4 must-see things to do in Villefranche-sur-Mer

Visiter Villefranche-sur-Mer

Your Provencal getaway: how to visit Villefranche-sur-Mer and what to see and do in this beautiful Côte d’Azur town?

A small town of 5,200 inhabitants in the Alpes-Maritimes, Villefranche-sur-Mer spreads out around an amphitheater of cliffs along the Villefranche roadstead, one of the deepest natural anchorages in the Mediterranean Sea. You won’t get bored visiting Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Brimming with sunshine all year round – 2,696 hours of sunshine in 2014 -, a city bursting with color and fragrance thanks to the vegetation dotting the Côte d’Azur coastline, a city steeped in art – Aldous Huxley and Jean Cocteau were regular visitors -, tinged with turquoise blue and crystal-clear waters, visiting Villefranche-sur-Mer is undoubtedly a visual and gustatory delight. So what’s there to do in Villefranche-sur-Mer?

1. The old town

Vieille-ville de Villefranche-sur-Mer

Photo credit: Flickr – John Bencina

The old village district is a maze of narrow streets winding from the shore to the heights of the town. The houses are picturesque, old and colorful. A stroll through the veins of the old town is a refreshing change from the scorching rays of the Provencal sun.

Venture down this maze of staircases, narrow streets and pedestrian walkways to soak up the authentic village life, and admire the church of Saint-Michel, the chapel of Saint-Pierre des Pécheurs, the Citadelle Saint-Elme and the Rue Obscure (dating back to 1260!).

2. Villefranche harbour

Rade, Villefranche-sur-Mer

Photo credit: Flickr – Artur Staszewski

The Villefranche roadstead is one of the deepest in the western Mediterranean. It is 2.5 km long and 1.5 km wide. Located between Cap de Nice and Cap Ferrat, the bay reaches a depth of 50 meters in the middle, and the sea to the south reaches a depth of 1,000 meters. In other words, the gradient of this underwater canyon is abysmal.

Sheltered from the wind thanks to its landlocked location, it enjoys a very mild microclimate, making it ideal for year-round walks!

3. The Darse harbour

Darse, Villefranche-sur-Mer

Photo credit: Wikimedia – Broenberr

Formerly the military arsenal of the Duchy of Savoy, its buildings have been listed as historic monuments since 1991. The Port de la Darse was built in the 18th century to combat the exactions of privateers and pirates. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting Villefranche-sur-Mer, which includes :

  • The old forge,
  • The rope factory,
  • The vaults of the old warehouses,
  • Hospital for the galley choir,
  • The « chemin de ronde », offering an absolutely superb view of the harbor.

Today, La Darse is Villefranche-sur-Mer’s marina.

4. A boat trip

location bateau Villefranche

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Arndale

Let’s stay on the marina, the starting point for another must-do activity in Villefranche-sur-Mer: boat trips. Indeed, you can’t visit the Côte d’Azur coastline without taking to the open sea.

With a boat rental in Villefranche-sur-Mer, you can discover Cap d’Antibes, Nice, Sainte-Marguerite Island and even Monaco. Enough to make your stay unforgettable!

How do I get to Villefranche-sur-Mer?

Villefranche-sur-Mer is located right next to the city of Nice. You can get to Villefranche-sur-Mer by train, but also by plane via Nice airport. To find a cheap flight to Nice, use our partner website Skyscanner.

Where to stay in Villefranche-sur-Mer?

You can find a cheap hotel in Villefranche-sur-Mer by searching on this hotel comparator.

Now you know how to visit Villefranche-sur-Mer!

Map of hotels and accommodation – Villefranche-sur-Mer