Bob’s True-Life Adventures – No.7 2014 Eze and Monaco

Written by Bob Gurr. Posted in Bob's True-Life Adventures, Disney Cruise Line

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Published on July 09, 2014 at 3:00 am with 6 Comments

MiceChat’s June 2014 Mediterranean Magic Cruise organized by Teresa Cory of Fairy Godmother Travel set sail from the fabulous port of Barcelona (which I covered in my last article) in the autonomous Catalonia community of Spain. After a relaxing first day at sea on the Disney Magic, the first stop was the port of Villefranche to visit the storybook village of Eze and the tiny principality Monaco. Since this port does not have a large cruise ship dock, guests are tendered to shore to board a luxury bus for the drive, first to Monaco, then on to Eze.

The beautiful Disney Magic at Port Villefranche in France

The beautiful Disney Magic at Port Villefranche in France

Villefranche is a spectacular small town perched on the Cote 'd Azur

Villefranche is a spectacular small town perched on the Cote ‘d Azur

Port Villefranche is a very charming, with welcoming sidewalk restaurants

Port Villefranche is a very charming, with welcoming sidewalk restaurants

The hillside is home to many colorful riviera style villas

The hillside is home to many colorful riviera style villas

The entire French Riviera coast, the Cote d’ Azure, is utterly spectacular – a combination of natural geologic beauty and villas of the rich. This area has been a favorite for fame, power, and wealth for centuries, many of the buildings pre-date the birth of the US. After a leisurely sight-seeing bus ride while our guide explained the history and the complications of living in a very dense part of France, we arrived in the Principality of Monaco.

Travel from Villafranche by tour bus provides close up views of the town

Travel from Villafranche by tour bus provides close up views of the town

The coast road is carved from dramatic vertical limestone cliffs

The coast road is carved from dramatic vertical limestone cliffs

Port Villefranche is one of the most beautiful on the French Riviera

Port Villefranche is one of the most beautiful on the French Riviera

The wealthy can enjoy summer villas with spectacular Mediterranean views

The wealthy can enjoy summer villas with spectacular Mediterranean views

MONACO

Monaco dates back to the year 1191, with the House of Grimaldi ruling since 1297 thru to today’s Prince Albert II as a constitutional monarchy. Shortly after our MiceChat group arrived, the Prince exited the Palace in a dark blue Lexus, waving to we onlookers. Politically correct I expect; not a Mercedes, BMW, or any other European car but a Euro-neutral Japanese one! Being an owner of a dark blue Lexus, I felt quite elated to see such similar tastes. Monaco is the second smallest and the most densely populated country in the world, a center of action for the world’s wealthy to gather, gamble and play. The most famous auto race in the world is the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix, held every summer on the narrow streets of the populous quarter of Monte Carlo, also home to the fabulous Casino Monte Carlo.

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World famous Monte Carlo harbor filled with multimillion dollar yachts

Luxury yacht Dilbar anchored just off the Casino of Monte Carlo

Luxury yacht Dilbar anchored just off the Casino of Monte Carlo

Rising just behind the harbor is fabulously wealthy Monte Carlo city

Rising just behind the harbor is fabulously wealthy Monte Carlo city

In the foreground is the Formula One race track a week after the race

In the foreground is the Formula One race track a week after the race

During race time, and other major events, the Monte Carlo Harbor is packed with the largest and most beautiful yachts, decks overflowing with champagne and young ladies, all delightful interests of successful gentlemen no doubt. Rising above the harbor, the hillsides are jam packed with lavish hotels and villas. Since there is no strict architectural code, the entire area is a cacophony of warm colorful Mediterranean structures, all with glorious sunny overviews of the deep blue Cote d’ Azure.

The western Monaco Harbor is tucked tightly into a luxury neighborhood

The western Monaco Harbor is tucked tightly into a luxury neighborhood

Prince's Palace in Monaco-Ville high on a bluff overlooking the harbor

Prince’s Palace in Monaco-Ville high on a bluff overlooking the harbor

The Cathedral of Monaco is the resting place of the American actress Grace Kelly, wife of the late Prince Rainier, father of Prince Albert II. It is located centrally in Monaco surrounded by exquisitely maintained buildings of historically clean and simple architecture as compared to the sometimes garish and baroque designs typical of early Europe. The souvenir shops are confined to a only few small alleyways, so the classy town look is enforced. Clean and friendly too is the Principality’s Palace of Monaco, the actual living home of the Prince and his family. A wonderful tour of the interior is available to visitors, complete with individual audio, some of which is performed by the Prince himself.

