You may not have even heard of Villefranche (or Villefranche-Sur-Mer to use its full name). It’s not exactly a big tourist destination in the South of France, with most people opting to visit Nice or Cannes or Monaco instead.
So why am I talking about it?
Because it’s the town on the French Riviera that you stop at on a cruise.
Sure I was a bit miffed that the cruise had advertised stopping at Cannes and Monaco but was actually just stopping once in Villefranche, but I’ve already had my rant about that over here.
Today I just wanted to tell about what to actually do in Villefranche when you arrive. Because honestly I was a bit lost when I disembarked. Like what are you meant to do here?
Well, here’s a few pointers.
Also spoiler: There are way too many photos in this post but I couldn’t help it because LOOK HOW COLOURFUL.
What To Do in Villefranche
Visit Saint Elme Citadel
This 16th Century fortress overlooks the harbour in Villefranche, so it’s one of the first things you see as you arrive. It’s worth a visit as it has lots of museums inside, an open-air theatre and some pretty gardens to wander. I really enjoyed that latter as it was a lovely day and you get a nice view of the harbour too.
Oh and did I mention, it’s free to enter?
Wander the Colourful Old Town
This really is the best thing about Villefranche, the rows of gorgeous painted houses in the Old Town.
Just exploring this colourful area, with its winding lanes, pastel shutters and washing hanging from windows, is worth a visit. I mean it’s pretty much Insta-gold. Just saying.
It’s also built up the hills so has lots of charming stairs and cute walkways. You’ll probably get lost. But you won’t care.
Oh and check out Rue Obscure (Dark Street) if you can, an underground passageway where the locals used to hide from invaders. Pretty neat.
Take in the View From the Top
Talking of the Old Town, once you’ve worked your way up through the idyllic houses, you’ll find yourself at a beautiful viewpoint! And who doesn’t love a viewpoint?
After lots of Googling I still can’t figure out where this was but pretty much the higher you go the better the view, so just keep going up for gorgeous views of the harbour.
Try the Ice-Cream
Something I’ll give to Villefranche-Sur-Mer, they have lots of delicious gelato. And lots of crazy flavours.
In the Old Town they sell things like tomato and basil ice cream if you’re looking for an adventurous snack! I stuck to my old gal mint choc chip but it was delicious. I thought this was worth a mention because it pretty much made my day.
Have a Wine by the Sea
Finally, the seafront!
The beach is very popular with families and cruise-goers but that means it’s quite busy.
And to be honest I’m not a massive fan of pebble beaches. If it ain’t sand, it ain’t for me. But that might be because I grew up in South London and had beach days at Hastings. Just gimme sand already!
But anyway, the seafront is actually a lovely place to have a glass of vino and look out at the twinkling sea. There are restaurants right the way across the promenade so there’s always a seat waiting for you.
Pretty houses, lovely gardens within a fortress, delicious ice-cream and a glass of wine by the sea. If that’s not a recipe for a great day in a colourful town, then I don’t know what is.
But generally it’s just a chilled out place that’s nice to stroll through and relax. Such a hidden gem.
Would you go to Villefranche?
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