As I’ve mentioned in prior blog posts, I highly recommend getting your teens involved in vacation research and planning. I knew very little about our last port of call on our Disney Mediterranean cruise, Villefranche, other than it was in the south of France. My son volunteered to do some research for me and he returned raving about an excursion we just “HAD” to do. He had discovered a quaint little medieval town called St. Paul de Vence that sat atop a large hill and was very scenic. I am so glad that we took his suggestion. To this day, it remains one of our favorite excursions.
The port of Villefranche is close to Nice, Cannes and the principality of Monaco. It is a small port, so our cruise ship docked farther out and we took a tender (smaller boat) to shore. Our excursion to St. Paul de Vence was a half day tour that began with a bus ride through Nice, then up into the countryside and more hilly area. You could see St. Paul de Vence from the bus, perched on top of a hill. Our bus parked outside of the town and we walked up a somewhat steep road into the town which is surrounded by a wall. We were met by a tour guide who walked us around the town, telling us about its history and specific points of interest. We also learned about the artists and musicians who had called St. Paul de Vence home and been inspired by its beauty. After the tour, we had some free time to visit the shops and art galleries as well as to take pictures. We returned to the ship via bus and arrived in time to have a late lunch onboard. Before taking the tender back to the ship, we took some photos by a fort-like area next to the tender launch area.
What we Liked:
Reasonably priced, ½ day Tour. This was our 4th day in a row stopping at a port of call. By this time, we were pretty tired. This half day tour, that was very reasonable in cost, allowed us to get a taste for the south of France and see some sights without breaking the bank or our energy reserves!
Leisurely, Artsy and Beautiful. This was a relaxed tour -- we didn’t feel pressured in time or effort. The views of the town and from the town were beautiful.
A Step Back in Time. We really felt like we were back in a medieval town. My daughter said she felt like “Belle” in the opening village scene of Beauty and the Beast. Cobblestone streets, hidden alleys and stairs, fountains and cats -- it all had a “step back in time” feel to it.
Nice Change of Pace -- Something Different. At this time, we had seen the ancient ruins of Pompeii, the excitement of Rome and the beauty of Florence/Pisa. It is hard to put into words, but this excursion was very unlike our other Mediterranean adventures. It definitely felt more “French” and quaint. It offered a unique charm -- especially to those of us from the United States who have never seen a medieval town before.
This Tour May not be Great for Younger Kids or those with difficulty walking. This was a great excursion for my teens, surprisingly so. But I do not think I would take children 10 and under on it. There’s not a lot of places to run around and it is overall a quiet town. I think younger children could easily get bored. Also, for anyone with difficulty walking, it may not be a great excursion to take. The walk to the town is steep and once there, you are on many cobblestone streets and uneven surfaces as well as stairs.
Because it is a small town, excursions to St. Paul de Vence are limited in number and the number on each excursion is also limited. If you are interested, book your excursion early.