From the moment you arrive, Villefranche-sur-Mer offers an awe-inspiring panorama. The Bay of Villefranche is embraced by Cap of Nice on the right and Cap Ferrat on the left, and it is reputed to be one of the most beautiful bays in the world. The colourful Old Town of Villefranche cascades down the hillside to the sea, and the sandy kilometer-long beach that offers great recreation throughout the year.
Villefranche-sur-Mer is one of the most charming and authentic fishing villages on the French Riviera. Villefranche retains all the charm and authenticity of a little village where people still know one another, yet it also attracts an interesting cosmopolitan group of visitors and residents, including students attending the renowned French language Institute.
Situated in the heart of the Cote d’Azur with Monaco just 7 km to the east and Nice 3km to the west, Villefranche is just 10km from the Nice airport. Antibes is 15 kilometers away, and Juan les Pins and Cannes just beyond that. St Paul de Vence, Vence and Grasse are also just a few kilometers away, and the border to Italy is just 15 kilometers from Villefranche. You do not need a car to enjoy all these sites. There is a fabulous convenient and inexpensive public transport system by bus or train to most of these places.
There is so much to do in Villefranche, swimmming in the clear blue sea, relaxing at the beach, strolling through the cobblestone streets, or sitting in a cafe while taking in the beautiful scenery. Or maybe you want to enjoy the French lifestyle, cuisine, wine, delicious local market produce, shopping, or just experience the village life like a local. You can do some sightseeing in the town and take in some of the magnificent walks and places of interest in the surrounding area. You could visit Italy for the day – its just 30 minutes away. You won’t tire of all the opportunities there are to enjoy yourself and get away from it all.
The buildings in Villefranche’s authentic Old Town date from the 12th and 13th centuries, and the town is filled with wonderful provençal colors, flowers, and balconies — all cascading down the hillside to the beautiful blue sea and the lively waterfront quay.
Every February, Villefranche’s fishermen celebrate Carnival with a Bataille des Fleurs (Battle of Flowers). Traditional fishing boats are decorated with flowers and parade through the harbour tossing flowers to one another and all the spectators. There is also a wonderful parade in the village with music and costumes.
The Citadel has a lovely garden and outdoor summer theater. The wonderful Volti museum is a great place to visit and explore. Take the water’s edge path at the base of the citadel and walk from the Old Town to Port de la Darse where many beautiful boats are moored. Or, drive through the moat of the citadel and marvel at the nearly 100-foot-high walls.
Winter weather in Villefranche is fabulous! While other places in the northern hemisphere are experiencing typical winter, temperatures on the Cote d’Azur remain mild with Indian Summer days lingering into December. Daytime temperatures routinely reach 18–23 degrees C, and evenings rarely dip below 13–16 degrees. People still enjoy coffee and lunch in the café’s – even restaurants still serve outside in the warmth of the early winter sun.Of course the Cote d’Azur is a lovely place to visit at any time of the year, but the winter months are the quietest time – and the best time to really experience the local lifestyle & culture.
Winter is the season artists have loved most for the light and clarity. There are so many exquisite walks, along the seaside and in the mountains, and autumn and winter months are the perfect time of year to enjoy walking, when there are no crowds, its not too hot, and the colours are beautiful.
Winter is a great season for visiting markets, shops and cooking. The produce at this time of year is wonderful, and its a great to time to learn local recipes with all the wonderful winter ingredients you will find at the many fresh food markets. And the brocante markets and little shops are filled with art and beautiful things for your holiday gift list.
Winter is the perfect season to study French. Whether you choose to study on your own, or with the help of a local tutor, or attend the world famous Insitut de Francais, autumn and winter are a great time to improve your French. Not only can the shorter days be more conducive to studying, but there are lots of opportunities to really practice speaking with the locals during the quiet season.
Additionally, for those who stay for several weeks from mid-November to mid-December, we can help to organize several outings and special events:
- Cooking Classes: one led by a renowned Cordon Bleu chef based in Nice, and another conducted by a local chef highly regarded for his original preparation of fresh seasonal fare. You’ll learn how to make 2 different three course meals, perfect to try over the holidays!
- Wine and cheese tasting in a private Cave
- Guided walks, stopping for a delicious lunch along the way
- A cultural and shopping excursion into Nice
France Bound will be visiting Villefranche sur Mer at the end of the month. Follow us as we check-out new restaurants, sights and activities.