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Our favorite getaway is Villefranche-sur-Mer



For well over ten years now our absolute favorite getaway is to travel to Villefranche-sur-Mer on the stunning Côte d’Azur. There, thanks to Riviera Experience, we get to settle into life in this magical seaside village, and pretend for a while that we live there. There are so many joys in wandering the narrow, winding pathways through the village, in visiting the boucherie and receiving a warm welcome from the butcher, or in the daily visit to the boulangerie for the required baguette and croissants. Part of the living-as-a-native experience is shopping locally and cooking what we find, and all of the apartments (we’ve stayed in almost all of them over the years) are well-equipped with what you need to prepare your feast! If you want a grander adventure, you can take a very quick train ride to Nice and spend a few hours with Rosa Jackson learning the best spots in the Nice market, or learning how to prepare Pissaladière or Petit Farcis. Or you can venture the other direction to Beaulieu-sur-Mer and grab some amazing products from the market there, and wander around the town a bit. To work off some of those croissant calories, you can take a breathtaking hike around the head land of Cap Ferrat, with it’s extraordinary homes-by-the-sea. To refresh yourself after your hike you can grab a snack and enjoy a chilled rose with a view of the marina in St. Jean. Of course, you could also take a refreshing dip in the crystal clear sea from the beach in the village, and warm yourself in the Mediterranean sun after your swim. Another adventure we really enjoyed was to head up to the village of Eze, an aerie on top of cliffs above the sea. We popped into the terrace restaurant at the five-star Chevre d’Or in the mid-afternoon to share a cheeky bottle of bubbly and gawk at the amazing view. And then…you return to your home by the sea in Villefranche, and maybe watch the sun set and listen to the village shift into evening with (of course) a glass of wine or “le ginto.” I confess we’ve also spent an enjoyable afternoon sitting at a table outside at the Hotel Welcome, watching the boats come and go, and the people passing by, and dropping into the perfectly slow pace of life of this jewel of a village.

– Tony & Kathy (Germany)

Villefranche is a great home base to visit the Cote d’Azur

We were introduced to Shelley, Riccardo and Riviera Experience in 2014 and have stayed in several of their apartments for one to three months each year since then.  While each of their apartments has its own unique character and appeal, they all have several things in common.  They are all beautifully and efficiently appointed.  The living spaces are comfortable and inviting.  The beds and linens are great.  The kitchens are well equipped and great to cook in.  They are clean and bright and perfectly maintained.  But best of all they come with Shelley and Riccardo.  You are welcomed as old friends, included in activities, and treated like royalty.

Villefranche is a great home base to visit all of the amazing sites along the Côte d’Azur and inland.  You can walk to Nice, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and Beaulieu.  Eze, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Antibes and Cannes are all easy and wonderful day trips.  Don’t miss the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium in Monaco.  As lovers of Matisse, we especially appreciate the Matisse Museum in Nice and the Matisse Chapel in Vence.

Hiking in the area is fabulous.  We love the trails along the Mediterranean – Cap Ferrat, Cap Martin and Cap de Nice, but also don’t miss the trails high above.  We really enjoy the views from above La Turbie.

Shopping for dinner is one of our favorite activities.  We love our daily visits to Marie Clare, the baker; Bernard, the green grocer; Pascal, the butcher; as well as the other local shops.

There are two requirements for any of our stays in Villefranche; they are both equally important.  We get to work on our French with the world’s greatest tutor, Aude Fauché and only visit Villefranche when she is available to work with us.  The other requirement is that we can stay in one of Shelley and Riccardo’s apartments.

– Dobby & Jane (Minnesota, USA)

We’ve been staying in Riviera Experience properties for 15 years

We could not recommend them more highly. Firstly, the apartments themselves – beautifully decorated and fully equipped with more than we could ever wish for. We have loved them all for different reasons (a variety of stunning views and different parts of the town) and they are all an immediate home from home. Staying in the centre of the old town you are part of village life – early morning sounds of church bells and shutters opening are simply idyllic. Going to Marie Claire’s Patisserie in Place De La Paix for fresh pastries and breads is one of our favourite morning outings. We also love our morning walks to Beaulieu along the water – fresh fruit and veg at the market followed by coffee in the Gran Caffe. Memories of our fabulous early swims in the still water on the quiet morning beach keep us going during colder winter days at home. We love to eat in, buying food from the market, feeling like locals and cooking in the beautiful kitchen in front of stunning views. We always enjoy takeaway pizzas from Le Serre on the balcony too.  Eating out is always special in Villefranche – from La Belle Etoile for the warmest service and gorgeous food, to Voile Bleue for a post swim coffee and sandwich, to La Mere Germaine for special occasions.

