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The glittering bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer is one of the world's most majestic sights and there's no better way to appreciate it than from one of the town's beaches. Unlike most other Riviera coastal towns, there are no private beaches in Villefranche-sur-Mer. The entire beachfront is free and open to the public.
The longest stretch of beach is the southwest facing Plage des Marinières which curves around the bay for about a kilometre. To the right is the old town of Villefranche-sur-Mer and to the left is a low, wooded hill. Steep cliffs rising in the background complete the stunning setting.
Although narrow, the coarse sand is easy on the feet. No special shoes required! It's neither quiet nor secluded however, as the Nice-Italy train runs on an elevated track right behind the beach. In fact, the Villefranche-sur-Mer train stop is only a few steps from the beach making this beach easily accessible from all parts of the coast. Between the beach and the train station a closed road is used for paid parking that can accommodate 400 vehicles. Also on the road are a number of snack bars where you can order takeaway or sit down and eat at a shaded table. It's even possible to buy alcoholic beverages at several places. Showers and toilets are also available and there are lifeguards on duty in July and August.
At the far end of the beach (keep walking past the parking) is the charmingly-named Plage de l'Ange Gardien (Gardian Angel beach) that provides a somewhat more tranquil experience than the Plage des Marinières. A portion of this cove is authorized for pet owners accompanied by their dogs.
The other beach in Villefranche is a much different experience. Plage de la Darse is at the western end of the bay next to the Port Royal de la Darce. Although it's a snap for boat owners docked at the Port to visit, other visitors are best advised to go by foot or bike from central Villefranche as there's no parking whatsoever. This tranquil beach has a beautiful setting but is not heavily frequented mainly because it's composed of large and sometimes pointed rocks. Rubber footwear is essential. There's a beach shower but no other facilities, snackbars or lifeguards.