Villepanche-sur-Mer: overview of the city and real estate

The Cote d’Azur of France, or, as it is also called, the French Riviera, is not only the well-known Nice, Monte Carlo and Cannes, but also a number of small, but no less prestigious resorts. The latter includes Villefranche-sur-Mer, located on the coast between Nice and Monaco, and this essentially tiny town can be reached from both cities by three types of transport: train, bus and car.

If you are interested in real estate on the Cote d’Azur of France, you can select properties in our catalog.

The picturesque Villefranche Bay is a kind of calling card of this resort, where families with children, fans of sea sports and simply lovers of peace and quiet prefer to relax, since the town clearly cannot boast of an abundance of entertainment venues – especially night ones.

City of Villefranche-sur-Mer in France



According to the latest official census data for 2016, the resident population of Villefranche-sur-Mer was only 5,100. At the height of the summer holiday season, which falls in August-September, this figure doubles. This can easily be explained by the fact that the town lives solely on tourism, hosting yachts and cruise ships, and to a small extent on fishing.


The first mention of the “free city” – this is how the name Villefranche is translated from French – dates back to the very end of the 13th century. Then the Count of Provence, Charles of Anjou, not only founded this settlement, but also granted it the right to free trade. Since then, the “free city” passed from hand to hand, surviving many occupations, most of which were French, but it finally went to France only in 1860. If during the Second World War and the beginning of the First Cold War, Villefranche-sur-Mer was the base of the American fleet, now it has become the country’s first port for receiving cruise ships.


The big advantage of this small resort is its good transport accessibility. You can get here not only by sea or by car, but also by public transport – a bus or train, which stops a few tens of meters from the main city beach – Beach des Mariners (by the way, the other beaches of Villefranche do not deserve such attention). The travel time should not exceed ten minutes, since the distance from Nice is only a little over six kilometers, but from Monaco it will take a little longer.

As an alternative, there are four buses from Nice (No. 80, 81, 84 and 100), and although they cost a little less (but in any case less than two euros), the stops are some distance from the beach. However, such a walk will only be beneficial, since it will not require any extra effort. In turn, thrill-seekers can pre-book a helicopter excursion.


Weather in Villefranche

Due to the fact that this resort, whose popularity continues to grow steadily, is surrounded on three sides by cliffs and hills, the weather in Villefranche-sur-Mer compares favorably with neighboring towns. A natural barrier prevents the penetration of cold air from three sides, so winter is practically not felt here. At the same time, in summer there is no such sweltering heat, which is characteristic of many resorts of this latitude.

The climate in Villefranche can be called temperate Mediterranean, but the swimming season is short. The water warms up only by July, and reaches its maximum (about 24ºC) by the beginning of September. And this despite the fact that the air temperature rarely exceeds 27ºC in summer.

Starting from October, a cooling sensation is already felt, although the usual winter in our understanding does not happen here either around Christmas or New Year, and almost all the heavy rains have time to fall in the fall and early spring.

Hotels in Villefranche-sur-Mer

If the climate, transport and restaurants of Villefranche-sur-Merne with Mediterranean cuisine give visitors to the city pure pleasure, then the accommodation in the city leaves much to be desired. This resort has almost enough hotels of different classes to satisfy the demand of tourists, however, in most of them the prices are frankly inflated and inaccessible to the average traveler. Finding a single room for less than 75 euros per night even at the end of the “velvet season” is practically impossible. The owners of local hotels are counting not only on those who are going to spend their holidays directly in the city of Villefranche, but also on those who want to take a break from the noise of Nice and Monte Carlo for two or three days. Moreover, we are not talking about elite establishments, but about three-star hotels, the price of accommodation for which increases as you approach the sea and have a view of the water surface. According to the well-known website TripAdvisor, which provides assistance to independent tourists, the best hotels in Villefranche-sur-Mer as of the summer of 2019 are as follows (in terms of price/quality ratio):

  1. Hotel La Fiancee du Pirate;
  2. Hotel de la Darse;
  3. .Welcome Hotel;
  4. Hotel de Provencal;
  5. Hotel La Flore.

Sights of Villefranche: what to see


With such a rich history and such a modest size (just under 5 square kilometers), you can’t count on the sights of Villefranche-sur-Mer to be found at every turn. However, since time immemorial, monuments have been preserved here that are of interest to antiquity lovers.

First of all, this is the citadel (fortress) of Saint-Elm, dating back to the 16th century and since then has almost completely preserved its original appearance. Near the citadel there is a bust of Admiral Ushakov, brothers Fyodor and Alexei Orlov, and if you wish and have a certain degree of attentiveness, you can find a sculptural image of the widow of the Russian Emperor Nicholas I, Alexandra Feodorovna, who visited here in the middle of the century before last. One of the city boulevards also bears her name.

In addition, places frequently visited by tourists include the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael, where the oldest organ on the French Riviera stands – and it is still operational; St. Peter’s Chapel, painted by Jean Cocteau, and a bust of Cocteau himself in the port. Children will be interested in visiting the oceanological observatory, located in the port of La Darce and belonging to the Pierre and Marie Curie University.

Accommodation in Villefranche


For wealthy Russians who have sufficient funds and a residence permit in France or citizenship of another EU country, it makes sense to think about purchasing their own housing in this prestigious resort, which has not yet been “spoiled” by discos and nightclubs. Housing in Villefranche-sur-Mer is not cheap due to its good location, convenient transport links and a shortage of new buildings.

Construction slowed down in the last decade, when local residents began to leave the city, and foreigners had not yet arrived to replace them. However, high prices mainly concern villas, the lower price level for which rarely falls below 1.2 million euros. Houses built according to an individual project and located in places with magnificent views of the bay and the surrounding area already cost 8-10 million euros, and their price will continue to rise.

The majority of the housing stock is 60-70 years old, and the almost complete lack of vacant land for development will contribute to this growth every year. It is still possible to buy an apartment in Villefranche at fairly reasonable prices, which start from 250 thousand euros, but in this segment of the real estate market a rise in price is almost inevitable.

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