Visitors to Monaco can tour inside the comfortably beautiful Palace

Visitors to Monaco can tour inside the comfortably beautiful Palace

Changing of The Guard is always a traditional daily event

Changing of The Guard is always a traditional daily event

Guardsmen wear classy simple white uniforms

Guardsmen wear classy simple white uniforms

Guardsmen uniforms look very friendly with their open neck shirts

Guardsmen uniforms look very friendly with their open neck shirts

The Cathedral of Monaco, resting place of American actress Grace Kelly

The Cathedral of Monaco, resting place of American actress Grace Kelly

As with most important government houses, the ever popular Changing of The Guard is a noon-time staple at the Palace. Visitors can enjoy a pleasant view of the “show” from a wide stone courtyard marked with a low chain barrier, not a fence – a photographer’s delight. Just as with the overall friendliness of the area, so too are the Palace guards in their white tieless uniforms. The two guard teams swap their watch in a simple but snappy and accurate set of actions. All with commandant calls, no bands or trumpets, quite in keeping with the cheery atmosphere of all Monaco.

Interior of the Cathedral

Interior of the Cathedral

One of the beautiful villas of Monte Carlo

One of the beautiful villas of Monte Carlo

A beautiful Monaco town house

A beautiful Monaco town house

Monaco's Sea Museum

Monaco’s Sea Museum

The side streets of Monaco feature a discreet zone of souvenir shops

The side streets of Monaco feature a discreet zone of souvenir shops

Cafe de Paris is a showplace must for lunch

Cafe de Paris is a showplace must for lunch

Not to be missed is the center square of Monte Carlo with it’s Casino, Cafe de Paris, and the wildly expensive Hotel de Paris. All three locations feature very authentic Euro-Med architecture, but do have “interesting” sculptures in the surrounding gardens. One can downsize themselves a bit by picking up a value-priced panino sandwich from an exquisite underground mall and enjoy lunch in the shady and cool duckpond garden across the square from the Casino, spared from the nearby tourist hoard. Returning to re-board the bus for the short drive to Eze, these tourists swarm around the exotic Bentleys and Lamborghinis parked in front of the Casino, maybe hoping for some gambling luck to rub off.

If you want to be seen as fairly rich, Cafe de Paris is the place to be

If you want to be seen as fairly rich, Cafe de Paris is the place to be

Monaco is a treasure of gardens and sculpture

Monaco is a treasure of gardens and sculpture

An interesting sculpture entitled Adam and Eve

An interesting sculpture entitled Adam and Eve

The upper road is used for the annual Formula One race

The upper road is used for the annual Formula One race

The Monte Carlo Casino is famous for it's beautiful architecture design

The Monte Carlo Casino is famous for it’s beautiful architecture design

A detail of the Monte Carlo Casino

A detail of the Monte Carlo Casino

The Casino is located in a very beautiful square next to the Hotel Parisien

The Casino is located in a very beautiful square next to the Hotel Parisien

Tourists ogle the wealthy noted for their very expensive cars out front

Tourists ogle the wealthy noted for their very expensive cars out front

 

A short drive from Monte Carlo is the medieval village of Eze.

Eze, a historic hilltop village, also has a modern section in the hills

Eze, a historic hilltop village, which also has a modern section in the hills

Older parts of Eze are seen as fort-like structures on a steep hill

Older parts of Eze are seen as fort-like structures on a steep hill

Notre Dame de l’Assomption was built in 1764

Notre Dame de l’Assomption was built in 1764

The Notre Dame towers over the narrow and steep Eze passageways

The Notre Dame towers over the narrow and steep Eze passageways

The museum-like village is a maze of tiny hotels, shops, and restaurants

The museum-like village is a maze of tiny hotels, shops, and restaurants

Many buildings date from the 1600s and are built in a crazy quilt of stone

Many buildings date from the 1600s and are built in a crazy quilt of stone

Like any historic village, shopping is a big attraction

Like any historic village, shopping is a big attraction

For Eze guests, so much in artistic souvenirs are seemingly everywhere

For Eze guests, artistic souvenirs are seemingly everywhere

After hiking the steep steps to the village heights, a libation stop

After hiking the steep steps to the village heights, a libation stop

Bob soon found his quaint and shady cool libation spot after the hike

Bob soon found his quaint and shady cool libation spot after the hike

Every shop is like a Riviera movie set

Every shop is like a Riviera movie set

The mountain top Eze village looks down on the modern Eze

The mountain top Eze village looks down on the modern Eze

The area surrounding Eze has been populated since around 2000 BC. By 1388 the defensive steep mountaintop became the location of fortified strongholds, eventually becoming a part of France in 1860. Prominent near the hilltop is the Notre Dame de l’Assomption, built in 1764. While the village was home to residents for hundreds of years, it has developed into a quaint medieval museum shopping village in the recent century. With its charm and panoramic views, Walt Disney was so enchanted by Eze that he spent a significant amount of time there. It’s not hard to imagine Walt gathering authentic village imagery for his future animated stories such as Pinocchio.

