Walks in the French Riviera: Villefranche-sur-Mer to Nice

Walk from Villefranche-sur-Mer to Nice travel diary

One of the many things I liked about Villefranche-sur-Mer was the location. It was so easy to get everywhere, both by public transportation and on foot. I often took the bus to Nice to shop for organic groceries, or just walk around and shoot, but every now and then I walked over, and it was a beautiful walk.

I realized later that there is another route you can take, a path that goes right along the water the entire way, but I didn’t know about it when I was there, and was ever only on it for the end of my walk (just by chance). Apparently it’s more strenuous with lots of stairs, but also amazing views.

I used to leave Villefranche-sur-Mer walking up Boulevard Princess Grâce de Monaco (aka The Basse Corniche), the main road between Nice and Villefranche.

It starts out with a long uphill slope with beautiful views of Villefranche, the sea, and the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula on one side, and the mountainside on the other.

Boulevard Princess Grâce de Monaco turns into Boulevard Maurice Maeterlinck and keeps going along the sea with more beautiful views.

When I got to the Carrefour grocery store at Mont Boron, I turned a left at the cool-looking Château de l’Anglais and took a side street down towards the water instead of staying on the main road.

The road (Avenue Jean Lorrain) twists its way down towards the sea, with lots of gorgeous views and cool houses along the way.

On my first walk to Nice, I came across a sign pointing to a path even closer to the water so I went down, and this is where I ended up on the tail end of the coastal trail (or the beginning of it, if you’re walking from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer), so beautiful with the contrast of the white lime stone and the incredible colors of the Mediterranean Sea!

The views looking back up the hill on Mont Boron weren’t bad either – so many large and beautiful villas! And as always on the Riviera, many have an interesting history and/or are connected with celebrities.

Elton John and David Furnish own an amazing villa on top of Mont Boron, which I unfortunately didn’t get to see (maybe next time, Elton?) :-), but there are still a few gems in the picture above:

A. The aforementioned Château de l’Anglais, built for British Colonel Robert Smith in the 1850s and inspired by his tour of duty in India. The house and the surrounding botanical garden are classified as historical monuments, but these days, the Château is divided into apartments, and you can even rent some of them for a really glam Riviera holiday!

B. Villa Le Roc Fleuri. It doesn’t look as breathtaking as some of the others from a distance, but it sits on a large lot with fantastic views and is apparently amazing inside, with among other things an indoor infinity pool, and outdoor saltwater pool, and a 5-car garage. Its biggest claim to fame though is that it belonged to Sean Connery for many years, and was used in several scenes in Never Say Never Again.

C. Villa Beau Site, originally built in 1870 and now a national monument. It has had a few interesting owners during its time, and ended up empty for many years after the last owner, Gisele Tissier, passed away and left it to the Town of Nice. She sounds like such an interesting person! According to the current listing agents, she was “an eccentric, musician, collector, couturier and bohemian. It is said that when Gisele Tissier arrived in Nice for the first time – bringing with her, amongst many things, a collection of 18 harps and 3 grand pianos – ten dedicated train carriages were reserved to carry her luggage. Not content with a career as a distinguished harpist, Gisele opened a fashion boutique in Paris, attracting some of the capital’s most elegant and wealthy clients, and quickly rising to the top of her newly chosen calling. But eventually, Gisele Tissier’s fortunes began to fade. In her old age the money all but ran out, the property began to degrade, and the villa began a long fall into disrepair.”

A year before Gisele died, she gave The Cure permission to record the video to their song “Catch” there, which they did! I’ve always loved that song.

Getting back to the walk… I kept following the path which turned into a road again, and around a corner, came across the coolest looking restaurant in Nice: Le Plongeoir.

I didn’t go in, I was by myself, and also at that point still allergic to almost all foods, but I did stop to marvel at it, and take a bunch of pictures! After that, I kept following the water down to the Old Port in Nice and took the bus back to Villefranche.

Walks in the French Riviera: Villefranche-sur-Mer to Nice by Cattie Coyle Photography

If you’re staying in Nice and want to visit Villefranche, I highly recommend walking over if you have the time. The entire route usually took me about 2-3 hours, but I stopped all the time to take pictures. Google maps estimates it at 1 hour and 8 minutes.

If you love a particular image in this post that you don’t see in my store, and would like it as a print, just get in touch and let me know which image it is, and the size you would like. I’m happy to make a custom print when possible.


PS. Looking for a great pair of walking shoes? My favorites are from Xero – read my review here.

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  • Hello
    We are planning to visit Villefranche sur mer. It was great to hear about your walk to Nice, as we love walking.
    One question: are their sidewalks or are you walking on the side of the roads?
    Thanks very much

    • Hi!
      Sorry about my late reply, I only just now saw your question! If you take the route I did, you’re walking on paved sidewalks. If you take the more strenuous route along the water, it’s not always paved (but there’s no vehicle traffic on that trail). Have a fantastic time on the Riviera, and let me know if you have any other questions!