Villefranche-sur-Mer

 

Just east of Nice, on the other side of Mont Alban, lies the quiet harbor town of Villefranche-sur-Mer. It's a quick 10-minute train ride (or a beautiful 20-minute drive) away, and the perfect place to escape the city's bustle for an evening.

Villefranche is delightfully relaxed and almost sleepy compared to its Riviera neighbors. A row of colorful buildings lines the turquoise bay, with stone streets and stairs climbing gradually uphill. You might recognize parts of town from a handful of famous films, from classics like To Catch a Thief to last years' Absolutely Fabulous movie. 

Villefranche sur Mer, France | A quick travel guide to this colorful town on the  French Riviera | Beaches on the bay | Restaurants on the marina | Things to do & see in Old Town
Villefranche sur Mer, France | A quick travel guide to this colorful town on the  French Riviera | Beaches on the bay | Restaurants on the marina | Things to do & see in Old Town

If you're in town during the day, take advantage of the pebbly public beach Plage des Marinières - a refreshing change from the crowds, rocks, and prices of beaching in Nice. You can also search out one of the outdoor markets that pop up throughout the week, or make the hike up to Fort du Mont Alban. If Èze Village isn't on your itinerary, the views from the fort are not to be missed: Nice and the Alps to the west, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat to the east, and miles of coastline in either direction.

While it's easy to enjoy during the day, the best time to visit Villefranche-sur-Mer is in the evening. Walk through the old town and the harbor as the sun sets, and settle in for dinner at one of the cafés along the marina. Enjoy a glass of rosé by the water while yachts and fishing boats from around the world sail in and out of the bay. 

 

Next: 10 Days on the French Riviera

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