Colorful houses are everywhere, complemented by the gorgeous deep blue Mediterranean water. In fact, it’s so beautiful that Villefranche-sur-Mer has been featured in many famous films. For example, ‘An Affair to Remember’ and ‘The Bucket List’.
There’s plenty of things to see and do on a day trip to Villefranche. If you’re here on a Wednesday or a Saturday, you can also experience the twice-weekly market. The Villefranche-sur-Mer market is particularly special, held in Jardin Francois Binon. Here, you can buy fresh produce like fruit & veg, cheese, and olive oil and beautiful flowers, ceramics, and fabrics.
Things to do in Villefranche-sur-Mer
Villefranche-sur-Mer is the perfect day trip. The train from Nice to Italy stops here, and it’s just a short ride (only a couple of minutes!). If you have the energy, you can even walk here in just under 2 hours.
Relax at the Beach
The French Riviera is known for its beautiful beaches, and Villefranche-sur-Mer doesn’t disappoint! Even better, it is much sandier than the pebbly beaches normally found on this coastline, so it’s great for relaxation. The main beach of Plage des Marinieres is breathtaking, with its deep blue crystal clear water that makes it perfect for swimming. The long bay curves round and has great views across the water to the colorful houses of the old town.
Villefranche harbor is famous for being the deepest in the area, so lots of ships are passing through regularly. It’s nice to spend some time wandering along the harbor, looking at the boats, and soaking in the bustling atmosphere.
Wander the Old Town Streets
The old town is the heart of Villefranche-sur-Mer and the most wonderful part of the town. Most buildings are from the 12th or 13th century and have been beautifully preserved. What’s more, all the houses are painted in rainbow colors with shutters, plants, and flowers to match.
The best thing to do in this part of town is to get lost and enjoy the beautiful details you’ll find around every corner. As you wander, listen to the soft sounds of the French language, and watch the local people go about their day, it’s the perfect place to get some memorable photos of your trip!
Citadel of Villefranche-sur-Mer
The Citadel of Villefranche-sur-Mer is a 16th-century medieval fortress that sits on a hill high above the city. It’s got the best view in town, as it’s high enough to look out across the bay, the town, and the coastline of the Cote d’Azur. Coming here for sunset or sunrise is breathtaking!
It is also home to the town hall, several museums, a beautiful garden, and an open-air theater. Best of all, the citadel is free to enter, as well as the museums. Some of these showcase major artworks and sculptures.
St Pierre Chapel
St Pierre Chapel is the biggest surprise of all in Villefranche-sur-Mer! The 16th-century chapel was once used as a storage area by the local fishermen during the 19th century. Later, Jean Cocteau (a famous artist and film director) found a special place in his heart for the church. Because of this, when it was renovated in the 1950s, he painted murals of the local fisherman, depicting their lives in Villefranche. It’s a beautiful place to spend some time on your trip.
Opening times: Open Wednesday-Sunday (closed on Tuesdays and at lunchtime)
Where to Eat in Villefranche-sur-Mer
Apart from the local delicacies found at the twice-weekly market, there are plenty of amazing restaurants to choose from in Villefranche-sur-Mer. Italy is not too far away, and you can feel the influence of that on the culture and the food! Here are some great places to eat on your trip:
- La Cuisine (French)
- Le Mekong (Vietnamese)
- Les Amoureux (Italian)
Where to Stay in Villefranche-sur-Mer
Most people visit Villefranche-sur-Mer on a day trip from Nice. However, it’s very easy to fall in love with this beautiful town, and you may want to extend your trip. If that’s the case, there are plenty of gorgeous apartments to choose from in the old town or upscale hotels next to the beach.
Best Time to Visit
The French Riviera has some of the best weather in France, and Villefranche-sur-Mer is no exception; it has over 300 days of sunshine a year. Because of this, visiting all year round is great, although the summer allows travelers to enjoy sea dips! Additionally, Villefranche is less known on this coastline, so it’s far less crowded than Monaco or Nice.
Getting to Villefranche-sur-Mer
Visiting Villefranche-sur-Mer on a day trip from Nice is easy! You canrent a car in France through Sunny Cars. Free cancellation up to 1 hour before rental start and all insurance is included (so no surprises when you pick up your car). Book your local rental car here.
Or take the train for just 2 euros per person, and it only takes a few minutes. Once you’re in Villefranche, the best way to get around is on foot. This is the easiest way to explore the old town’s steep, narrow streets, passageways, and tunnels. (Purchase your train tickets here)