The approach to, or better even from (at sunset), Villefranche is impressive: the steeply terraced streets of this pretty, centuries old fishing village set against a densely wooded backdrop create a delightfully timeless picture.
Tenders will bring you into a small jetty at the western end of the village. As all sea traffic uses this jetty, the tenders often have to wait 5 to 10 minutes before docking. There is a small passenger cruise terminal with a tourist information desk (with bus and train timetables) and just behind the terminal is the center of Villefranche (across the road and up a series of steps).
Alternatively, turn right and walk along the seafront to a long, narrow beach which curls around the eastern end of the bay. Up the steps at the bend of the bay takes, via a pretty 10 min walk, to the exclusive resort of Beaulieu-sur-Mer.
For anyone landing at Nice airport who isn't particularly rushed for time and wants to potentially save money; there is a bus from the airport to the railway station, it costs about 4 euro's each one way. Then you could hop on a train to Villefranche for a max of probably around 3 Euros each one-way. You would have to weigh up the total cost of all the fares for the party against what a taxi (about 40-50 Euro)would cost though.
Printable map to take along.
Watch a destination video.
Despite the fact that so many ships call here, Villefranche is a quiet and relaxed place to visit. This is partly because so many passengers take a tour or travel independently to the neighboring Riviera resorts, but also because the area between the seafront and the upper road (part of the lower Corniche, is just a succession of narrow pedestrian streets, steps and alleyways.
One can easily spend at least a half day here and at the waterfront, both with many cafes, restaurants and patisseries.
Chapelle St Pierre: St Peter Chapel Decorated by Jean Cocteau This chapel in roman style, from the XIVth century, is dedicated to St Peter, the fishermen's patron saint. Place of cult at its beginning, it was very quickly used as storeroom for the fishing equipment. It also houses the fishermen's prud'homy.
In 1957, after many stays in the Welcome hotel, Jean Cocteau (writer, film maker, painter of the XXth century) decided, with the fishermen's agreement, to restore the chapel (outside and inside) as a sign of friendship. You can discover passages of St Peter's life (patron of the fishermen), the apocalypse candelabras with the single eye of God (fired in the kiln of Valbonne), local scenes (homage's to the Saintes Maries de la Mer and the young ladies of Villefranche-sur-Mer).
The town is very hilly - wear comfortable shoes.
The trains are a convenient way to go to Nice (7 min), Cannes (25 min) to the west and Monte Carlo (20 min) to the east. The train station is at only a 10 minutes walk from the terminal, at the top of some steps, just opposite of there where the beach begins; look for the SNCF (the French railways) sign on the wall as the steps are partially obscured from the promenade. To Nice 1.60 and to Monaco 2.70 each way.
Busses stop a little further away and are only 1 Euro to either Monaco or Nice.
Suggested itinerary: Take train to Nice Ville Station, pick up map at tourist office next door, walk down Avenue Jean Medecin, the main shopping street, towards the beautiful waterfront. Head to Place Garibaldi (Rue Papon) and take bus #100 to Monaco (1.50 Euro).
In Monaco get off at the Tourist Office, get a map and directions to the train station. Wander the town and do not forget to browse the windows of the realtors! (You suddenly feel poor). Take the train back to Villefranche.
St. Paul de Vence, an idyllic medieval hill village with its Fondation Maeght, a museum just outside town (a short steep way up) with works of Chagall, Miro and others, in a lovely setting.
If you're there on a Sunday, there is a flea market right next to the Welcome hotel.
In Nice: for the big designer labels head west of place Masséna to rue du Paradis, rue Masséna, rue de la Liberté, rue Alphonse Karr and avenue de Suède.
Also in Nice: the antiques and brocante market (Pl. Robilante), by the old port, is held Tuesday through Saturday.
20 Minutes free WiFi at the small but comfortable tender terminal.
Local emergency number: 112
Most shops, businesses, information services, museums and banks in France stay open all day. The exceptions are the smaller shops and enterprises, which may close for lunch sometime between 12.30pm and 2pm. Basic hours of business are from 8 or 9am to 6.30 or 7.30pm Monday to Saturday for the big shops and Tuesday to Saturday for smaller shops (some of the smaller shops may open on Monday afternoon). You can always find boulangeries and food shops that do stay open, however, on days when others close – on Sunday normally until noon.
Holidays in France
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