Saturday, February 23, 2013

Excursion selection for Villefranche (Monte Carlo and Eze)

In six days we can make our excursion reservations for the first of our two cruises. Because the more popular ship-sponsored excursions fill up quickly, it is important that we have decided what we want to do before the reservation window opens up at midnight March 2nd.

To that end, we have reviewed the options offered by the cruise line and we have considered which ports we want to explore on our own.

Villefranche-sur-mer is the first port for both itineraries. We have been to this port before, but at that time, we spent a morning in Nice, so this time we want to head east to Monaco and visit Monte Carlo.  But we also want to spend some time in Eze after having seen a travel show with Samantha Brown when she visited there.

We originally thought we would take a ship-sponsored tour to visit Monte Carlo on the first stop, and then make our way to Eze on our own during our second visit.  But DCL has an excursion that incorporates both locations, so we will leave our second day in Villefranche open for a restful, relaxing day as the following day will be a full day in Florence. 
These are the highlights from the description of the excursion:
  • Take an approximate 45-minute drive along the Lower Corniche to Monaco. 
  • Ride an escalator or elevator up the cliff and enjoy a 45-minute guided walking tour including an external visit of the Oceanographic Museum and inside visits of the Monaco Cathedral and Prince's Palace, where you will also be able to observe the changing of the guard.
  • Enjoy approximately 90 minutes of leisure time where you can enjoy lunch at one of the many cafes or browse the shops.
  • Re-board your coach for a 15-minute drive along part of the Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit.
  • Arrive at the coach parking area in Monte Carlo and walk approximately 15 minutes up to Casino square, surrounded by immaculate gardens.
  • Then enjoy approximately 60 minutes of free time to shop, explore the Grand Casino  or browse the impressive range of top cars outside in Casino Square, before walking back to your coach.
  • Leaving Monaco, drive approximately 30 minutes along the Middle Corniche to the spectacular medieval village of Eze, perched on a craggy peak above the Mediterranean.
  • Enjoy a 30-minute guided walking tour through the steep cobblestone streets followed by approximately 60 minutes of free time for exploring or shopping.
It can be overwhelming at times to figure out which excursions offer what you want to do, and sometimes you end up having a bit of a compromise when the excursion has components you're not interested in.  One thing we especially wanted was to have some free time to explore and shop on our own in both Monte Carlo and Eze.  We also had looked into how to get from the port to Eze and back using public transportation, and while it is doable, it looked a bit more complicated than we wanted to figure out with the time constraints we will have.  So for us, in this port, a ship-sponsored excursion is the way to go.

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