Villefranche-sur-Mer and its citadel

Villefranche-sur-Mer (Fr. Villefranche-sur-Mer) is a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region on the French Riviera and between Nice city and the Principality of Monaco, which is just west of the French-Italian border.

Tourism and attractions

The town has seven monuments listed in the inventory of historical monuments and 160 places and monuments listed in the general inventory of cultural heritage.

It also has 66 objects listed in the inventory of historical monuments and 95 objects listed in the general inventory of cultural heritage.

The Citadel Saint-Elme, listed as a historical monument, today houses the town hall as well as the Volti and Goetz-Boumeester museums, the 24th BCA memory room and the Roux collection.

The port of the Darse is the former military port. It is home to many activities (marina, shipyard, etc.). It is managed by the Nice-Côte d’Azur Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Port de la Santé, the fishing port of Villefranche, at the foot of the old town, houses the ferry terminal for liners anchored in the bay of Villefranche. It is the site of the Naval Combat blooms every year in February.

Rue Obscure, in the heart of the old town, is a 130-meter covered street dating from 1260, located along the first rampart. It was listed as a historical monument on 4 October 1932.

The Goetz-Boumeester Museum, located in the citadel, which contains around 100 works by the painter-engraver Henri Goetz (1909-1989) and his wife Christine Boumeester (1904-1971) who donated their collection to the city.

The Villa Léopolda, which seems to be the most expensive house (mansion) in the world. Price: €379,456,000. The actual owner: Renouf Clément. The Villa La Leopolda is a large detached villa in Villefranche-sur-Mer, in the Alpes-Maritimes department on the French Riviera. The villa is situated in 18 acres of grounds. The villa has had several notable owners including Gianni and Marella Agnelli, Izaak and Dorothy J. Killam, and, since 1987, by Edmond (1932–1999) and Lily Safra, who inherited the villa after her husband’s death.

The so-called Torre Vecchia tower and ramparts (remains), vestige known as Le Bastionnet, the public garden known as Jardins François-Binon could also be interesting to visit.

Most famous religious buildings:

  • Saint-Michel Church, rue de l’Eglise, in the heart of the old town, was erected in the first quarter of the fourteenth century and then transformed at the end of the eighteenth century. This church has the Savoyard baroque style. It houses several pieces of art, including a canvas depicting Saint Michael, an nineteenth century sculpted Christ (known as Christ du galérien) and a polychrome wooden statue of Saint Roch and his dog. This building was classified as a historical monument on 26 June 1990.

  • Chapelle Saint-Pierre (sixteenth century) located in the fishing port, Amélie Pollonais. In 1957, Jean Cocteau, with the help of painter Jean-Paul Brusset, decorated it with murals evoking the Mediterranean and periods in the life of Saint Peter. The chapel belongs to the prudence of the fishermen of Villefranche. It is classified as a historical monument on 27 December 1996. Near the Saint-Pierre chapel is a bronze bust representing Jean Cocteau, which is a work of the sculptor Cyril de La Patellière (1989), inaugurated in the presence of Jean Marais and Edouard Dermit. The base is a monolithic stone from the citadel.
  • Sainte-Élisabeth Chapel, rue du Vallons.
  • Chapel of L’Ange-Gardien, avenue de l’Ange Gardien.
  • Chapel under the name of Notre-Dame des Neiges, called the Black Madonna, boulevard de Suede (seventeenth century).
  • Saint-Grat Chapel, avenue Olivula.
  • Chapelle Saint-Elme, in the sixteenth century citadel.
  • Chapel of the old hospice, avenue Clemenceau (eighteenth century).

The Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche (Villefranche-sur-Mer Marine Station) is a field campus of the Université Paris 6 in Villefranche-sur-Mer on the Côte d’Azur, France. It houses two research/teaching laboratories co-administered by the University of Paris 6 (Université Pierre et Marie Curie) and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. The two laboratories are focused on developmental biology, and oceanography. The buildings and elements of infrastructure were listed as historic monuments on 2 November 1991.

Beaches

Unlike most other Riviera towns, there are no private beaches in the city. The entire beachfront is free and open to the public. Main beaches are: Les Marinières Beach (it stretches for 700 m under the track of the railway line linking Nice to Italy), Mayssa Beach, La Darse Beach. All beaches are good for kids.

Shopping

Shopping is not a priority on the tourist program. See here shopping in Nice

Cuisine and restaurants 

The restaurants offer mostly Mediterranean cuisine. There is a one Michelin star restaurant in the city: La Mère Germaine, 9 quai Amiral Courbet, Villefranche-sur-Mer, 49 – 80 EUR • Seafood

Transport and how to get?

