Charming Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

In En-Route, Europe, France, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by Janis6 Comments

Elegance on the Côte d’Azur.

When you arrive at Villefranche-sur-Mer, you’ll be forgiven if you think you’ve stepped into your own dream.

The view over, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

The horseshoe-shaped cove is beautiful, colourful buildings, clear blue water, boats bobbing in the bay and all the style you’d expect from the French Riviera. Ahhhh the “joie de vivre”.

So, we returned

We visited Villefranche-sur-Mer in 2012, and the fact that I didn’t want to leave, was a sure sign we would return.

The Welcome Hotel in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

We’ve spoilt ourselves and stayed in a harbour-front hotel, so we could fully immerse in the Côte d’Azur splendour. And I could gaze out in the bay and keep an eye on the yachts.

A reference guide

If you love Provence as much as we do, you'll want to start planning your visit now. I so enjoy using the DK Eyewitness books, as they are extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our Provencal road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.

Full of charm

Villefranche-sur-Mer is a reasonably small town and is nestled in a bay between Nice and Monaco. It’s easy to see why it is popular with visitors, as it is so picturesque and charming day and night.

The promenade in the evening, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

We were staying in Villefranche-sur-Mer for a few days, as we used it as a base to explore the surrounding region. Although, for one day we took it at a relaxed pace and went to discover what Villefranche-sur-Mer had to offer.

The view to the bay, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
The quayside, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

Make a Reservation

If there is a restaurant you like the look of, ensure you make a reservation. You wouldn’t want to be disappointed.

Out and about

As usual, I’m drawn to the water, and we head to the small harbour for a stroll. The water is so clear I’m tempted to dip my toes in (perhaps not quite yet).

The beautiful bay, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

We watched the local fisherman moor up with his catch and set up his stall on the harbour front. He does this every day and what you see is what you get ‘catch of the day’.

The fish stall, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

To the beach

Wandering further around the bay we head towards the main beach ‘Plage des Marinières’. It stretches for around 1km and quite a draw for catching the rays, even at 10am.

Plage des Marinières, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

Ok, so I had to do it, I went for a paddle in the sea. It was so lovely & refreshing; however, I think it took me longer to get the sand out of my toes, than the brief dip itself.

Toe-dipping in the med in Villefrance-sur-Mer, France

Our favourite travel reads

Tempted to?

Discover more of France and create your own Côte d'Azur memories? It’s so easy to do this on a road trip, SIXT car hire cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.

About turn

After my brief splash in the sea, we head towards the citadel and Villefranche-sur-Mer’s other harbour, La Darse.

Walking back along the quay we stop at the eye-catching Chapelle Saint-Pierre.

The chapel dates from the 16th-century, due to its proximity right by the harbour, the church used to be used by local fisherman to store their nets.

Chapelle Saint-Pierre, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

The chapel was restored around 1957, and Jean Cocteau painted colourful nautical murals on the inside walls of this tiny chapel, which were quite amazing.

Good to know

Gary and I did go into the Chapelle Saint-Pierre; however, no photography was allowed (they were quite insistent), it costs €3.

La Darse

Continuing around the water’s edge encircling the citadel walls, we head to Port de la Darse. The stroll around the bay is lovely, the views are incredible. You could see the fish in the crystal-clear water.

Around the Citadel wall, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

La Darse harbour is lower key than its sister around the bay, but equally really pleasant and has some lovely little eateries.

Boats in La Darse harbour, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

Go with the flow

We spent some time around here as the atmosphere was so relaxing. However, time waits for no man, so we headed back towards the town. Strolling up passing the castle, through the floral gardens.

The Citadel, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
The view from the castle, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

Something to make your travels easier?

  • 6-Port Desktop USB Charging Station

  • Mini Dual USB Car Adapter

  • Portable Charger 2 USB Ports Power Bank

  • Bose SoundLink Revolve, Portable Bluetooth Speaker

  • USB rechargeable LED Flashlight

  • Collapsible Water Bottle

Have You

Visited any beautiful towns or villages along the Côte d'Azur, that you’d love to share? I’ll add them to my wish-list?

Which way to turn

The old town in Villefranche-sur-Mer is an intriguing maze of old narrow lanes and alleys, it’s fantastic. With restaurants overflowing into the evening sunshine and boutiques drawing you in.

The Coloured lanes, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
The quiet lanes, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

As you climb up through the streets the lanes crisscross in front of you, and high above washing is hanging out to dry, and window boxes are brimming with flowers. It’s such an incredible place.

The lanes at night, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
Where does it lead?, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

Rue Obscure

However, the most fascinating part of the town is the Rue Obscure or the ‘Dark Street’, which dates from 1260 and runs underneath the buildings along the harbour front.

Rue Obscure, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

It felt very eerie even when we wandered through in the daytime. I can’t imagine what ne’re-do-wells would have got up to along here, hundreds of years ago.

The dark passage, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
A hidden lane, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

It was like a smugglers paradise, I thought we were going to come across a lair for rum-runners.

Leading from the Rue Obscure, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

Why not?

Start creating your own French adventure and discover the beautiful bays & harbours for yourself, by flying easyJet or British Airways. These are just a couple of options that you can take to Nice.

Or alternatively, jump on Le Shuttle and tour through France under your own steam.

Out of my league

Villefranche-sur-Mer, as you can imagine, is popular with the wealthy, although, instead of rubbing shoulders with us, they moor out in the bay.

Moored in the bay, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

Would you like a little more?

We have created a little YouTube video of Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

Where we stayed

Our accommodation for the four nights we were in Villefranche-sur-Mer, was at the Welcome Hotel, where we stayed in 2012. The location is stunning with beautiful views across the bay. A perfect place to enjoy a nightcap.

Nightcap at Welcome Hotel, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

Parking in Villefranche-sur-Mer is not the easiest, this hotel offers valet parking. It is a little on the expensive side; however, your car is secure.

Where we dined

Our favourite restaurant from the four nights that we were in Villefranche-sur-Mer was at Les Garçons. Sitting under the evening stars enjoying the freshly prepared dishes, was wonderful. They had a delightful range of local produce, which they switched around on their menu.

Inspired to visit Villefranche-sur-Mer?

Stroll around the picturesque bay and take a dip in the crystal blue water. Or jump in your car and explore the surrounding towns along the Côte d'Azur?

Why not stay at the Welcome Hotel for that little bit of luxury?
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About the Author


Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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  1. I’ve never had the opportunity to travel outside of Paris, but I’d love to explore more, and this looks like such a charming place. As always your magnificent photos really make the place come to life. #farawayfiles

    1. Thanks Hilary

      France is a wonderful country, I love all the differences you see & taste from region to region. Villefranche-sur-Mer is lovely, when you stroll around the bay you feel like you’ve stepped into someone else’s world.

  2. I have wanted to go here for so long! I first discovered it at the end of a Cary Grant film, An Affair to Remember. It’s so beautiful and looks way less crowded and touristy than neighboring Nice. Pinned! #FarawayFiles

    1. I do remember seeing it in An Affair to Remember, that’s a great film.

      Villefranche-sur-Mer is quite a special place & very picturesque, although it does get crowded as well at times, but on a smaller scale than Nice. It’s lovely wandering around in the evening sunshine admiring the yachts in the bay.

  3. I love this area of France and I feel the same way – I always want to return! Your photos are gorgeous, too. 🙂 #farawayfiles

    1. Thanks very much, yes it is a beautiful region of France, I love all the hilltop villages along the Corniche.

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