Rather than take the bus from Nice, I highly recommend walking the beautiful coastal path to the town of Villefranche sur Mer.
We were planning to take the bus, but while checking the bus route timings, we found out that the buses don’t run as often as on Sunday. We didn’t want to adhere to any strict bus timings, so we searched an alternate way to get there. You can take the train, but we were more intrigued with hiking there. Based off our Google image searches, Villefranche sort of looks like a mini version of Nice, so just to give the experience a twist, hiking seemed like the fun choice.
We started at Nice beach – after a stop at the farmer’s market and our favourite coffee joint in Nice – where we hung out for a bit for breakfast.
From the beach, we walked over to the Port of Nice – paused for photos, because look at all these ridiculously adorable boats – and pulled out our handy-dandy Google Maps.
We didn’t research how exactly to walk there prior. We had the luxury of mobile data so we referred to it as and when. For those without data, download the offline map while you’re still on your hotel wifi. It should work the same. Google Maps showed two routes, the first cuts through the city; the other route would take us twice as long, but was far more scenic and followed the coastline.
We would have done fine without the map as it’s a straightforward enough path – we simply followed along the beautifully scenic coastal path. The rocky coastal paths juxtaposed against the azure blue French Riviera waters… Stunning.
Deciding to make the hike to Villefranche was probably one of the best decisions on the trip because the coastal paths were gorgeous.
We were there at the end of September, and the weather was perfect. Bright and sunny, but comfortable weather that’s not too hot. Sunscreen in highly important; the path is unsheltered and you will feel the scorch of the sun.
I recommend packing bathing suits and towels for a dip in the ocean along the coastal path. There are no proper sandy beaches, but you can swim in the ocean from the coastal rocks, some of which are fixed with metal bars for you to lower yourself into the waters.
I think we spent about four hours or so walking slowly to Villefranche – mainly because we took lots of photo breaks (obviously).
At one point, Google Maps led us up a flight of very steep stairs which brought us up to a main road. We followed the road, which winds along the coastal path to lead into Villefranche.
I feel life somehow like if we had continued on the rocky coastal path below, we still would have reached the town… Geographically makes sense, but don’t take my word for it.
Villefranche sur Mer
When we got to Villefranche, we walked the charming Old Town area. It had, as expected, a similar vibe to Nice’s Old Town, so again, I’m super glad we decided to do the hike just to add a little uniqueness to this particular daytrip.
Villefranche is definitely a touristy town. We had lunch at one of the many cafes here, where I also had the spiciest plate of tear-jerker Arrabiata pasta. On account of my melted brain, I totally forgot to note the name of the place and I apologise, but it’s on the same street as the Sunday flea market, opposite a small cathedral. #itriedmybest
The beach at Villefranche sur Mer was a lot more compact, so it looked more crowded than the beaches in Nice. The sand here comprised of finer pebbles than the ones in Nice, so it’s a lot less painful to walk on. That said… I think I might still prefer the beaches at Nice only because it’s a longer stretch, and therefore has a lot more breathing room. #personalspaceadvocate
We parked ourselves at the only beach bar there. You have the option of renting a lounge chair and umbrella from the bar, but it was about 20 Euros a pop. We just took a table on the sand, ordered a drink, and stripped to our bikinis with a book in hand. Worked just as well.
I think we were there for a little over an hour, before leaving to catch the scheduled bus back to Nice… Except we never got on the damn bus because it was full. It was a Bus 100 that came from Monaco, so everyone else is heading back to Nice as well. We ended taking the train, which was on the other end of the Old Town, and I suggest you just do the same as well.