Whenever I see the name of a town in France that is suffixed by sur-Mer, I am transported back to the French Riviera, a gorgeous slice of the planet dotted with little hamlets that profile Western Europe at its core. And with roots dating back to 130 B.C., historic Villefranche-sur-Mer is an ideal illustration of such ambiance.
Lying directly on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, Villefranche-sur-Mer mixes the beauty of the blue-green waters with colorful homes on the medieval streets of La Vielle Ville (old town) dating back to the 1200s. Built on a hillside, cobblestone streets tumble toward the sea producing spectacular views.
Take time to explore the Citadelle St. Elme, constructed in 1557 to protect the village. Strategically overlooking the shoreline, a leisurely walk around the elevated grounds offers a unique perspective of the marina and the Bay of Villefranche. Pop into the Volti Museum, one of three museums on site. Back in old town, don’t miss the Italian baroque architecture of Eglise St. Michel (St. Michael’s Church), then wander through the poignant stone-covered passageway of Rue Obscure, constructed in the 14th century.
Dining el Fresco is the norm in this quaint beach town. Sitting on the streets and watching people go about their business makes each meal an experience—and the seafood, harvested straight from the bordering waters, is a must. The proprietors at La Carvavelle treated my wife and I to tasty sea bass and shrimp paired perfectly with a red from Château de l’Aumérade. However, because this area of Cote d’Azur is less than 40 kilometers from Italy, Italian food is king here. Expect a strong Italian influence throughout the village. The pasta is magical, the sauces superb.
Guest Author: Kevin Fritz
I have an innate ambition to experience the world first-hand. In the past couple of years, I traveled to Saudi Arabia for research, and spent Christmastime with my wife, Christi, in Brussels and Paris, and Easter in Dublin. We have explored Bolivia, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, France, Poland, Costa Rica, the Virgin Islands, Canada and the U.S. A journalist for 40 years, I authored the novel Crossover, and received my BS in Journalism from Ohio University. Check out Kevin’s portfolio.