Europe > France > Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur > Alpes-Maritimes > Villefranche-sur-Mer
Villefranche-sur-Mer is a small beach resort and residential town (popn 30,000) on the French Riviera. The deep water harbour is home to Mediterranean cruise boats, whose tenders routinely disgorge several thousand passengers on organised trips to nearby Eze Village and Monaco. It sports excellent restaurants and a coarse sandy beach much favoured over Nice's stony bay. Convenient harbour car parking attracts visitors from Monaco and along the Riviera. The Citadelle st Elme dates back to antiquity and the town offers easy access to the millionaires peninsula of St Jean Cap Ferrat.
The route by car from the Basse Corniche down to the old town and waterfront is very tricky in the high season due to the narrow streets and heavy traffic, coaches etc. When you arrive you will also find it difficult and expensive to park. The best way to get to Villefranche is by taking a TER train. They run along the coastal towns between Nice and Monaco, making several stops along the way. Tickets are very cheap (for an adult from Nice to Villefranche is 1.60 Euro) and can be purchased and then used at any time, unlike the more strict TGV in France. Trains run everyday and arrive in Villefranche approximately every 20 minutes, depending on the time of day. The station is in the centre and an easy walk to the old town.
The town is best seen on foot. It is a relatively easy bicycle ride from Nice--there and on to Cap Ferrat and back to Nice should only take 5 hours max.Stick to the lower road
The Beach Villefranche is a great day trip from Nice because of its proximity, size and beach. It's still not a fine sand, but much better than the smooth stones that make up Nice's beaches. Additionally, because the town is quite small, there are next to no tourists clogging up the quaint, waterfront town. With this said the beach is very busy in the high season and very narrow so space is limited.
The town is full of small shops, mostly catering for the tourist trade but also plenty offering the usual services for the permanent population. The tourist shops are very expensive. There is a food market on Saturday mornings and an antiques market on Sundays.
Villefranche has no shortage of good restaurants though very few if you are on a tight budget. the ones on the waterfront are the best known and pricey but you can find more reasonable ones back into the town.
- Le Cosmo. Great atmosphere, friendly service and a good position. Good children's menu. A family of two adults and four children can eat well for about 100 Euros.
- Les Palmiers.
- Café dell Arte. A great little lunch place on the main street in the center of town. Salads, fantastic omelettes, and cheap prices. Between 5 and 10 Euro.
- La Serre. Probably the best value in town and very friendly. Slightly unglamorous position but bags of charm.
If you're staying self catering in Villefranche it's worth being prepared. There are two small supermarkets in the Old Town and one on the main road and they are about double UK prices and quite poorly stocked. There are two good boulangeries and a couple of vegetable shops. There is a butcher shop at Place de la Paix, where you will also find a small collection of local shops including boulangerie, fruit shop, pharmacy, and cafe/newspaper shop. These are local shops, they are not glamourised for tourists but have their own innate charm. There is a small fish stand on the quay in the morning and one that appears sporadically up near the boulangerie at Place de la Paix. It is very tough to try and find high quality produce of the kind you would expect to get in the inland provencal towns as there is basically no traiteur. If you have no car you are rather at the mercy of the shops mentioned above and so life will be expensive. In 2008 a pack of six small loo rolls was 3 Euros and a small melon the same price. It is hard to find a bottle of basic rose wine in the town for less than 5-6 Euros which is a lot for France.
- Villa L'Apogée de Villefranche. Perched on the rocks between the infinite blue sea and sky, L’Apogée de Villefranche, is an exceptional contemporary villa rental, for your luxury voyage on the Côte d'Azur.
- Hotel Provençal. Clean, mid-priced hotel with garden, city, and seaside views. Enjoy the hotel's private garden terrace and quaint features.
- The Hotel Welcome. Legendary haunt of Jean Cocteau and as good as it sounds.
- Hotel Darse
- Résidence Pierre & Vacances L'Ange Gardien, ☏ . The residence is built on terraces which face the bay, in the heart of a garden of palm trees and flower beds with a variety of Mediterranean plants.The beach is a short walk away, with no roads to cross. Services and shops can be found 2 km away. There are easy links with Nice, Menton, Monaco and Ventimiglia by the RCA bus line or train. A public beach of pebbles is accessible on foot by steps, 300 m away, with no roads to cross
- La Fiancee du Pirate, 8 boulevard de la Corne d´ Or, ☏ . Lovely hotel with very helpful owners. About 20 mins walk uphill from water with lovely views, great breakfast and 2 mins from major bus-stop to surrounding towns. Close to shops. Light, clean rooms. Worth upgrading to the sea view room 100 Euros per night. 85-100E.