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Villefranche sur Mer or Nice?

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posts: 22
reviews: 16
Villefranche sur Mer or Nice?

We will be driving from Provence area ( namely Bonnieux) to the South of France for 7 days in late May.

We are not sure whether to

a) Stay in Nice after dropping off the car at the airport and perhaps train/taxi into town

b) dropping car off at Nice airport and taxi into Villefranche and doing trips from there

c) taking the car to Villefranche.

we are looking to stay at the Hotel Welcome and I am reading posts that say there are no taxis at the train station and you have to walk uphill to the station anyhow.

We will have at least 2 medium size bags and dont really want to carry them everywhere!

It is our first trip to the area and we are novice drivers as well!

Any help would be appreciated!

35 replies to this topic
Vancouver, Canada
posts: 8,479
reviews: 52
1. Re: Villefranche sur Mer or Nice?

Welcome to the forum, irvy!

OK...a bunch or things to address...

Nice is a city....Villefrranche is a lovely small town...just a few kilometers apart. Do you want an "urban" experience or a "village" experience?

My esteemed co-contributor and resident Villefranche expert (London-Bob) would recommend the Hotel Darse over the Welcome...and I would agree...the Darse is a great value! BUT...the best values in the Cote d'Azur are vacataion rentals if you are there for 7 nights...again London Bob is a whiz at this...hopefully he will chime in!

You do not need a car in the Cote d'Azur.

I am sure others will weigh in...


posts: 22
reviews: 16
2. Re: Villefranche sur Mer or Nice?

Thanks David

After Provence I am sure we would have a far bit of urban experience.

I am thinking more of convenience - it seems easier to travel from Nice than from Villefranche without a car.

But the idea of a vacation rental is good - where would you suggest?

Vancouver, Canada
posts: 8,479
reviews: 52
3. Re: Villefranche sur Mer or Nice?

Vacation rentals in France are in 7 day increments....from Saturday to Saturday. If you are not doing this in Bonnieux, you should check it out.

BTW....Bonnieux and the Luberon is NOT urban! :-)

As for the Cote d'Azur...it depends on what you are looking for. For some people, Nice is too big (350,000 pop.) and Villefranche is too small (7,000)...I happen to love both, for different reasons.

The Cote d'Azur is quite compact and it is very easy to get around in by bus or train.

You might want to look at Antibes. Antibes is 20 kms west of NIce...right along the coast. Population 75,000. It has a lovely daily marche' (Farmers Market), a terrific Old Town and some great beaches. It might fit the bill for you. In my opinion, Antibes is an excellent base for the Cote d' Azur....

You can check out vacation rentals for Antibes here:


Just out of curiosity...where are you staying in Bonnieux?


Edited: 2:57 pm, December 07, 2012
Louisville, Kentucky
Destination Expert
for French Riviera - Cote d'Azur
posts: 4,990
reviews: 26
4. Re: Villefranche sur Mer or Nice?

You will be able to travel easily along the coast from either Nice or Villefranche, the difference being that there are direct bus routes from Nice to the mountain villages of St. Paul de Vence and Eze. The 04 train route runs along the coast, so access is available from all of the resorts along the coast. In fact, for convenient access to the train station, I would prefer Villefranche. Depending upon where you are staying in Nice, you could have a further walk or need to travel by bus, tram or taxi to the train station. Nice is just a bigger city and more spread out, but it's all doable and some travelers wouldn't stay anywhere else. From your choices, I just prefer VF, but that's me and you will know what works for you.

I am so partial to the Hotel Welcome because of the wonderful experiences we've had there, especially with the very pleasant and helpful staff. I've written reviews on this topic, so I won't say more than there is nothing like sitting in your room's balcony at night, enjoying the beautiful view of the harbor and Cap Farret and enjoying a bottle of the region's Provence rose. The comings and goings from the yachts is always entertaining. I haven't stayed at the Darse, but I would expect the experience to be similar.

