The Hidden Treasures trail
Villefranche reveals its architectural heritage and proposes an urban route around the city's important sites. Renaissance interior courtyards, facades of mansions constitute a Renaissance listed ensemble.
Capital of the Beaujolais, it was created in the 12th century by the lords of Beaujeu along the main road to Bourgogne (now the "Rue Nationale").
The commune has its own take on typical Renaissance architecture, and the rocks used for building are mostly from the quarries nearby. A large majority of the buildings are made of "Pierre Blanche" (white stone), while the alleys and stairways are composed of slabs of "Pierre a gryphées". Both of these are types of limestone from the same period, the Jurassic (203 – 135 Mya), that were formed when the Beaujolais was undergoing a marine age.
An urban trail through the town takes you past the key sites to admire its architectural heritage. There are 24 stops along the way, inviting you to discover the history and Renaissance-style architecture of lower courtyards and mansion façades dotted here and there around the Rue Nationale. This trail as a whole is a listed Renaissance heritage site.
Famous throughout the world for its wines and vineyards, the Beaujolais is also a region shaped by man, who has reaped the benefits of the soil's diversity. Its past is literally written in stone: in the golden, red, white, grey or black rocks and stones that have visibly been put to good use in local construction. This remarkable geology has given rise to great diversity, not only in the landscapes and heritage, but also in terms of human activity, in the culture and traditions that form the identity of the Beaujolais region.