Frequently Asked Questions
About our apartments...
How do I reserve an apartment with Riviera Experience?
For all inquiries about property availability, please contact us via email at Shelley@rivieraexperience.com, or by telephone at + 33 (0)6-80-41-25-97, or when dialing from the US, 011-33-6-80-41-25-97. We try hard to respond within the same business day you contact us.
To make a reservation, we ask for a 40% deposit of the prices posted on our Rates & Fees page. Final payment is due 2 months prior to arrival. We can accept payment in a wire or a check, in either euros or US dollars. Unfortunately, we cannot accept credit cards at this time.
We do not offer refunds on deposits or final payments as a general policy. We can provide you with a rental contract with which to obtain travel insurance for financial protection in the event of a need to cancel. (When you pay the deposit, please ask us for a contract for travel insurance). It is not our desire to have you pay for something you cannot use, nor for you to feel penalized for having to cancel as it is usually due to an emergency, but we are a small business and simply can’t afford to refund bookings like a hotel with a rapid turnover. Our customers tend to book many months if not a full year in advance. Because it is difficult to rebook an apartment if you cancel on a somewhat short notice (2 or 3 months prior to arrival), we will have turned away potential customers. For this reason, we are happy to provide a contract so you can get travel insurance. In general, we need at least 3 to 4 months to rebook an apartment, and sometimes more. Under very special circumstances, and if we are able to rebook the apartment, we will provide a partial refund.
(UP TO LIST OF QUESTIONS)
How will I find the apartment, get keys, and check in?
Prior to your arrival we will coordinate with you your arrival details, including how you plan to reach Villefranche. We can offer to set up a taxi to Villefranche if you are flying in and not renting a car (again, a car is really not needed unless you are staying in the Villa and aren’t comfortable walking up and down the hill). But regardless of how you arrive, we will meet you at a given location in the village and then help you to the apartment. We will give you the keys personally, and take a little time to acquaint you with everything about the apartment, how everything functions, give you tips about the town, and answer any questions you may have. Prior to your arrival we will also send you information about Villefranche to help you get pre-acquainted with the area before you arrive. And we are always available for calls or help afterwards, as we along with our staff also live in the village. Whether you are coming from someplace nearby or from all the way around the world, our aim is to make your arrival easy and comfortable, so you can quickly settle in and begin enjoying the great lifestyle available in Villefranche.
(UP TO LIST OF QUESTIONS)
Apartments look nice in the pictures, but how nice are they really?
If you haven’t visited the apartment before, or haven’t had a friend stay there, we understand that you really don’t know what you are getting. Pictures are helpful, but one still might be nervous until you see if for real. Our customers routinely tell us that our pictures are really nice. However, when they walk into the apartments they always tell us that the pictures don’t do the apartments justice. The apartments are much nicer, the views better, and the feel of the apartments really special. But it may be better like that, as we would prefer to have you pleasantly surprised than disappointed.
You can read reviews from some previous customers here:
• Beachfront Bliss • Artist’s Atelier • Le Petit Bijou • Sur le Toit • Waterfront Penthouse • Romantic Riviera Villa
We have remodeled each of our apartments. When we do a remodel, we take the apartment back to the stone walls. We remove everything! We rebuild from the ground up, so to speak. All new plumbing, electric, kitchens, flooring, ceilings, etc. We are committed to a quality remodel as we don’t want to have a lot of repairs and we want our apartments to last a long time. We hope to be in this business for a while so penny pinching on the remodel is penny-wise, pound foolish, in our opinion. And all our trades are from the village so if we do have a plugged drain, or a light switch that goes bad, we can reach out and get rapid repairs made with a quick phone call. Additionally, all our appliances are new and well maintained.
We are sticklers for cleaning. We have a superb cleaning staff. We insist on weekly cleaning of each apartment. If you stay longer than a week, we schedule a weekly clean where the apartment is thoroughly cleaned and all linen changed. Sometimes a guest will ask us “we are very clean, do we really need the mid-stay clean”? We say — yes. It is the only way we can guarantee to each of our guests a very clean apartment. After the first mid-stay clean, our guests are always delighted and appreciate that we ‘pushed’ the point.
