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Villefranche-sur-Mer





what to see in Villefranche


To visit Villefranche-sur-Mer means you will be exploring the beaches, the old port, the winding hillside footpaths, the shady covered streets, sun dappled squares lined with street cafes and tiny boutiques and restaurants in improbable places.

You will stumble across decorative Italian churches harbouring 18th Century altarpieces, the domed protective roof of the Rue Obscure and the soaring walls of the Citadelle and the pretty gardens in her keep. In Villefranche there is history, culture, French 'joie de vivre' and Italian 'dolce vita'aswell as natural beauty to see and discover.

Wonderful yellows, oranges and ochre tones aboundLooking down on VillefrancheHilltop views over Rade de Villefranche


Historical Villefranche



Villefranche has the same wealth and variety of history as many of the bigger towns and cities along the coastline of the French Riviera. Its natural deep water port and sheltered waters of the Rade de Villefranche have resulted in it maintaining a prominent postition in the region throughout the ages. To this end it has long since been inhabited by a variety of people and cultures who have all left their indelible mark on this small town. You cannot fail to notice the history of Villefranche as to be in the town is to be immersed in it and this is part of its charm.


Citadelle St Elmo


Although the first indications of human habitation in this area date back to prehistoric times and the tribes of Liguria, the establishment of Villefranche is credited to Charles II d'Anjou, the Count of Provence.

He established the Port Royal de la Darse in the later part of the 13th Century as a free port at a time when Nice, and other ports, were taxing maritime traders heavily. This lasted into the 18th Century.

After the cessation of Villefranche to the Duke of Savoy this entire area entered into a period of time of persistent unrest with rights and land being hotly contested between the Roman Empire, allied to Savoy and the Counts of Provence, allied to the French. There also continued frequent attacks from Pirates and raiders and something had to give.

Mature gardens VillefrancheSilhouette on Rue Obscure, Villefranche
Mature GardensProtection
Rue Obscure, VillefrancheWonderful village holiday rentals
FortificationOld Town
This promted the contruction of some serious protection for the town and harbour and stronghold of the Citadelle St Elmo and the corresponding Fort on Mont Alban were conceived.

Villefranche had become a busy and important free trading post in the Mediterranean and it needed defenses. Building commenced in 1554 under the eye of Emmanuelle Philibert, the Duke of Savoy at the time.


The Citadelle St Elmo today

The Citadelle takes nearly 15 years to build whereby contruction begins on the Fort at Mont Alban which will be charged with land defences in support of the Citadelles defense of the sea.

It remains an impressive structure that could still provide ample protection if called to do so although the moat is now dry and is used as a car park. In fact the purpose of the Citadelle today is, thankfully. entirely more benign housing 5 museums, an open air theatre, auditorium and the towns administration centre.

To find out more historical points of interest in Villefranche look in the RG directory under 'The Corniches-Attractions-Historical'.


Museums in Villefranche



The French Riviera has been a place of inspiration for so many artists that almost every small town and village has at least one famous name associated with it. Its natural beauty, unique light and breathtaking landscape have inspired many, foreign and local, to take up residence here. If you are a patron, a fan or perhaps an artist yourself then there is much to see along this coat including Villefranche. From the unsung artists, who's works decorate the interiors of the many large and small churches, to the high subtle decorations on the very walls of the buildings.

Antoniucci Volti

The Citadelle museum houses several museums, including La Collection Roux and Le Musée Goetz-Boumeester, and displays many artists works but Antoniucci Volti is Villefranches most famous, and closely associated, son.

Despite being Italian in origin, Volti's family had been settled in France since 1905. Born in Albano, Italy in 1915 during his fathers military service, Volti returned to France when he was just 5 years old. He studied in École des Arts Décoratifs in Nice in the late 1920's and went on to study, exhibit and win medals for his work while living in Paris.

He served military service during the second world war spending time in a Bavarian prisoner of war camp. Fortunately he was able to return to France and contiue with his artistic work again. The Sculptor is famous for his large, lifelike voluptuous female figures and his style is influenced by the classical and traditional work of past masters.

Spring light over the MediterraneanArtist's Atelier, French Riviera
Unique LightYoung Artists
Harbour church in VillefrancheBig skies over the Med
DecorativeInspiration
A long time resident of Villefranche, Volti, donated some of his work to the museum. The setting of the Citadelle providing a dramatic backdrop to his classical work.

