Nice (Villefranche) is a tender port – Ships have to anchor off Villefranche and tender passengers ashore by boat. When tendering is required, guests using mobility devices will not be transferred into or out of the tender. Many tender ports do not provide wheelchair access so even if the guest can board the tender they may not be able to disembark ashore. Again the shore-side facilities, movement of the tender, weather and tidal conditions can also preclude tendering.
Nice (Villefranche), France
Villefranche/Nice cruise port is the busiest one on the French Riviera (Cote d’Azur), which stretches 80 miles along France’s Mediterranean coast and is home to some of the world’s most sophisticated resorts. With its intriguing old town, fabulous shops and stylish inhabitants, Nice provides the perfect springboard to sample the French Riviera. The city of Villefranche-sur-Mer has the Alps as its background and is very closely located to Nice, Cannes and Monaco.
Located in the south of France rests the beautiful city of Nice. Captivating seaside promenades, stunning mountaintops and charming villages are all the fine ingredients in the recipe that makes Nice rank as a top vacation destination on the planet.
The Cote d’Azur Economic Development Agency reckons that every year, the coast attracts at least half of the world’s super yachts, while an estimated 90 percent of all super yachts visit it at least once. But despite its reputation as the playground of the beaux monde, there is also a very down-to-earth aspect to the Cote d’Azur.
Many residents zip about on local buses or low-priced trains; sleepy medieval villages perched precariously on the side of mountains are full of craft shops selling locally-made soaps, scented candles and other goodies at perfectly affordable prices. And in harbor-front cafes, you can gaze at gleaming mega-yachts while tucking into a cheap-and-cheerful croque-monsieur, salad Nicoise or steak-frites.
Nice is bordered by Provence to the west, the Alps to the north and Italy to the east and epitomizes this blend of starry glamour with “all comers welcome” pragmatism. It’s easy to explore on foot, has some excellent street markets and is an excellent, and surprisingly affordable, place in which to spend a few days at the top or tail end of a Mediterranean cruise.
The disabled cruiser visiting Nice (Villefranche) will find it to be difficult at times. Many sidewalks are narrow and uneven, and cobblestone streets make access difficult, but the major tourist areas have better facilities. Nice is not particularly wheelchair-friendly, the crowds, cars, dreadful parking, dog mess, cobbled street, steep curbs and heat could makes things quite difficult. However, you will find many people willing to help where they can as you are out and about. There are a few things you could do in Nice to get around. The little tourist train will be your best bet for a trip around the Old Town and also up the Castle Hill, with guided commentary. Up Castle Hill there’s a stop for a while and it is smooth and easy to push a chair about, although on an incline.
There’s a beach with wheel chair access, opposite the Albert 1er Gardens, there is a ramp and help to go for a swim. Most of the buses have doors that can lower for a wheelchair and certainly the new tram system is designed to take wheel chairs.
Since the cruise ship does not dock and the disabled cruiser is tendered to the island from out in the harbor; if the water is too rough, the captain may not let the disabled cruiser off the ship. Anyone with limited mobility would have some difficulty. Anyone in a wheelchair would have to be carried on and off the tender.
Where You’re Docked
Nice (Villefranche) is an anchorage port. Passengers transfer to shore via ship’s tender.
Some (smaller) cruise ships dock at the Port of Nice on the Quai du Commerce pier, about a half-hour walk away from the city center. Others anchor in neighboring Villefranche Bay and tender passengers ashore into the delightful little port of Villefranche-sur-Mer. This is worth exploring in its own right but is also a short (and regular) train journey from Nice.
Good to Know
Heavy traffic and Thieves. Take care crossing the busy roads. The Riviera is a wealthy area and attracts a criminal element known for their boldness in breaking into cars and even opening the passenger doors of cars in transit to snatch bags from the front seat. Lock all valuables out of sight and keep passenger doors locked when traveling. And always keep an eye on your bags when using public transport.
On foot: Pick up a local map at one of the many tourist info offices and kiosks and head off on foot. A simple stroll along the Promenade des Anglais, with occasional detours to roam the winding streets of Nice Old Town and sip coffee, citron presse or pastis at one of the many streetwalk cafes, is a delight.
