pastel and brick houses clinging to steep slopes rising from the
sea, Villefranche is a portrait of the quintessential Mediterranean
village. Fishing boats in the
harbor complete a perfectly charming scene.
Stretching along 125 miles of scenic Mediterranean coast, the
French Riviera has long been treasured by artists as well as the
rich and famous.
anchor and tender passengers ashore to the small pier where a member
of the local tourist board staffs the terminal building.
Villefranche is a jumping off point for the exploring the Côte
d’Azur and automobiles are available for rent for those passing
through on the way to Nice, Monaco, or to explore Eze and the
countryside. The train offers
comfortable transportation to Monaco and Nice and Cannes.
Taxis are at hand for independent tours and charge an hourly
you leave for seemingly more interesting or chic locales, look
around Villefranche. Immediately
adjacent to the pier, take a stroll through the Citadel's footpaths
and admire the gardens tucked into every nook and cranny.
Walking is the only way to see Villefranche with its
cobblestone streets and balconied buildings covered in lush
flowering plants & bougainvillea.
Climb the steep steps into the old town area and wandered
through the narrow lanes to St. Michael's Church.
Head back toward the waterfront through the Rue Obscure, a
covered tunnel-like alleyway—once a refuge from pirates, but,
according to the locals, after World War II it was the spot where US
sailors met their "fiancées."
On Sundays an antique market sets up in the town square
overlooking the 14th century Chapelle Saint-Pierre where Jean
Cocteau’s frescoes dominate the small vaulted chapel.
is a bustling commercial center, easily reached from Villefranche by
train. Come here to walk on the seafront boulevards, site of the
famous hotels spotlighted by the International Film Festival, or to
browse through the collection of 19th-century paintings and
sculptures and the gallery of ancient Mediterranean relics in the
Musée de la Castre.
known as the seaside playground of the Victorian aristocracy, Nice
is the capital of the Riviera and one of the region’s most ancient
past the cafés and historic buildings that line the seaside
Promenade des Anglais is a favorite activity, as are visiting
Nice’s many museums and art galleries.
the home to artists and sculptors, Nice is a museum lover’s
paradise. The Musée de Beaux-Arts has an extensive collection of
works by 19th century French artists; Matisse lived and worked in
Nice and donated many of the works displayed in Musée Matisse; and
Musée National Message Biblique Marc-Chagall, located on the
hillside above the city, is dedicated to Chagall’s treatment of
biblical themes through his work in a variety of mediums. Built at
the direction of Tsar Nicholas II, the interior of the impressive
Orthodoxe Russe St-Nicholas á Nice is richly ornamented with icons.
excursions to the medieval walled city of St-Paul-de-Vence might
include a stop in Grasse, birthplace of French perfume.
Eze, another medieval village noted for its restored
buildings and stunning views, is the destination of another tour
popular among cruise passengers.
If you’re fortunate
enough to be in Villefranche on Sunday, the antique market is the
place to find treasures. Small
shops sell the usual tee-shirts and souvenirs.
In the terminal building French spirits and imported cigars
are available. After all that
climbing, instead of shopping, take a break for café au lait or a
glass of local wine at a sidewalk café.
Cannes offers great
shopping, including outlets of top Paris brands such as Hérmes
and Saint Laurent. Look for
designer boutiques on La Croisette and more down-to-earth shopping
on rue d’Antibes a few blocks inland.
for boutiques in the maze of streets comprising Nice’s Old Town.
Beaches on the Côte
d’Azur are clean and most are free, although for a fee non-guests
can use some resort beach properties.
Take care to swim within designated areas and be
forewarned—topless sunbathing is totally acceptable along the
entire French Riviera.
In Villefranche, head
east from the pier for a popular beach within walking distance.
trendy beaches of Cannes and Nice are places for seeing and being
seen rather than swimming.