I adore the South of France. So much to see and do..an endless possibility of natural beauty, history, beaches, glam. So how do you decide what to see and do on a visit to the French Riviera? Well, that of course is subjective to your own wants and needs, however after having the chance to explore the area for over a week this past May with my husband and son, I can highly recommend a visit to the town of Villefranche sur Mer. I definitely did my research of best places to see and things to do in the area, so as you can imagine, I was overjoyed to have included this small beachside town on our schedule. It was sooooooo much more than I ever expected, and I was so touched by this small gem of a place that I was even inspired to write a whole blog post dedicated to sharing it with you. So what makes this place so special, and a must see place in the Riviera? As I break down my two visits here on my trip I think you will understand! At least I hope so 😉
Villefranche sur Mer is a small beach town in the Provence-Alps-Cote d Azur region of the French Riviera. At only about a twenty minute drive from Nice, France it is considered a suburb of Nice with less than 6000 residents. On our recent trip to the area, my family and I chose Nice as our Riviera home base, however we did our best to explore the rest of the surrounding area as well. I knew we wanted to experience several beach days this vacation, but I was not that excited about the big rocky beaches of Nice, so I did research beforehand to try and find a family friendly beach close to Nice WITHOUT the big rocks. All of my research and recommendations from the TripAdvisor forum, led me to the Plage des Marinieres beach in Villefranche sur Mer. This beach day ended being one of my favorite memories of the entire trip, and that’s saying a lot because we were blessed to see a lot this trip!
I think it’s safe to say that this is indeed a gem of a beach in the French Riviera. It’s full of locals and tourists (but mostly locals). It is not a very big beach, but it is a great beach for families, couples, privacy, and those of us who love sandy beaches! The shallow drop off is what makes it a good choice for kids, and the entire stretch of beach is public (however I believe in the summer months there is a sunbed rental option, but in May it was not available). Again, this is the closest beach to Nice that is sandy and not full of big rocks. The sand is actually soft grain pebble sand, so still not the super soft sand that many of us are use to, but my family and I still very much enjoyed it. Besides the sand, this beach has such a nice chill vibe to it. Nothing pretentious like you might experience at the beach clubs of St.Tropez or Cannes (which was still a fun experience too by the way). Just a nice beachside town kind of feel, but with one of the most special views in my opinion. The view of the town from this beach was just so picturesque, like straight out of a movie set, only it was real. It almost looked and felt like we were on some Italian beach rather than in France.
The town itself of Villefranche sur Mer is worth a little explore too. It’s full of flower walls, winding narrow streets, and cute little restaurants. I had so much fun exploring the area around the harbor, which was just a small taste of what the cute little town had to offer.
To see part one of my French Riviera travel vlog just click here.
Sadly, I didn’t get to explore the rest of the uphill town in depth like I wanted to on foot, but we drove through the town several times throughout our trip, so I was able to see a lot of it that way. During our drives through it, I was so blown away by the views that I knew I could not leave France without one more taste of the town, so I made an extra solo trip back on my last afternoon in the region, and it was soooooo worth it for this view!
Tell me, is that not one of the prettiest views you have ever seen? This is the view off the main highway on top of the village looking down at the harbor, beach, and all the million dollar homes placed up in the hills! I actually had already seen pictures with this view on Instagram before our trip so it was on my radar, but it wasn’t something that I had originally had scheduled for us to see. However, I know it was meant to be for me to see this view and get these gorgeous photos, because on this last day of our trip it rained so our original beach club plan for the day was cancelled. So, during the late afternoon my son and hubby went back to our HomeAway to take a nap, but I decided to head back to Villefranche in search of this view.
To see the second half of my French Riviera travel vlog click here.
My hubby found the spot using google maps (06230 Villefranche sur Mer, France), and then I took an Uber to get there. So with my tripod in hand and my Nikon in the other I set up my camera to get this shot! It was a little tricky since I was basically standing off the side of the highway along the parking lane, but totally worth it for the memory! What do you think? From this viewpoint you can see everything, including the train tunnel that goes through the town. After I took these photos, I took a moment to myself to truly reflect on the amazing trip that we had in the French Riviera.
So, between the unique views, the laid back beach, and charming beach town, I hope you can see why this place is so special, and why I felt compelled to share my experience of it with you. If you visit the French Riviera, do be sure to check out Villefranche sur Mer. I suggest heading out in the morning, spending the first part of the day on the beach, and the second part of the day exploring the beautiful town and the views! Few more tips: You can eat on the beach. After we set up our umbrella and laid down our towels, I just walked a few feet up the beach street to buy sandwiches to bring back to our set up. Another tip: there were small jelly fish in mid-May so just be careful. I don’t think they would be there in the summer months though. Last tip: In mid-May the water was some what cold. I still got in, but I’m sure in June/July/August the water is much warmer. If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog. For daily lifestyle content you can follow me on Instagram. See you next post!