DAccording to tradition, it was in 1239 that the Brothers Mineurs Observants of the Saint François order stayed in the quarter of LYMPIA in order to set up the convent of Saint RECUPERAT. It would seem that its destruction was the work of Saracens.
The Superior, Raymond RICARDI, founded the new convent of Saint FRANÇOIS at the foot of castle hill, inside the town, on land let by a rich miller, Augier BADAT, 17th November 1250. This convent grew in 1410 thanks to donations by Pierre MARTINI, a gentleman of NICE.
In 1477, Brother Louis TERRINI had erected, in the middle of the cemetery of this convent (now place Saint FRANCOIS) a carved cross which was then knocked over in 1793 during the troubles of the revolution, rescued and then hidden in a stable, thanks to a Niçois.
Saint FRANCOIS convent’s bell tower was certainly victim of major damage inflicted by French troops during various sieges.
In 1722, Franciscan fathers realised works on the bell tower and occupied the convent until 1792, a year when French troops went by the VAR, penetrated into NICE county and took Clergy’s goods, chasing away the occupants of the convent.
In 1798, the convent was sold by auction as well as the church beside which in 1574the Palais Communal was erected.
The bell tower became the property of the commune, in order to install a clock according to the plans made by the architect VERNIER, in 1837.
After a few changes and restorations, it is the Tower which we know today.
According to DURANTE, in his history of NICE, Antipope BENOIT XIII came and lived here in 1045. In 1529, VILLIER DE L ‘ILE ADAN, Great Master of Malte, in recognition of the hospitality he received at Villefranche after the conquest of RHODES, made different donations to severals churches, particularly to Saint FRANCOIS, including precious vases and paintings by BREA.