Situated between its energetic close neighbours, Nice and Monte Carlo, which are famous for their hustle, bustle and lifestyle that's popular with the 'jet set', Villefranche – one of the French Riviera's most picturesque destinations – quietly offers a contrasting, more traditional taste of life on the Cote d'Azur.
A beautiful harbour town, overlooking crystalline waters framed by Provençal greenery, Villefranche rises from the riviera's gorgeous Mediterranean coastline with its tall, brightly coloured, almost Italianate buildings, which line narrow streets and stairways that stretch in land from the town's sheltered harbour. Step ashore here, take a short stroll and you soon find yourself amongst the old town's winding streets, with their warm, orange-tinted façades that contrast with the pale shades of louvred shutters. Continue on into the maze of arcades and steps and you will probably end up on Rue Obscure – an underground street built in the 13th century for soldiers to pass through easily.
Along the charming, scenic waterfront, overlooking the fishing port and one of France's largest marinas, you find several cafés and restaurants perfect for simply watching the world – and Villefranche's friendly locals – go by over a cup of coffee or a plate of the delicious local cuisine. And, for a delve into the local history, there are plenty of historical highlights nearby, such as the citadel, founded in 1554 by the Duke of Savoy to guard the harbour.