French Riviera charm: The best things to do in Villefranche-Sur-Mer

What are the things to do in Villefranche-Sur-Mer, the most picturesque village nestled along the shores of the French Riviera? Villefranche blends old-town vibes and a lovely coastal ambience that will immediately steal your heart. And guess what? It’s conveniently situated near Nice and Monaco, making it the ideal day trip destination for your travel planning! What are you waiting for?

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Is Villefranche-sur-Mer worth visiting?

Are you wondering if this small village is worth visiting? Well, wonder no more because the answer is a resounding YES! The town with cobblestone streets, secret corners and the prettiest mix of colours might even become your next favourite spot on the French Riviera. The photos don’t even scratch the surface of Villefranche’s beauty – you’ve got to experience it firsthand!

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How much time do you need in Villefranche?

A day trip is enough to soak in the charms, make photos for the memory box and have a nice lunch beside the waters. However, due to the multiple things to do in VilleFranche-Sur-Mer, you can easily extend your stay here to 3 or 4 leisurely days. Also if you prefer staying in smaller villages in between the big cities like Nice and Monaco.

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Where to stay in Villefranche-Sur-Mer?

From luxury to intimate and local experiences with a B&B, it is all possible in VilleFranche-Sur-Mer. But let’s also talk about the summer heat. As it can get pretty hot mid-summer, we do recommend you to either book your accommodation near the beach or with a pool. We surely enjoyed a refreshing dip after exploring during a heatwave day! Find here some great options for your stay, or search further with the map below.

How to get to Villefranche-Sur-Mer

There are several transportation options available for a day trip or for a longer stay. The network around Villefranche-Sur-Mer is very convenient to arrive at your destination without too much effort. If you arrive straight from the airport, it is best to fly into Nice, approximately 11 kilometres away.

Visit by train

The train is a great option if you do not have access to your own transportation. Villefranche has a train station with a convenient connection to Nice (approx. 10 minutes), Cannes (approx. 1 hour) and Monaco (approx. 30 minutes). The train ride is even a great thing to do due to its beautiful views over the Mediterranean Sea!

Do you need a car in Villefranche-sur-Mer?

In Villefranche-Sur-Mer itself you do not need a car. It might not even be the smartest idea to arrive by car on a busy day in high season. The village has (paid) parking available, but it can be harder to find parking.

Can you walk from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer?

Yes, lovers of amazing walking routes! The family-friendly coastal walk from the harbour of Nice to Villefranche-Sur-Mer is approximately 6.5 KM and takes about 2 hours. Unless you take it easy and admire the area with multiple stops. In the end, you will pass by beaches, great viewpoints and some coves. Of course, do not forget (sun) protection, proper walking wear and water.

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Things to do in Villefranche-Sur-Mer (for one day or more)

Walk along the boulevard

Strolling along the boulevard in Villefranche-Sur-Mer is like stepping into a postcard-perfect scene. Without a doubt, it’s a must-do on top of your list. Enjoy the gentle sea breeze while the colourful surroundings and decorations create an amazing ambience. Why not stop a moment and enjoy a coffee on one of the terraces?

Visit Villefranche-sur-mer beaches

It’s time to soak up some sun and boost your vitamin D levels! Spend a fun day at one of the beaches. You might be surprised when you see the lovely crystal clear blue waters. Plage des Marinieres is showing off! Did you expect that here? Swimming, sunbathing, reading a book, having a picnic… it is all about unwinding!

Villefranche-sur-mer beaches, Villefranche-sur-mer plage

Visit the market

Who doesn’t like a good local market? The market in Villefranche-Sur-Mer should be on your things-to-do list for sure! The weekly market is on Wednesdays (a food market) and Saturdays (A provencal market with food, clothing and other nice crafts for souvenirs). Always check on location for real-time information (dates and hours) and if they might have a special evening market, which happens a lot in France during the summer months.

Get lost in Villefranche-Sur-Mer Old Town

The old town is maybe the number one reason to visit Villefranche! Oh, how much did we love to slowly wander around this area with centuries-old buildings. Here you will understand why this village is the true charm of the French Riviera. With cobblestone streets, “old vibe” stairways, small alleys, flowers, and contrasting colourful houses and shutters it will be the best thing you will do! Surely, tourists will be around but we didn’t have a packed feeling at all, even in mid-August! The village has such a “local” vibe still!

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Admire and take photos in the prettiest streets

In the Old Town, you will have the perfect scenery for a photo shoot! The backdrop filled with vibrant colours or the perfect views of the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea will give you stunning photos guaranteed! Capture travel memories, love stories as a couple or happy faces as a family. All by yourself, or with a professional photographer on location.

Movies and Darkness in Rue Obscure 

When entering the old town of Villefranche, you might be surprised when you enter “Rue Obscure”. A little piece of darkness in the middle of all rainbow colours! It is a historic passageway in the heart of the old town, dating back to medieval times! Step back in time and understand why Rue Obscure was created as it is. To be specific, it provided a cool and shaded place during the hot summer days. Currently, you will find shops and cafes inside and more information about movies shot in Villefranche-Sur-Mer.

Enjoy a waterfront lunch or dinner

Do you know what is great about the Mediterranean area? The cuisine! Daily, the local chefs meet up at the fish stall where fisherman sell their catch of the day. Fresh from the sea you can enjoy incredible seafood dishes at Villefranche’s waterfront restaurants. Breakfast, lunch or dinner? You choose! Of course, the restaurants have a great variety of French dishes as well as Italian if seafood isn’t your thing.

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Rent a boat and explore the bay

The coastline is not only pretty, but the bay of Villefranche is also perfect for a refreshing dip! The great thing is that you can easily rent a boat if you prefer to go to the deeper waters or to enjoy a day on the water. Boat rental is possible from 1 hour (costs approx. € 80 depending on the boat) and you do not need a licence for all. Another option is to book a catamaran or yacht, for obviously higher costs. Isn’t this a great way to spend the day?

St Pierre Chapel

Close to the waterfront, perhaps while walking from the parking lot, you will see a colourful and charming chapel. This is the Saint-Pierre Chapel. It looks like a small piece of artwork from the outside! The chapel had multiple functions. From worshipping to storage for fishing equipment. If you want to know more about the rich history, you can visit the chapel from Wednesdays till Sundays for a small entrance fee of around 3/4 euros.

St Pierre Chapel

Great sighting from Villefranche-Sur-Mer viewpoints

On top of the cliffs, you will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramas of picturesque Villefranche-Sur-Mer! The viewpoints offer views over the village, harbour, the bay, the beaches and mountains surrounding Villefranche. If you cannot make it during the day, what about catching a sunset here? The viewpoint below is from “Boulevard Napoleon III”. However, the village has multiple great viewpoints, also closer to town!

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Enjoy guided tours and activities

Explore more in St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

Close to Villefranche is St. Jean Cap Ferrat which is great to visit! Firstly, the peninsula has beautiful views, nature and a “rich” vibe with mansions with beautiful gardens. The must-do here is to visit Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. The villa will bring you back in time to the glamorous lifestyle of the elite in the early 20th century. Do check the opening days and hours beforehand! When we arrived in mid-August, the villa was closed. Which was pretty surprising to us in high season. Luckily we could spot some other impressive houses and views in the surroundings.

However, do continue to the village of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Stroll around, enjoy the views over the port with an ice cream or shop in the small boutique shops. Without a doubt, you will feel the jet-set vibes of the French Riviera here much more compared to Villefranche! Do you want to experience both while being active? Why not hike the coastal path between both villages? Bring your swim outfit, because also in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat you can enjoy some beaches!

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