Villefranche Sur Mer In The Region Of The Provence Alp Cote D'Azur
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Villefranche Sur Mer In The Region Of The Provence Alp Cote D'Azur

Villefranche sur Mer is a village in the department Alp Maritimes in the Provence Alp Cote dÂ’Azur region in the French Riviera. It is located alongside Nice to the east, and 10km (6miles) to the west is Monaco. Villefranche is a well organized and traditional town that maintains its regional identity despite the influx of tourism.

The Region of Villefranche sur Mer

Villefranche sur Mer is a village in the department Alp Maritimes in the Provence Alp Cote d’Azur region in the French Riviera. It is located alongside Nice to the east, and 10km (6miles) to the west is Monaco. The bay of Villefranche sur Mer is one of the deepest natural harbors of any port in the Mediterranean Sea providing a safe anchorage for large ships ranging from yachts to cruise ships. This makes Villefranche a great location to anchor and allow passengers to admire the surrounding of Provence Alp Cote d’Azur region by ferrying them to the mainland with smaller boats.

Villefranche is a well organized and traditional town that maintains its regional identity despite the influx of tourism. The beauty of Villefranche is not surprising as its city limits extend high up into the hills to altitude of 520m (1750 ft) around the bay. The popularity of Villefranche as a holiday destination is also helped by the fact that the three “Corniches” or main roads linking Nice to Italy pass through Villefranche.

History of Villefranche

The area of Villefranche surrounded by Beaulieu sur Mer and Saint Jean Cape Ferrat has been occupied since prehistoric times. It has a rich history dating back to Celt-ligurian settlers in the surrounding hills, later Greek and Romans used the harbor as a stop-over en route to Western Mediterranean. In 1793 the French returned to re-occupy Villefranche, and in 1860 was given to France by treaty following a plebistice. By the 19th century it had become an important Russian Navy base, establishing an oceanographic laboratory in the old lazaret. During World War 1, the United States Navy made Villefranche the home port of the U.S. 6th Fleet from 1948 to 1966. Villefranche is the most used cruise ship port of call in France.

Villefranche sur Mer

Villefranche is part of the Urban Community of Nice Cote d’Azur and can be considered part of the suburb of the Nice Metropolitan area. It has fluctuating population based on the main form of economy being tourism with hotels and restaurants employing most residents, though on a seasonal basis. This means that these residents are not added to the census. Villefranche is on the whole a quiet town except during the high season over the spring and summer. Although there is still activity at the harbor in “La Darse” and a population of fishermen most of this has been replaced by sailing and deep sea diving. More extensive dockyard work has now been moved to Antibes.

Places to Visit

Villefranche has a beautiful baroque-Italian church called St Église Saint-Michel (Saint Michael's Church) in the heart of the old town, built in the 1750s. The Chapelle Saint Pierre was built in the 16th century and then used as a fishermen’s stockroom for nets and equipment around the 19th century. Nowadays it is a historic site depicting the life of saints and local fishermen.

Another interesting site is the old citadel dates back to 1557 and now is the current location of the Town Hall. It has undulating views over the bay towards Saint Jean cape Ferrat.

This lovely town has two main public beaches – Plage des Marinieres that is located at the north end of the bay stretching for 1km under the railway tracks linking Nice to Italy. Plage de La Darse is a pebble beach situated behind the main jetty of the harbor La Dares. Other options are to seek out the private beaches in Cape Ferrat.

As Villefranche is a town that caters to tourism there are various restaurants to satisfy anyone’s culinary taste, especially if you are a fan of seafood. The most expensive restaurant with a menu to match is Saint Germaine. It is located just by the bay and offers an exquisite range of dishes and wines from the region.

A Touch Of Hollywood

This old town and bay also has a lot to offer in regards to being the location for famous movies such as Never Say Never with Sean Connery, Hitchcock’s’ To catch a Thief and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Steve Martin; bringing a touch of Hollywood to the French Riviera.

Villefranche is a great place for a family vacation, either on a road trip around the French Riviera, as part of a cruise or enjoying the sites in and around the lovely village of Villefranche sur Mer. For a more intimate experience the best time to visit Villefranche is during spring from March to May. It is busier over the summer months.

Related keywords: medieval castles in france
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