By car: All taxis are metered and drivers are obliged to display their rates on a card. Before setting off, check that the correct rate is being applied and that the meter is on. You can hire a Mini or small Peugot from Nice Airport and zip around the Riviera and the Cote. All major car rentals companies are represented in Nice.
By bus: If you’re spending a few days in Nice and don’t want the hassle of driving (and more particularly, parking), exploring the Riviera by bus is a good idea as local services.
To get from Nice to Monaco by bus costs about the same as by train. To go further afield, head for Nice’s central bus station on Boulevard Jean Jaures, as services run from here along the Mediterranean coast to Cannes, Menton and other resorts.
By train: The SNCF railway station (Gare Nice-Ville) is on Avenue Thiers, roughly 10 minutes’ walk from the Port of Nice. Frequent services run eastwards to Monaco and Menton, or westwards to Juan-les-Pins, Cannes, Antibes and other Riviera destinations. There are also fast (TGV) services to major French and Italian cities, including Paris, Marseilles and Rome.
By bike: Nice is heaven for cyclists as the city has an ever-growing network of bike routes, including one running the length of the Promenade des Anglais. Bike hire (pedal powered and otherwise) is a growing sector of the local economy.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The official currency is the euro. There are plenty of banks with ATM machines and exchange centers in Nice and at the airport, railway and bus stations. Major credit cards are also widely (but not universally) accepted. Carry some cash just in case.
Note also that France applies VAT (Value Added Tax) to most goods and services, currently at the rate of 20 percent, which adds a hefty surcharge to restaurant and shopping bills. As a tourist, you can claim a tax refund on any goods bought for deportation, so keep all receipts and be prepared to present them; possibly with proof that you are taking the goods out of the country; at a VAT refund station. You’ll find these at airports, railway stations with international links and most tourist offices.
The official language in Nice (Villefranche) is French. While English is widely spoken and understood, particularly at main tourist attractions, do not assume everyone speaks it. Many taxi drivers, waiters and shopkeepers speak only French, so it’s worth taking a phrase book or language app along.
The sunny, lavender-rich, Riviera is the heartland of the French perfume industry so locally-blended scents, room fragrances and soap are all good buys.
Foodies back home will appreciate pretty bags of herbs du Provence or bottles of locally-produced olive oil and les grand vins du France always go down well.
Vieux Nice, the old town located around Cours Saleya, is the Riviera’s largest open-air shopping arcade, with more than 600 shops and boutiques and a great place to browse for souvenirs and gifts.
Sample local favorites, France is the home of wonderful food and the Riviera is no exception. Another plus of this sunny region is that its cuisine features plenty of healthy Mediterranean Diet options like Salade Nicoise; ratatouille (vegetable stew, fabulous with crusty bread and red wine); mussels poached in white wine, fish soup and stuffed sardines.
Only slightly less healthy and very delicious local specialties are Pissaladiere (onion tart with anchovy filets and black olives) and Socca (a flatbread made from chickpea flour and drizzled with olive oil). After all that healthy food finish your meal with cherry or chocolate-filled crepes flambeed in Grand Marnier, and some delicious local cheeses like Banon, a goats cheese from Northern Provence which is wrapped in chestnut leaves.
Points of Interest
- Promenade des Anglais – a seven-kilometre stretch of palm-lined boulevard with glorious Belle Epoque buildings on one side, the magnificent Bay of Angels on the other and the winding streets and red roofed 17th and 18th century houses of Vieux Nice only footsteps away.
- Negresco Hotel – the Promenade’s most famous building, which has been the haunt of the royal, wealthy and famous since 1913 and houses a magnificent 6,000-piece art collection. If you have time, have a drink in the lovely walnut-paneled Le Relais bar, which hosts Jazz and Latin music evenings on most nights of the week.
- Nice’s Cimiez Quarter – a largely residential district just up the hill from the Nice Ville station. Here you’ll find some glorious Belle Epoque houses, the remains of a Roman bath and an ancient amphitheatre. There’s also the Monastere de Cimiez, a 17th century Franciscan Monastery with pretty gardens, and two must-see museums for art lovers: the Matisse Museum, and the Musée Marc Chagall.
- Modern and Contemporary Art Museum – a must-do for those who like to remain au fait with the art scene; it features work by artists from the 1960s to present day, including works by Andy Warhol.
