Colourful bays: Villefranche-sur-Mer and Menton

  • © Getty Images

    © Getty Images

Colourful bays: Villefranche-sur-Mer and Menton cote azur fr


This coastal town wedged between Nice and Monaco boasts what many consider to be the Côte d’Azur’s prettiest bay, overlooking the Cap Ferrat peninsula. It has a particular association with Jean Cocteau, who decorated the exquisite Chapelle de Saint-Pierre des Pêcheurs in the 1950s, but several other well-known artists and musicians have been attracted to stay here: Keith Richards, Bono, Tina Turner, Elton John. The area along the seafront (Quai Courbet) is perhaps its most popular attraction, lined with lovely bars and restaurants against a backdrop of pastel-painted houses in red and orange that climbs up from the water in steep terraces. The old town of Villefranche has 14th-century origins and is a maze of tiny streets with archways and evocative names, delightful to explore. Don’t miss 100m-long Rue Obscura, which follows the town’s ancient ramparts, and peaceful Place du Conseil with its fountain. Many houses on Rue du Poilu, Villefranche’s main street, have painted trompe l’oeil facades. For the best views, head up to the summit of the 16th-century citadel, crowning the headland above the sea and easy to reach on foot – and browse the museums here, which are free to enter. The Volti Foundation contains sculptures and drawings; the Roux Collection is principally ceramic figurines and historical portrayals; and the Goetz Boumeester Museum features collages and paintings. There’s also a traditional Provençal market in Villefranche every Saturday morning on Promenade de l'Octroi.


Further information:
Villefranche-sur-Mer Tourist Office
Jardins François Binon
06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer
Tel: +33 (0)4 93 01 73 68


Another beautiful bay and the last stop on the French coast before Italy, Menton is awash with more picture postcard colour against a dramatic mountain backdrop. Thanks to its sub-tropical microclimate Menton is a gardener's paradise, stuffed with beautiful green spaces to explore and a wealth of exotic plants. It offers accommodation and traditional restaurants to suit all budgets, as well as a casino, public and private beaches and international events such as its Fête du Citron. Don’t miss the Fontana Rosa Garden, created in 1922 by politician and writer Vincente Blasco-Ibañez to produce a memento of his native Valencia; Europe’s largest collection of citrus fruit trees at the Palais Carnolès; the listed Serre de la Madone garden created by Major Lawrence Johnston (also responsible for Hidcote Manor Garden in the UK); the botanical Val Rahmeh garden owned by the National Museum of Natural History; and the romantic olives and cypresses of the Les Colombières garden. Menton’s 13th-century old town winds down from the old castle to the port, offering numerous appealing places to stop for lunch or a petit café. Pause for peace and contemplation in the Annonciade Monastery and explore the Jean Cocteau-Severin Wunderman Collection Museum, built at the foot of the old town and opened in November 2011 following a donation of over 1,500 works.


Further information:
Menton Tourist Office
8 avenue Boyer
06500 Menton
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 41 76 76