This coastal town wedged between Nice and Monaco boasts what many consider to be the Côte d’Azur’s prettiest bay, overlooking the Cap Ferrat peninsula. It has a particular association with Jean Cocteau, who decorated the exquisite Chapelle de Saint-Pierre des Pêcheurs in the 1950s, but several other well-known artists and musicians have been attracted to stay here: Keith Richards, Bono, Tina Turner, Elton John. The area along the seafront (Quai Courbet) is perhaps its most popular attraction, lined with lovely bars and restaurants against a backdrop of pastel-painted houses in red and orange that climbs up from the water in steep terraces. The old town of Villefranche has 14th-century origins and is a maze of tiny streets with archways and evocative names, delightful to explore. Don’t miss 100m-long Rue Obscura, which follows the town’s ancient ramparts, and peaceful Place du Conseil with its fountain. Many houses on Rue du Poilu, Villefranche’s main street, have painted trompe l’oeil facades. For the best views, head up to the summit of the 16th-century citadel, crowning the headland above the sea and easy to reach on foot – and browse the museums here, which are free to enter. The Volti Foundation contains sculptures and drawings; the Roux Collection is principally ceramic figurines and historical portrayals; and the Goetz Boumeester Museum features collages and paintings. There’s also a traditional Provençal market in Villefranche every Saturday morning on Promenade de l'Octroi.
You can walk anywhere on the Côte d’Azur to enjoy its vibrant, vivid colours, but there are four particular routes worth putting on your list. Follow in the footsteps of Nietzche and Le Corbusier around Cap Martin (3km), where lovely local flora lines the seafront walk. A magnificent path links Plage de la Mala and Plage Marquet at Cap d’Ail; it’s all about geology here, and the architecture of the Belle Époque. Cap Ferrat boasts 11km of coastal paths and you should allow two or three hours for a tour of this millionaires’ peninsula, a veritable haven of peace with its sumptuous villas. Also not to be missed is the Promenade de la Sainte Hospice, lined by Aleppo pines, and the path linking the Anse Lilong with the Plage de Passable. Creeks and limestone cliffs stud this coastal promenade with luxuriant vegetation. An exceptional coastal walk along a wild coast battered by the waves is possible on Cap d’Antibes. The path reaches the southern point of the peninsula between Antibes and Juan-les-Pins and its sanctuary Notre-Dame de la Garoupe, revealing some of the most beautiful panoramas on the coast.