Villa HippoCampo

Sightseeing in Villefranche, Nice & Antibes using Villa Hippocampo as your base

The French Riviera is one of the most visited coastal strips in the world, and it’s not hard to imagine why that is: it’s been the playground of the rich and famous for over six decades, is strikingly beautiful and offers visitors of all ages and interests a myriad of activities and attractions. Want to come frolic on the most famous coast on earth? Then let us take you on an unforgettable three-day trip which will see you take in the very best this little corner of paradise has to offer.

DAY ONE: Villefranche-sur-Mer

Waking up to stupendous coastal views is certainly not a bad way to start your vacation! Spend your morning whipping up a delectable breakfast in the villa’s gourmand kitchen and savour your creation on the terrace. When you’re ready, simply head out the front door and follow the path all the way to the centre of town. Villefranche-sur-Mer is a delightful seaside village, and a popular stop for many international cruise liners.

The Old Town centre is a maze of narrow cobblestone alleyways, and it’s the perfect place to explore on foot. Don’t forget to walk down Rue Obscure (Dark Alley), a charming side alley sheltered by arches which were meant to protect residents from German-fired shots during the Second World War. The town’s main church, St. Michael’s, was built in the 18th century and is home to a very unique statue of Jesus carved from a single fig-tree. Villefranche’s Old Town is jam-packed with delightful eateries, trendy cafes and some truly gorgeous boutiques, so don’t be surprised if you end up spending endless hours just wandering around. Grab a crêpe and a cafe’ at one of the outdoor restaurants and soak up the atmosphere of this ancient and enticing town.

After lunch, head to Citadelle St. Elme, a wonderful complex of museums and art galleries which dates back to the 1500s. Originally built to protect the coast from foreign invaders, this amazing 7.5 acre property is now home to the city’s Town Hall as well as three separate museums. Should you be lucky enough to visit during the European summer, don’t miss the outdoor film screenings held every night in the Citadel!

Head to the harbour side for a delicious cocktail and delectable dinner of freshly caught seafood and you’ll have yourself a magical first day in Villefranche. One of the most popular spots is the bar in Versaille just on the edge of town (towards Nice); the drinks are perfect and the sunset views absolutely enchanting (although the sunsets from the terrace of Villa Hippocampo cannot be beat!)


Start your day with an early morning croissant at one of the local boulangeries in town. Head to the bus stop just five minute’s walk down the public walkway to the town centre catch a ride to Nice, only 20 minutes away. Ask to be dropped at Place Massena and you’ll be in the midst of all of the action. The town’s city centre is a wonderful maze of both designer shops and alternative boutiques, and spending a whole morning here exploring the back streets, and of course the hugely famous Promenade des Anglais bordering the water, is infinitely rewarding. Nice’s grand architecture is really a sight to behold, and that combined with people watching from a sidewalk cafe puts you in the absolute centre of Nice’s vitality.

If you’re in the mood for a dip in the sea, and you’ve packed your bathing suit, then head to one of the many private beaches and rent a sundeck chair and umbrella for a few hours, or the whole day. Nice does boast a lovely stretch of private beach, but keep in mind that the black pebbled beach can get extremely hot when just lying on a towel!

Head back towards the main square for lunch, and stop at one of the lovely seafood restaurants for a delicious paella. Funnily enough, this Spanish delicacy is made to perfection here in Nice so don’t miss your chance for a little epicurean gorging.

For an easy afternoon stroll, and a chance to work up a little afternoon pastry-and-coffee appetite, head left of the old town centre and head uphill towards the old châteaux ruins. Not only is the walk wonderfully invigorating, but the hilltop views of Nice, and the coast, are simply superb. Take a late afternoon bus back to Villafranche-sur-Mer and enjoy a wonderful night’s sleep in luxurious Villa Hippocampo.

DAY THREE: Antibes

For your third day out and about on the Côte d’Azur, we’d highly recommend you visit the historic town of Antibes, merely 28kms west of Villefranche-sur-Mer and one of the most artistic and cultural villages on the Cote d’Azur. It is easily accessible by train in the event that driving is not on your list of fun things to do in France. The train station is a ten minute walk from the villa, train service is plentiful, and operates on time (more or less.)

Antibes was the first Greek settlement on the French Riviera, and nowadays it is still brimming with superlative temples, monuments and amphitheatres, attesting to the city’s colourful and illustrious past. Antibes is also home to a splendid Picasso Museum, set in the former home of the Spanish maestro who (you may not find hard to believe) fell in love with this little corner of paradise and made his home here for many years. Yet Antibes is a town which swings with the time, and it is still revered as the birthplace of the European Jazz festival.

