An Overview of Villefranche sur Mer
Picture-perfect in every way, Villefranche sur Mer is without a doubt one of the loveliest towns in the French Riviera. Completely unspoilt, the brightly coloured buildings in the vieille ville contrast nicely with the fabulous villas up in Mont Leuze at the top of the town Down in the bay, cobbled streets lead from the old town down to the harbour and a perfect soft shingle beach which has featured on many a postcard. It’s no wonder then that Hollywood has been using Villefranche as a glamorous backdrop for big budget movies for years. With permanent sunshine and a relaxed holiday vibe, we guarantee that Villefranche is somewhere you’ll want to return to year after year.
The town itself is split between a modern upper section on the Basse Corniche and the old town and port on the seafront below. The modern centre has several boutiques and restaurants plus a lovely little park where you’ll find a weekly fruit and vegetable market on Saturday mornings. Neighbouring Nice and Beaulieu sur Mer are just a few minutes away by car from the town centre and the Basse Corniche has some of the best views in the region, perfect for a leisurely drive on a sunny afternoon.
Between the modern town centre and the old village lies the 16th century Citadel. Originally built as a walled fortress to protect the town from marauders, it now houses Villefranche’s town hall plus several museums and an open-air theatre with an amazing sea view. The Citadel is well worth a visit thanks to its fascinating history, and once you’ve finished with the cultural centre, the hidden garden is a great spot to soak up the sunshine.
A gentle stroll from the Citadel round the headland will bring you to the Port de la Darse. This 16th century harbour was originally built as a military port and became a Port Royal in 1713. These days La Darse is a pleasure marina for yachts and tourist boats and has a small collection of restaurants and shops to discover along the quays. Stop off here for a quick ice cream or a cool drink before heading back to the Citadel via the seafront promenade again.
Just a few steps down from the Citadel, you’ll find yourself back in the old town. There are dozens of bistros, bars and shops hidden away in the narrow streets plus of course the obligatory fountains and statues dating back to medieval times. Rue du Poilu is the main street which winds through the town. As you explore, keep an eye out for some of the brightly coloured trompe l'oeil paintings on the outside of the buildings featuring false windows complete with painted window boxes and pussy cats! And don’t miss the famous Rue Obscura, a vaulted street which runs under the buildings following the town’s original 11th century ramparts. Walk through the archways which are always shady even in the height of summer and imagine life in the little town back when it was a free port and highly coveted by the pirates who roamed the Mediterranean.
Pretty Place Amelie Polonnais overlooks the seafront and is a great spot to grab a bite to eat and people watch from one of the many restaurant terraces. In summer there is an antiques market in the Place every weekend, browse the stalls for hidden treasures amongst the brass ornaments and 1970’s glassware that still seem to be very popular in France. This is also where you’ll find the beautiful Chapelle de Saint Pierre des Pecheurs, a 16th century chapel. The chapel was out of action for many years and used as a storage hut for fishing nets by fishermen on the port, but in the 1950’s it was restored and decorated by Jean Cocteau. Pop in to see his stunning vibrant murals which depict the life of St Peter and local fishermen.
From the chapel, walk along the harbour past restaurants and bars until you reach the gorgeous Plage des Marinières beach. The beach curves around the bay for a kilometre and is ideal for sunbathing and swimming thanks to its soft shingle stones and clear warm water. It’s also a great place for watersports, hire a pedalo and cruise through the harbour or try a paddle board yoga session in the sunshine. In the summer season the beach is as popular in the evening as it is during the daytime. Grab a spot close to the water and enjoy a picnic under the stars, life in Villefranche is about as close to perfection as it gets on the French Riviera.
When is Best to Visit Villefranche
Winter or summer, we guarantee you’ll fall in love with Villefranche whatever time of year you visit. The gorgeous beach in the bay is the perfect place to catch some sun or swim in the Mediterranean . There are festivals galore in Villefranche during July and August, and you definitely won’t want to miss the fireworks lighting up the coastline on Bastille Day. And once the season starts, Villefranche’s great location means you’ll be able to enjoy the best of the summer events all along the coast. Have a fantastic evening listening to jazz under the stars in Juan les Pins or catch all the action at the Formula 1 Grand Prix in nearby Monaco before coming home to your luxury Villefranche rental property.
