Spend Your Winter in the French Riviera
Enjoy sunshine, mild-climate, no crowds, plenty to do — at about half the cost!
Winter on the French Riviera is a new program offered by Riviera Experience that lets you rent our homes at special winter rates for terms of several weeks to several months. A simple, inexpensive alternative to owning a home or having a long-term rental contract, our program puts you in your own home abroad without the risks, expenses, or hassles.
Our extremely well-appointed apartments make you as comfortable as if you were in your own home, with all the amenities and comforts you could want. Each has been extensively renovated and decorated to a very high standard, maintained fastidiously, and looked after personally — each provides a unique, charming, comfortable and wonderfully inviting living experience.
We take great pride in the quality and “personal touch” we offer to all our guests, and we can be available on-site to address any special needs you may have during your stay. We strive to give our customers great value: a real feeling of being at home, fair rates, attentive and gracious service.
Through this economical winter program you can realize a sizable discount off our summer, spring and fall rates — up to 40% lower. We’re taking reservations now for upcoming winters, and hope to hear from you soon if you are interested in living here in Villefranche next winter.
Click here to download a brochure (PDF file) about our winter programs.
Why visit Villefranche in the winter?
Depending on where in the world you are, you might just feel like getting away from a dark and cold winter — to be in the warm sunshine of the French Riviera and Cote d’Azur. If so, Riviera Experience has developed a program just for you’to escape winter, to live in France in your own home, and all without the hassle and long-term commitment of owning property.
When the French Riviera was “discovered” as a place to holiday, it was initially seen as a winter resort. Its mild climate, abundant sunshine and natural beauty were thought to be best enjoyed in the winter. But since the 1960’s it has also become a summer resort, and more people now visit in summer than winter. However, if you speak with the locals, they will all tell you winter can be the very best season.
Moreover, as a place to experience living abroad, Villefranche and the surrounding Cote d’Azur has a tremendous amount to offer:
- Many beautiful and interesting places to see and experience
- Authentic French culture and a fascinating international community
- The delicious and healthy Mediterranean cuisine
- A great climate and healthier lifestyle
If you are interested in escaping the worst of winter elsewhere, and are also interested in the best of food, culture, and art that the South of France is famous for, please consider renting one of our beautiful homes in Villefranche-sur-Mer, the ancient seaside village nestled between its more sophisticated and famous neighbors, Nice and Monaco, on the Cote d’Azur.
What’s there to do here in the winter?
The area is very cosmopolitan: Nice and Monaco are just 10–15 minutes away, yet Villefranche is still a really charming, old world fishing village by the sea. Hence, you have an ideal mix of village and city life. There is a lot to do and a great lifestyle to experience. You can…
Enjoy the Lifestyle and Get Healthier All of our clients enjoy the beautiful walks right from your doorstep — literally. You can walk hills, flats, trails, sidewalks, from 20 minutes to 5 hours, all from your doorstep, all with stunning beauty, rich culture, and no traffic.
Eat Better Food, enjoy great and inexpensive wines, all the while getting healthier and more fit. Because the food is fresher and you walk more and you rarely snack, you will get in better shape.
Enjoy Interacting with the Local Culture by doing your daily shopping in the local village markets or grocery store (that delivers), three pharmacies, newspaper stores that sell international papers, and post office.
Study French at the world-renowned French language school in Villefranche called Institut Francais. They offer month-long immersion programs that attract a diverse clientele of all ages.
Go to the Many Winter Festivals, including the famous Citrus festival in Menton, or the flower festival and carnival of Nice (in February), or the Battle of Flowers waged each year (in February) in the Bay of Villefranche by the fishermen where they make amazing decorations on their fishing boats with flowers, parade around the bay, and then throw them at each other.
Take in the Many Cultural Events in Nice, Monaco and other towns such as the opera, symphony, ballet, concerts, and art exhibitions.
Visit Lovely Villages and Towns that are nearby. The famous ones: Nice, St. Jean Cap Ferrat, Beaulieu sur Mer, Eze, Monaco/Monte Carlo, Antibes, Cannes, Grasse (where most of the world’s perfume essences are made), St. Paul de Vence — all accessible by drives of between 10 minutes and 1 hour from Villefranche.
