French Riviera Tours: Sunday and Thursday

Explore the French Riviera

Sit back and enjoy the scenic drive along the Mediterranean coast with your GALA friends and colleagues. This will not be one of those non-stop talking mega-tours. Our professional drivers will simply share their favorite places to see, shop, and dine throughout the day. For those who prefer to explore on their own, there will be a scheduled time and place to meet before moving along to the next village.

GALA will coordinate two tours:  one on Sunday, 25 March and one on Thursday, 29 March. To register for either or both tours, please visit GALA's online store. Guides will speak English and will transport participants in 8-passenger vans.

Tours include transportation with a professional guide and hotel pick-up and drop-off. They do not include food and beverages, entrance fees, or gratuities (optional).

Villefranche

Sunday, 25 March

10:00 - 16:00
Monte Carlo → St. Paul de Vence → Villefranche sur Mer → Monte Carlo
US$ 100

St. Paul de Vence
St. Paul de Vence was founded in the 10th Century A.D. Fortified in 1537 by the military engineer François de Meudon de St Remy, the walls were enlarged under Louis XIV. Since the 1920s, Saint Paul has become a haven for actors, writers and painters including Marc Chagall.

As you wander the narrow, picturesque streets of the village, you will discover magnificent stone façades from the 16th and 18th centuries, now home to workshops, museums or shops. At every turn there is another garden, square, ancient fountain. In addition to art, you can also find a variety of Provencal fabrics on sale, as well as local gourmet delicacies like olive oils, wine and fruit liquors.

The starting point for every visitor is Place Charles de Gaulle at the principal entrance of the village, named for his visit in 1948. Once inside the Porte Royale gate, you are transported back in time 400 years, where you can admire the cobbled alleys, covered archways, hidden squares with fountains and the multi-storey stone houses leaning against each other. The massive Tour de la Fondule, a defensive tower, dates back to the 14th century. It served as a lookout tower onto the valley below and as a prison. The stone frontage on Rue Grande dates back to the 16th and 18th centuries. The 17th century Château de Villeneuve on Place du Frêne houses the Fondation Émile Hugues, named for a former town mayor and government minister. Close by is Église de la Conversion de Saint Paul, the old cathedral, on the site of a Roman temple dedicated to Mars and an earlier Merovingian church.

A short drive away is The Maeght Fondation, (14 € pp), a private foundation conceived to present modern and contemporary art. Painters and sculptors collaborated closely with the architect and together created monumental works of art integrated into the building and gardens: the Giacometti courtyard, the Miró labyrinth filled with sculptures and ceramics, mural mosaics by Chagall and Tal-Coat, a pool and stained glass window by Braque, a Bury fountain, are just some of the reasons why the Maeght Foundation collection of 20th-century art is one of the most important in Europe.

Villefranche sur Mer
Villefranche is an authentic French and Niçoise fishing village on the French Riviera, in the heart of the Côte d’Azur. The Bay of Villefranche, reputed as one of the five most beautiful bays in the world, is embraced by the Cap of Nice to the west and Cap Ferrat to the east. We will make a brief visit to Villefranche, a great place for a wine break and picture-taking before heading back to Le Méridien in Monte Carlo.

Itinerary
10:00 – 11:00: Monaco to St. Paul de Vence
11:00 – 12:00: Fondation Maeght (entry fee not included in tour price)
12:00 – 14:00: Shop, dine, explore St. Paul de Vence on foot
14:00 – 14:30: Travel to Villefranche
14:30 – 15:30: Explore Villefranche
15:30 – 16:00: Travel back to hotel

Thursday, 29 March

10:00 - 16:00
Monte Carlo → Eze → Nice → Villefranche sur Mer → Monte Carlo
US$ 100

Eze
En route to Nice, we will make a brief stop to the medieval town of Eze. Find the perfect café au lait as you explore and climb the cobbled streets up to the top of the village. Those not wishing to climb up the hill might enjoy the amble downwards to one of the famed perfumeries, Fragonard or Galimard. You may also want to climb the cobbled streets up to the Botanical Gardens (admission 5 €) for scenic vistas and photo opportunities.

Nice
The sprawling city of Nice, colonized by the Greeks two thousand years ago, enjoys a fantastic setting on the hill-framed curve of the Baie de Anges. Posh hotels and promenades attract scores of visitors each year. We’ll drive along a scenic seaside road to Nice and travel along the Promenade de Anglais, a palm-fringed boulevard stretching three miles along the Baie de Anges. You will see the Russian Orthodox Church, built by Tsar Nicholas II and considered the most beautiful religious edifice of the Orthodoxy outside Russia. Its pink bricks, light gray marble and six onion domes add an exotic touch to Nice's skyline. Next, you'll arrive in Vieux Nice, or Old Nice. The narrow streets teem with life and are filled with excellent, moderately priced restaurants. Within walking distance is the Cours Saleya Flower Market. The edges are lined with cafés and souvenir shops, and the stands themselves are packed with amazing produce and myriad flowers. It operates six days a week, replaced on Mondays by a flea and antiques market.

Villefranche sur Mer
Villefranche is an authentic French and Niçoise fishing village on the French Riviera, in the heart of the Côte d’Azur. The Bay of Villefranche, reputed as one of the five most beautiful bays in the world, is embraced by the Cap of Nice to the west and Cap Ferrat to the east. We will make a brief visit to Villefranche, a great place for a wine break and picture-taking before heading back to Le Méridien in Monte Carlo.

Itinerary
10:00 – 10:15: Monaco to Eze
10:15 – 11:00: Explore Eze
11:00 – 11:30: Travel to Nice
11:30 – 14:00: Shop, dine, explore Nice
14:00 – 14:15: Travel to Hotel Drop off point (anyone who wishes to stay in Nice Thursday night may depart the tour here)
14:15 – 16:00: Travel back to Le Méridien Monte Carlo with a quick visit to Villefranche for photos and refreshments

Travel & Lodging

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