Finally, we must say that Shelley and Riccardo are simply the best hosts (and friends) one could wish for – warm, attentive and thoughtful. Their love of Villefranche and the care and detail they have poured into the properties is special. The instructions and advice are thorough and give an immediate insight and feel for Villefranche. You will want for nothing while staying in Riviera Experience.

– Gemma, Frank & Gillian (Ireland)

What’s not to like about the good life in Villefranche-sur-Mer!

There are the markets, large and small, the walks along the sea or high in the hills.  Saturday morning expat Pétanque is an opportunity to meet and play with friends old and new.  With them, one can share a coffee at Chez Betty or a pizza at Le Serre.  Add to this mix a lovely « Riviera Experience » appartement and its gracious host and hostess, Riccardo and Shelley, who help to create the joy that is Villefranche-sur-Mer.

– Joan (Wyoming, USA)

My tribute to the town and the life shared with lovely people

This is dedicated to 2020 and the spiraling virus you see at the bottom with the mask , to the “Covid Calico kitty “ I got this year who often sits on my book when she wants attention , to our beloved Villefranche and the fantastic women there(all appropriately masked)  who share days of wine and book clubs and “footprints” all over the hills we love.

Artistic freedom aside, it is my tribute to the town and the life shared with lovely people who meet annually .. so brutally interrupted this past year. It is a tribute to you too Shelly as you were our gatherer and you and Riccardo are our glue to something we all treasure so much.

There are so many things I love, the Cave parties, the Boules, the drinks and music at The Welcome on Saturday night…all things made ever so much more special because of the connected circle of fabulous people who we have met thru your rentals..

And other things, markets of all types, the fabulous Liberation market in Nice, the Brocante markets everywhere, not to mention the flea markets or the granddaddies of them all..the Friday Ventimiglia Market and the Sat San Remo market.

And the ease of  mobility …

I am also a curious traveler and love nothing better than to walk the few minutes to the train for a day to another walk new streets, anchored by a visit to a museum or market, and of course a great  lunch. The easy access to the train opens up so many possibilities. I love to go to Nice or Monaco to hear a symphony. When I am there for  a couple months, I usually go into Milan or Rome for a night or two as well as other smaller Italian cities. I must shout out for the great bus system and the metro in Nice as well.  I love just walking a new neighborhood in Nice on a beautiful day..taking in one of its many small museums or just observing the life in a new district.

I love watching the world go by from one of the many balconies in the apartments..watching the fireworks over the water at Cap Ferat at night, the gulls all swooping over the bobbing boats in the day where something is always happening…the swallows up near the church..and I love the bells tolling..the little things are the best and the time to take them in

I love Rosa’s cooking classes..what fun for a group ….

I love the Leger Museum, the Chagall Museum, the old town of Antibes I love having lunch in Nice..I love our book club lunches in Villefranche…

I love standing at the bar and having  the best cappuccino in Ventimilgia and then meeting  friends for lunch after the Friday market..all heavy with beautiful bounty and jockeying our carts around ..enjoying a glass of wine and laughs..we laugh alot in Villefranche…we share tables our homes and out..and there can be few places where one can eat so well..

– Claudia (Florida, USA)

Villefranche sur Mer is an extraordinary vacation destination

Nestled seaside in the south of France and blessed with a warm Mediterranean climate, Villefranche sur Mer is an extraordinary vacation destination.

Historic and sophisticated while folksy, this beautiful village offers endless opportunities for activities that respond to every imaginable interest.  There are museums, a world famous language school, cooking classes, festivals, outdoor movies, extraordinary dining opportunities and beautiful walking paths as well as the (not to be missed) walk around Cap Ferrat. Of course, there is the beach for a dip in the sea and a place to relax.  The residents and business owners are friendly and welcoming.

Villefranche is located within walking distance of Nice as well as ever so many small, picturesque villages like Beaulieu and Eze located along the sea. There is an excellent bus system as well as train transportation to  more distant destinations… Antibes, Cannes, Menton.   Perhaps lunch in Monaco?  Why not?

Now for the most important question:  WHERE TO STAY?  RIVIERA EXPERIENCE is, without a doubt, the best!

I have spent a number of vacations in Villefranche sur Mer and from my experience I can assure you that there is no better place to stay.  Upon arrival guests are very warmly greeted by Shelley and Riccardo who are dedicated to provide a happy and memorable visit.  Their apartments are all expertly renovated and beautifully decorated with respect for the history of their dwellings.  Each one is very well equipped and beautifully appointed with well chosen art and artifacts from around the world.  Enjoying the incredible hospitality and assistance of both Shelley and Riccardo guarantees a fantastic vacation.

