Day trip time. First port of call was Èze, a beautiful village perched high high above the water between Nice and Monaco. After catching the train to the station, which is next to the beach, you get a bus that takes you up the hill on increasingly steep zig-zag roads. When you get to the top you realise that the village itself is perched on another small hill and just how high up you are.
I seem to be using the words “narrow streets” a lot on this trip but they really do apply here, and it’s so easy to get lost in this incredibly pretty village. At the highest point is the Jardin Exotique, where among sculptures and cactii you get stunning views down to the beach and harbour below.
Just beneath the village church is Nietzsche’s Path (he had lived in Èze) which would take me back down the hill to the station. I say path, in most places it’s more like a haphazard collection of jagged rocks assembled in a vauguely downhill direction. The going was tough, but not as tough as a foolhardy few who were climbing upwards. Mostly though I had the path to myself and the scenery on the descent was wonderful.
Next up was a short journey East to Monaco, where you emerge from the subterranean station into a world of money and excess. Walking past the Catholic Church you find yourself at the harbour, gazing over super-size yachts bobbing in the water, and listening to the chatter of Russian voices.
Round the corner is the famous Monte Carlo casino, an impressive building in front of the Place Casino. I had a look inside but didn’t venture onto the tables as I feared my wallet would develop an inferiority complex.
Im glad I got to see the place but the in-your-face wealth was a bit overwhelming. I hopped back on the train to Nice for a cooling swim in the hotel pool before heading to Villefranche-sur-Mer for the evening.
Villefranche is just a couple of stops on the train from Nice, and the beach was still quite busy when I arrived just before 7pm. A short walk round the headland leads you to the village itself, a gorgeous series of pastel-coloured buildings overlooking a small harbour.
Narrow streets (yes, more of them) lead up from the restaurants on the harbourside to more cafes and restaurants in the streets above. There’s a lot of eating out being done in this part of the world, so I felt it was rude not to do the same. I grabbed a table right next to the water and tucked into some moules frites.
They weren’t skimping on the number of mussels and it was nearly dark when I finished my meal and strolled back round to the station at the end of a long but rewarding day.