Welcome to one of France’s most beautiful seaside towns, overlooking cobalt blue sea framed by Provençal greenery and majestic hillside of the French Riviera. Villefranche-sur-Mer connects the charming city of Nice to the east along with Mont Boron, Mont Alban and Mont Vinaigrier.
The deepwater bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer means all kinds of boats can drop anchor there and their owners can make the most of the preferable climate. Treat yourself to a delightful day out exploring the old town’s winding streets, where the orange-tinted façades are reminiscent of the ever-present sun that shines on the city.
In the village, warm colours of the houses contrast with the pale shades of the louvred shutters, which are often half-closed, allowing a glimpse of the inhabitants’ peaceful lives. Enjoy a leisurely stroll around the maze of shops, restaurants and steps. You will probably end up on Rue Obscure, an underground street built in the 13th century for soldiers to pass through more easily. Also used for storing wine and protecting livestock.
Continue your tour at the Church of St. Michael, with a façade in a sublime colour palette of white, pink and pale yellow. Its colours and Baroque architecture from the 18th century echo the opulent religious buildings of Italy. The inside of the church, in amber shades, contains one of the oldest organs in Alpes-Maritimes, dating from 1790. You can also admire a life-size, recumbent statue of Christ, carved from fig tree wood. Another place to discover is the Chapel of St. Peter near the fishing harbour, which was decorated by the famous Jean Cocteau in 1957.
History buffs will have a field day exploring the citadel founded by the Duke of Savoy in 1554 for the purpose of guarding the harbour. Remarkably well preserved, it offers a reminder of the medieval glory of this ancient town. The citadel has three museums within it: the Volti Museum dedicated to the art of sculpture, where you can discover a hundred or so bronze, terracotta and copper female statues revealing their voluptuous curves in contrast with the rough stone; the Goetz-Boumeester collection including famous paintings, notably by Miró and Picasso, with a total of a hundred or so works ranging from figurative to abstract art; and the Roux collection of nearly 300 historical polychrome ceramic figurines illustrating daily life from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.
You can also make an excursion to the peninsula of Cap Ferrat, which you can see from the harbour. With its protected environment it has some of the most beautiful nature and palaces on the French Riviera, like the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a magnificent Italian-style villa built by the baroness, Beatrice Ephrusse de Rothchild.