As we begin the remodel process, we try to get a feeling about the apartment and its space. What is it’s ‘personality’? How does it lend itself to supporting a nice lifestyle for people? We think about the flow of the space, how you would like to live in it, relax in it, entertain in it, the lighting, and the overall feel. Honestly, each apartment has its own personality and it does emerge, usually after we have demolished but sometimes even a bit before. Then we start to rebuild: figuring out the flow of the space, the placement of walls, think through the placement of furniture to ensure everything has enough space and uses the views to maximum advantage.
We also know there are a few basics that have to be in place: a great kitchen for cooking with all the things you want to enjoy cooking and entertaining — even if it is just for two. Great beds. We buy all our beds from a bed store and they are all top quality. We turn the mattresses regularly, the linen is all white cotton and good quality. And bedside tables and good reading lights on both sides of the bed. And great closet space.
Each apartment is equipped with a desk and office area, with WiFi, international calling, and desk supplies. Although you are on vacation many people still like to have a laptop to stay connected either to the office or home. And many of our guests come for extended stays and need a desk area to work — just like at home.
Bathrooms: good showers, bath tubs where we can (all but 2 apartments have great bathtubs also), good sinks (i.e. not too small), with great lighting, storage and counter space — very clean and modern, and with a window.
And of course the living space: dining and living. We attempt to make them very comfortable, with the appropriate amount of seating for the size of the apartment (and knowing that you might entertain guests), and with a nice, unique décor. One of our specialties is lighting and all our customers comment on it. Everything is on dimmers and artistic. Yet there is also great reading lights everywhere. We have original art in all the apartments, mostly from local artists but also from our travels and carpets from the orient. We also feature antiques from the various antique shops in the area and from Provence. We try hard to have each apartment feel like a home — your home away from home.
(UP TO LIST OF QUESTIONS)
Will I need to bring a hair dryer, an iron — what’s included?
We have attempted to make each apartment fully equipped, including: a hairdryer, iron, ironing board, and washing machine (clothes drying is done outside on the clothesline in the local fashion — a great system — but we also can provide a drying rack). We also provide a stereo music system (with an iPod connection), Sky TV with English channels in addition to French television, DVD player, WiFi, a telephone with free international calling to many locations worldwide (including Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand), and access to a fax machine/printer from our office. The kitchens are equipped with a gas stove, oven, dishwasher, refrigerator, very good pots, pans and knives, an assortment of serving dishes, a champagne bucket and wine cooler, drip coffee machine, and cafetiere’s and Italian espresso pots (stove top). The only exception to this is in the Beachfront Bliss apartment, which has a kitchenette with a 2-burner induction stove top, oven/microwave/grill combination, and no dishwasher. All linen is included: white cotton sheets, down duvets or cotton blankets, down and foam pillows (2 per person), and towels (bath towels, beach towels, kitchen towels). We also provide bath, laundry and dishwasher soaps. Please note that while we do have some plug adapters, we recommend that you also bring your own to guarantee you have one readily at hand. And if we have forgotten anything, we will do our very best to provide it!
(UP TO LIST OF QUESTIONS)
What’s there to do in Villefranche?
There are so many wonderful things to do in and around the village of Villefranche it’s hard to know where to start. You can easily spend a week here and never do the same thing twice. An exhaustive to-do list would be, well, exhausting — there is so much! But here are highlights (we’ll leave it to you to find your own out-of-the-way treasures!):
The Old Town rises steeply up from the sea to the hillsides that ring the bay of Villefranche. The whole village is pedestrian and has lovely Italian style architecture with medieval accents throughout. The Old Town is very beautiful, both well preserved and also very much a real living village with mostly local residents. It is always fun to explore its nooks and crannies, like the beautiful church of St. Michel, with its quiet tree-lined squares, or the rue Obscure (a famous medieval covered passage), or the Chapel St. Pierre (its interior painted by Jean Cocteau). Take a break for lunch at Place Pollonnais at one of the several Brasseries with outdoor seating (so you can soak up the sunshine and people watch!). On Sundays there is a wonderful Brocante market set up on the Place around its charming fountain (and on Saturdays there’s a farmer’s market at the top of the Old Town). And of course there’s the waterfront quai (with many fine restaurants serving great dinner fare), and sandy beach of Villefranche, with a kilometer long wall of bougainvillea.