The Eze peak provides a dramatic sea vista with the Magic in the distance

The Eze peak provides a dramatic sea vista with the Magic in the distance

Just below Eze is a very private beach resort on the Cote 'd Azur coast

Just below Eze is a very private beach resort on the Cote ‘d Azur coast

The city of Nice with it's small port is just west of Villefranche

The city of Nice with it’s small port is just west of Villefranche

To reach the Eze mountaintop, one must endure steep narrow pathways and twisty stairs past cute tourist shops nestled into the rocky hill. One eventually will be rewarded with the very same panoramas that Walt Disney enjoyed so long ago. After the short hot climb, visitors will find a number of shady bars and bistros to while away as much rest time as possible before returning to the bus, then onward along the coastal highway with an overlook view stop of the nearby large city of Nice. Back aboard the Disney Magic, the magnificent day is savored with a martini in the quiet Magic Keys Lounge as the sunset dusk settles over the passing Riviera – next stop, Florence and Rome!

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Join us on an exciting MiceChat 7 night Alaska Cruise on the Disney Wonder – June 1st, 2015: 

We sail toward the top of the world on the delightful Disney Wonder. We’ll hold all sorts of special MiceChat meet-ups on board, suggest group excursions you might want to join us on, dine as a group to discuss our adventures and more.

Ask us for more details on any of our upcoming MiceTrips or for Disney adventures of your own by emailing us at [email protected].

About Bob Gurr

Bob Gurr is a true Disney legend who was hired on to design the Autopia for Disneyland. Over nearly four decades, Bob would become famous for developing the Monorails, Submarines, Flying Saucers, antique cars and double-decker buses of Main Street, Ford Motor Company's Magic Skyway (at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair), Omnimover ride system, Matterhorn and lots more. It has been said that if it moves, Bob probably played a part. Upon leaving Imagineering in 1981, Bob worked on a number of "leisure-time spectaculars" and "fantastical beasts" for parks and developments all over the world. Most notably, he created King Kong and Conan's Serpent for Universal Studios Hollywood, A UFO for the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, and the memorable T-Rex figure featured in Steven Spielberg's motion picture "Jurassic Park." You can find Bob's column, Design: Those Were The Times, right here on MiceChat. Though don't pin Bob down to a schedule, he's busy being "retired."

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6 Comments

Comments for Bob’s True-Life Adventures – No.7 2014 Eze and Monaco are now closed.

  1. Thank you for taking so many wonderful photos! My roommate and I were on a white water rafting excursion and missed seeing most of the town (and obviously the Prince of Monaco!). The coastline is truly beautiful!

  2. Bob – These photos are absolutely stunning and your wonderful narrative detailing what we were seeing really helped me understand more about the places you visited . I cannot wait to read more of your adventures on the cruise . Thanks for sharing !

  3. Great article and love the pictures. I had such a great time on the trip and love retracing our footsteps with your articles. Funny thing how these spots seem to be forever frozen in time (I’m using forever very figuratively here)… I gave my parents an in person “trip report” and shared my photos, and they told me about their past trips… to the Monte Carlo Casino and the Hotel Parisien, and to Eze — apparently one of my parents’ favorite places I hadn’t even heard of before! You mention Walt Disney enjoying those same views, and it just really strikes me how such a spectacular place, while it evolves and changes in bits and pieces, really maintains its sense-of-place and uniqueness over the years… much like the parks — while attractions may change and lands get added, with such a strong sense-of-place (in this case, completely fabricated, developed, and maintained by many talented and dedicated people) can maintain the sense of magic and wonder and become a shared experience we can all reference.

    You have such great pictures, too, and yes, the cliffs really are that steep, the development so high up the hill, and the views so stunning. I can’t wait to read your article on Rome (since I was sick that day and didn’t make it off the boat), and the Amalfi Coast… It was the highlight of my trip and I have been telling everyone about how my impression of Italy has changed….

  4. It pains me to have missed what must have been another spectacular MiceChat cruise. Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos and narrative; it helps lessen a pain a little.

  5. Another great article and fantastic pictures.
    Did you get a chance to go into the casino?
    I remember years ago they had a special section where the roulette wheel only had a “0″ and no “00″, and people played very high stakes chemin de fer (fun to watch).

    • Ten years ago I did indeed enjoy the Casino – some very serious high stakes gaming going on. I remember what a contrast to us tourists paying 10 euro to mingle with extremely well dressed gents with piles of chips and clinging classy ladies.