A trip to the French Riviera in the autumn or spring will also be a holiday to remember thanks to the mild climate and endless sun in Villefranche. Come winter, you’ll be perfectly placed to enjoy a few days in the Southern Alps. Get in some skiing or snowboarding, or just relax with a hot chocolate in a cosy chalet in the mountains before heading back down to the sunshine on the coast in lovely Villefranche.
No matter what you plan to do during your stay on the Cote d’Azur, Villefranche’s fantastic location and gorgeous scenery make it the perfect place for a memorable French Riviera holiday.
How to Get to Villefranche
Villefranche is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport, so getting here couldn’t be simpler. Just a few minutes outside of Nice Port, drive along the Basse Corniche with its incredible views over the bay, and you’ll be in Villefranche before you know it.
- By air: Book a flight to Nice Côte d'Azur International Airport from any major city worldwide then transfer to Villefranche
- By rail: Take a local TER train from Nice to Villefranche in less than 10 minutes
- By sea: We have partnerships with local yacht brokers if you would like to reserve a yacht berth in the beautiful bay of Villefranche during your stay
If you’re coming to Villefranche from anywhere on the French Riviera, we can organise a quick and easy transfer to your rental property.
Our private car service will pick you up and take you directly to Villefranche in style and comfort.
For more information or to reserve a pickup, please contact us directly.
Top Events in Villefranche
You’ll love staying in Villefranche. Lively and vibrant with just a touch of glamour, the little town hosts exciting events all year round. Whether you’re here for a long weekend or for the whole summer season, there’s always an excuse to celebrate life here on the French Riviera.
- Combat Navale Fleuri ~ February
- Printemps des Chorales ~ March
- Printemps des Poêtes~ March
- La Nuit des Musées ~ May
- Youth Festival ~ May
- Citadell’arte~ May
- Fete de la Musique ~ June
- Musical Moments Festival ~ July
- Lifeboat lights festival~ July
- Village Ball ~ August
- Fête de la Saint-Grat~ September
- Beaujolais Nouveau Celebrations~ November
- Christmas Market~ December
Luxury Villefranche Holiday Rentals
If you’re looking for a fabulous villa in an idyllic location for your next holiday, then you’ve come to the right place. Our selection of luxury properties available for rental in Villefranche will take your breath away. We have everything from gorgeous contemporary villas to romantic Provençale holiday accommodation on the French Riviera. Browse our selection of Villefranche holiday rentals below and then contact us for more information about the property, its availability and the area around Villefranche.
This modern 5-bedroom property set in the exclusive private “Domaine de Castellet” is quite simply spectacular. Tucked away in the hills above Villefranche, this luxury villa appears to have been sculpted from the surrounding rocks with its rough stone and polished glass exterior. You’ll find it hard to drag yourself away from the glass viewing salon with its bay windows overlooking the bay of Villefranche, but you won’t want to miss the lush roof garden or the beautifully-manicured grounds. Bathed in golden sunlight with some of the best views in town, a stay in this villa will be absolutely unforgettable.
If you’re looking for a little slice of Provence right on the coast, this lovely 5-bedroom villa is the one for you. Decorated in a traditional Provençal style, the villa has a lovely covered terrace with a summer kitchen and dining area, perfect for long leisurely lunches. The patio around the pool has a very stylish pool house and BBQ area, just right for entertaining guests during your stay. The villa comes with on-site security and a concierge, so let them take care of all the little details while you sit back and enjoy the holiday of a lifetime in the French Riviera.
This stylish contemporary villa is the ideal choice for a holiday in Villefranche. Set in the hills above the village, you’ll love the peace and quiet and of course the panoramic sea views over the bay of Villefranche. On the first level you’ll find the spacious living and dining areas plus the master bedroom while the other bedrooms are spread out over the floor below. The garden level has access to the magnificent heated swimming pool and lush grounds where you’ll find the villa’s piece de resistance, an incredible plant covered feature wall. Sit on the terrace with an evening cocktail and watch the lights twinkle out in the bay below you, you’ll always remember your summer in Villefranche.
