Villefranche’s long arc of golden sand, plage des Marinières, is the principal attraction for most visitors. From here, quai Courbet runs along the sea to the colorful Old Town past scores of bobbing boats; it’s lined with waterside restaurants.
Old-town action revolves around place Amélie Pollonnais, a delightful square shaded by palms and spread with the tables of six easygoing restaurants. It’s also the site of a Sunday antiques market, where people from across the Riviera come to root through vintage tourism posters, silverware, 1930s jewelry, and ex-hotel linens. Villefranche has several other great markets, too. An artisanal market occupiesplace Amélie Pollonnais every day except Sunday. In front of Jardin François Binon at the top of the village, an antiques bazaar takes place each Sunday. Each Saturday the same spot is dedicated to the sale of organic local delicacies, including olive tapenade, local cheeses, and paella.
The painter, writer, filmmaker, and well-respected dilettante Jean Cocteau left a fine memorial to the town’s inhabitants. He spent a year (1956–57) painting frescoes on the 14th-century walls of the Romanesque Chapelle St-Pierre, quai Courbet (tel. 04-93-76-90-70). He presented it to “the fishermen of Villefranche in homage to the Prince of Apostles, the patron of fishermen.” In the apse is a depiction of the miracle of St. Peter walking on the water, not knowing that an angel supports him. Villefranche’s busty local women, in their regional costumes, are honored on the left side of the narthex. Admission is 3€, free for children 14 and under. In spring and summer, it is open Wednesday to Monday 10am to noon and 3 to 7pm; fall and winter hours are Wednesday to Monday 10am to noon and 2 to 6pm. It’s closed from mid-November to mid-December.
A short coastal path leads from the car park below place Amélie Pollonnais to the 16th-century citadelle. This castle dominates the bay, and its ramparts can be wandered around at leisure. Inside the citadel sits a cluster of small, locally focused museums (tel. 04-93-76-33-27), including the Fondation Musée-Volti, a collection of voluptuous female sculptures by Villefranche artist Volti (Antoniucci Voltigero) and Le Musée Goetz-Boumeester, featuring around 50 artworks by Dutch artist Christine Boumeester. Opening hours are July and August, Monday and Wednesday to Saturday 10am to noon, Wednesday to Monday 3pm to 7pm; June and September, Monday and Wednesday to Saturday 9am to noon, Wednesday to Monday 3pm to 6pm; October and December to May Monday and Wednesday to Saturday 10am to noon, Wednesday to Monday 2pm to 5pm. Admission is free.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.