Journey to the Exclusive Heart of the Cote D’Azur
Though its name may not be familiar, there’s a good chance you’ll recognize much of Villefranche while walking its beachfront and twisting, cobblestone streets. That’s because it’s been a cinematic hot spot for years, and movies such as To Catch a Thief, An Affair to Remember, and Never Say Never Again have all been shot here.
Behind the scenes, though, this resort town—located 20 minutes west of Nice—is considered one of the French Riviera’s most exclusive spots. (It’s also one of Europe’s most sought-after residential areas, but not to worry: When you’re on an Azamara cruise, your very own boutique hotel travels with you.)
Once your hotel tenders in one of the deepest natural harbors in the Mediterranean, it’s time to explore. Stroll along the pier, where colorful fishing boats are matched only by the colorful characters who tend their nets. Or dig your toes into the sands of beaches like Plage des Marinières, Plage de la Darse, or Plage de l'Ange Gardien.
Meander the labyrinth of winding stairways and narrow streets in the Old Town—home to many of Villefranche’s most notable attractions, including Citadelle Saint-Elme, Chapelle Saint-Pierre, and Église Saint-Michel. A quick car ride to the east will bring you to Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a 20th century villa that overlooks nine gardens, each with a distinct theme.
If your travels have you needing to refuel, you’re in luck. No day in Villefranche is truly complete without indulging in fine French cuisine, flavored with a distinct Mediterranean influence. Dine on local specialties like boeuf Rossini and fresh foie gras, or watch the world go by at Wine Pier—which is just as scenic as the name implies.
Originally built in the 16th century, Chapelle Saint-Pierre was given new life when it was restored in 1957 with help from the iconic artist (and Villefranche resident) Jean Cocteau. His works depicting the saints and local fishermen now adorn the chapel walls.
Situated in the center of the Old Town, this Baroque Italian-style church houses many notable works of art, including a large painting of Saint Michael displayed above their marble altar, and the Christ of the Galleys—a recumbent sculpture of Christ crafted in the 18th century.
Once built to watch over and protect the town of Villefranche, this 15th century citadel is now home to several museums, including the Musee Volti, which houses an impressive collection of bronze works, as well as the Goetz-Boumeester Collection.
Nice (Villefranche), France At a glance