Villefranche Cruise Port

Port of Villefranche: An Overview

Lovely, much more laid back than other -- splashier -- Cote d'Azur resort towns like Nice, Cannes and Monaco, Villefranche, whose old town dates back to the 14th century, evokes a romantic, historic feel. For those weary of sightseeing, it's a terrific port for hanging out and relaxing.

Port Facilities

Ooh la la! Villefranche is a charming village with lots of great cafes and a handful of fun shops.

Don't Miss

Sightseeing: The Chapelle St-Pierre (Pl. Pollanais, Tuesday - Sunday from 10 a.m. - noon and 4 - 8:30 p.m.), a 14th-century Romanesque chapel, is decorated with images painted by artist Jean Cocteau. Wander along Quai Courbet, town's atmospheric fishing port. The Citadelle, also known as Fort Sainte Elme, was built in the 16th century. Today it houses city hall, public gardens and a couple of art museums. Particularly worth visiting is its Musee Volti (open Wednesday - Monday, 10 a.m. - noon and 3 - 5 p.m.; Sundays only from 10 a.m. - noon) which showcases the work of local-born sculptor Antoniucci Volti; he's known for voluptuous bronze sculptures of women.

Beaching it: Plage de Villefranche-sur-Mer is located northwest of old town -- about a ten minute walk.

Take a boat trip: Advance reservations are highly recommended; one option is Vedette la Sirene - Affretement Maritime Villefranchois (ph: 04 93 76 65 65, fax: 04 93 76 97 87).

Go snorkeling: Contact Aqua Pro Dive International (ph: 04 93 01 71 04, fax: 04 93 01 72 90)

Take a city tour: Book your tour in advance with the Villefranche tourist office (ph: 04 93 01 73 68), and a guide will be waiting for you at the cruise terminal. Two different walking tours are available: a two-hour trip through the old city, and an 1 1/2-hour stroll toward the Darse Royal Harbour along the ramparts of the Citadel on the seafront.

Visit the soap factory: At La Savonnerie de Villefranche, you can watch and learn (and smell!) as soap is made -- and, of course, stop in the gift shop to grab a few souvenirs. Admission is free.

Comfortable with renting a car and exploring some nearby towns (and countries) like Nice, Cannes and Monaco? A car rental service is available at the cruise terminal. Another option is Hertz in nearby Beaulieu-sur-mer (ph: 04 93 01 62 30); they'll also provide drop-off and pick-up service at the port terminal.

If you're not comfortable with driving, contract with taxi drivers and/or car services for tours of the surrounding area -- St. Jean Cap-Ferrat, Monaco, Nice, Cannes -- via local drivers. The GIE service (ph: 06 10 18 49 39) is a group of several local excursion companies at the cruise terminal. You can book in advance or once you arrive.

The Cote d'Azur has an excellent train system as well -- and the station is a five-minute walk from the port, providing convenient service to major and minor destinations.

If exploring the villages beyond Villefranche-sur-mer, check out Saint Jean-Cap Ferrat, one of the region's most chi-chi villages. You can explore the diminutive village on foot, including the Plage de Passable on its western shore, the Lighthouse (you can climb its 154 steps for a gorgeous view of the Cote d'Azur) or hang out at the cafe-lined port on the eastern edge. Don't miss touring the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild (open daily, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; guided tours are available and begin at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.); the circa 1912 belle epoque style villa, built for Baroness Rothschild, evokes the Renaissance-era mansions of Tuscany. There's also a gorgeous garden.

Getting Around

Villefranche is very walkable and compact.

Where You're Docked

Cruise ships anchor in the harbor and tender passengers to a small terminal in the heart of Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Good to Know

The village is very hilly -- wear comfortable shoes.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The euro. There are ATM machines and exchange bureaus in town.

Language

French, though English is generally understood.

Shopping

Provencal wine. Original artwork by unknown artists who pepper the port with their easels. Tableclothes and linens in Provencal florals.
  • We decided to not beat a trail to Nice and tootle round Villefranche instead. Tender boat gets you right next to town which is on a very steep incline. A picturesque town with narrow streets. Went to the Citadel, a stone's throw from the harbour, ... Read more
  • We had a port cabin so the view from the balcony in the morning was worth the money. If you delay heading for the tender boat then queues are shorter, and it'a 10 minute crossing. We probably should have explored Villefranche more but I wanted to ... Read more
  • Villefranche: Freedom of the Seas
    TennisCruiser62
    It was nice walking around by the port. We went to the Villefranche-sur-mer, but I enjoyed the walk through the streets and along the sea better. ... Read more
  • Villefranche: Celebrity Reflection
    turbomaniac
    10 minutes with train is monaco station. Just walk from monaco train station to the marina port, aquarium, japanese gardens, casino, and back. Don't forget to take pictures at the F1 turns!!! Monaco is the best thing you can see at this cruise. ... Read more
  • Villefranche: Freedom of the Seas
    Wicker Panda
    Villefranche is a great place to spend time if you are not interested in doing an excursion to Nice or Monaco. Trek up the hill to the little shops, cafes and restaurants tucked into little streets and alcoves. This is what the Cote d'Azur is all ... Read more