Villefranche sur Mer

You’re no doubt familiar with the five iconic small towns known as Cinque Terre but do you know the five equally enchanting villages across the border in France? Each has its own unique features: Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is for the artist in you, Beaulieu-sur-Mer is next door to Monaco, and almost as glamorous. Up in the hills a bit, Eze is for history buffs; also inland is the least-known of the bunch, La Turbie, where nature reigns. And then there’s my favourite, where it’s all about colours and energy and life: Villefranche-sur-Mer glides by on looks and vibe.

Coral and fuchsia houses; mustard, ochre, sienna, sunshine yellow, peach, apricot, orange… I could probably name more fruits. Next to bright turquoise window shutters, flowers and fishing nets cover the facades. Narrow, cobbled streets and stairways permeate the little fishing village. And lively restaurants down by the harbour.


Crumbling equals charming here. For reals.

I seem to be following Jean Cocteau around. The avant-garde film director, author, artist and then some, hung out at the Palmyra in Baalbek, and I stumble upon him again in Villefranche-sur-Mer where he lived, and decorated the lovely Chapelle Saint-Pierre with his famous murals.

Cocteau is said to have been happy here. Let’s hope he was. Sprinkling some of his off-the-wall quotes in here. Just because.

What the public criticises in you, cultivate. It is you.

A little too much is just enough for me.

Villefranche was first settled thousands of years ago but was established as a free port in the late 13th century. Citadelle Saint-Elme sits on a promontory above town and was built to defend the port. Today, the fort houses various museums and serves as an outdoor cinema during the summer months.

It comes as no surprise that this captivating little village has been the backdrop for movies: To Catch a Thief (Hitchcock), Never Say Never Again (James Bond), Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, Maximum Risk with Jean Claude van Damme, and many more.

The day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying.