Combining Coastal Charms and the “Lure of the (Semi-)Wild”

Print Friendly

Easy Hiking in the French Riviera

A walk through the hinterland of Beaulieu-sur-Mer for visitors in a hurry

Today’s walk completes our short series of excursions to Beaulieu-sur-mer, the small town to the east of Nice on the French Riviera which is genteel, effortlessly elegant and everything else that Monaco so feverishly wants to be.

The trail summarizes the best of the Little Africa walk and the Saint Michel mountain hike of our last two posts and is therefore ideal for people who do not have the time for both, or, perhaps more to the point, the stamina to tackle the Beaulieu-to-Eze walk – which can, to be honest, be a trifle demanding in places.

This one is far shorter (with roughly 2 hours) and far easier than the other French Riviera hikes we’ve done, although also less dramatic and, for much of the way, more suburban than “wild”.

"A view from the tope of Beaulieu sur Mer - French Riviera hikes"

And where it leaves the suburban landscapes of the coastal Riviera and strays into the more rural hinterland, it is quite similar to the longer walk to Eze, for a while even sharing the same route.

For much of the walk, you get the same views of the Cap Ferrat peninsula, but without the slow unfolding of an even greater spectacle. In this sense, at least if you have already done the Beaulieu-to-Eze walk, it feels like watching only the first act of a play or the shortened version of a larger work which has been bowdlerized for those who are afraid of its complexities.

If you want to do both walks, and there are perfectly good reasons for doing so, it would perhaps be a good idea not to schedule them on consecutive days. We did the two walks in consecutive weeks, and frankly, if I had known how similar they are, I would have let more time to elapse in between the two or, at the very least, reversed their sequence.

Having said that, today’s walk also has its advantages: you get to see quite a lot not only of Petit Afrique but also of Beaulieu town itself, in contrast to last week’s trail which circled around the peripheries of both. Beaulieu, after all, is quite attractive in its own right, in a relaxed and understated kind of way, and the Place du General de Gaulle in the town centre is a good place for a cup of coffee before setting out.

"Gran Caffe on the town centre of Beaulieu sur Mer"

(When I was about to take a picture of the café, three policemen who had been standing near the stairway on the left politely asked me if they were in the way and then moved obligingly a few meters outside the frame. I am only mentioning this to show you what kind of town Beaulieu is. Imagine a similar scenario in Paris – or in Marseille!)

Having taken some refreshment, you need to move across the square to the far corner on the left where the actual trail begins. (Speaking about refreshments: if you have not brought any provisions, the Banette bakery – on your right hand side when you leave the Gran Caffé – sells a delicious sandwich made from grey bread, goat’s cheese, honey and nuts. This was, quite simply, the best sandwich we had ever tasted on any of our hikes – beating even Mrs., Easy Hiker’s very own bacon-and-egg concoctions, which, on a crisp and sunny day after a long walk through the countryside, are nothing less than sensational.)

The path, called the Chemin des Myrtes, will lead you gently uphill, past the town’s Anglican Church …

"Anglican church in Beaulieu sur Mer - French Riviera hikes"

… and eventually into a pretty small path on the left hand side of a large cemetery.

"Uphill walk to Little Africa trail - French Riviera hikes"

It is on the following stretch where you will join part of the Beaulieu-to-Eze route, but where that walk went up to the Plateau Saint Michel at an intersection of multiple hiking trails, you will turn right – and downhill – into the direction of Petit Afrique.

This also allows you to see the bay from another angle and to get views that, during the previous week’s walk, had been obscured from vision.

"View of the French Riviera coast from the Little Africa trail - French Riviera hikes"

Continue through the streets of Little Africa, turning left into the stairway

"An alleyway in Little Africa in Beaulieu sur mer - French Riviera hikes"

… that will lead you back to Beaulieu town centre. Time perhaps for another coffee – or, if you feel peckish, for a trip to that bakery and a picnic by the beach.

Be there for our next hiking trip in the Riviera! Get our free updates via email and follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

4 comments to Combining Coastal Charms and the “Lure of the (Semi-)Wild”

  • Hi Camilla, if you are planning to do two short hikes in the area, I would recommend to split this agenda into one coastal and one slightly more mountainous trail, which would give you the opportunity of experiencing the two different faces of the Riviera.

    For a mountain trip, your best bet is probably the walk from Gorbio to Saint Agnes, two mountain villages close to Menton. You would go to Gorbio by bus in the morning and return on a different bus line from St Agnes. For more details, you can look here: http://www.easyhiker.co.uk/hiking-french-riviera-hinterland-gorbio-to-st-agnes/ .

    When it comes to coastal walks, you are really spoilt for choice. If I were to repeat one of our many hikes in the area, I would probably go for the trail from Beaulieu to Eze, featured in our blog here: http://www.easyhiker.co.uk/ultimate-view-of-the-french-riviera/.

    If you want, you can also combine this trip – provided you start your day early enough – with an excursion to the hilltop village of Eze Village, although I strongly recommend you take the bus for the ascent. (You can find out more about the hilltop village here http://www.easyhiker.co.uk/eze-hiker-in-french-riviera/ .)

    One final word: you should first make clear where you intend to go hiking before you book your accommodation. If you want to walk the Gorbio-to-St-Agnes trail, for example, you should be based in Menton, because that is where the bus lines to and from the trail start and finish. When you are based in Menton, you can also take a short hop across the Italian border, for more hiking or a non-hiking day trip to Sanremo (http://www.easyhiker.co.uk/what-made-sanremo-famous/).

    Having said that, however, there is also a very attractive stretch of the coast to the west of Cannes which is more difficult to access if your hotel is in Menton or thereabouts (for more details, see our post here http://www.easyhiker.co.uk/theoule-sur-mer-wild-west-of-the-french-riviera/).

    Happy planning – and have a great time once you are here!

  • Camilla Bollmann

    Hello! We are a group of 8 who is planning a trip to the French Riviera next year – September. Last year we walked Cinque Terre, and would like to do something similar in this area. We will only be travelling by train, and would like to have suggestions for two daytrips where we stay in one town, walk from there to another town and maybe train back. Or we take the train to one town – walk to another and train back home. We are thinking of staying in maybe Menton, Villefranche, Antibes or Cannes.
    Do you have any redommendations for daytrips?
    Thanking you in advance.

  • Mary, we’ll be waiting for your visit! Bring the family along.

  • Another beautiful easy hike and love the photos. That view is amazing and so great to know there are friendly locals. I really want to visit you guys one of these days. :)

Leave a Reply