Thursday, October 27, 2016

Villefranche-sur-Mer or Trial by Corniche

Back in the day, before this area became French and was ruled by the Dukes of Savoy, there were far fewer people. Roads were few and difficult. Much of the communication was by sea. Then the Dukes began to build roads between their major holdings of Nice and Monaco. These roads, the Corniches, were designed to make things more passable but not too passable.

Even then, the wise rulers recognized if things were too easy, it would attract undesirables...Viking raiders looking for sun, Germanic Princes wanting to rent a castle for a month to escape their cold climates, and especially the Britannic peers who came from their dreary isles to walk along the water front and complain that they couldn't get a good proper breakfast or pint.

So the Lords of Nice and Monaco designed the Corniches - three of them, a High one, a Low one and a Middle one, so they scalloped along the coastal mountains like some snake on a bad mushroom trip. They made sure these roads were very narrow and then schooled all the locals to drive on them like maniacs so any foreigner would be scared out their bejeebers trying transverse them. And they cleverly made sure that the Corniches didn't actually connect easily to each other or to any of the actual towns that they were supposed to connect to. Those were reached by vertical roads that plummeted (or asecended depending on your direction of travel) from the Corniches by means of turns that made hairpin turns look like straightaways.

Alas, all this planning, all this incredible thought process like so many attempts to keep the tourists out was a complete and utter failure other than the slight smirking happy feeling it gives the locals when they watch the foreigners trying to navigate things.

So our target for visiting was the ocean side old city of  Villefranche-sur-Mer. I wasn't planning on driving the Corniches. That was supposed to be another day. BUT to get from where we are staying to Villefranche via the Fast Route on the GPS took you through the Corniches. So there you have it.

Les Photos
First - A little Ventimiglia interlude
The day before we went to Villefranche, it was raining and we decided to just hang out except for going into town for lunch. Big lunch = walk needed = photo op.
So more of the old town of Ventimiglia seen from across the river

And looking up the Roya River
NOW on to Villefranche.
On the road on the Haut (High) Corniche you pass to notable towns; La Turbie and Eze. We got some great views of Eze with clouds blowing over it.

Then after the stress inducing drive down to the sea we arrived at Villefranche-sur-Mer
You will note on this diagram that there is a large 16th century fortress in the center (built by the Dukes of Savoy to keep out the cruise ship trade, an fortified harbor to the left (built by the town to encourage the cruise ship trade) and to the right the old town itself.

We decided to start with the fortress
Fortunately we were able to find a local guide
Allo, my name is Pierre
Get eet, Pierre, French for rock?
Never mind Anglo. Come with me.
Regardez, Look
Zee old fortified harbor
Zee boat in the harbor
Zee big wall
Zee upper fort
Regardez down at the old town

Allons-y Let's go and walk in the town

And into the church

Sacré bleu!
A photographer taking an unauthorized picture of me without paying royalties!
 Aurevoir. I must go. 
You can tell her that you lost the lens cap of your camera.


Things have been looking up as I mentioned in I mentioned last post. Two more good meals to report. 
In Villefranche-sur-Mer we found a place offering and 18 Euro fixed price meal with full three courses. As we have so often on this trip, we ate outside
The food did not disappoint at all.
First courses were a warm goat cheese crouton salad and a 
pâté en crôute
For our main courses we I had Moules Frites again and Wife went with the Grilled Sea Bass again. Both were excellent
For dessert there was a light apple tart that reminded me of the apple strudel we had in Austria and a Tiramisu. We've found the Tiramisu here to have more cream and less ladyfingers than in the States.

It was a totally agreeable meal
Then the day before in Ventimiglia we finally had a really good pizza.
This one was with porcini mushrooms.
We've found ordering a mixed salad in Italy to be a real winner too.


alexis said...

lol, you guys are eating SO WELL! I sort of wonder why you bother with a kitchen at all, wouldn't a breakfast nook do just as well since you only really have breakfast at the house?

The roads sound like no fun.

JRR said...

I am loving this trip!!
How on earth are youse managing to hold your weights?

de-I said...

JRR - We really only eat two meals a day. We eat breakfast which I would say is about the same as we do at home. Then we eat our big meal at lunch. We usually don't eat dinner, just having a snack of some cheese and bread.