Between Nice and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is Villefranche-sur-Mer, a small medieval town that has hosted many artists including Aldous Huxley and Jean Cocteau. From the Rue Obscure and its arcades to the Saint-Elme citadel built in 1554 to defend the bay, the city is full of riches that enchant thousands of visitors every year. This is, in our opinion, one of the most beautiful bays of the Riviera which is discovered coming from Nice via the coast road.
The old town, the port and the citadel of Villefranche sur Mer
Old town of Villefranche sur Mer
Impossible to visit the city without visiting St. Pierre’s Chapel, decorated by Jean Cocteau (and also called Chapelle Cocteau) in 1956 in the style modern mystic art, or the Fortified Port. In the old town, which dates from the thirteenth century, don’t forget to visit the Rue Obscure and Rue du Poilu, with their brightly painted facades and then go to Saint-Michel church, dated from the fifteenth century and which has a beautiful wooden sculpture of Christ. St. Elme Citadel built by the Duke of Savoy is a historical monument and hosts the Roux collection and Goetz-Boumeester museum. Sculpture lovers will appreciate the Volti Museum. The decor and the art work get along wonderfully to create a unique and superb presentation.
Villefranche Bay and its beach (shame for the rail track)
Villefranche sur Mer beaches are very popular. That of La Marinière extends over most of the coast and is not made up of pebbles, as in Nice, but gravel. A small train making the connection between Nice and Monaco stops just above, practical for families! That of Darse, near the royal port, is also nice with restaurants and is very peaceful. But our favourite is Grasseuil Beach bordering the beaches of St Jean Cap Ferrat. The resort, with its village houses by the sea and its private port, has a lot of charm. This beach is little known and is frequented mainly by locals.
Grasseuil Beach with its houses by the sea
One of the landmarks of the city, it is the huge cruise ships that stop at the foot of the mountains and allow tourists to visit Monaco and Nice.
A cruise ship in the bay of Villefranche sur Mer
From Villefranche-sur-Mer, there are many: in the forest of Mont Alban-Beaulieu, from the Bay of Fourmis, the Plateau Saint-Michel ... It is also possible to go to Monaco, Cannes and Cap Ferrat by boat during the summer season and enjoy the many beach activities (diving, sailing, rowing ...).
A stay in Villefranche-sur-Mer is also the opportunity to visit Eze and Cap d'Ail, the neighbouring cities, but also inland! On the French Riviera, Cagnes-sur-Mer with its Grimaldi castle offers beautiful views of the Mediterranean, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, between Menton and Monaco, features vaulted passages and a lovely coastal path. In Vence, the coastline and its fortifications and the Cathedral of Nativité de Sainte Marie de Vence, which dates from the fourth century are wonderful discoveries. The hilltop village of Sainte-Agnes (800 m) is popular for walks, which offer stunning views of the coastline!