Day Trip to Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Cap-Ferrat

what to do in the south of france

Short on time? Follow this link to a Google Maps version of our “Day Trip to Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Cap-Ferrat ” travel itinerary with all of our favorite spots labeled! You can “follow” the guide, and the saved locations will automatically transfer to your own Google Maps account.

More guides from this trip: 

The Perfect Antibes Travel Guide

One Day in Nice, France

How to Spend Four Days in Lake Como, Italy

26 Lifesaving Tips for Traveling with a Baby in Europe 

day trip to villefranche-sur-mer and cap-ferret
Day Trip to Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Cap-Ferrat

I started writing about our day trip to Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Cap-Ferrat on our guide to Antibes and quickly realized that this information needed to be its own post…so here we are! 

We chose to visit the French Riviera on our trip last fall because we wanted to go somewhere that didn’t feel super busy or hectic like a big city but that still had lots of areas to explore and spend our days. 

We used Antibes as our base and stayed for five nights. We bookended our time in Antibes with relaxing days “at home,” exploring Old Town and Cap d’Antibes. We took one day trip to Nice and another to explore Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Cap-Ferrat. 

While we were really happy with our day trip decisions, there are TONS of towns to choose from in the Côte d’Azur. We didn’t get to see Cannes, St-Tropez, Monaco, and all of the small towns in between, so you better believe I am already scheming about our next trip back. 

what to do in the south of france

We decided on Villefranche-Sur-Mer because it was even tinier and more quaint than Antibes and because it was about a 40 minute drive from our apartment in Antibes (an amount of time that we thought Charlotte could tolerate in her car seat without giving us too much grief). 

I had seen so many photos of the perfect crescent beach lined with even more perfect pastel buildings, and I just had to experience it for myself. 

It worked out because Cap-Ferrat was also at the top of my list, and the two areas are close together and easily conquerable in a day. 

villefranche-sur-mer day trip

Side note: I bought this coffee table guide book about Provence and the Cote d-Azur on a whim a few years ago and finally put it to a practical use while we planned this trip. This book overviews a vast selection of towns in the South of France, and we found it to be very helpful while choosing where and how to spend our time. 

(As usual, we have linked this whole itinerary on a Google Maps page. It’s especially helpful for a day like this with lots of walking and different beaches involved. We always link this at the beginning of our guides). 

villefranche-sur-mer guide

Start the day in Villefranche-sur-mer 

The proper way to start any day in the South of France is by enjoying a water-front view of the Meditteranean with a cappuccino in hand. Fortunately, the Welcome Hotel in Ville-franche-sur-mer provides both of these things! 

Day Trip to Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Cap-Ferrat
welcome hotel in villefrance-sur-mer

After the espresso kicks in, make your way down the boardwalk to the Plage des Marinieres (the perfect crescent beach I mentioned earlier). 

We got a late start on the day (surprise surprise, I can’t even fully blame Charlotte), so we arrived in Villefranche-sur-mer around 10am that morning. However, this is a full day of exploring and I recommend kicking it into gear a bit earlier. 

By the time we made it to the Plage des Marinieres, it was quite warm out and the beach was pretty crowded. Ideally, we would have wanted an early morning to enjoy the beach to ourselves. 

Day Trip to Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Cap-Ferrat
day trips in the French Riviera

Park at the Hotel Royal-Riviera

Head back to your car and drive to the other side of the peninsula. 

If you have the full day ahead of you, park at the top of the peninsula near the Hotel Royal-Riviera. Grab a drink and then hop on the coastal trail (called the Sentier du Littoral) that will take you all the way down the peninsula towards Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. 

This walk is one of my favorites in the world that we’ve done. Enjoy the sweeping views of the crystal blue water, the lush, mountainous coastline, and staggering villas that populate one of the most expensive zip codes in the world. 

Day Trip to Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Cap-Ferrat

Stop and take a picture at Place David Niven

This gorgeous pink villa is one of the main reasons I wanted to visit the South of France, so I was very satisfied when I saw it in person. It was built in 1880 and has its own little pink harbor. It is SO dreamy. 

Some of its past occupants include the Duchess of Marlborough, Charlie Chaplin, David Niven, and is even rumored to have been a hideout for Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana during their relationship! Juicy. 

what to do in the south of france
Day Trip to Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Cap-Ferrat

Walk through Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

Keep walking along the coastal path until you reach the idyllic fishing village of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. It is one of the most pleasant places I’ve ever been. 

Grab an ice cream or a bite to eat at one of the restaurants along the waterfront and take a nice, deep breath. 

Day Trip to Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Cap-Ferrat

Lounge at Paloma beach 

Time for our next stop at Paloma Beach. We laid out and swam here for about an hour and it was absolutely lovely. The beachside cafe had closed for the season the day before we arrived, sadly, but it would be a perfect place to grab a bite to eat. 

Paloma beach

The beach is pretty rocky which probably wouldn’t bother anyone who didn’t share our San Diego-spoiled expectations of soft white sand. We just brought a blanket and wore our sandals most of the time. Otherwise, between the stunning views and relatively temperate water, this cove is perfect. 

Day Trip to Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Cap-Ferrat
Paloma beach in cap-ferrat
Day Trip to Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Cap-Ferrat

Check out Fossettes Beach around the corner 

If you have the stamina to check out another beach (you should!), head around the corner to Fossettes Beach. But first, make a pit stop for a beverage or snack if you need one at the stand above the trail. 

fossettes beach france
fossettes beach in france

Get a drink at Grand-Hotel Du Cap Ferrat 

After some sunbathing, head over to the Grand-Hotel du Cap Ferrat to witness the luxury of Cap Ferrat firsthand. 

Let’s be honest, if you have the funds, you should probably stay at this iconic hotel. If you don’t, a drink at the bar will have to do (always our play, no matter where we are in the world, lol). 

Spend golden hour at the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild 

I can’t think of a better way to cap off a day in the French Riviera than by wandering the grounds of the blush pink Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild at sunset. 

Enjoy the gorgeous gardens and views of the dazzling coves below. Admission costs €14. 


Congratulations! Your full day of exploring is finished, and we hope you loved this area as much as we did. 

Paloma beach in the south of france

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