Easy Hikes in the South of France
A French Riviera Walk on Mont Boron
For people who live in and around Nice, Mont Boron is the most readily accessible piece of “real nature” just in front of their doorstep. It is convenient to reach on foot and/or on public transport, yet sufficiently forest-like to pass for the real thing.
For visitors, Mont Boron is a big chunk of rock, visible from nearly anywhere downtown, particularly if you go a little higher up. It feels temptingly close and yet a little too far away for the kind of visit that you could conveniently squeeze into a day trip itinerary, fascinatingly perched between the town’s suburban outskirts and what passes for “real wilderness” around here. Its lure is quite strong, in one word, and sooner or later, as a repeat visitor, you will want to go.
From up close, however, Mont Boron does not quite look so great. To be honest, we enjoyed our visit to Nice Chateau better, which provides a similar blend of forest and park but with more things to see along the way.
Having said that, the views from Mont Boron are admittedly better: you may get less to see of the Old Town, but more of the other side, the bay of Villefranche-sur-mer and the Cap Ferrat peninsula. In many ways, these views are the highlights of the trip.
The view of Nice Port on the other side – just after the start of the trail – is also quite, well, nice.
The Mont Boron fortress, conversely, officially the Fort de la Marine Militaire, is a bit of a disappointment. (It is not to be confused with the Mont Alban fortress, a km or so to the north, which Google insists on showing you of you type in “Mont Boron” and “fortress”). This fortress, seemingly abandoned and in ruins, is the centerpiece of the Corniche Bellevue circuit which lies at the heart of the trail, but there is not all that much to see – only the outer walls of what must have once been a considerable military installation, now with a right little jungle on the other side…
… and then, just before you complete the circuit, an ugly grey steel door, making you realize that there is something, after all, only they are hiding it from your eyes, and adding to the general sense of frustration.
If, however, even after having read this, you cannot resist the lure of this French Riviera hike on Mont Boron and feel the urgent need to have a look for yourself, here is how to get there:
Nice Port can be most conveniently reached by bus no. 100 (from Monaco or Menton). Leave the bus at the stop “Port”, near the final destination of Place Garibaldi. (From Nice Ville train station, it’s about a 30-minute walk – or take one of the many buses that will take you there.)
Walk around the left side of the harbour, joining Boulevard Franck Pilatte along the seaside, and take the steep stairway on your left hand side just after the Jardin Theodore Banville (that’s behind the Saint Paul Hotel).
Continue up the stairway, crossing the very busy Boulevard Carnot (the “Bas Corniche”) and the Boulevard du Mont Boron before continuing more or less straight into the Route Forestiere du Mont Boron. After a couple of hundred meters, you will find the yellow markings of the RandOxygène route which you should follow from here onwards.
After your lap on the Corniche Bellevue, the trail will descend downhill back to the harbour area via the picturesque Chemin des Cretes.
That was a rather nice final stretch of our French Riviera walk on Mont Boron. But all in all, we left the trail in no doubt that some things do look better from afar.