Best Day Trips from Villefranche-sur-Mer on the French Riviera
Thousands of tourists converge on France’s Cote d’Azur every year in search of a gloriously relaxing beach holiday experience, yet most tend to stick to well-known hubs like Monaco, Nice and Cannes. While no one would blame them for wanting to explore some of the country’s most famous haunts, the French Riviera offers the discerning traveller a wealth of vastly different destinations, most only an hour’s drive from the coast. Want to know what else this incredible stretch of coast has to offer? Then book your holiday rental villa in Villefranche-sur-Mer, the coast’s most prestigious town, and follow our guide to the most enticing day-trip destinations around. It’ll make your French vacation one you’ll never forget.
Just 53km east of Villefranche is where you’ll find the true gem of the Italian Riviera. Renowned for its infinitely popular yearly music festival, San Remo is the heart of soul of the area’s flower growing industry, and is often dubbed the ‘City of Flowers’. The old town centre is compact and easy to navigate on foot and boasts innumerable attractions including a splendid century-old casino (an amazing example of Belle Époque architecture), Alfred Noble’s former villa (where he lived during his last years) and a gorgeous cathedral which dates back to the 13th century. Spend a few hours perusing Corso Matteotti and its infinite array of high-end boutiques and architectural wonders, before heading inland for just a few kilometres until you reach the eerily quiet town of Bussana. Bussana Vecchia, the old part of town, is one of only a handful of ghost towns in Italy and a brilliant place to visit after a morning spent in vibrant San Remo.
Just ten minutes by car into the hills from Villefranche sits a hilltop village of picturesque proportions. Èze is a town of contrasting beauty, especially when compared to the glitzy glamour of its coastal counterparts. The medieval town is a maze of cobblestone alleys and historical buildings, and is the ideal half day-trip destination for anyone desiring a taste of the French Riviera’s more cultural side. Shoppers will be enticed by the town’s innumerable art galleries and craft boutiques, history buffs will delight at visiting the 18th century cathedral and nature enthusiasts will sing the praises of the Èze Botanical Gardens.
Mercantour National Park
It may come as a surprise to some, yet just 100kms north of Villefranche-sur-Mer is one of the country’s most stunning mountainous national parks. The Mercantour NP comprises six alpine valleys to explore, numerous peaks to hike and a myriad of quaint mountain villages to discover. Beautifully preserved and utterly protected, this incredible natural haven is the ideal day-trip destination for anyone who wants to spend an entire day immersed in nature. This park has recently been voted one of the world’s top 10 National Parks, yet so many visitors who bask in the glory of the French Riviera aren’t even aware of its existence. The expansive, unspoilt area is a hub of sporting activities and hiking trails and ideal for mountain bikers, walkers and skiers. You may only be able to scratch the surface of a tiny corner on a day trip from Villefranche, yet we guarantee the excursion will be an infinitely rewarding one.