Villefranche-sur-Mer

Colorful facades

Quai de l'Amiral Courbet

Villefranche-sur-Mer, or simply Villefranche, as it was known before March 18, 1988, is a seaside resort, the first town east of Nice on the road to Monaco. The Mont Boron separates the town from Nice; along with the Cap Ferrat, it forms a bay that happens to be one of the deepest natural harbors of the western Mediterranean. It is there, sheltered from winds and currents, that countless cruise ships anchor every year. As there are no adequate docking facilities, passengers have to be brought to the marine terminal by tenders, but that would apply to Nice as well. In fact, whenever a cruise is said to stop in Nice or Monaco, it really goes to Villefranche-sur-Mer and the passengers are brought to their destination by bus.

Over the years, we were invited to visit cruise ships in the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer on a couple of occasions, but on February 4, 2012, we paid the town a winter visit for the very first time. This was a totally different experience: there were practically no people in the streets, and it was definitely cold. In addition, the sun kept popping in an out of the clouds, so the light changed constantly, both in terms of intensity and color.

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Looking from the marine terminal to the town Quai de l'Amiral Courbet

Looking from the marine terminal to the town

Quai de l'Amiral Courbet


Looking out to sea from the marine terminal parking lot Looking towards the marine terminal

Looking out to sea from the marine terminal parking lot

Looking towards the marine terminal


Mooring post Sailboat

Mooring post

Sailboat

After spending some time on the waterfront, we entered the old town. This is for the most part a pedestrian area with streets too narrow, or twisted, or both to accommodate any automobile traffic, to say nothing of the fact that most cross streets consist of steps. The houses are covered with plaster of various colors; they are reminiscent of the colors of Italian resorts, particularly in the way the plaster peels in so many different places. From one of the streets, near the Place du Conseil with its lion head fountain one has a lovely view over the bay towards the Cap Ferrat. Particularly noteworthy is the Rue Obscure, or dark street. It runs partially under village houses and reminded us of the Rue des Voûtes in Le Cannet.


In the old part of town 'Place du Conseil' Fountain detail

In the old part of town

Place du Conseil

Fountain detail


The partially covered 'Rue Obscure' Letter carrier

The partially covered Rue Obscure

Letter carrier


Looking across the bay Wave pattern

Looking across the bay

Wave pattern


Outdoor laundry Blue door

Outdoor laundry

Blue door


Green shutters Even greener shutters Yellow wall

Green shutters

Even greener shutters

Yellow wall


In the old part of town Off the beaten track Looking up the 'Rue de l'Eglise'

In the old part of town

Off the beaten track

Looking up the Rue de l'Eglise

The Eglise Saint-Michel (Saint Michael's church) is located in the heart of the old town. It was built in the beginning of the 14th century but substantially modified in the late 1700s. The interior is not overly ornate and beautifully maintained. It is hard to capture an image of the church as there is not enough space to step back sufficiently. The small square in front of the church features a pretty large tree. Here, too, it is difficult to convey the size, but if one considers that it is planted in the middle of a circular bench, one gets a feeling for the height. We had lunch in a lovely restaurant across the Chapelle Saint-Pierre (Saint Peter's Chapel) and then climbed up to the citadel.


The 'Saint-Michel' church In the church The square in front of the church

The Saint-Michel church

In the church

The square in front of the church


The 'Saint Pierre' chapel The marine terminal

The Saint Pierre chapel

The marine terminal

The citadel of Villefranche-sur-Mer was built by Italian engineer Gian Maria Olgiatti in the 16th century. It was part of defensive works commissioned by Charles the Fifth to protect the Mediterranean shore against attacks from the sea. In 1570, reinforcements were added, and the citadel served as a military installation until 1945. The site was abandoned until 1979 when the town restored it completely and moved some of its administration, including the town hall and the office for tourism and cultural affairs, into the citadel. Today, the citadel also houses a conference center that can seat from 100 to 900 people, a museum, and various facilities for all kinds of festive occasions, such as weddings.


Entering the citadel In the citadel Old cannon

Entering the citadel

In the citadel

Old cannon


Citadel courtyard Villefranche-sur-Mer town hall

Citadel courtyard

Villefranche-sur-Mer town hall


Max Cartier sculpture Colorful facades

Max Cartier sculpture

Colorful facades


You have to love sailing to head out in this weather! In the citadel gardens

You have to love sailing to head out in this weather!

In the citadel gardens


The citadel gardens The citadel gardens The main gate

The citadel gardens

The citadel gardens

The main gate

After a while, the cold weather got the better of us, and we made our way back down to the marine terminal where our car was parked. The last photo on this page shows the walkway along the citadel wall; it was taken less than half a minute away from our car, and a good thing it was: by now, an icy wind was blowing. When we got home about an hour later, it started snowing...


Time to head back View from the citadel over the bay

Time to head back

View from the citadel over the bay


One last look over the town... ...and along the citadel wall

One last look over the town...

...and along the citadel wall

The photos on this page are a subset of those published on our Villefranche-sur-Mer gallery page.




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