Tip: Train service runs regularly along the coastal route, connecting Monaco with all the cities along the Cote D’Azur and beyond.