Citadelle Saint-Elme is the fortress in Villefranche overlooking the harbour, that was built in the 16th century by the Duke of Savoy to defend the port. It’s basic shape is a trapezoid layout, with a bastion at each corner. Watchtowers were placed on top of the bastions, with sentinels to oversee the ditches during battle.
Today, visitors can wander through the Citadelle and admire the great vantage points over the bay of Villefranche. It is the site of three museums (all with free entry), conference facilities, Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), and Théâtre de Verdure (a venue for concerts and open-air cinema). The Tourist Office also runs guided tours, and can conduct tours in French sign language with prior reservation.
I loved my visit to the Citadelle. While I appreciate it is busy in high season, I visited one morning in April and in 1.5 hours I only saw one other tourist. Fantastic site for history, and free museums though it is lacking in onsite information or maps about the Citadelle itself? I would have loved to have seen an information board or replica model of past battles!
There are free accessible public toilets at the Citadelle. When you cross the drawbridge entrance, continue straight ahead for 300 metres and you will see the sign at the end pointing right to ‘Toilettes’, and the toilets are located at ground level in the terracotta-coloured building.
Volti Museum: Set into vaulted rooms, the Volti Museum has displays by sculptor Antoniucci Volti of curvaceous woman made from bronze, clay and copper. There is a lovely vaulted tunnel with sculptures, and also a sculpture room with seating.
If you have reduced mobility, I have included my travel blog link at the end of this review which gives more detailed information regarding accessibility to the Volti Museum.
The Volti Museum also offer free activity bags for families to find clues, suitable for children 7 years -10 years in English or French, ask at the reception.
Goetz-Boumeester Museum: Many works on display by the American artist Henri Goetz and his wife, Christina Boumeester, the Musée Goetz-Boumeester also has a couple of artworks by Miro and Picasso. The entrance has 6 steps, but the display rooms are all on flat surfaces. There are 8 reproduction casts of some of the artworks in braille, which I thought was a nice idea and something I have never seen at an art gallery before.
Collection Roux: A quirky small Museum with displays of ceramic figurines depicting medieval scenes. Entrance is not-accessible for persons with reduced mobility due to steps, and one display area has steps leading upstairs to it. Small children like this collection as it has figurines of knights on horses, maidens, castles.
Please visit my travel blog for more in-depth information on Villefranche-sur-Mer including the Citadelle museums, train station, location of supermarkets, beaches, playgrounds etc http://accessriviera.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/sightseeing-villefranche-sur-mer-travel-tips-and-local-knowledge/
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