Paddle Tour in Villefranche
Come discover one of the most beautiful harbor in the world, it is a deep natural port with a long naval history dating back to Roman times. The harbour had great importance as a port of war being once the only maritime gateway in the States of Savoy.
Villefranche has a rich cultural heritage, including historic buildings such as the 18th-century Saint-Michel church and the Saint-Ermes citadel, built in the 16th century to protect the city from enemy invasion.
Today it is the privileged place of the Jet Set in Nice, Rollingstone, Charlie Chaplin and Jean Cocteau and it is also a great spot for paddle.
Villefranche is located in one of the most beautiful bays of the French Riviera and the best way to visit it is by paddle, It is protected from winds and waves by wooded hills, and offers a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea.
The bay of Villefranche is frequented since antiquity by the Greek and Roman sailors thanks to its situation allowing to protect the ships against the swell.
Today very popular with pleasure boats and the Jetset, but also paddles, it is the ideal place in Nice to paddle and discover the rich villas as well as the fauna and flora.
The Saint Elme citadel was commissioned by the Duke of Savoie Emmanuel-Philibert in 1556, the device is completed by the construction of the fort of Mount Alban and the Saint-Hospice tower at Cap Ferrat these devices form a «defensive chain» able to protect the only maritime window of the Duchy of Savoie from any coastal attack.
The citadel of Villefranche is one of the first examples of «bastioned fortress», model that will inspire all Catholic Europe and Vauban who did everything to convince the French generals not to destroy.
Another example of the city’s fortifications is the dark street that was once the military’s way of way, but following the construction of the citadel, the ramparts were no longer of military use and the inhabitants used the ramparts as a foundation for their house.
Villefranche remains above all a military port, but close to the sea obliges Villefranche is also a fishing village, the fishing port is a very pleasant place to stroll and drink or eat in the bar restaurant that follow it.
The bay of Villefranche is a marine ecosystem rich in biodiversity, the bay is a refuge for a wide variety of species of fauna and flora such as red mullet, octopus, crayfish, corals, seaweed…
In Saint Jean Cap Ferrat you may already know it as a luxury tourist destination. Known for its many beautiful villas such as Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, its sandy beaches, rocky coves, exotic gardens and beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea by paddle.
Point of interest
- Saint Elme’s Citadelle
- Eglise Saint Michel’s church
- Obscure street
- Chapel of Saint Pierre des pêcheurs
- Villa Nellcote
- Villa Iberia
- Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
How to get there?
By train: It is the fastest and cheapest means of transportation. The TER regional trains connect Nice-Ville to Villefranche-sur-Mer in just 5 to 10 minutes. Trains run every 15 to 30 minutes during the day and are reasonably priced.
By bus: Buses 15 and 607 also run from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer. The journey takes about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on traffic conditions, and the times are less frequent than the train. The prices are reasonable.
What should I bring?
- Bottle of water
- solar cream
- 10 am
- 12 am
- 2 pm
- 4 pm
The visit is divided in two the first part is on foot in the small alleys of Villefranche and the second part is paddle along the banks of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.
We will begin our visit with the citadel of Saint-Elme, one of the pillars of the Nice defensive system and one of the first examples of bastioned fortification in Europe.
We then enter the small alleys of Villefranche to go to the parish church of Saint-Michel, one of the essential monuments of the city, well known for its life-size Christ lying, sculpted by a Galérien.
Then we will cross the old town to the town square and its small fountain which was in medieval times the center of the local administration, we can also enjoy a beautiful view of the sandy beaches and the harbour.
Next stop the dark street where we will walk in the footsteps of the soldiers on their way round to reach the port which was once the only maritime gate of the States of Savoy and its pictorial Chapel of Saint Pierre des pêcheurs the very first chapel decorated by the famous artist Jean Cocteau.
We will then go to the paddle rental to take the sea and cross the bay of Villefranche to follow the peninsula of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat while observing the very varied fauna and flora of the Mediterranean.
We will talk about sumptuous villas such as Villa Nellcote and its very ‘Rock and Roll’ history with the exile of the Rolling Stones.
Villa Rothschild, a beautiful home surrounded by gardens. Symbol of the Russian aristocracy enjoy this magnificent peninsula.
We will meet just in front of the entrance to the citadel.
The activity will be maintained unless the weather conditions can adversely affect the safety of customers.
Any changes or cancellations are possible 24 hours before the start of the service, under the 24 hours allowed the cancellation will not be refunded.
In case of cancellation by Esplouratour, you can be refunded in full the price of the visit or move the canceled visit on another date.
What they think
“Very nice visit of Nice with our guide Gianni. An activity that made us discover Nice and it's beautiful panoramas”Morgui
“A complete visit of Nice, very pleasant with a Gianni guide who made us spend a magical moment, he is very nice and knows his city perfectly. We will come back to him as soon as we return to Nice to discover more activities.”Jérémy
“Super tour very nice by our guide Gianni.Bastien
Breathtaking views at selected stops of the course. Very pleasant, very easy and very refreshing experience in these hot temperatures! To be recommended”
“We were very well received by a charming young man Gianni. He gave us a nice visit to Nice. Thank you.”Carine
“Very nice visit of Nice accompanied by our guide Gianni. Interesting pleasant walk and initiation to the top.”Steph
“Very pleasant experience, a beautiful discovery of the City of Nice and its rich history. Gianni, our guide, was really nice, passionate about the history of the city and happy to pass it on.Pauline
We recommend this activity!”
“Great way to discover the old town of Nice and the castle hill! With more explanations! Thanks to our guide Gianni! We highly recommend it.”Delphine