The Citadel is a huge stone fort built 600 years ago at the edge of the Old Town along the water, where there are now 3 museums, the City Hall, beautiful gardens, and the Cinema Plien Aire (outdoor theater). It is quite a magnificent structure and a great place to explore. There is a moat that connects the Old Village to the Port de la Darse, with walls nearly 100 feet high. Don’t miss the Volti museum in the Citadel and the gardens. Nearly every night during the summer there are movies shown in the outdoor theater. You can also walk up along the citadel walls that overlook the moat and, of course, the beautiful bay.
Walk around the Citadel water side path to the Port de la Darse. This is our working port, now mostly for pleasure yachts, with a colorful history going back over 500 years! Check out the beautiful vaulted workshops, the dry dock which can’t be mechanized (since it’s an historical monument) so is still used daily — the old-fashioned way. Great yachts come from around the world to be restored in this little Port. The Darse is a great sub-culture of the village.
Walks: if you love walking you will be in paradise: there are so many walks right from your doorstep that are fabulous. The walk around beautiful Cap Ferrat takes about 3–4 hrs, but you don’t have to go all the way, any part of the walk is simply fantastic, along the most spectacular Mediterranean coastline, looking right across to Villefranche but feeling like you’ve gone on a far away adventure! If you bring a picnic lunch, stopping near the light house allows you many private vantage points to relax and take in the magnificent view to Cap Antibes and the fairy tale-like Esterelle mountains beyond.
Or you can walk the other direction to Nice, going up to Fort Alban with its commanding views over the whole region.
Not to mention all the different ways to explore the hillsides of Villefranche itself on the numerous public stairwells that lead all over the place. If you want exercise, without going to a gym, simply go out your front door and start walking.
Enjoy a day at the beach. Villefranche has a great sandy beach, the crystal clear water is sublime for swimming, and there are a couple of great beach restaurants that serve wonderful food.
Minutes away are the neighboring villages of Beaulieu sur Mer and St. Jean Cap Ferrat, with many shops, galleries and restaurants, and where you can also simply stop for refreshment at any number of sidewalk cafes to take in the lively scene (and sea views to Eze and Monaco).
In Beaulieu one of my favorite things to do is to visit Villa Kerylos right on the sea, which is an exact replica of a Greek villa built on the island of Delos at the height of Greek civilization 2,500 euros ago! It is fascinating and beautiful. Be sure and take the audio tour with it. And don’t miss the exhibit in the basement.
Villa Rothschild on Cap Ferrat is another great villa to visit. It is in the classic Belle Epoque style, quite impressive and lovely, but what’s even better are the amazing gardens — 7 different kinds, with stunning views in all directions.
Then there is the famous walk up to and around Eze Village (about 3 minutes away from Villefranche, by either bus or train). Eze is one of the most picturesque medieval villages, with darling little pathways and shops all perched on top of a steep rugged cliffs overlooking the sea 1000 feet below — a great place for a romantic lunch or dinner at one of the several top restaurants.
Take a bus to La Turbie, just a couple of miles from Eze village. This is another beautiful medieval village but completely different than Eze. Visit the Roman monument built by Augustus Cesar when they conquered the Ligurian tribes of the area — in 32 BC!
Then, of course, there’s so much to do right next door in Nice: the Old Town, the lively flower & farmer’s market every morning (except Mondays), a walk along the Promenade des Anglais, a drink at the famous Negresso Hotel, a visit to the newly renovated and fabulous Place Massena, shopping along the pietons area, a visit to the many museums (don’t miss the Chagall museum!), or the several music festivals held throughout the year. There are 3 good days of sightseeing and activities just in Nice, not to mention the many fabulous, reasonably priced restaurants.
And, in the other direction but just as close, be sure to visit to Monaco. The Old Town of Monaco, the palace and the cathedral, Monte Carlo and its casino and Hotel de Paris, the Port (with unbelievable private yachts!), the spectacular gardens, and the Oceanographic museum (made famous by Jacques Cousteau) — all great places to visit.
A bit farther away …
Antibes, Juan les Pins, Cannes are just a short train ride away on our local train, about a 20 – 30 minutes.