If you love to entertain, then this newly renovated villa set in the heart of a secure private domaine is a great choice. There are 4 ensuite bathrooms and the stunning living and dining areas open directly onto the pool.The house is wired for sound with a Bose system both indoors and out, so you’ll be able to crank up the volume and get everybody up and dancing once evening falls. Watching the sun set over the Mediterranean on the terrace with a glass of chilled champagne in hand is one way to really get the party started!
We are always updating our website with the latest holiday rentals in Villefranche. To make sure you have all the information, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media to see our newest properties as soon as they become available.
Must See and Do in Villefranche
Villefranche might be a small town, but it certainly has a lot to offer visitors. As part of the French Riviera’s ‘golden triangle’, the village has a near perfect location and climate plus lots to do and see. There are dozens of restaurants with all types of cuisine, some very lively bars for fun evenings out, and just enough historical monuments for you to tick sightseeing off your holiday to-do list. Here are a few of our favourite ways to have fun in everybody’s favourite resort on the French Riviera.
In the centre of Villefranche, you’ll find the Savonnerie de Villefranche, a family-run soap factory. Known for their Terre Dorées products which are all made onsite, the little factory has been creating soaps using local flowers and plants for years. Drop in to watch the soap specialists in the workshop and listen as they explain the traditional soap making process used to create their organic and sweet selling products. If you’re lucky you might even run into Taidé Cardelli. She’s the founder and owner of the factory who still writes down all the recipes used to make the different flavoured soaps in her black notebook every week. And once you’ve found out how it’s made, don’t forget to check out the shop to purchase a few soaps to take home with you. Instead of the usual rectangle, the Villefranche soaps are made in the shape of a wave. Pop a couple in your bathroom for a fragrant and decorative reminder of your Mediterranean holiday.
Rent a topless car that is. Forget dull guided bus tours or walks, and jump in a tiny 2-seater open top Nice Car instead for a fun trip around Villefranche and the surrounding area. Create your own route around town, stop off for an ice cream on the sea front or nip up into the hills for some spectacular views of the bay. The cheerful little 3-wheeler cars come with a multi-language audio system to tell you all about the town and a GPS system to make sure you won’t get lost during your tour. The scooter-style handlebar makes light work of driving around the twisty roads in the old town of Villefranche and you’re sure to get plenty of attention as you whizz up and down the cobblestones in the port in your Nice Car. Exploring the French Riviera has never been so much fun!
For a meal to remember, leave the beachfront restaurants behind and head into the old town to La Caravelle. Set in one of the narrow alleys which lead down to the port, La Caravelle’s quirky terrace is an outdoor staircase, with a table on each step. Owners Christelle and Pascal are friendly and welcoming, if you’re looking for service with a smile you’ve come to the right place! The food is excellent and the portions are huge, sit outside with a glass of rosé and people watch while you wait for your meal to arrive. We highly recommend the menu ‘degustation’ if you want to try a little of everything, and don’t forget to leave room for dessert. A choice of tiramisu with speculoos, chocolate Toblerone mousse and a spectacular pannacotta will make you very glad you did.
During the summer season, the Citadel in the heart of Villefranche becomes a fantastic open-air cinema. From June to September, reserve seats in the amphitheatre by the harbour and watch a different film every night as the sun sets over the Mediterranean. Sit under the stars and see everything from the latest Hollywood blockbuster to a French arthouse movie, the Cinéma Plein Air de Villefranche definitely beats a trip to your local multiplex!
If you would like more ideas about places to visit in and around Villefranche, please contact our concierge team who will be delighted to share some of their extensive local knowledge with you.
For more information about this area of the French Riviera, please just contact our luxury holiday rentals team. We’ll be delighted to help you organise a fabulous vacation in Villefranche for you and your family.