– Barbara (Minnesota, USA)

Renting Riviera Experience apartments for ten years

I have been renting Riviera Experience apartments over the past ten years mostly for monthly summer stays.  Each apartment is spotless, beautifully decorated, very comfortable and oh…those wonderful sea views!  The owners are delightful, fun, and so helpful.

I especially enjoy swimming in the bay, enjoying a rose and lunch at seaside La Voile Bleu, the beautiful walks along the coast, and taking the bus in to Nice (so easy) for the day.

I was also lucky enough to be introduced to Monique Simonin, a lovely French woman who lives about 5 minutes from the apartments. Monique helps me improve my French language skills as we meet for coffee and read contemporary French novels together. She assists with selecting the right book for each student according to individual skill level and personal interests. Working together via weekly FaceTime chats when I am in the US is fun and we always find other things to talk about as well.

– Gloria (New York, USA)

Villefranche is the most beautiful place in the world

For the past 10 years we have travelled from Australia to spend the best part of two months in each year at Villefranche Sur Mer, simply because for us Villefranche is the most beautiful place in the world to spend two months of each year. For each of those 10 years we have stayed in Shelley and Riccardo’s various villas and units, all of which are beautiful, but for us our favourite is and always will be the Penthouse. In this brief testimonial I could never describe the beauty of Villefranche and the surrounding French and Italian Rivieras or the easy access to the most beautiful French and Italian villages as part of any day trip. When staying in the Penthouse a daily highlight is the morning walk from Villefranche around the Cap Ferrat coastline to Beaulieu Sur Mer, another beautiful but different village. Thank you Shelley and Riccardo for not only providing the best accommodation in one of the most beautiful places in the world but for also being the most wonderful hosts.

– Terry & Jenny  (Australia)

Our favorite place to stay and live the life of a local: Villefranche-sur-Mer!

For well over a decade now, our dear Shelley and Riccardo have welcomed us to one of their fabulous apartments. We have had the pleasure of staying in 5 of her well appointed places, each with its own charm, and great location in the Old Town. Every aspect of each place has a special atmosphere and view! Best of all is the service and kindness both Shelly and Riccardo shower upon their guests! Whether it’s a short stay or a longer one from 2-4 weeks or even more, it is always fantastic. So much so that we try to visit multiple times a year. Even the moderate winters keep calling us back!

Because of its excellent location, overlooking the Bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer with its town’s fascinating history, there are so many options for enjoying the area! If it’s day trips you desire, you will enjoy visiting the famous sites along the Côte d’Azur made very convenient by the train and bus schedules, whether your travel east to the hilltop towns of Eze, Monaco, Menton, or even over the border to Ventimiglia, Italy to shop at their fabulous market and enjoy a lunch at a waterside restaurant, or travel west beyond neighboring Nice, walking distance if your are ambitious, and Cannes, Antibes and beyond. Also there are many other small coastal towns yet undiscovered by most tourists. So especially enjoyable is the walk to Beaulieu, a beautiful place (pun intended), or Cap Ferret. You will find there is always something to discover while taking hikes around so many villages, towns, and walking paths.

Of course, just staying close to “home” in Villefranche and enjoying the walks along the quai, the beach in summer (beach equipment included),or shopping at the local markets, boutiques, bakeries, where the storekeepers get to know you, or dining at such a variety of restaurants in the village and especially along the quai, watching soccer in the modern town just above, or just enjoying life as a native, you will be in the right place! Thoughtfully, Shelley always leaves such wonderful literature about the town and detailed information about each apartment, location of the nearby shops, supermarkets, so that you are worry free! She is always interested in giving out little tidbits of information or helping in any way she can. Imagine needing emergency dental care? Shelley has the answer! There are also opportunities getting to know some of Shelley’s guests if you happen to linger longer than just a week or two! I can guarantee you, like so many others, you will return again and again!

A Seasoned Traveler!

– Donna & Bob (Washington DC, USA)

I discovered the wonders of Villefranche

I discovered the wonders of Villefranche and Shelley’s and Riccardo’s hospitality 15 years ago and always look forward to my yearly visits. Villefranche is such a special place with close proximity to Eze Village, one of my favourite outings, and, the opportunity to walk around Cap Ferret with a stop for lunch a yearly ritual. The variety of restaurants in Villefranche never disappoints.

– Tim & Lora (Canada)