"The charm of Villefranche-sur-Mer" Top 5 Page for this destination Villefranche-sur-Mer by NiceLife

Villefranche-sur-Mer Travel Guide: 94 reviews and 232 photos

Paradis d'Azur

Winding lanes, rich mediterranean colours, all the charm of this pretty "village" which claims Tina Turner as a resident, though it must be said I have never seen her come down from her estate high above in the hills.

You can sunbathe on the coarse sand of the wide beach, swim the calm waters of the bay sheltered by Cap Ferrat on one side and the Cap de Nice on the other , and then retreat to the relaxing cafes or one of the pretty restaurants that line the harbour, for a light lunch, something to drink, or treat yourself to some great ice cream sundaes. There is a vibrant international local community resident in Villefranche, as well as regular visitors for whom its a favourite haunt, many from across the Italian border and Monaco. The limited number of tourist hotels mean it remains rather priviledged and exclusive, without being overly expensive.

There's plenty of local history to explore, some remarkably interesting permanent art exhibitions - free entry. The ambiance is sophisticated, friendly, and safe due to its "human scale" - resident population max 30,000, compared with 300,000 in Nice around the bay.

Nothing is over- commercialised, no junkfood, jet-ski, para-gliding or watersports antics to ruin the calm enjoyment of the Med. For eating out, there is little here you would call "cheap", but there is a good range choice between the "moderately expensive" and the pretty expensive. If you want very expensive, there is always La Reserve at Beaulieu , provided you look sufficiently respectable to be let in.

Villefranche describes itself as the "Paradis d'Azur", and its not far wrong.

Cocteau's Villefranche

Jean Cocteau, inspirational artist and film director came here in 1925 staying at the Hotel Welcome. Villefranche then was a centre of literary and artistic activity, with Stravinsky was living not far away. and actress Isadora Duncan a frequent visitor, before her meeting with a scarf, an open top motor car, and destiny, outside the Negresco, Nice.

Opposite the Cocteau church, the Hotel Welcome is virtually unchanged since the nineteen twenties, with its air of graceful decay. Around it are the excellent cafe/ bars Le Cosmos and Les Palmiers. Those in the know will sometimes drop in on Le Cosmos just for one of their divine desserts - Tarte Tatin or pomme crumble, a shared pichet of rose, and large serving of peoplewatch.

Around the citadel you can find your way to the charming and unhurried Port Darse, where more casual alfresco cafe setting awaits at the Baleine Joyeuse at the waters edge.

Harbour front

Relaxed atmosphere, mediterranean colours, elegant people, amazing vista onto Cap Ferrat, unspoilt.

If you are in the mood for a little walking from here you can leave by the far side of the beach and walk on to Cap Ferrat or along to Beaulieu, past exclusive and secluded private villas with names like "Les Pieds dans la Mer" and Nellcote, briefly home to the Rolling Stones in their 1970's tax exile. Stroll around Cap Ferrat, visit The Villa Rothchild, and Kerylos at Beaulieu - all within walking distance (American comedian Stephen Wright once wrote "everything is within walking distance - if you have enough time").

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Sandy beach, sheltered swimming, quiet and accessible from NIce
  • Cons:can be overrun by families with young children in peak holiday times
  • In a nutshell:Charming and relaxing
  • Last visit to Villefranche-sur-Mer: Sep 2010
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (30)

Comments (14)

  • Villefranche's Profile Photo
    Oct 16, 2010 at 1:02 AM

    A day visit to Villefranche is always a pleasure and is such a short journey from Nice. But its beauty and slower pace of life will probably tempt most visitors to come back for a holiday.I www.traveleurope360.com

  • Oct 5, 2010 at 4:23 AM

    Villefranche-sur-mer,France is an exotic place to visit. You'll experience one of the life's best acquaintance.This village not only comprises of nature's beauty but also a diamond clean atmosphere with lovely culture and best cuisines.

  • AGGSBAGGS40's Profile Photo
    Aug 16, 2007 at 12:06 AM

    loved this restaurant, the people watching was great as was the wine. Allison

  • NiceLife's Profile Photo
    Feb 26, 2007 at 11:06 PM

    (Natasha - you are quite right - thanks for the correction!)

  • Feb 26, 2007 at 1:11 PM

    You haven't got your history quiet right there...It wasn't Caroline in the car with Grace. It was Stephanie!

  • littlesam1's Profile Photo
    Oct 26, 2006 at 11:42 AM

    I have to agree with you. Its not Nutbush.

  • Aug 24, 2006 at 8:26 AM

    fantastic pictures - i have been looking at menton for a few days in feb- your tips have convinced me now to hurry and book for the lemon festival . thanks lhoultby

  • jenn_d's Profile Photo
    Nov 12, 2005 at 2:17 PM

    X marks the spot...we found the perfect summer home here! Thanks for your advice and opinions.

  • Tolik's Profile Photo
    May 19, 2005 at 6:14 PM

    Lovely place, fantastic pictures

  • bambino36's Profile Photo
    Sep 24, 2004 at 11:32 AM

    Fantastic page about this small beautiful charming village!

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