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”.
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.
(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 …
… and eventually into a pretty small path on the left hand side of a large cemetery.
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.
Continue through the streets of Little Africa, turning left into the stairway
… 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.