Église Saint-Michel de Villefranche-sur-Mer
Villefranche-sur-Mer

Planted discreetly along the bay between Nice and Cap Ferrat, fishing port of Villefranche is a stage set of brightly coloured houses – the sort of place where Pagnol’s Fanny could have been filmed.

Genuine fishermen skim up to the docks in their brightly colored small fishing boats, and the streets of the Vieille Ville flow directly to the waterfront, much as they did in the 13th century.

Some of the prettiest spots in town are around Place de la Paix, Rue du Poilu, and Place du Conseil, which looks over the water.

The harbor, in the cavity of a volcano, was once preferred by Onassis and Niarchos and the royals on their yachts. The character of the place was subtly shaped by the artists and authors who roosted at the Hôtel Welcome – Diaghilev and Stravinsky, taking a breaks from the Ballet Russe in Monaco, Somerset Maugham and Evelyn Waugh, and, above all, Jean Cocteau, who came here to recover from the excesses of Paris life.

Nowadays, its population consists mainly of wealthy retired people, though families do head here to enjoy its gravelly-sandy beach. The only wickedness of Villefranche is its popularity, between the endless stream of cruise ships sending their passengers ashore, the towns’ physical beauty has become more challenging to appreciate on a grand scale or peacefully.

However, fascinating promenades and the luscious panoramas of the town and its surroundings remind why everyone headed here in the first place.

Nearest towns

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat – 3km
Beaulieu-sur-Mer – 4km
Nice – 7km
Èze – 8km
Monaco – 15km
La Turbie – 19km
Cagnes-sur-Mer – 19km
Menton – 25km
Vence – 29km

Major cities

Nice – 7km
Monaco – 15km
Antibes – 29km
Cannes – 40km
Saint-Tropez – 119km
Toulon – 156km
Aix-en-Provence – 183km
Genoa – 193km
Marseille – 212km

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