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Located on the French Riviera, a short 8 kilometers, or a 19 minute drive, Nice and Villefranche, are luxurious towns worth visiting! Fortresses, Cafes, Museums, Architecture, Shopping, Beaches, Urban Hiking and Cuisine are all on the must do list when visiting the fabulous celebrity favourite Cote d’Azur.
The resort town of Villefranche-sur-Mer boasts a beautiful bay, turquoise blue water, colourful waterfront buildings and museums, restaurants and cafes. The town sights are easily reached on foot; the bay in on the prestigious top 5 list of most beautiful in the world. Take the time to enjoy the harbour front while sipping a fabulous french coffee and watching the parade of people on the promenade. The museums including Volti, Goetz and Roux as well as the Citadel are free to enter and quite enjoyable! We found Villefranche to be an extremely romantic little town!
We drove to Nice (pronounced Niece) with a friend and enjoyed the incredible scenic views along the way! The train is a viable, extremely affordable option as well, taking around 7 minutes. Although it is the second most populated (around 1 million) city on the Cote d’Azur, the old town remains quaint and more popular than ever before. Delightful promenades, parks, gardens and fountains make urban hiking enjoyable.
The Fontaine du Soleil, located in the magnificent Massena Square, is probably the most famous fountain in Nice. A seven meter tall statue of the Mythological Greek god Apollo is the centrepiece, surrounded by bronze sculptures representing Earth, Venus, Mercury, Mars and Saturn. There is a rather humorous history surrounding the fountain, which I will not go into.
On our walk to the beach, we passed the grandiose Basilica of Notre Dame. The marvellous Gothic Architecture contains two impressive square bell towers, three porches, colourful stained glass windows and the prominent rose window perfectly balanced in the center.
We made the steep 90 meter stair climb to La Tour Bellanda Chateau de Nice, high above the city. Not much remains of the castle, but there is a lovely park which overlooks the promenade and the harbour. Although it was overcast the day we hiked up, the view was nonetheless magnifique and I recommend doing it!
Beaches in Nice are full of tourists sun bathing and dipping their toes into the turquoise blue waters of the Cote d’Azur. Although it is a beautiful sight, it is a stone beach, hard on the feet and not so comfortable to lay on. Still for sun worshippers and beach seekers, probably worth an afternoon visit; some restaurants offer lounge chairs in exchange for consumption.
A popular tourist attraction, The Promenade des Anglais stretches 7 kilometers along the sparkling blue waters of the Baie des Anges – Bay of Angels. Lined with palm trees, it is a wonderful place to take a leisurely stroll, rollerblade, skateboard or bicycle. Lined with restaurants and cafes on one side and beach on the other, it provides fabulous people watching opportunities! It acquired it’s name from the wealthy English tourists who vacationed in Nice in the early 19th century and suggested the construction. We enjoyed a wonderful walk before stopping for a fair priced lunch (see restaurant info below) of mussels in wine broth with french fries, salad, and a carafe of house wine. French perfection!
The numerous parks, gardens and squares are wonderful places to relax, catch a concert, cool off, read a book or meet a lover (pourquoi pas)! All are free to use, some have seating areas and wonderful grass areas to drop a blanket and have a picnic as the world goes by! The charm of the French is alive and well in Nice.
To view more photos and get additional ideas of what to see and do when in Villefranche and Nice, visit my photo album.
If interested in renting a vacation apartment in Nice, or a fantastic Guide, please feel free to correspond with me for some contacts!
Nice and Villefranche – YouTube
Nice and Villefranche – Photo Album
Foreign Travel Advice – UK Government
Alerts and Warnings – USA Government
La Canne a Sucre Restaurant – That wonderful restaurant we had lunch at in Nice, on the Promenade des Anglais