By Lynda Kavanagh, aka The “WOW” Gal
Villefranche is part of the French Riviera and very close to the Italian border. To get there we flew into Nice, great airport for bikes. Sidebar: They now have a Left Luggage and will keep your bike bags (we have sacs not plastic bags) and if you are going to be there for a long period (we were there for three weeks) they dropped the price from 8Euros to 5Euros a day.
So we put our bikes together and headed east, past Nice on dedicated bike paths and the Prmenade de Anglais. (Absolutely spectacular view of the Cote d’Azur – this means Ocean of Blue – and I’ve never seen that colour of ocean before.
Villefranche is up a nasty hill on the east end of Nice, right by the ferry port. The traffic is heavy but, they know how to drive around you. Once you get to the top of the hill, then you go down into Villefrance. (Yes such is the life of a cyclist, you go up, then you go down, then you go up again).
Villefrance is a bit deceiving as it is built on three different levels, we had a bit of a hard time finding our RCI, Quai Amiral Ponchardier as it was on the lowest level of Villefrance (yes down more hills).
The management of this Maeva apartment were two big burly fellows but as nice as you could ever want, but the apartment was extremely small and had those strange beds (we’ve seen them before at European RCI’s, where you have a couch/bed and a drawer underneath that you pull out and there is another mattress there. My Mom says they are a form of “Trundle bed” and when she was a young gal they had them in Canada.
I could live with the smallness of the apartment and the weird bed because the view was spectacular. It was across from the main Villefranche beach and the inlet of water was only 10 feet from our window. Every day we had our coffee and croissants and watched as the big ocean liners dock to let people off to go to the beach. They were working on the beach during the time we were there so that was a bit noisy but once completed it will enhance the area.
We cycled into Monico and Nice, but the hills were a bit of a deterrent, especially after a bit of wine and a nice meal. So we stayed in our area to eat and drink and that was okay as there were lots of restaurants to pick from and some Petite’ Casinos (supermarkets). Whatever your budget was you would be able to find a meal. Of course, as Canadians we are used to eating early, but none of the restaurants would serve food before 8. So we had wine looking out our great window view until it was supper time.
Our original plan was to train it to Menton and Ventamillia as the train station was close buy, but there was a train strike. We were lucky to not have gone the day we planned as that’s the day the strike happened and it went on for four days. That definitely had an impact on the number of day trips we could take.
One day we were going to try to find the Perfume factory in Ese’, which is towards Monico. After about 10km straight up a mountain, I quit. D’Arcy cycled another 10km and still didn’t reach it so we decided to forget about this one and go to the factory in Grasse, which is above another mountain by Nice. We had cycled that before so I knew that I could do it – after all it was only 25km up!!!
Highlights: The view, the beach, the Rose’ wine, the ride to Monico
Didin’t like: The hills to get to and from there, the nightclub.
Organized Tours: No
Would we go to this resort again: No. Too small and it was right next to a night club that did not stop the music or the noise until 3pm. I could have handled the smallness if I could have gotten a good nights sleep. I think if the train strike would not have been on, we would have more options but because the hills were so strenuous, it was a deterrent to leave our little area.
Tour de France: Oh by the way, the 2009 Tour did this area, the Ese area, Nice, and Grasse- so that tells you how mountainous this part is. (But I felt special to ride the road that Lance rode)