His work is also displayed in Nice, 'La Mediterranée', at the Palais de la Mediterranée. He is one of the most important last modern sculptors of the 20th Century.

Lookin in the RG Directory for contacts and details of the museum under 'The Corniches-Attractions-Museums'.


Gardens in Villefranche



The Riviera has always been famous for its blooms and even the smallest towns have extremely well tended gardens. The traditional Mediterranean garden is quite a formal affair with lots of structure and block plantings of vivid colours. You will find Villefranche's gardens whether you are looking for them or not and can enjoy the shady coolness even if you are not a gardener by heart.

Jardin de la Roserie

Again the Citadelle is a focal point for one of the many attractions around Villefranche. This time in the form of the Jardin de la Roserie. This garden is particularly interesting because it calls into focus the deep, historical connection that Villefranche had, at one time, with Russia.

The French Riviera had long been a favourite with Russian nobility and Royalty, their legacy attested to in the Russian palaces, churches and villas remaining in their wake. Villefranche was something of a centre for this influx during the 18th Century when the strategic merits of its Port came to the Russian navy's attention.

In 1857 a deal between the King of Sardinia and Russia saw Villefranche become something of a home base for both the navy and the Royal family. The late 1800's saw military interest replaced by marine scientists who established a marine zoology centre there linked with the Université de Paris.
Francois Binion park with stautue by Volti, VillefrancheSummer flowers, Villefranche
François BinonSummer blooms
Spring gardens VillefrancheLuxury Villa in Villefranche
Wild SpringPrivate grounds
This site, The Russian House of Villefranche is now home to the Jardin de la Roserie. Here, in the heart of the Citadelle you will find beautiful gardens, a 16th Century watch tower and a bust of the Russian Emperess Alexandra Feodorovn.

To move away from the focus of the Citadelle an interesting trip is to see the Botanical garden St Michela, situated high above Villefranche near the Grande Corniche. It is accessible by car or by bus (80) and offers stunning views looking down over the bay.




Renting holiday property in Villefranche



There is plenty to see in Villefranche, to get contacts and links for all the places mentioned above then please look in the RG Directory under 'The Corniches-Attractions'. If you are ready to book a holiday rental and would like to spend your vacation in Villefranche then please use the search facility below.

You will find luxury apartments, holiday villas and vacation properties in Villefranche at your fingertips. You can also use the 'Browse Rentals' buttonin the main menu if you cannot find what you are looking for or want to view other areas. Contiue on to see when is the best time to visit Villefranche-sur-Mer.




 


Some top holiday rentals in Villefranche-sur-Mer



Villefranche Sea View

French Riviera » ... » Villefranche-sur-Mer 85 sq.m. Apartment 0302
»Holiday rental apartment
»Bedrooms:2
»Sleeps:6
»Price per night:$190.71
»Per person (x6):$31.79
Contemporary, Sea View
“Spaceous and comfortable ground floor appartment with spectacular views from the garden patio in a quiet location above the Villefranche town centre.” - wimpirlot
A peaceful, modern, ground floor two bedroom apartment set in a private and secure residence with manicured gardens and a breathtaking view over the Rade de Villefranche and St Jean Cap Ferrat. Tranquil, convenient, relaxed and spacious with free parking.


Villefranche Marina

French Riviera » ... » Villefranche-sur-Mer 60 sq.m. Apartment 0946
»Holiday rental apartment
»Bedrooms:2
»Sleeps:4
»Price per night:$177.20
»Per person (x4):$44.30
Tranquil, Swimming Pool
A spectacular two-bedroom panoramic sea view apartment in a private residence featuring a lovely garden and swimming pool. Calm and surrounded by natural beauty while being located only a short walk from the beautiful old town, port, and beach.


Sea View Apartment in Villefranche-sur-Mer

French Riviera » ... » Villefranche-sur-Mer 78 sq.m. Apartment 0963
»Holiday rental apartment
»Bedrooms:2
»Sleeps:6
»Price per night:$278.16
»Per person (x6):$46.36
Sea View, Tranquil
A breathtaking view sea view, serene swimming pool, rooftop terrace, and beautiful surrounding hills make this two-bedroom apartment in Villefranche-sue-Mer the ideal setting to enjoy a wonderful, relaxing stay on the French Riviera.


 

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