- Palais Lascaris – a gorgeous 17th century palace, with sumptuous Baroque interiors, turned music museum, with a collection of 500 instruments.
- Nice Tourist Tram – A narrated ride through Nice’s Old City passing the Flower Market and climbing Castle Hill.
- Eze – Ancient stone houses with pink tiled roofs cling to a stark rock outcropping at medieval Eze. The battlements of Eze Castle offer sweeping views of the sea and mountains.
- Grasse – perfume capital of the world since the 16th century. It lies, appropriately enough, amid purple lavender fields and meadows sprinkled with wildflowers. Queen Victoria loved Grasse so much she spent several winters here at the grand home of the Rothschild family. You’ll fall in love with it too, after a stroll round its atmospheric 17th century Old Town and a look around the 10th to 17th century Notre Dame de Puy Cathedral, which contains three paintings by Reubens. If you’ve time, do visit the Perfume Museum; it charts the 3,000-year history of perfume and holds many fascinating antiques, including Marie Antoinette’s valise.
Nice (Villefranche) Accessible Excursions
Whether your cruise ship stops in Monaco, Nice, Villefranche-sur-mer, Cannes, or Marseilles, you’ll have a variety of accessible cruise excursions to choose from. In this small stretch of coastline, there is so much to see. You can visit Royal sights in Monaco or place a bet at the Monte Carlo casino. You can drive the cornice highways for amazing views of the French Riviera coast or you can spend your time indoors at places like the Oceanographic Museum or the Chagall Museum.
Old Town Nice France Accessible Guided Tour
This 4 hour accessible Nice walking/rolling guided tour starts from the Nice cruise dock and takes you back in time as you explore the breathtaking Le Vieux Nice, visiting charming narrow winding street, colorful markets, Baroque churches and unique pastel houses.
The Nice cruise dock is in close proximity to several of the town’s highlights. Enjoy a picturesque stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais boulevard along the crystal blue ocean, explore Old town of Nice (Le Vieux Nice) and the unique cafes and artifact shops, visit the colorful Cours Saleya flower market, see the spectacular Cathedral Sainte Reparate from 1650, explore the vibrant Square Rossetti and admire the Baroque style Eglise Saint-Jacques.
At the end of your memorable Nice guided tour, you private tour guide will escort you back to the pier.
The Old Town Nice France Accessible Guided Tour uses wheelchair accessible step-free routes along the tour route to visit the narrow winding streets of the Vieux Nice neighborhood. You will encounter cobblestones and hills during the tour. Some of the streets in the Old Town are paved and others are not. Your accessible Nice tour will use the most accessible routes through the neighborhood.
Highlights of Nice Accessible Shore Excursion
A wheelchair accessible van will meet you at the cruise port for your full-day accessible Nice shore excursion to visits the enchanting old city of Nice as well as the world-class Chagall Museum.
Once in Nice, you’ll enjoy a wonderful walking/strolling tour escorted by your private local tour guide. You’ll explore the historic Old Town (Le Viex Nice) peppered with charming shops, cafes and extravagant architecture. Stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais boulevard along the crystal blue ocean, visit the colorful Cours Saleya flower market and see the spectacular Cathedral Sainte Reparate from 1650. There will also be time to sit down at an accessible restaurant or cafe for a delicious French style lunch.
Next on your accessible tour, you’ll be heading to the fascinating Chagall Museum. This spectacular Museum’s collection includes rare youth works of the artist, some of them painted in Belorussia. The larger works displayed are of biblical inspiration and refer to the Old Testament. Twice a year, the Museum organizes a temporary exhibition underlining a special aspect of Chagall’s work. As a whole, this collection shows the entire evolution and artistic career of Chagall.
At the end of your tour, you’ll return to the cruise dock to return to your ship.
Important Note – All French Riviera accessible van tours must be booked 3 weeks in advance to allow for reservation of the accessible van.
Your Nice accessible cruise excursion will use a van with a wheelchair ramp to bring you between the tourist sights. You will encounter cobblestones and hills during the tour. Some of the streets in the Old Town are paved and others are not. Your accessible Nice tour will use the most accessible routes through the neighborhood.