Dare I say, I am about to show you one of the most colorful and low-key towns in the French Riviera? I am always in search of the most authentic experiences and towns to visit while traveling and Villefranche sur Mer in the South of France is just that.
From our experience, this was one of the most authentic and down to earth Riviera towns on our South of France trip. Please do yourself a favor and add this gorgeous town to your itinerary!
Now if you’re ready, let me show you around Villefranche-sur-Mer, the most colorful town in the French Riviera!
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What to Expect from Villefranche sur Mer
Villefranche sur Mer is a quaint seaside town in the French Riviera bout 20 minutes from Nice, France. However, Villefranche sur Mer feels like worlds away from the hustle and bustle of Nice. Here you will find quiet alley ways, slow mornings, and the most colorful buildings in the French Riviera.
If you are questioning whether to include this town on your French Riviera itinerary, I’m here today to convince you to do so!
Getting to Villefranche sur Mer
Getting to Villefranche sur Mer from Nice by Car
The best and most efficient way to get to Villefranche sur Mer is by Car. I would suggested that you see a few towns in the French Riviera during your time in the South of France. And make sure the this town is on your list!
There are a few different public parking options to consider:
- Parking Wilson – 11 Pl. Wilson, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
- Parking de la Barmassa – 6-12 Av. du Général Gallieni, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
If you are interested in tips on renting a car in Europe, check out my International Trip Planning post.
Getting to Villefranche sur Mer from Nice by Train
If you don’t plan on having a car for your trip, the fastest way from Nice to Villefrance-sur-Mer is by train.
From the Nice-Ville train station, you can catch a 7-min train that practically drop you off on the beach in Villefranche-sur-Mer. A train connecting the two stations arrives in Nice every 15 minutes and costs 1.50 EUR one-way.
Things to do in Villefranche sur Mer
Wander the streets of Villefranche sur Mer Old Town
My favorite way to explore Villefranche-sur-Mer is to aimlessly wander the streets. This is where the charm of the town really shines through.
When you start exploring, you will find bright pastel buildings with contrasting shutters, and greenery everywhere! The best part? We largely had these streets to ourselves in the middle of the summer!
To help you plan your day, make sure to stop by some of my favorite and most instagrammable streets in Villefranche sur Mer:
- Rue Volti (pictured below, right)
- Rue de May
- Rue de Poilu (pictured below, left)
- Rue Obscure
- Rue du Vallon
Enjoy the Sun at the Beach
Unlike some of the other towns in the French Riviera, there are no private beaches in Villefranche sur Mer. This just speaks to how low key this town really is! The beaches in Villefranche-sur-Mer are all open 24-hours to the public.
The best beach to spend an afternoon relaxing in the sun is Plage des Marinieres. This is the main beach in Villefranche sur Mer where you will find tourists and locals a like enjoying the warm sunshine.
There is also a very small beach around the parking lot from the Plage des Marinieres called Plage de l’Ange Gardien. A portion of this beach is actually reserved for dogs and their owners, so if you have a furry friend along on your trip this would be a great activity.
If you want to venture beyond the beaches in Villefranche sur Mer, Passable Beach, Plage Cros Dei Pin and Plage Paloma are great options located on the nearby Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
Be in Awe of the Citadel (Mairie de Villefranche-sur-Mer)
The Mairie de Villefranche-sur-Mer is a stone fortress dating back to 1557 originally built to defend the city. Today the Citadel houses the town hall, museums, a theater, and the Chapel Saint-Elme.
Location: La Citadelle, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
Admire the Chapelle Saint-Pierre
If you are walking along the main street that follows the water, you won’t miss this small chapel on the road side. Built in the Romanesque-style chapel from the 14th century this chapel is dedicated to Saint Peter, patron saint of fishermen.
Originally a place of worship, the space later became a place for fishermen to store their nets and other supplies. If you plan to take a peak inside, you will find passages from the life of St Pierre and the candlesticks of the Apocalypse.
Location: 4 Quai de l’Amiral Courbet, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
Cost: 3 EUR to go inside
Visit Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
A little hidden gem located on the nearby Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, only 11 minutes away from Villefranche-sur-Mer by car. You would be kicking yourself if you missed visiting this pink palace and the luxurious gardens. We loved casually wandering around the well-manicured gardens and watching the fountain show.
For the latest requirements to visit the Villa make sure to reference their official website here.
Location: 1 Av. Ephrussi de Rothschild, 06230 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France
Ticket price: 16 EUR, purchase your tickets in advance here
When to Visit Villefranche sur Mer
My favorite time to visit the French Riviera is in the summer and summer shoulder months (May through September). There is nothing better than enjoying the warm French sun while you are having a rosé and eating seafood pasta by the water.
However, the weather in the South of France is very mild all year round coming in at just below 60 degrees Fahrenheit even in January. This makes Villefranche sur Mer a great option to visit for off-season travel as well.
Where to Stay in Villefranche sur Mer
Welcome Hotel – Luxury Hotel
One of the most iconic places to stay in Villefranche sur Mer is the Welcome Hotel! Located only about 5 minues from the beach, the location and rooms are some of the best in town.
Make sure to also stop by the Le Wine Pier, the Welcome’s wine bar, has a terrace with panoramic sea views and an extensive selection of local wines and cocktails.
Location: Quai Amiral Courbet, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer
Le Rooftop – Mid-range Apartment
With a private terrace, this apartment gives you one of the best views over the coastline. The former guests have raved over the Amazing views of the Mediterranean, the comfortable bed, and cleanliness. There is also free parking if you will be arriving by car.
Location: 60 Boulevard de la Corne d’Or, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer
La Bergerie St Antoine – bed and breakfast in the countryside
We did not stay in Villefranche sur Mer, instead we chose a home-base between a few towns we wanted to visit instead of changing accomodations every day. We decided on the hillside town of Spéracèdes, France.
About 50 minutes from Villefranche-sur-Mer by car, the La Bergerie St. Antoine was the perfect bed and breakfast choice for us. The rooms were reasonably priced, breakfast available every morning outside your room, and a pool with a view of the countryside!
Location: 14 Chemin de Saint-Antoine, 06530 Spéracèdes
The Best Places to Eat in Villefranche sur Mer
There is nothing like having lunch or dinner by the water and a seafood pasta in the South of France! The dining in Villefranche-sur-Mer, like everything else here, is authentic and not too fancy. It is honestly a breath of fresh air! Here are some of my favorite places to eat in Villefranche sur Mer:
Espuma, 17 Prom. des Marinières
With a fantastic view of the bay, make sure to come to Espuma for lunch or dinner and order the truffle pasta! They also have an amazing seafood menu at very reasonable prices.
La Grignotière, 3 Rue du Poilu
Another French restaurant, the prices are extremely reasonable with a menu ranging from traditional entrecôte to pizzas. Make sure to order the escargots as a starter dish!
Les Garçons, P83618 Rue du Poilu
The outside terrace is absolutely stunning, however no seaside view from this French restaurant. The menu changes frequently based on the fresh ingredients available.
I hope I have convinced you to add this colorful hidden gem to your South of France Itinerary! If you are planning a trip to Villefranche sur Mer and have any additional questions, make sure to drop them in the comments below.
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