A taxi from the Nice airport is going to be around 70 Euros, but that started to sound cheap after my husband was pickpocketed at the Nice St. Augustin train station. This is closest station to the airport, and being jetlagged, that contributed to our vulnerability. That's not going to be the case with you, so you will probably fare better than us. As SelkieNice, Nice's Destination Expert, has pointed out, we should have bought our train tickets at the Nice airport rather than the train station. I would suggest you do this and not show your wallet at the station. This is how we found our way from the airport to the St. Augustin station, and should you decide to do this, you'll be fine if you keep your wits about you and look out for each other:


Here is how I find my way from the bus stops and train stations to the parts of the towns I want to visit. Destinations here include Cannes, Le Cannet, Nice, Antibes, Villefranche, Eze, and St. Paul de Vence>Vence>Tourrettes sur Loupe:


...and this is from this year's trip and was a lovely day's outing with my daughter. We from Villefranche through Beaulieu sur Mer and took buses to Eze Villlage and Monte Carlo. This was her favorite day on our six day trip:


I'm with datthecoast is saying that I love (all) of the resorts along the coast for different reasons and you will decide on the one that works best for you.

posts: 22
reviews: 16
5. Re: Villefranche sur Mer or Nice?

Thanks David

I shall check out Antibes!

We are staying at Le Mas de Sol in Bonnieux I hope!

posts: 22
reviews: 16
6. Re: Villefranche sur Mer or Nice?

Thanks a lot for your help re Nice

I think we may stay there as it seems central and easier to travel without a car.

We are going to the Amalfi coast so I think I will get some great views there as well!

Has anyone tried the train du Pignes that goes up the mountains?

Vancouver, Canada
posts: 8,479
reviews: 52
7. Re: Villefranche sur Mer or Nice?

You will love the Le Mas de Sol...haven't stayed there but friends have and it has a great rep!

Once again....bear in mind that the Cote d'Azur is very compact and it is very easy to get round with a car in May...not like the insanity of the summer, Howvever...it is dead easy to get around the Cote d'Azur on transit as well...up to you!

Be aware that the Cannes Film Festival goes from the 15th to the 26th of May and the Grand Prix of Monaco finishes on the 26th as well....so that will put accomodation pressure in those communities for those dates.


Antibes, France
posts: 5,469
8. Re: Villefranche sur Mer or Nice?

Mountains ( for people who thought it was all about beaches!) : you can take either of two train lines into the mountains from Nice ( note they are different lines and termini)..

The Train des Pignes travels along the valley floor of the River Var increasingly surrounded by mountains. It goes to Digne but most tourists get off at the precariously placed mediaeval village of Entrevaux.Part of the journey can also be done on occasion by antique stream train.

The Train des Merveilles climbs dramatically by viaducts and looping tunnels through increasing altitude to reach the Alpine style village of Tende. It by-passes other very picturesque villages like Sospel and the Tibetan like Saorge. You can get off and hike trails at several points.

You can also access the mountains by taking the bus to St Martin Vesuble.

Personally I like to see the Alps from afar where they are most dramatic . You can do this from the Lighthouse on the top of the Cap d'Antibes - which has been described as a mixture of the Berneses Oberland and the Mediterranean ( Maupassant i think). They will be snow capped in May.

Otherwise a drive around the Col de Vence roads near the village of Vence provides awe inspiring panoramas.


posts: 22
reviews: 16
9. Re: Villefranche sur Mer or Nice?

Thanks David

We are going to be in the Cot D'Azur from 26th May and I knew about the dates so it is timed well!

I would like to go to a couple of markets while in Nice which is one reason I thought it would be nice to stay there - although I admit Antibes and VSM are also good.

It is hard to know what to do, but I thought being central would give me options.

I read somewhere there is a corn festival on Sundays in Nice in May.

Anyone heard of it?


posts: 22
reviews: 16
10. Re: Villefranche sur Mer or Nice?

Thank you for that info.

I am looking forward to the train ride - sounds wonderful.

And thank you about the tip about Antibes.

I wasn't sure if I would go there but I have changed my mind!

Anything else you suggest to do there or restaurants?

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