Go Back in Time in Villafranche-sur-Mer
Tucked between world-renowned luxury destinations like Monaco and Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer presents a less urbane—but more pristine—face of the French Riviera. Brimming with the region’s chronicles of history, this seaside commune offers an itinerary that goes far beyond the conventional attractions of a leisure capital. Villefranche-sur-Mer’s antiquated alleys and boulevards hide many treasures of the past, as they wait for curious travelers to come and rediscover the timeworn beauty of this corner of the Côte d’Azur. Here are a few locations that visitors must consider if they wish to step into the annals of time in Villefranche-sur-Mer:
The first point of interest for history buffs is the Rue Obscure, a clandestine underground street built in 1260. Originally used to facilitate the movement of soldiers, the pathway over time acquired a variety of functions, including its use as a wine cellar and a place to shelter livestock. A walk through Rue Obscure gives a glimpse of the medieval period in Villefranche-sur-Mer and the narrow, dimly-lit archways that buttress the archaic stone-cut passage exhibit a staunch contrast to the colorful town above. True to its name, Rue Obscure may be difficult to locate. Visitors are encouraged to make their way to Porte Albert from which the underground pathway is easily accessible.
Travellers to Villefranche-sur-Mer may spend the day at Citadel St. Elmo, a defensive structure built by the Duke of Savoy in the sixteenth century to protect the principality of Nice from foreign invaders. Spanning over 7.5 acres of land, this citadel comprises the Town Hall, four museums, an open-air amphitheater, and landscaped gardens. Entry to Musée Volti, Musée Goetz-Boumeester, Collection Roux, and the Military Museum is free from Monday to Saturday through the year, except November. Showcasing a wealth of historical artifacts, valuable sculptures, world-famous paintings, and maritime relics, Citadel St. Elmo is the sort of place travelers will find well worth their time.
A little distance away from Citadel St. Elmo is the imposing Fort du Mont Alban, which commands spectacular panoramic views of the region. Built from 1557 to 1560 to accompany the complementary fortifications of Nice and Villafranche-sur-Mer, this towering fort stands 220 meters above sea level, guarding the western reaches of the town. Although Fort du Mont Alban has been the site of many skirmishes, notably in 1744 and 1792, visitors will observe that it remains a well-preserved example of a Savoyard stronghold. Visitors need to contact the Centre de Patrimonie to book a paid tour before arriving at the fort.
Among Villafranche-sur-Mer’s innumerable treasures lies Villa Bayview, one of the most alluring luxury rental properties in France. Travelers who wish to pair their eclectic taste in history with the hospitality experience of a lifetime may opt to stay at Villa Bayview in Villefranche-sur-Mer. This opulent property by One Authentic Properties is a symphony of white stone, dark wood, and polished glass. With five designer bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, two well-equipped gourmet kitchens, a grand sun terrace, a temperature-controlled pool, and expansive landscaped gardens, Villa Bayview can satisfy every epicurean desire. It is staffed by a discreet team consisting of a remote villa manager, an expert chef, a butler, a concierge desk, and two full-time housekeepers. For those seeking more than just a luxury stay in the heart of Villafranche-sur-Mer, Villa Bayview offers an unrivaled holiday opportunity.