Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Villefranche sur Mer on the Cote D'Azur

Infinity pool at The Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat

I am a very lucky girl and got the chance to hop on an EasyJet flight to visit some friends in Villefranche sur Mer in the very south of France. I have never been to this part of France, normally sticking to the Loire, Burgundy or Provence, but I was quite simply astounded at how very beautiful this part of the world actually is.

Now I see why rock stars, film stars, writers and painters have made this their home. Who wouldn't given the chance?

Villefranche sur Mer is quite literally over a hill from Nice so a mere 20 minutes (traffic allowing) from the airport. Sharply tumbling down the hillside into the sea, it has the deepest port in the Mediterranean so plays host to super-yachts and the occasional cruise ship the size of a small town. The town and waters were also home to the US navy under NATO so was a place of ill-repute for quite a while. No longer the home to bars and brothels, the sleepy seaside port focuses on small independent restaurants, shops and cafes where you can meander around the 18th century streets, take in the atmosphere or sit in the sun.
Rooftops of Villefranche sur Mer

There is no real beach at Villefranche sur Mer (just a pebbled and packed piece of beach along from the old town) but if you're lucky you can pay a fee and grab a lounger by a pool in one of the hotels. An hour and a half from the UK and you need at least factor 20 suncream! Everywhere has a view of the Cap Ferrat, with the most expensive real estate in the world and you don't ever have to pay for a view! Cap Ferrat is pretty irresistible and we did indulge ourselves to a day pass to the amazing pool at the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat (80 euros per person). If budget runs to it you can live like a rock star for a day - check out my photos for proof!
The fenicular railway to the pool at Cap Ferrat

Villefranche sur Mer is also amazingly placed to explore the coastline on the uber cheap french railway which runs all along the coast. You can even go to Monaco for around 7 euros - a bargain! Air conditioned and speedy the train can only really be beaten by an open topped sports car but not many of us have access to that!

A walk along the front at Villefranche sur Mer

Do as we did and book an apartment with a terrace up the hill. The 500 steps up will keep you toned and allow you to eat french pasties with impunity. We cooked simple suppers with the freshest of ingredients and watched the sun go down over the bay into the night - bliss! And on Saturday nights there's a free firework display over the harbour for added entertainment.
Steps to the Old Town, Villefranche sur Mer

EasyJet flights to Nice go from Gatwick regularly and if you book in advance you can get some real bargains. Cabs are not expensive but you can walk everywhere (apart from the Cap). Take a long weekend - the short flight time and easy going atmosphere will make you feel you've been away for much longer!

View of Cap Ferrat from above Villefranche sur Mer

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