Right next to the Picasso Museum is where you’ll find Antibes’ famous covered market, the Marché Provençal, a thriving hub of charming activity which is likely to claim most of your remaining time and holiday funds! Fancy a relaxing afternoon stroll? Then head south along the coast towards the impressive Cap d’Antibes natural reserve, a most dreamy and luscious promontory, which gifts the most amazing coastal views in Antibes. End your day at Le Patio Bar at the Cap d’Antibes Beach Hotel and, while you savour a couple of mouth-watering cocktails and bask in the day’s last golden rays, start making your plans for the rest of your stay on the magnificent French Riviera….the unmatched Casino Royale in Monaco, seaside restaurants in Menton, the largest open air market on the coast in the town of Ventimiglia just over the Italian border and only 40 minutes by train, the exquisite perched village of Eze just a five minute drive in the hills from Villa Hippocampo…..the list goes on and on.

Just for Teens (and the active and young at heart…)

Having a difficult time convincing your teens to accompany you to Villefranche-sur-Mer for the holidays? It’s hard to fathom that your teams wouldn’t jump at the chance to vacation on the French Riviera, but teens tire of following their parents around to expensive boutiques, historic sites, long opulent meals at restaurants, and famous museums. So, we have designed a custom tailored itinerary just for teens which takes advantage of this most divine part of the Cote d’Azur which is brimming with activities which are fun, safe, and can be accomplished without adult supervision!

DAY ONE: Fun in the sun in Villefranche

When it comes to seaside fun, you really need not venture far from your own front door at Villa Hippocampo. Villefranche beaches offer the sea lover crystal clear azur water, clean beaches, beach clubs with chaise lounges and snacks, and a myriad of water-based sports to indulge in. Scour the harbour side and grab yourself some fins and a snorkel and spend your first day basking in the crystal clear waters of the Villefranche bay. Hard core divers can join one of the many SCUBA centres for a half-day trip, and anyone with extra energy to burn should join the kayaking aficionados who make this their regular haunt.

For a relaxing lunch option, why not skip the usual seated affair, and grab some friends and a full picnic basket. Eat on the beach or rent a boat and take your picnic to your destination of choice. There are several boat companies on the harbour which rent out small vessels called yaks which are an absolute blast to navigate on your own. The protected waters of the bay make it ever so easy to beach hop.

Spend your afternoon on terra firma, and take a hike out of town. The coastal walks out of Villefranche are certainly popular with easy hikers, so we suggest you take it up a notch and work up some real sweat. Head uphill on Rue de Victorie until you reach the staircase of the Campo Quadro. Go up the narrow 600-something staircase until you reach the middle cornice (Moyenne Corniche). The views from here, are spectacular to say the least and a fab reward for all that hard work. Turn left and continue walking, admiring the incredible skyline of Nice on your right hand side. Continue climbing up to the Mont Alban Castle ruins and, after exploring what remains of this incredible fortress, you can start heading downhill towards the coast. One of the most splendid things about his walk is that you’ll be immersed in dense forest while admiring the most impressive coastal views of the whole Riviera. In just a wee while you’ll be back on the Villefranche-sur-Mer harbour side, having experiences a whole different side of the Cote d’Azur.

If you’re visiting in summer, pack some nibblies and drinks and set up camp in front of the huge open-air cinema inside the Villefranche Citadelle. English language films are shown amidst the ancient backdrop, and watching a movie here is one of the most unforgettable experiences you’ll ever have.

DAY TWO: Segway Tour of Nice

Want to have a fun-filled tour of nearby Nice? Then hop on a train or board a bus from Villefranche on day two of your vacation and join the guys at Segway Mobilboard for an extremely unique tour of one of the coasts’ most famous stretches. Segways, the self-balancing vehicles which seem to have taken the world by storm, are not only sensationally fun but also extremely easy to operate.

Take the two-hour orientation tour, and glide your way through Nice’s most special landmarks; the Old Town, markets and Promenade along the water will be interesting we know…but it’ll be the Segway that will get full marks for fun-factor here!

If you haven’t had enough adrenalin pumping fun, then we strongly urge you to book a paragliding jump off the Cheiron Mountain just an hour inland from Nice. The accommodating concierge at Villa Hippocampo will be more than happy to organize this once-in-a-lifetime experience for you and we can humbly assure that by the time you go home, you’ll think the French Riviera is anything but dull!

DAY THREE: Shop till you drop in Ventimiglia

As far as clothing, leather and knick-knack markets on the French Riviera are concerned, nothing even remotely comes close to the one in Ventimiglia. Granted…that’s actually in Italy, but in this day in age, what with open borders and all, that’s just being pedantic!

Hop on a train and cross into Italy on your last day on the coast and come visit the now famous Ventimiglia Friday market. From the most delectable foodie treats, to some of the most gorgeous leather bags, sandals, shoes and vintage clothing; the Ventimiglia market is a bona fide tourist attraction this side of the Atlantic. Don’t let the hoards of cute little old French ladies with empty shopping carts fool you! The markets here are packed with some seriously funky stuff.

For a relaxing lunch, grab a mozzarella and prosciutto focaccia from the market and head to the Ventimiglia beach, where you can enjoy some quite spectacular views of the other side of Cap Ferrat.

Take a mid-afternoon train back to Villefranche and take a dip in the luxurious infinity pool, followed by sunbathing on the chaise lounges overlooking the coastline which you have been exploring for the past three days. Still think that a vacation on the French Riviera is boring for teens? Think again!