Or visit Ventimiglia just over the Italian border, less than a 30-minute train ride away. Every Friday there is a great market in Ventimiglia. It sort of boggles the mind that just a few minutes away everything’s so different: the food, the language (of course), the culture. You think that it would be more blended — part French, part Italian. But it isn’t. It is pure Italian. And inland from the Italian Riviera are wonderful towns to visit that head right up into the Alps.
If you want to do more Alpine walking and hiking or visiting medieval villages that are very untouched by tourism, just inland of the Nice / Villefranche area is the Park Mercantour and the hillside villages of the Alpes Maritimes. It is spectacular country. Take a look at a map and you realize that the Alpes come right down to the Mediterranean. They basically form a crescent shape around the top of Italy, the crescent going from Venice, on the Adriatic, to Nice on the Mediterranean.
Still farther …
St. Tropez is about one and a half hours away by car (and can be longer in summer traffic), or on a ferry. Exploring this part of the Var is lovely — vineyards, beaches, and of course oh so glamorous St. Tropez itself.
The lovely town of Aix-en-Provence, sometimes called the Paris of the south, is just an hour and a half drive or train ride from Villefranche. This is the gateway to Provence.
In the other direction, Florence is 5 hours away by train or car. Lucca, one of the Tuscan cities is 4 hours away. Genoa and Portofino 2–3 hours away.
And that’s the short list of things to see and do! More than you can probably fit in. One word of caution. Don’t try to do too much. Don’t miss out on ‘living’ life in the Villefranche village itself — that is quite special and if you run from dawn to dusk everyday, you may miss the simple joy and experience of village life.
(UP TO LIST OF QUESTIONS)
What kinds of shops, restaurants and services are in Villefranche?
Shopping: there’s a variety of stores in Villefranche, from curio and antiques to designer fashions, art, and our favorite soap & fragrance store (and much more shopping easily available in nearby Beaulieu and Nice). On Sundays there’s a wonderful Brocante (‘flea market’) set up in the Old Town (Place Pollonnais), and on Saturdays is our Farmer’s Market.
Grocery Stores: there are 4 grocery stores in Villefranche (and one traitteur, a grocery-like store having a few prepared foods). Between the 4 of them, more than one is open every day of the week. One grocery store is in the heart of the Old Town on rue du Poilu. Two others are at the Basse Corniche level of town and the third is at the Col of Villefranche, up on the hillside. Just a bit farther away are two super markets, either walking distance (about 20 minutes to each), or you can take the bus. Some of the stores will deliver. Most are closed at lunch time.
Boulangeries & Patisseries (bakery and pastery shops): there are 5 in Villefranche, 4 in the main village and one at the Col of Villefranche. Seven days a week there are more than one boulangerie open. Most stay open ‘non-stop’ during the day (although the one at Place de la Paix closes from 1:30–4:30).
Boucher (butcher): there are three in town. One in the Old Town at Place de la Paix, one at the Col of Villefranche and one at the Spar market.
Green Grocers: there are 4 not including the fruit and vegetable stands at the grocery stores. Two are at Place de la Paix, one at the Basse Corniche level of the village and one at the Col of Villefranche.
Restaurants: There are many restaurants in Villefranche: at the Col, the Basse Corniche, in the Old Town, and on the waterfront. We have a list of restaurants we can recommend, but you will also enjoy exploring on your own. There are two casual restaurants right at the beach that serve nice beach food.
Pharmacy: there are 4 pharmacies in Villefranche and more in the neighboring villages of Beaulieu sur Mer and St. Jean Cap Ferrat. Between these 3 villages, there is always one open 7 days a week. There is a 24 hour pharmacy in Nice just 10 minutes away.
Banks: all at the Basse Corniche level of town. Cash machines there as well plus one down at the parking lot across from Hotel Welcome on the waterfront quai. Cash withdrawals from your bank account at home are easy from a number of ‘cash point’ machines (ATM’s).
Post Office and Police Station: in between the top of the Old Town (Place de la Paix) and the Basse Corniche level of town.
Tourist Office: Villefranche has a superb tourist office with lots of useful information and very helpful staff who speak English quite well. Visit their website for helpful information.