Roads

Villefranche-sur-Mer is crossed by the three “Corniches”, three main roads leading from Nice to Monaco and Menton towards the Italian border, offering panoramas on the coast.

Shortest distance by car:

From Menton: 44 min (28.1 km) via A8

From Monaco: 30 min (17.5 km) via M6007

From Beaulieu-sur-Mer: 11 min (4.5 km) via M6098

From Nice: 24 min (9.1 km) via M6098

From Cagnes-sur-Mer: 47 min (19.9 km) via M6098

From Antibes: 59 min (29.3 km) via Voie Mathis/Voie Pierre Mathis/Voie Rapide

From Cannes (tolls): 1 h 15 min (39.6 km) via A8 and M6098

From Mandelieu-La Napoule (tolls): 1 h (44.1 km) via A8

From Fréjus (tolls): 1 h 22 min (71.4 km) via A8

From Saint-Raphaël (tolls): 1 h 44 min (74.7 km) via A8

From Sainte-Maxime (tolls): 2 h 1 min (105 km) via A8

From Saint-Tropez (tolls): 2 h 8 min (119 km) via A8

From Cavalaire-sur-Mer (tolls): 2 h 9 min (125 km) via A8

From Toulon (tolls): 2 h 9 min (156 km) via A57 and A8

From Aix-en-Provence (tolls): 2 h 17 min (182 km) via A8

From Nîmes (tolls): 3 h 22 min (287 km) via A8

From Marseille (tolls): 2 h 33 min (206 km) via A8

From Avignon (tolls): 3 h 2 min (268 km) via A8

From Montpellier (tolls): 3 h 43 min (333 km) via A8

From Sète (tolls): 3 h 52 min (362 km) via A8

From Agde (tolls): 4 h 5 min (387 km) via A8

From Pézenas (tolls): 4 h 7 min (389 km) via A8

From Béziers (tolls): 4 h 14 min (398 km) via A9 and A8

From Perpignan (tolls): 4 h 53 min (482 km) via A9 and A8

From Argelès-sur-Mer (tolls): 5 h 16 min (509 km) via A9 and A8

From Collioure (tolls): 5 h 22 min (517 km) via A9 and A8

From Narbonne (tolls): 4 h 24 min (422 km) via A9 and A8

From La Baule-Escoublac (tolls): 11 h 26 min (1,229 km) via A62

From Saint-Nazaire (tolls): 11 h 22 min (1,214 km) via A62

From Saumur (tolls): 9 h 46 min (1,021 km) via A7

From Nantes (tolls): 10 h 33 min (1,150 km) via A62

From Les Sables-d’Olonne (tolls): 10 h 45 min (1,139 km) via A62

From Cognac (tolls): 9 h 17 min (926 km) via A62

From Angoulême (tolls): 9 h 14 min (924 km) via A62

From Eauze (tolls): 7 h 22 min (698 km) via A8

From La Rochelle (tolls): 9 h 34 min (987 km) via A62

From Rochefort (tolls): 9 h 18 min (959 km) via A62

From Saintes (tolls): 9 h 5 min (923 km) via A62

From Arcachon (tolls): 8 h 34 min (862 km) via A62

From Royan (tolls): 9 h 20 min (927 km) via A62

From Biarritz (tolls): 8 h 30 min (870 km) via A64

From Saint-Jean-de-Luz (tolls): 8 h 33 min (876 km) via A64

From Bayonne (tolls): 8 h 21 min (858 km) via A64

From Dax (tolls): 8 h 20 min (837 km) via A64

From Lourdes (tolls): 7 h 17 min (736 km) via A8

From Pau (tolls): 7 h 30 min (753 km) via A8

From Périgueux (tolls): 8 h 22 min (844 km) via A8

From Bordeaux (tolls): 8 h 5 min (810 km) via A62

From Toulouse (tolls): 5 h 46 min (568 km) via A8

From Carcassonne (tolls): 4 h 54 min (477 km) via A9 and A8

From Andorra (tolls): 7 h 40 min (658 km) via A8

Railways

The town is crossed by the line from Marseille-Saint-Charles to Vintimille and is served by a train station.

Public transport

Coach connections with the main cities of the Coastal Route of the Côte d’Azur (Nice in particular) are regular.

Ports

Villefranche-sur-Mer is also a harbour for visiting naval forces and particularly US Navy ships.

Main information

Area: 5 sq. km

Population: 5 000

Languages: French

Currency: euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

Coordinates: 43°42′18″N 7°18′45″E

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