Built in the foothills of the Alps overlooking a natural deep water harbour and considered a suburb of bustling Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer has a fascinatingly turbulent history, capped by the 16th-century Fort Mont Alban. The natural harbour means Villefranche-sur-Mer holiday homes are an ideal base for marine activities such as scuba diving and sailing, thanks to the proliferation of marine industries that used to cater to the fishing and docking needs, but now more to tourism.
Probably more than in any other town in the south of France, holiday accommodation in Villefranche-sur-Mer typifies what is available on the Cote d'Azur. Apartments and villas in Villefranche-sur-Mer are by necessity right by the sea, but those that aren't typically have access to a pool and BBQ area. Virtually all rentals in Villefranche-sur-Mer come equipped with full kitchens and modern bathrooms, alongside a suite of entertainment facilities, including satellite TV and DVD players.
Outdoor pursuits: Villefranche-sur-Mer's sheltered natural harbour has given rise to a multitude of watersport outlets, so any keen sailors, waterskiers, divers and fishermen will have a very full experience here. For those more into hiking, climbing and biking, and indeed skiing during the winter, the Alps are literally on the doorstep.
Beaches: There are two main public beaches in Villefranche-sur-Mer, the stunning Plage des Marinieres hugging the back of the bay, which has half a mile of coarse sand rather than shingle, and the smaller pebbled Plage de la Darse adjacent to the main jetty of la Darse harbour. The views from both are really quite lovely. For a change of scenery, HomeAway's selection of holiday homes in Cagnes-sur-Mer is also worth a look.
Nightlife: Nightlife in Villefranche-sur-Mer is pretty subdued, despite the town's popularity as a tourist destination for French and Italian families alike. Public transport is frequent and convenient, however, so Nice – where the old town has very popular bars and nightclubs – is a great option.
Shopping: There are plenty of shops in Villefranche-sur-Mer, mostly catering to the tourist trade, but there are still enough shops offering services to the local population to prevent becoming jaded with souvenirs. There is a regular food market every Saturday morning, and an antiques market on Sundays.
Culture: Fort Mont Alban is the place to visit for an historical kick, and the old town with its hidden churches and covered streets are a treat to explore. The citadel has been converted into four museums, and during summer evenings there is an outdoor cinema in the grounds showing predominantly English-language movies.
Villefranche-sur-Mer has a typical Mediterranean climate, with over 300 days of sun per year and very infrequent rainfall. Temperatures in the winter allow for holidays too, with only a few cold snaps, and hardly ever a frost, typically falling into the single digits. Summers are very manageable, with maximum temperatures rarely climbing beyond 30°C. Most of the sparse precipitation falls during October and November.
As a suburb of Nice, Villfranche is very convenient for the Nice Cote d'Azur Airport at only nine miles away. Connections by train and bus are frequent, and stops and stations are equally easy, with one train stop right on the beach. Flying in isn't the only option, however, as the south of France is easily reachable by car in a couple of days, and the trains can get visitors here from London in around nine hours.