(UP TO LIST OF QUESTIONS)
How do I get to Villefranche-sur-Mer?
It’s very easy to get to Villefranche as it’s immediately next to Nice, just to the east along the coast road on the short drive to Monaco and the Italian border beyond. (see map) If you are arriving to the South of France by air, then Nice Cote d’Azur airport (France’s 2nd largest) will be your likely point of arrival, providing several easy options for continuing onwards to Villefranche (but you could also come via Marseille or Genoa airports, about 2 hours away, and both with good transportation links to the Nice area). From Nice airport, you can get to Villefranche by hiring a taxi, renting a car, or taking a bus and train. Taking a taxi is the quickest and easiest, and we are happy to arrange a taxi from Villefranche to meet your flight (the driver will speak English, and will be driving a nice car). The 20–30 minute taxi ride to Villefranche along the lovely Promenades des Anglais costs 50 euros (for up to 4 people). If you don’t book a Villefranche taxi, the airport taxi is a little more. The taxi driver will call us when you are in the taxi, and we will meet you on the street in Villefranche and help with your luggage to your apartment.
Instead of taking a taxi it is also quite possible to take a bus from the airport to the Nice Ville train station or the central bus station in Nice. The airport bus costs 5 euros/person. If you take the airport bus to the Nice bus station (about a 15–20 minute ride ), from there you can take the bus 100 to Villefranche (1.30 euros/person). Or you can take the airport bus to Nice Ville train station (also 5 euros/person) and take the 5-minute train ride directly to the Villefranche station (1.30 euros/person). From either the bus or train station in Villefranche it is a relatively short walk to your apartment (except the villa). Just consider how much luggage you are carrying as it is a 5–15 minute walk and will involve some stairs. The length of the bus/train or bus/bus journey is variable depending on bus & train schedules, but usually takes around 90 minutes. The bus to Villefranche stops running at 7:50 p.m. and the train around midnight. The bus does not start until 7 a.m.; the train around 6 a.m. The train/bus option is not recommended for an early flight.
The other option for reaching Villefranche is renting a car at the airport and driving yourself — it’s very easy to find your way (but see below for the pros and cons of car rental).
All of these options work well but if you have a lot of luggage, then the taxi is the easiest. Again, we are happy to organize the taxi for you.
(UP TO LIST OF QUESTIONS)
How is the village of Villefranche laid out?
Villefranche is built on a set of rugged hills that encircle the beautiful bay. The village rises dramatically up from the waterfront quai to the top of the hills, over 1,000 feet above sea level. The main village is located on the waterfront — the Old Town. Beginning from the waterfront quai, where a number of fine restaurants are located, you may walk along the water to the lovely sandy beach (the train station is at the end of the waterfront quai, just above the beginning of the beach). Colorful old-world buildings line the waterfront, rising steeply up the hill via small pedestrian streets. Throughout the Old Town there are apartments, shops, restaurants, a church, and plazas (Places) where people gather. At the top of the Old Town, where the butcher, baker, green grocer and café are located is called Place de la Paix. This is a real local scene and very handy, a fun place to take in village life while you enjoy a coffee or glass of cold rose.
Just up from Place de la Paix, about 50 meters, is the Octoi level of town, along the Basse Corniche (one of the 3 famous corniche roads). At this level of town there are more shops, café’s, bars, grocery stores, and banks. This is one of the main traffic arteries as well, linking the coastal towns together. This is where you catch the bus to go either in the direction of Nice and Antibes or Monaco.
Rising up from the Basse Corniche level is residential hillside part of Villefranche. Here you find a number of villas and apartment buildings. There are public stairwells that run all over the hillside that enable you to walk from a number of hillside areas to the village, or up to the Col of Villefranche, located at the top of the hillside on the highest part of the town of Villefranche. Here too there are lovely shops and restaurants. The attached map may describe this better.
(UP TO LIST OF QUESTIONS)
Romantic Riviera Villa or an apartment on the waterfront? How do I choose between staying on the hillside or down in the Old Town?