Visit Italy The border is just 30 minutes away. Florence is a 5-hour train ride, Tuscany is between 4 — 6 hours, depending on where you are going; the Italian Riviera begins 30 minutes away, or take the night train to Venice, with a romantic cabin for two, stay for a couple of days and come back on the night train back (best time to visit Venice is in January and February).
Enjoy the Many Museums of Nice (second to Paris in number and quality of museums), and the shopping in Monaco, Nice and Cannes.
Drive into the Maritime Alps Just minutes away you can climb up to one of Europe’s largest parks, the Mercantour National Park, in the heart of the Alps. Along the way visit beautiful mountain villages that are still so authentic and beautiful and take beautiful hikes or go skiing.
Visit Provence Just an hour and a half away is Aix-en-Provence which is the gateway to Provence. Go for a weekend and go antique shopping in Isle sur la Sorge (famous antique village), or visit Arles, Avignon, Nimes, Vaison la Romaine. Or go wine tasting and shopping through the Cotes du Rhone including the famous and delicious wine village of Chateauneuf-des-Papes.
Visit Spain or Portugal Take non-stop flights directly from Nice to Barcelona and Madrid and Faro — they’re less than an hour away. Or, visit Corsica, Morocco or Tunisia, also with non-stop flights. We can introduce you to an excellent local travel office that can help arrange short tours.
Fly to a Capital in Emerging Eastern Europe on a low-cost airline and have a series of great 4-day trips exploring that region. Or visit Scandinavia or Austria in winter for a long weekend and take in their lovely winter festivals.
Learn to Cook the French Way using fresh local ingredients while taking classes from different cooking schools in the area.
Who comes here in the winter?
A wide variety of people make the Cote d’Azur their home in the winter. Not only does it have an interesting local French Mediterranean culture, but also a fascinating international clientele, many of whom have second homes here.
- Consultants or self-employed
- Semi-retired and retired people
- Those going through life transitions, wanting creative, stimulating and beautiful changes of routine so they can think more creatively about their lives
- Couples or singles who can finally take time from their lives to travel and explore — more than a vacation, but not uprooting themselves permanently
And for single people or people traveling on their own, Villfranche is especially appealing as it is easy to meet new people. There are plenty of other single people and activities geared to welcoming those who are here on their own. For single women who might feel reluctant to travel independently, village life is especially safe, comfortable and easy — plus, you don’t need a car and yet can still get around to see all the sites and actively participate in life here.
(TOP OF PAGE)
What properties does Riviera Experience offer?
All our properties are in Villefranche-sur-Mer: four in the Old Town (the pedestrian village right on the sea); and one on the hillside just above the Old Town with panoramic views of the entire bay — and beyond.
Waterfront Properties in the Old Town
Provençal Waterfront Penthouse
Waterfront location, landmark building, Old Town (pedestrian village), wrap-around balcony with expansive yet intimate views of Bay of Villefranche and Cap Ferrat, quiet and private. One-bedroom, sleeping loft (standing room height), one-bath. Living, dining and kitchen are all together overlooking bay. Steps from beach, shops and restaurants, yet in residential part of Old Town — very quiet. Our Le Petit Bijou (the Little Jewel) apartment is located in the same building on the floor just below.
Le Petit Bijou (the Little Jewel) Waterfront Apartment
Waterfront location, landmark building, Old Town (pedestrian village), balcony with expansive views of the Bay and Cap Ferrat, quiet, private and filled with bright light. One-bedroom, one-bath, with sofa bed for occasional guest. Living, dining and kitchen are all together with views overlooking the Bay — you feel as though the water is at your feet. Steps from beach, shops and restaurants, yet in a residential part of the oldown — very quiet. Our Provençal Waterfront Penthouse is located in the same building on the floor directly above.
