Best Medieval Villages around Villefranche-sur-Mer on the French Riviera
France is one European country renowned for its passionate interest in preserving its history for posterity. The country is home to a myriad of quaint and picture-perfect old medieval towns, all brimming with character and old-school charm. On your next French Riviera vacation, book your holiday rental villa in Villefranche-sur-Mer, a stunning seaside town often dubbed the pearl of the Cote d’Azur. From here, you’ll not only have the best of the coastal attractions right at your doorstep, but you’ll also have the chance to explore the most beautiful medieval villages in the country. Following is a guide to the best medieval villages around.
St Paul de Vence
One of France’s most beloved medieval towns would have to be St Paul de Vence, a beautifully maintained walled village conveniently located just 26kms north-east of Villefranche. This fortified jewel is stunning beyond belief and also gifts some of the most splendid views in the country; head to the hilltop viewpoints to admire snow-capped mountains on one side, and the sparkling Mediterranean on the other.
The old town centre is the real draw card however, and is an absolute sight to behold. The impressive fortified walls enclose the perfectly preserved relics of a once powerful hub of activity and every nook and cranny reveals striking old fountains, intricately carved statues and vine covered cobblestone walls. Take an English-guided tour of the town to make the most of your visit, or get hopelessly lost while navigating the endless array of hidden alleyways. Whichever way you wish to experience St Paul de Vence, you’ll be assured of an unforgettable day out. St Paul de Vence can get insanely busy during the peak-holiday season, so get here early and enjoy a few peaceful hours before the crowds ascend from the coast.
The Chateau de Roquebrune is one of France’s most famous castles and one of the most remarkable feats of medieval architecture. Just 79km inland from Villefranche is where you’ll find the picturesque town of Roquebrune, and where you can explore this most amazing historical landmark. The castle was the epitome defence headquarters of the Riviera in its heyday and still boasts vertiginous walls and copious amounts of battle paraphernalia for the enthusiast to ogle at. The castle is certainly big by anyone’s standards and represents one of the most prized historical sites in France.
The village is also extremely charming and worth exploring. The millennia-old town centre itself is set atop a steep hill, and exploring it requires a hefty amount of walking, so do wear comfy shoes when visiting.
Èze is often dubbed the most visited old-town in the South of France, and a quick glimpse will no doubt be enough to convince even the most passionate and seasoned sightseer, that this is one very special place. Perched high on a rocky peak over 400m above sea level, Èze is as alluring for its location as it is for its historical importance. The passing of time seems to have done little damage to the ambience of Èze, and the town remains shrouded in mystery and old-fashioned magic.
When you arrive in Èze, you’ll have to leave your car below the town, and make the steep hike up to the entrance gates of the walled town centre. Once upon a time, wealthy visitors would be escorted here on donkey-back, yet nowadays the donkeys you’ll come across are just there as a tourist attraction. Take a walk through town and you can admire wonderful old buildings, perfectly maintained houses and incredibly colourful flowered balconies. The town is nowadays a magnet for artists and most of the old medieval huts have been converted into workshops, boutiques and galleries.