Villefranche-sur-Mer is located at the bottom of the bay of Villefranche, formed by the Cape of Nice and Cap Ferrat. Its history is intimately linked to this beautiful bay.
Villefranche-sur-Mer was founded in the 13th century by Charles II of Anjou, Count of Provence, because of the strategic importance of this site, located at the borders of its territory. To encourage people to come repopulate the deserted seaside due to repeated barbarian attacks, the village was granted tax privileges and called because of it Villa Franca (“free port”).
In the 14th century, Villefranche-sur-Mer passes to the Duchy of Savoy. The village is the only seaport of the Alpine duchy and takes income from all merchant ships docking at the port. In the 16th century, following the occupation of the harbor by the Franco-Turkish fleet, commanded by Barbarossa, the Duke of Savoy, Emmanuel Philibert, ordered the fortification of the harbor. It was not until 1860 that the village was annexed to France with the entire County of Nice. The bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer hosted the 6th American naval fleet at the end of the Second World War (between 1945 and 1962). Villefranche-sur-Mer is now the leading cruise port in France.
The walking tour of Villefranche-sur-Mer is nice. It allows you to discover the heritage of the city: St Michael’s Church with its Baroque Italian style built in the 18th century, the chapel of Saint-Pierre, decorated by Jean Cocteau, the “Rue obscure” (or “Dark Street” which is a passage way under the harbour front houses) of the 14th century, and the port of the Darse.
Villefranche-sur-Mer hosts the oceanographic observatory and its 3 laboratories (oceanography, marine geoscience and Cell Biology). The bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer is the site of freediving (apnoe) competitions; the world championships were held there in 2005.
Tous droits réservés pour tous les pays © / All rights reserved for all countries ©.