The hillsides of Villefranche offer the most spectacular panoramic views. Our Romantic Riviera Villa, our only property on the hillside, happens to be in a great location for views, sun, while still being quite accessible to town. It is very private and quiet, and every room has an amazing panoramic view across the bay to Cap Ferrat and the blue Mediterranean beyond — yet also an intimate view of the Old Town below.
It is a 5-minute walk from the Villa down a public stairwell (300 stairs) to one of the main centers of the village where there are two boulangeries (bakeries), two grocery stores, green grocer, banks, café’s, bars, and Tabac (for newspapers). Another 2 minutes further down the hill, on a sidewalk (no stairs, but definitely heading down), is another part of the village called Place de la Paix where there is another boulangerie, the butcher, two green grocers, a café / bar / Tabac, a traitteur and the best pizza restaurant in the village. Then another 3-5 minutes down the hill, through the charming pedestrian village, and you are at the waterfront quai where there are a number of restaurants, bars and the path to the beach.
Walking down is really quite easy and a pretty walk. Walking back up is a work-out. For many people, they like the work-out and don’t rent a car. For others, the stairs are daunting. There is a mini bus that runs throughout the day on a regular schedule and we have the schedule published in the apartment. And there are taxis that will bring you up the hill for 10–12 euros (a bit expensive for such a short little ride, but that’s the cost).
Bottom line: the Villa offers more panoramic views, more space, a quieter more private location, but it is a bit of a hike to get a baguette — 300 stairs of a hike, or walking the street which doesn’t involve stairs but does involve walking uphill.
If you stay in the Old Town, everything is closer. The Old Town is very convenient to shops, restaurants, bars, café’s, the beach, public transport, etc. But it is less convenient for parking and hauling suitcases (although we can help you with these). Still the Old Town involves stairs too (though shorter climbs) since it built on the incline coming out of the sea. You see these old folks, in their 80’s & 90’s still walking around, and you realize that this walking and these stairs do keep a person fit, though they can be tiring at times. In the Old Town, everything is really close by, at your finger tips, so you shop daily. And you live closer to your neighbors, so you hear village life — it isn’t noisy or unpleasant but you do hear life around you. You are living in an authentic French village with its real local culture. The apartments in the Old Town are smaller than the Villa, but their views are lovely and charming, and on the waterfront just as commanding if not quite as expansive as the Villa’s views.
With this little explanation we try to point out the pros and cons of staying in the Villa on the hill vs. an apartment in the Old Town — but in the end, it is a personal preference.
(UP TO LIST OF QUESTIONS)
Will I need a car?
The quick answer is: No, you don’t really need a car — neither to get to Villefranche (see above) nor for getting around once you are here. Many interesting sights and activities are available within an easy walk, public transport is excellent for exploring farther along, and in any case you may be glad to avoid the slight trouble of finding parking (see below). All of the major sites along the Cote are easily visited using either the bus or the train. Both the train station and the bus stops in Villefranche are an easy walk from all of our apartments.
On the other hand, if you are planning to visit hill towns and places farther afield, or to drive to Provence and beyond for a few days, you may want to rent a car (if only for part of your visit). In this case, please be aware that we do not have designated parking spots for any of our apartments, though the Romantic Riviera Villa always has easy street parking available just outside the door. The other apartments are in the Old Town where there is free street parking available around the perimeter (this is what we use as we also live in the Old Town). In July and August it can be competitive to find a spot, but you will. The rest of the year, it is quite easy to find a spot. Certain times of the day are more difficult, but you will always find parking — even if you then have to walk a bit back to your apartment. There is also a pay lot and there are metered areas for certain times of the day. To state the obvious, it is easier to park a small car than a big one.
If you stay in the Romantic Riviera Villa, a car can be handy if you don’t want to walk up and down the hill. In order to get from the villa to the Old Town you walk either along the road that leads to the Old Town (about 300 meters) or 300 stairs along a pedestrian stairway with amazing views, well-lit at night, and lovely to walk at any time, but not for everyone. We walk it all the time (takes about 10 minutes) and most of our guests do too, but some appreciate having a car (others walk down and take a taxi or minibus back up).
(UP TO LIST OF QUESTIONS)
Attending the Institut de Français?
