Today we arrived at Villefranche, France. Villefranche is a small, coastal town, located in the Welcome to Villefranche!heart of the French Riviera, which stretches from St. Tropez to Menton on the Italian border, and includes the cosmopolitan towns of Cannes, Nice, and Monte Carlo. The Riviera, often referred to as the Côte d’Azur, has beautiful beaches and pleasant climate, and it is a major tourist resort. The hill-sides surrounding it contain many small, fortified towns which still retain much of their medieval character. There’s different ways that you leave a ship to go into see the various places. One is to tender over and a tender is a small boat that holds mA View of the fortified townsaybe 60 people (I don’t know, I’m guessing). That is where the port is not big enough for the ship to come over. The other way is where the ship docks and you just come down the main way and walk right on to the pier.

As we got into the tender we sat upstairs and we had met a young lady named Claudia and as the four of us sat there and took in our first real day at sea, all I could think was how amazing it was to be there and how very, very beautiful the scenery around us was. Every day the cruise ship would put out a little mini newspaper with the day’s activities called the “Cruise Compass” and it described our stop in Villefranche as the gateway to the one of a kind French Riviera home to Monte Carlo and Nice, shaded by jagged moA view of sailboats from out tenderuntains touching the blue shores. The French Riviera offers sunny beaches, sophisticated resort cities, quaint red roof villages and spectacular views. We had selected an excursion and the excursions are little day trips that you take from the ship that are sponsored by the cruise ship and they take you around to see various places that are in close proximity to wherever it is that you stopped for the day. We had picked for this port theStreets of Nice excursion entitled, “Nice, Eze and Monaco.” It was fabulous. We very much enjoyed that excursion.

We started out in the morning by going to Nice. Nice is just 3 miles from Villefranche and is known as the capital of the French Riviera, its main attraction being its location, right in the middle of the Côte d’Azur. In Nice we did a little bit of touring on the bus and after a while we parked the bus and we got off and we were able to go to the flower market there. Nice was incredibly beautiful. It was easy to know why the rich and famous love to winter there and the description of the excursion said that it is one of the favorites of the jet set, so we spent about half A View from Ezean hour walking around the flower market. The flower market was incredibly beautiful and it had all kinds of food, fare, art and pastries.

We then got back on the bus and headed for Eze. On the way to Eze we stopped and got some beautiful, beautiful pictures from the mountain road on the climb to Eze. Eze is a charming medieval village that is perched on a cliff 1400 feet above the Mediterranean and the views were spectacular. Looking back over Villefranche and Beaulieu. You have to walk through the village on foot because it had very narrow cobblestone streets and on those streets, they sort of twisted and turned up the hill and were very steep by the way, and there were little restaurants and shops and galleries Accordian Playerand that was pretty neat and on the top was a beautiful garden. You had to work to get there, it was quite a hike, but when you got up there the views from the top were just spectacular. You could come down from the garden and there was a very beautiful old church there and then after we came all the way back down to the bottom, we had lunch in a little restaurant named Du Chevat Blanc and inside there was a guy playing the accordion and he just kept hanging out at my table. He was pretty funny. He sang songs that he thought I would know, but of course I didn’t know them or they weren’t my favorites. He was very sweet. For lunch we had wine (therThe Cathedral where Princess Stephanie was marriede is wine everywhere) and cheese and olives and then we had sort of like a stewed chicken and a pastry for dessert.

From there we boarded the bus and went to Monaco and walked around Monaco for a little while. Our tour guide took us to see the church at which Princess Stephanie was married. We also saw the homes of some of the royalty. We went into a beautiful little garden area around the Rock of Monaco, the wall city overlooking the sea. It was really cool.

From there we went to Monte Carlo. Monte Carlo is 6 miles from Villefranche and it belongs to the Principality of Monaco and is governed independently, although the way of life is distinctively French. Known as the play-ground of the rich, it is famous for its wealth. MonLook familiar??aco is ruled by Prince Rainier III, a direct descendant of the Grimaldi family, who has reigned since 1275. In Monte Carlo we saw the Grand Casino and there was like a little sculpture garden in front. It was amazing to be in Monte Carlo because I never thought I’d be there. All I could think of was the James Bond movies where he would go and gamble at the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo. We didn’t go in because we weren’t gamblers, but I have severalCute outdoor cafe' where we took a pit stop pictures of the outside of it. It was very clear that this was the playground of the affluent. Unfortunately, it was so hot and everywhere where went that day was uphill and it was a very long excursion- eight hours and thirty minutes. By that time, the crew was cranky, so we went into an outdoor café that had a mister and had Italian ice and also some cold drinks and just caught our breath a little bit. We then walked back down and got on the bus and from there we rode back to the dock and took the tender over to the ship. It was a full day and a really, really neat day.

When we got back to the ship we were hot, sweaty and tired and we couldn’t wait to shower and get dressed for dinner. We went to dinner early that evening. The evening’s entertainment was The American Drifters in the Main Theater and also that evening there was a movie entitled “The Game Plan,” a digital camera demonstration, dancing to the hits in the disco, and a Majority Rules game show in the Colony Club.