Properties in the Heart of the Old Town Village
Sur le Toit (On the Rooftops) Apartment
Birds-eye views of the Bay and Cap Ferrat over the terracotta rooftops of the Old Town, located in the heart of the Old Town in one of the oldest buildings, top floor (with just two flights of stairs, with one interior to the apartment), cathedral ceilings, filled with light, wonderful window seats that enable you to take in the views and sun. One-bedroom, one-and-a-half baths, sofa bed (so both sleeping areas and bathrooms are separate at night). Living, dining and kitchen are all together with lovely views overlooking the Bay and terracotta rooftops. One of our most sought after apartments. Located in the same building as our Artist’s Atelier Apartment. Steps from the shops, beach, restaurants, and located in a very local French quarter full of character, charm, and village life.
Artist’s Atelier Apartment
An artist’s view of the sea, looking down one of the Old Town’s most charming pedestrian streets, past narrow, winding, colorful old world buildings to the Bay and Cap Ferrat. Balcony filled with flowers, herbs and sun, with a lovely view of the sea and the colorful and architecturally beautiful buildings of the Old Town. Among the most photographed buildings in the Old Town. One-bedroom, one-bath, open floor plan with sofa bed. Living, kitchen and dining are all together and bedroom area is partially exposed to the main room. Private office with great desk and window. Although ground floor entrance, it is one-and-a-half stories above the street below. Lots of sun and character. Located in the same building as our Sur le Toit Apartment. Steps from the shops, beach, restaurants, and located in a very local French quarter full of character, charm, and village life.
Le Beau Balcon (Beautiful Balcony) Apartment
Le Beau Balcon has wonderful sea views and gets a lot of sunshine. It would have been the ‘grand apartment’ of its day as it was the first floor (one flight up from the street). It has high ceilings, beautiful hand-made plaster molding (which we painstakingly preserved and are told by the craftsmen that it must be about 300-400 years old) and therefore was the ‘bourgeois’ apartment of the building. The main living space includes a lounging area with a sofa, arm chairs, coffee and side tables. A large Louis XVI mirror hangs between the two French doors and reflects the chandelier, making an especially lovely scene at night. There is also a Louis XVI-style round dining table that can seat six. Tucked away in a corner, with a wonderful view, is the office, equipped with phone, wireless DSL, and plenty of electrical outlets. The kitchen includes a full-size refrigerator, gas stove, microwave, dishwasher and beautiful granite countertops. The bedroom includes a great bed from Lit de France, and the bathroom just off the bedroom features a nice soaking tub/shower combination, large sink with marble countertops, and a toilet with a douchette. Off the hallway is also a half bath that includes a toilet, sink, and a utility closet.
Properties on the Beach
Beachfront Bliss Apartment
Charming studio apartment on the beach of Villefranche. This apartment is all about being on the water and enjoying all that beach life has to offer. Located at the beach-end of the waterfront quai of Villefranche, it’s on the edge of the Old Town with all the restaurants, shops, and conveniences just a few steps away. The large picture window that dominates the room fully ŽdisappearsŪ into the wall, so you feel as though you are sitting on the edge of the sea, more like being on your own private balcony as you sit at the dining table. It feels like nothing separates you from the sea. The apartment is fairly small (just over 25 square meters, or 270 square feet), but its d»cor is open, airy and bright with a high-quality double bed that folds vertically into a wall unit. There is a private garden and terrace behind the apartment.
Properties on the Hillside Above the Village
Romantic Riviera Villa
Panoramic, breathtaking and captivating views from every room, located just above the Old Town on one of the most sought after streets in Villefranche. Lovely garden filled with herbs and flowers, romantic, extremely comfortable, very private. Petit villa apartment (half of a villa), with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, excellent private office with third bath (and sofa bed), access to terrace with gorgeous views from every room. Kitchen, living and dining are open to each other. Terrace has dining area, lounging area, and barbecue area. Sun all day long on the south-facing terrace. Walking distance to the Old Town in the village, although down 300 steps on the well-lit public stairwell, 5-minute walk to the village, 10-minute walk back up the hill or riding the mini bus. Easy parking on the street directly in front of the villa, very quiet.
What amenities are provided in the apartments?
