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Your Long-Term Stay on the French Riviera Made Easy

The French Riviera is a dreamy travel destination, but more than a short stay is needed to experience the lifestyle. What about staying longer and exploring the region? You may have considered an extended visit to the South of France, but the logistics of living in a foreign country seem overwhelming. While visa requirements exist for long-term stays in Europe, finding suitable accommodation is often the biggest hurdle.

Below, we explore long-term rental opportunities in Villefranche sur Mer and why this town is ideal for a “home away from home” without ownership hassles. Please keep reading this article if you want to test a no-stress French Riviera pied-à-terre experience.

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Why Villefranche-sur-Mer?

Villefranche radiates charm. Flanked by two major cities – Nice and Monaco, this seaside town feels like a village in the heart of the French Riviera. A pedestrian oasis, there are no cars in Villefranche’s old town, so tourists and locals enjoy walking the animated laneways. Where larger coastal cities often suffer from excessive traffic, Villefranche, with limited parking, avoids the same congestion issues. Regular public transport via bus and train makes the rest of the Côte d’Azur and the Italian Riviera accessible from Villefranche. Sitting on the waterfront in Villefranche, it’s almost impossible to believe that France’s 3rd busiest airport, Aéroport Nice Côte d’Azur (NCE), is under 30 minutes from the crescent-shaped sandy beach.

Plage Privée Seaside 2-Bedroom Riviera Apartment in Villefranche Long-Term Stay French Riviera

History buffs love Villefranche-sur-Mer, a place settled in prehistoric times. Roaming Celto-Ligurian tribes moved along the coastline, and the sheltered bay would have been an ideal place to land. Later, as the Greeks and Romans began establishing communities and trade in Provence, the natural port in Villefranche was an attractive stopover location. The town retains some medieval village elements, including the 14th-century Rue Obscure, a 130-metre street along the ancient ramparts. Today, it is covered, but at the time, it was a defensive passageway for the military. In 1554, the Duke of Savoy, recognizing Villefranche’s strategic location and the benefits of a deep-water port, constructed a Citadel Saint-Elme.


France, Alpes Maritimes (06), Villefranche-sur-Mer ©CRT Côte d’Azur, France

French Riviera Beauty

Villefranche’s natural setting adds to the beauty of this town. Surrounding the large, natural bay are cliffs and steep hillsides brimming with olive and citrus trees, Mediterranean pines, bougainvillea, and flowering plants. This lush vegetation meets the sea edge, where the shades of blue water sparkle like a sapphire necklace. As one of the oldest ports on the French coastline, two beautiful Mediterranean peninsulas, Cap Ferrat and Cap de Nice, protect the bay of Villefranche. Walking trails contour these stunning headlands sprinkled with luxurious villas and lavish gardens.

Riviera Romance 2-Bedroom Villa Rental in Villefranche

Villefranche-sur-Mer is a small community relative to many other cities along the coast, so it feels safe whether you are travelling as a couple or solo. There are many reasons to visit and stay for a while, starting with the beautiful setting, the small-town ambiance and the easy access to the rest of the French Riviera.

5 Great Reasons to Visit Villefranche

Riviera and Beyond: So Much to Do

Today, the French Riviera is a popular destination for movie stars, wealthy aristocrats, cruise ships, and the rest. The metropolis of Nice grew from a Ligurian settlement, thrived under the Phoenicians, and expanded during the Roman era. Centuries of development, World Wars and other conflicts have shaped the coastline and the culture. The result is a rich tapestry waiting for exploration. Whether your interests lie in history, art, wine growing, public gardens, or gourmet food, the Côte d’Azur offers endless options for discovery. A short visit to the French Riviera is like reading the preamble to a novel; it gets you hooked and wanting more. We spent a lovely week in Villefranche, yet the to-do list was longer at the end of seven days than when we arrived.


Villefranche-sur-Mer ©CRT Côte d’Azur, France, Camille Moirenc

A longer-term stay provides exploration opportunities that a rushed holiday does not. Settling into the Riviera lifestyle means that you can swim in the sea like the locals before the crowds arrive. There’s a chance to explore the walking trails along the coast in every direction. You can get to know the market vendors and note the seasonal changes in produce while sharing recipes. A day trip to the Italian coast is a short train ride away. Head to the Southern Alps offers endless choices for athletic types, with hiking, cycling, skiing, and snowshoeing in the winter. Enjoy the chance to explore the famous French Riviera cities and hilltop villages during the quieter months of the year.

Villefranche-sur-Mer Perfect Walking

Villefranche-sur-Mer ©CRT Côte d’Azur, France

Long-Term Stay Requirements

Do I need a visa?

While there are visa requirements for international visitors wishing to stay longer than 90 days in the Schengen Area, travel within the European Union is almost seamless. Obtaining a long-stay visa for France requires some paperwork, but there are service agencies that will help for a fee.

What about finding suitable accommodation?

Exploring southern France and beyond from a comfortable base might sound fabulous, but finding suitable accommodation takes more than luck. Once you find an appropriate option, there might be a contract in French, and the owner may live elsewhere and delegate the paperwork to an agency. Before you sign anything, you must understand the requirements for damage deposits, utilities, and property management responsibilities.

Shelley and Riccardo, the founders of Riviera Experience, have several beautifully appointed, fully furnished apartments in Villefranche-sur-Mer. These two Americans adopted the French Riviera lifestyle, settling in Villefranche years ago. Fully bilingual, they live in Villefranche and are embedded in the community. Their well-maintained apartments have all the amenities for international travellers, with Wi-Fi, smart TVs, air conditioning, coffee makers, and excellent beds. As travellers themselves, Shelley and Riccardo strive to provide a seamless experience from arrival to departure.

Riviera Romance 2-Bedroom Villa Rental in Villefranche

Is a long-term stay opportunity right for me?

Yes! A long-term stay is a terrific option, whether you are working, retired or need a change of pace. It’s an excellent opportunity to embrace the French Riviera lifestyle and explore southern France and other parts of Europe. Since work from anywhere is now widely acceptable, consider Villefranche. It is a good location for someone working remotely in the Western European time zone. Sun and surf are natural balms for individuals working on creative projects such as books or artistic pursuits.

My high school French could be better!

As mentioned above, the French Riviera is an international destination. While you will hear French, you are just as likely to hear English, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, or any other language. The reality is, for the most part, you can get by with limited French language skills. However, if one of your goals is to improve your French, there are many opportunities, including the world-renowned International Language School in Villefranche.

Long-Term Stay French Riviera Artist’s Atelier Rental in Villefranche

If you are interested in finding out more about long-stay opportunities and the chance to embrace your dream of living in the South of France, please get in touch with us for details about one- and two-bedroom apartments in Villefranche.

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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