Villefranche was created by Charles II of Anjou, Count of Provence in 1295
It has retained a rich and varied heritage from its turbulent history.
16th-century Saint Elme Citadel: This massive stone fortress was erected on the order of Emmanuel-Philibert of Savoy in 1557 to defend the city and protect “La Darse” harbour.
It was then purchased by the commune and restored in 1981.It has housed the Town Hall , 4 museums , a conference centre , an open-air theatre and gardens since then. Free entrance
Le Musée Volti: Nestling in the base of the Citadel blockhouses, an entire population of bronze, copper and terracotta female creatures featuring voluptuous curves is displayed in a rough stone showcase. Free admission
Le Musée Goetz-Boumeester : This donation by Henri Goetz occupies the entire floor of the old military barracks (Bâtiment du casernement ). In this museum, some fifty works by Christine Boumeester are exhibited and nearly as many by Henri Goetz. There are also some ‘souvenir’ works by great contemporary artists whom the couple had known or spent time with (PICASSO, PICABIA, MIRO, HARTUNG)-Free admission
La Collection Roux: The quality, originality and authenticity to the documents which inspired it make The Roux collection an absolutely outstanding ensemble. In all, several hundreds of figurines will let your imagination carry you away back to the men’s and women’s daily life of the Middle- Ages or Renaissance time-Free admission
The 24TH BCA room: the 24th Battalion of Alpine Hunters (Chasseurs Alpins) , a Napoleon III- type light infantry ,which was confined to barracks at the Citadel between 1876 and 1939, was the last ever army corps to occupy the building. In the room, a collection of the Battalion items are displayed: Distinguished Service Order, pennants, photographs, plates…
Museums opening hours :
October to May :
Closed on Sunday mornings – Annual closing in November
14th -century Rue Obscure: This 130-metre long street located along the rampart was originally uncovered and used as a defensive passageway which enabled the military to move and make their manoeuvres easier.
It fell victim of an uncontrolled urbanization from the 16th century onwards and was thus entirely covered
Listed as a Historic Monument, this street was painted by Jean Cocteau. A replica of his painting can be seen when entering the street, exactly where the artist used to place his easel
18th– century St Michel Church: This baroque- style church contains a recumbent Christ, an anonymous work by a galley slave, and the organs by the Grinda Brothers (1790) which are listed as a historic monument.
St Pierre Chapel, decorated by Jean Cocteau: registered as a Historic Monument
This Roman-style Chapel is dedicated to St Peter, Patron Saint of fishermen. First a place of cult, it was then left aside soon after St Michel Church had been built.
Fishermen used to store their fishing gear there after the chapel had been deconsecrated. It is now home to the ‘prud’homie’, which is a jurisdiction of an industrial tribunal, in charge of the local fishing industry.
Jean Cocteau, who loved Villefranche ,undertook to restore and decorate both the inside and the outside of the chapel in 1956.Frescoes depicting events of St Peter the Apostle’s life can be seen inside the chapel.
Winter: 9.30 am- 12.30 pm/ 2.00 pm- 6.00pm
Spring- Summer: 9.30 am- 12.00 pm/ 3.00 pm- 7.00pm
Admission: € 3 pp
closed : All Monday and Tuesday & 15 november au 15 december, 25 december
16th– century Saint Elisabeth Chapel
It now hosts temporary exhibitions
The Royal Port of La Darse: although it was built in the mid- 16th century at the same time as the citadel, it is not until the 18th century and its accession to the status of Royal port that major works started, namely the lighthouse, the rope factory (la Corderie), the dry rock (le bassin de radoub)….all these sites are still visible today.