Like many ports in Europe, the port used for Nice is not in the city of Nice but in Villefranche-Sur-Mer. There is a train very close to the port that gives you three easy options for how to spend your port day in Villefranche-Sur-Mer: Nice, Eze, and Monaco. The trains run often.
We tried to visit all three choices during our port day in Villefranche, but this proved to be much too hurried, so I highly recommend that you tour one, or at most, two areas while your ship is in the port of Villefranche.
You must take a tender from your cruise ship to the port in Villefranche. At the port, you will find a small waterfront street with shops, restaurants, and a small beach.
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How to Get to the Train Station in Villefranche-Sur-Mer
If you want to explore from Villefranche on your own, you will want to head to the train station, which is only a 10-minute walk.
When you leave the port, head into town and up the hill. On the left, you will see some stairs leading to the train station. You can buy train tickets at a computerized kiosk on the closer track or a counter on the farther track. When I was there, an employee was helping at the kiosk. Once we bought our round-trip tickets, they were never checked again.
If you are heading to Nice, head to the far track. If you are looking at the station from the water, this train will head left out of the station.
The train towards Monaco, on the closest track, will also stop in Eze.
Train from Villefranche-sur-mer to Nice
Nice is a large town on the French Mediterranean with a castle, churches, museums, gorgeous white sand beaches, a beachside promenade, upscale shops, and a romantic old town full of alleyways.
It will only take about 10 minutes to get from the port train station to Nice. Get off at the Nice-Ville stop.
It is a 1.5-km walk from this train station to the Plage Beau Rivage Beach, mainly down the wide shopping street of Avenue Jean Medecin.
If you want to see the small alleyways of Old Nice, get back on the train in Nice-Riquier. This will be a 4 km walk in total.
How to get from Villefranche-sur-mer to Eze
The Eze train station is between Villefranche-sur-mer and Monaco.
Eze is a medieval village high in the green hills above the Meditteranean coast of France. It has shopping and restaurants, a castle, and a garden within the old castle walls.
The train station of Eze is at the bottom of a big hill, and the town is at the top. The steep walking trail to town is 2.3 km (1.5 miles) long. You can catch the line 83 bus in front of the train station, which will take you to the village in about 20 minutes. Another option is to order an Uber up the mountain.
How to get from Villefranche-sur-mer to Monaco
Monaco is rich, crowded, and the second smallest country in the world after Vatican City. The boys in our group were most excited about this stop because they wanted to see the fancy cars and the famous Casino Royale. Please note the casino was the only place on our trip where a physical passport was required to enter.
It takes about 25 minutes to get from Villefranche-sur-mer to Monaco by train. You will get off at the Monaco-Monte-Carlo station, the only one stop in the country.
Because the country is less than a square mile large, you can walk it.
This port day has so many possibilities that it is hard to choose which way to spend it. We loved all the stops and would gladly return to experience each more in-depth. Have you been to all three? Which spot did you like the best?