Institut de Français is a superb, world famous French language school that uses the full-immersion method of learning. Numerous students from the school stay in my apartments; one student in particular who has studied French for many years and done many immersion programs says this program really is the best. I also was a student at the Institut and can highly recommend it.
All of our apartments are easy walking distance to the Institute. (see map) If you stay in one of our five apartments in the Old Town, the walk from the village to the Institute is up hill, then flat, then up hill again. The walk takes about 15 minutes. I think it is a lovely walk in the morning, the perfect way to start your day. You walk through the Old Town, all charming, beautiful pedestrian streets, up to Place de la Paix which is the top of the Old Town and where many of the shops are (bakery, butcher, green grocers, wonderful café and tabac where you can buy the newspaper), and then up to the Basse Corniche level of town called Octoi. At this level there are more shops, café’s, banks, etc. You walk along the park, or along the shops side of the street, and then up a public stairwell which leads you to a little lane. The Institute’s garden gate is located on this little lane.
And the big advantage of walking up in the morning, when you are fresh, is that you can walk downhill in the evening when you are tired. Also, all the shops, markets, restaurants, cafés and bars are in town. So if you stay in an apartment up on the hillside, where the Institute is located, you must walk down for everything — except school. But if you walk up to school in the morning, then when you are done with school, everything else you will do — grocery shop, have an aperitif with friends, go to a restaurant, etc. — is all right there, where you live.
Our Romantic Riviera Villa is located up on the hillside at the same level as the Institute. It is about a 5–10 minute walk to the Institute across the hillside, no stairs and not much of a climb either. But as we just mentioned, you do need to walk (or drive) down to town for everything else. The villa offers breathtaking views, space, parking, and more privacy than the apartments in the village. The village is close by, but it is a walk to everything whereas staying in the village gives you access to everything just outside your front door.
Another point, if you are attending the Institute and, you are no doubt interested in learning French and also experiencing a bit of French local culture. I think you get more of this experience staying in the village as you interact with people in the shops and on the street more frequently and hear village life and conversations from your opened windows.
Lastly, if you are here on your own studying, I think staying in the village feels less lonely. You hear voices and see life around you by just hanging out your window. You can go for a stroll along the quai, to the beach or through the village and see life all around you. And in the evening if you want to go have an aperitif or dinner on your own, you can easily walk to a bar or restaurant without being concerned about walking home at night on your own. If you live on the hillside, whether eating out with friends or on your own, unless your friends live in a similar location on the hillside, you are apt to have to walk up the hillside on your own at night — which is largely quite safe but not that pleasant to do.
If you are interested in learning more about the pros and cons of staying in the village or on the hillside while at the Institute, you can read more here.
(UP TO LIST OF QUESTIONS)
What about children?
Most of our apartments can be suitable for kids, except the Romantic Riviera Villa would not be the place for toddlers — the terrace has an “infinity” roof (no railings) and small children could easily wander into harm’s way. Sur le Toit also may not be ideal for toddlers to age 6, but we can work around the safety issue there more easily than at the villa. Otherwise, children are welcome, just be aware that our apartments are mostly one bedrooms (with sofa beds), and more designed for adults looking for a romantic getaway or a nice living experience abroad for a few months.
(UP TO LIST OF QUESTIONS)
What’s the weather like?
“Like Heaven!” As the guide books describe, the Riviera has a special microclimate — hence, it’s neither too hot in the summer nor too cold in the winter. Our citrus and flower festival is in February! And, of course, there are the brilliant blue skies for which the Cote d’Azur is famous to enjoy all through the year. We don’t get much rainy weather at any time of the year.
You’ll be eating outside year-round: although in the cooler months you’ll want a sweater when sitting in the shade, often you’ll be in shirt sleeves in the middle of a winter’s day. Summers have occasional heat waves lasting for a week or so when temperatures rise above the mid 80’s, even slipping into the 90’s during the afternoon. But normally it’s quite comfortable come the evening, and you’ll enjoy a cotton blanket on your bed even in mid-summer. The sea temperature is perfect for swimming from mid-May to the end of October — sometimes it’s great starting as early as mid-April. Many guidebooks will give charts of average temperatures and historical information about weather. The following two links are good resources for information about weather conditions in the Villefranche area:
(UP TO LIST OF QUESTIONS)