All our apartments include:
- Great beds from a good quality bed store (all queen size; sofa beds are doubles)
- Cotton linen and towels (all white), down duvets in the winter, cotton blankets in the summer
- Gourmet kitchens, fully renovated, equipped with gas stove, nice dinnerware, silverware, serving ware and pots and pans, dishwasher, stone countertops — basically designed for those who love to cook
- Desk in office area off living area or in separate office altogether, basic desk supplies
- Wireless DSL, phone line, access to fax and printer
- Stereo with iPod hook-up, iPod loan if needed
- Satellite TV (English and French channels)
- Washing machine and old fashioned French drying system: off a clothes lines suspended from the balcony or windows — it works great!
- Iron, ironing board, hair dryer
- Excellent heating (furnace with radiators)
- Bedside tables with good reading lights, good reading lights in all lounging areas
- Great mood lighting — all rooms are on dimmer switches
- Bathrooms are well designed with good counter space, storage and plenty of lighting
- On-site staff to serve you
What’s so special about Riviera Experience’s service?
Our personalized customer service starts as we begin to discuss with you which apartment would be most suitable for your interests and needs. We will fully acquaint you with your selected apartment and life in the village and local area before you decide to come, and will help you with all your questions about arrival, what to bring, what to prepare for, whether to rent a car, etc. Also, we are available to receive items you may want to ship in advance.
When you arrive, we greet you personally, help you move into the apartment, and introduce you to everything in the apartment and how they all operate. We will make sure you get your laptop set up with the wireless DSL, and show you how the phone and other systems work. We also arrange for the weekly cleaning service.
We can help you set up a bank account if you want a local bank, get a mobile phone, and introduce you to the basic resources you will want to know about so that you immediately feel like you are at home. And because we live right in town, we are readily available for any follow-on questions or issues you might have.
(TOP OF PAGE)
Where is Villefranche-sur-Mer?
Villefranche-sur-Mer is a very charming seaside village on the French Riviera next to Nice, just 5 miles from Monaco, nestled on the lovely Bay of Villefranche which is reputed to be one of the five most beautiful bays in the world. (see map)
In addition to being the home of a real French community, and a “normal” foreign community, it’s also the home of many rich and famous people from around the world. And although featured in numerous films for its beauty and charm, it is — amazingly — still a small, old-world fishing village.
Villefranche-sur-mer, St. Jean Cap Ferrat and Beaulieu-sur-Mer form a triangle of three villages within walking distance of each other. Looking at a map, you realize how central Villefranche is to major European destinations.
What are the seasons like on the Cote d’Azur?
This region is privileged in so many ways, not just its natural beauty, culture and diversity, but also year-round fabulous weather. It enjoys sunshine basically all year long, with a bit of rain in the winter, spring or fall — but always in short bursts and then the sun comes out again.
The temperature is mild: frost is a rarity in the winter (citrus grows all over and our famous citrus festival is in February along with Carnival). Daytime temperatures average between 12ºC /55ºF and 17ºC/65ºF. A light sweater or long sleeve shirt is plenty during the day in the sun, although at night you will want a jacket or light coat. The light is exceptional in the winter, hence the presence of many artists who have lived and continue to come to this area. (More about weather here.)
What about cars and parking?
You do not really need a car to enjoy living in our properties during the winter. In fact, you will mostly not use the car. The only exception to this is the Romantic Riviera Villa where it is handy to have a car but not necessary. But for all the old-town apartments, a car is not necessary and you will rarely use it.
Public transport is excellent; you will walk most places; and for going out in the evening, either public transport, a taxi or the occasional rental car for a day or two is a better option. Parking is very easy for the Villa (right in front), and in the winter parking is plentiful around the Old Town as well.
What about airport access?
Nice Cote d’Azur Airport is France’s second largest airport with direct flights all over Europe and numerous Middle East, North Africa and U.S. destinations. The airport is very convenient to Villefranche, an easy 20–30 minutes away and a beautiful drive along Nice’s famous Promande des Anglais.
As a result of easy access and great infrastructure (phone, internet, public transport, etc.), more and more people with flexible schedules live here full time and commute to other parts of Europe or the world. (All flights from Nice to other parts of Europe are under 2 hours.) Whether you use the airport for work or for pleasure, it is easy and inexpensive (thanks to the numerous low-cost airlines) to travel elsewhere for a weekend getaway.
Click here to download a brochure (PDF file) about our winter programs.
(TOP OF PAGE)