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Villefranche-sur-Mer, French Riviera, France

Villefranche-sur-Mer is located on the Côte d'Azur (French Riviera), on the Mediterranean coast, only about 9 km east of Nice and 4 km west of Beaulieu-sur-Mer. The town, although not too large, belongs to the most famous and prettiest tourist destinations on the French Côte d'Azur. In the past it was simply a fishing village and a deep seaport, but today the town encourages tourists to visit beautiful sandy beaches, colorful houses as well as pleasant cafes and restaurants.


Parking in Villefranche-sur-Mer

We recommend leaving the car in the paid, large parking lot at Place Wilson, right next to the marina and Musee de la Marine (GPS: 43.7027681, 7.3117278). Hence, we are close both to old town and to interesting citadel of Saint-Elme. Watch out for the ubiquitous pedestrians walking narrow streets you are going to drive.

You can also try to leave your car in the (probably) free parking lot located above the old town, at Avenue Albert 1er (GPS: 43.7040014, 7.3094317), but the chance is small that there will be free places in later hours.


The marina and the streets of old town

After leaving the parking lot (assuming you parked the car at Place Wilson) you can first walk the street in the right direction and then walk along the coast, admiring the colorful houses which a little bit resemble the view of the port of Saint-Tropez. First, however, we pass a chapel of Saint-Pierre from 16th century, which in 1957 was decorated with frescoes by Jean Cocteau, whose bronze bust is located behind the building (A; GPS: 43.703104, 7.312035). Returning back from the marina, we can climb up the narrow streets passing by a very interesting street Rue Obscure from the 14th century with the length of about 130 m, which is something like a cellar corridor (B; GPS: 43.703755, 7.311867). Once the street was not covered, but as a result of uncontrolled urbanization starting from 16th century it was gradually covered. Then we walk in the direction of Saint-Michel church from the first half of 14th century, located in the center of old town (C; GPS: 43.703900, 7.311184). This church was later supplemented with baroque elements, and its interior contains a number of interesting pieces of art. Strolling down the narrow streets, we can then turn towards the citadel of Saint-Elme.

The citadel of Saint-Elme

The citadel of Saint-Elme (D; GPS: 43.701867, 7.311142) is a 16th-century complex of military buildings designed to defend the town and its main port La Darse (and also the city of Nice) against the enemies. It was completely renovated in the early 1980's. At that time, the town hall was moved here. The citadel occupies a truly large area (7.5 acres), just no comparision with the citadels in Saint-Tropez or Antibes, previously visited by us. It is divided into several closed areas. In one of them there is a watchtower from which we have nice views of the entire bay. In addition to mentioned town hall, in the citadel there are four museums, including Volti, La Collection Roux and Goetz-Boumeester. Admission to museums is free.

The road to Menton

After visiting Villefranche-sur-Mer we headed to Menton - the easternmost town on the French Riviera. We made it on local roads such as the famous Moyenne Corniche and the Grand Corniche. We passed towns like Èze, La Turbie, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. We made a video on the route so you can watch it.


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