Why Villefranche-sur-Mer is Perfect for Walking
Seaside Villefranche-sur-Mer, with its sheltered harbour and long sweeping sandy beach, holds an enviable position on the French Riviera. Tucked between Nice to the west and Beaulieu-sur-Mer and Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat to the east, Villefranche feels like a small town. However, arriving in Villefranche by car takes a bit of skill. The streets haphazardly wind up and down the slope towards the waterfront and around the Citadelle. Located below the Basse Corniche roadway, Villefranche’s old town (vielle ville) is pedestrian-friendly, where the small streets are more like alleyways bookended by pastel-coloured buildings.
French Riviera Walks
Some friends recently visited Villefranche-sur-Mer, and when I asked whether they had a favourite day trip, they said they never felt the need to leave this enclave on Côte d’Azur. Why go anywhere when the town has everything we need – a beautiful beach, tennis courts, restaurants, and fabulous site-seeing walks? Here are a few walks from Villefranche-sur-Mer that won’t take you too far away but will burn some energy.
Walk to Nice
As the crow flies, the metropolis of Nice is on the other side of Mont Boron from Villefranche. Start at Wilson Square in Villefranche and walk westward along Chemin de Ronde towards the Citadelle and on to Port la Darse. The road narrows into a pathway and then appears to end but continues to the coastal trail near the Paganini Tower. Don’t let the term coastal path fool you; there is about 360 m (950 ft) of elevation, including some steep stairs, on this trail before arriving in Nice. However, the views are well worth the walk, and there is much to do in Nice. This 6 km (3.7 miles) walk should take approximately two (2) hours.
Walk from Beaulieu-sur-Mer
Hop on the train at Villefranche’s station and take it as far as Beaulieu. From there, you will make your way westward towards Eze-sur-Mer by climbing beyond the Moyen Corniche and following a trail up to a plateau and then down the St Michel Valley. Eventually, the trail descends to Eze-sur-Mer after a 4.8 km (3 miles) walk.
Enjoy the Bay
Villefranche’s waterfront with the crescent-shaped Plage des Marinières is one of the most picturesque on the French Riviera. So, why stray too far? The “Bay Circuit” is a loop along the waterfront to Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat and then back.
Walk Around Cap Ferrat
Saint Jean Cap Ferrat is visible from Villefranche and a reasonably easy walk along the Plage des Marinières, or you can take the train to Beaulieu and walk from there. Your destination is the pedestrian pathway that winds around almost the entire Cap. This pathway hugs the Mediterranean, and along the way, you pass a few public beaches and get glimpses of private villas and the stunning 5* Grand Hôtel du Cap (a Four Seasons property). If time permits, stop at Villa Ephrussi de Rothchild to look at this exquisite mansion and its remarkable garden.
Villefranche Tourist Office
Jardin François Binon
Telephone: +3 (0)493017368
They have city maps and details about these walks and more.
Where to Stay in Villefranche?
Sur le Toit is a charming 1-bedroom, 1.5 bathroom vacation rental in Old Town Villefranche-sur-Mer. This 2nd-floor apartment has beautiful views of the bay over the terracotta rooftops to Cap Ferrat in the distance. Fully remodelled, Sur le Toit has all the modern amenities, lovely antiques, colourful art from artists of Villefranche, a gourmet kitchen, and 1.5 bathrooms.
Perched above Villefranche-sur-Mer, the Romantic Riviera Villa has stunning views of the Mediterranean, including Cap Ferrat and Beaulieu sur Mer. With two (2) bedrooms, three (3) bathrooms, and a separate office, the Villa has plenty of space for two couples, but you might want to have the place all to yourself. The apartment is 110 square meters (1,100 square feet), so it is spacious and perfect for a short break or an extended stay.
If you are looking for a 2-bedroom holiday rental on the French Riviera, Plage Privée in Villefranche-sur-Mer is the answer. This sunny waterfront apartment has panoramic views of the bay of Villefranche, Cap Ferrat, and beyond. Recently remodelled Plage Privée is on the top floor of a 1950s art deco building at the entrance to Villefranche’s main beach – Plage des Mariniers.
Located in the heart of Villefranche-sur-Mer, on rue Volti, the Artist’s Atelier is a one (1) bedroom apartment in a 600-year-old building. Fully renovated, the apartment retains classic charm with 12-foot ceilings and old wooden beams. Mediterranean light streams into the Artist’s Atelier through the French doors. Watch Villefranche’s daily goings-on from the balcony with the sparkling sea in the background.