A short bus ride from Nice is the charming village of Villefranche-sur-Mer with a picturesque castle perched on a hill overlooking the bay. We spotted it on our way to Saint Jean Cap Ferrat and decided it was definitely worth a return visit. Boy, were we right!
A common feature of the French Riviera is towns built into the steep coastline as a typical defensive strategy and with this castle there is drawbridge and moat.
The plain exterior shields a welcoming and colourful living space inside the thick stone walls.
The buildings include several small museums and a few art galleries. There is also a memorial to local citizens who gave their lives for France during WWI.
John's standing in front of a statue above made entirely from rocks and rope. Here's a close up.
I had to include this next photo if only because it makes me smile. Why? Because this red building is tucked into a far westerly corner within the castle walls. I'm standing in parking lot to capture the shot and my primary focus is those two open blue doors. See them? They're actually the entrance to the mens and ladies toilettes. How's that for French style!
It's even possible to stay overnight within the castle walls as there is a hotel on site.
The entrance above is tucked in beyond these arches and to the right is the hotel parking lot.
Mind you, the entrance is a bit tricky. First you have to drive in via the drawbridge, then up the narrow alleyway (below) and at the top of the incline make a sharp left.
Above the castle entrance and drawbridge is an outdoor statue gallery.
Via the stone wall to the right of John are gorgeous views of the town and bay.
Below the castle is a garden area covering at least four or five acres that offers breathtaking views and plenty of space to just sit a spell.
Just beyond John in the next photo is the faint but visible peninsula of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.
It was easy to get lost in this garden paradise.
This table and chairs, made from a large tree stump, provided a perfect place to sit and relax.
A lush mediterranean garden with lush Mediterranean views!
There is also a stage for outdoor productions. What a venue as right of John is a steep drop into the sea with 180 degree views.
A tall hedge acts as a background curtain and behind the stage I discovered numerous doors and access areas that may or may not be used by performers both prior to and during their moment on stage. Whatever the case that castle feeling is still very evident!
Having explored every nook and cranny of the castle we headed down into the village proper. The meandering streets and colourful buildings made the trek a joy.
The building below (right side) is attached onto the rock face.
The many streets heading toward the bay and upward away from the harbour are home to shops and cafes.
Where the streets and alleyways intersect are restaurants and outdoor cafes.
We thought of our local hiking group when we spotted this group stride by. They appeared to be heading to the church (just visible above their heads).
Closer to the harbour is the main tourist destination with the requisite gift and souvenir shops.
The detailing on this building was beautiful.
These next few more shots are details of homes that caught my eye.
The first word that came to mind when I saw this next door was "patina"!
Next we made our way to the port, passing by the Chapelle Saint-Pierre that we will definitely visit next time we're in Villefranche-sur-mer.
But this time around we headed to the waterfront where we spotted a comfortable outdoor cafe. We realized later the Wine Bar was part of the Welcome Hotel. We found a seat and did what the French do so well...savour a glass of wine with an incredible view and the sun warming our cheeks. (Seriously, it was the sun that caused that pinkish glow, I swear!)
|Wine with complementary breadsticks and chips.|
Another glorious Nice sunset.
Life. Is. Good!
* * *