Villefranche-sur-Mer is a journey through the years, a journey that has never lost its charm and the beauty of its vegetation that dots the coastline of the Côte d'Azur. It is also the richness of a city steeped in art, from the writer Aldous Huxley to the poet Jean Cocteau; tinged with warm colours and a turquoise blue. To discover Villefranche-sur-Mer is the promise of a visual and epicurean delight.
The port, the citadel, the old town, the curve of its shoreline are some of the features which makes the city, dating back to 130 years, BC, so picturesque.
Since Antiquity, the large fleets of sailing ships moored in this place, blessed by the Gods, a pause in order to anchors of their powerful ships. Deep water and well sheltered from the East winds that dominate this part of the Mediterranean, this safe harbour of an area of about 4 km2 has been appreciated by sailors throughout time.
Today, the development of luxury tourism is accompanied by ever increasing recreational boating. This activity is predominant as evidenced by the numerous stopovers of large cruise ships and luxury superyachts in the bay of Villefranche.
Villefranche-sur-Mer, nestled in the sheltered bay, enjoys a very mild climate: High cliffs protect it from east, west and north winds. The south, open to the sea is nevertheless protected by the narrowness of the harbour, except during rare but spectacular gusts of winter wind.
Start by strolling along the fishermen’s quays, lined with restaurants and terraces and if you continue to the end, you will arrive at the long beach of Villefranche with turquoise waters.
The Citadel “Saint Elme” overlooking the sea and dating from the 16th century houses an auditorium, museums, the city of crafts and hanging gardens. The French navy left the citadel in 1965 to give way to the artistic collections of the city: Museum of Art and History, Collections of Goetz-Boumeester (works of Picasso, Picabia...) and the Volti Foundation-museum of contemporary sculptures.
The old mediaeval town is home to terraced streets and staircases with evocative names: rue Obscure, rue du Poilu. Covered and narrow passages follow the colourful facades of old houses that are once again alive and where, in summer, through the open windows conversations can be overheard and smells of Mediterranean cuisine titillate the palate.
Jean Cocteau, originally from here, liked to return to Villefranche, to meet his fishermen friends for whom he dedicated and decorated the Chapel Saint-Pierre...especially for them.
Fort du Mont AlbanThis castle, located high above the town of Villefranche sur Mer, is magical because of its stunning views over the countryside and the sea to the East, a point of view the peninsula of St Jean Cap Ferrat and of one of the most beautiful bays in the world, the harbour of Villefranche sur Mer and its boats, delicately balanced on the turquoise and translucent water. Admire the outstanding architecture of the fortress built in the 16th century to protect the city of Nice. To the West we dominate the whole city of Nice with a view of the old town; the sea, the boulevard “Promenade des Anglais” and all the way to Antibes.
The overall view is breath-taking!