So You Want Off the Beaten Path But Charming

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Villeneuve-Loubet is an attractive and charming little village, perhaps not the most spectacularly beautiful in the French Riviera region but one of the most alluring.

This may have to do with the fact that it is located a little off the beaten track and has therefore been allowed to preserve its Provencal character more than most.

"Villeneuve-Loubet side street - Off the beaten path"

It is a place where the barber and the baker stop each other in the market for a chat and where boys in short trousers play football in the streets under the watchful eyes of their mothers …

"kids playing in the streets in Villeneuve Loubet - Off the beaten path"

… like in a French black-and-white movie from the 1950s.

To some of you this may come as a surprise. If you have travelled through the Riviera region before (with open eyes), you will probably associate something entirely different with Villeneuve-Loubet …

"Villeneuve-Loubet - Marina Baie des Anges - Off the Beaten Path"

Photo by MOSSOT,

… namely the Marina Baie des Anges residential complex, the grand ziggurat, the only structure on the Riviera that you can see with bare eyes from the moon. Okay, maybe not from the moon, but certainly from the plane flying into Nice Airport where it serves as the most highly useful point of orientation along with the Lerins islands in the bay of Cannes. In the urban sprawl on the coast, the Baie des Anges is the only building that truly stands out, for better or for worse, and when you see it from the plane, you can always make out where you are.

The Baie des Anges, however, has been built on Villeneuve Loubet Beach, a couple of kilometers away from the actual village. The Marina’s purpose-built train station has been named Villeneuve-Loubet, but is not the one where you should leave the train when you are planning to take a walk to the village: Cagnes-sur-mer is much closer. (This is just the sort of surrealism that is so typical for this region. To give you another example: only in the southeast of France would it appear to make sense to name an entire province, the Var, after a river that does not cross its territory once.)

Not counting the Baie des Anges, Villeneuve-Loubet is closely associated with two buildings. One of them is a medieval castle that bears the name Villeneuve-Loubet but cannot be seen from the village (more southern surrealism) – this is the closest view that you get: …

"Villeneuve-Loubet castle - Off the Beaten Path"

… – and that can be visited only as part of occasionally conducted guided tours because, unusually for France, it is still inhabited by the family that built it hundreds of years ago (most of France’s estate owners having been killed or driven abroad during the Revolution).

The other local building of note is the slightly younger and slightly less invisible Polygone Riviera shopping centre (opened in October 2015), …

"Polygone Riviera - Off the Beaten Path"

… which is so big and sprawled out that it has its own shuttle service to ferry customers from one end to the other.

"dototrain shuttle service in Polygone Riviera - Off the Beaten Path"

I am generally not a great fan of shopping malls, but found this one rather pleasant: light, airy, stylish, exactly what a shopping centre in this part of the world should look like.

Finding this alluring off the beaten path gem

To get to Villeneuve-Loubet from Cagnes-sur-mer train station (on the way, you will pass both the castle and the shopping centre), turn left out of the exit and then right into Avenue de Grasse. This is a fairly busy road, so you should turn left – after approx. 500 metres – into the much quieter and semi-rural Chemin du Collet des Grailles.

"getting from Cagnes sur Mer to Villeneuve Loubet - Off the Beaten Path"

When the Chemin ends (rejoining the busy main road), turn left into Avenue de Bellevue (alternatively right to visit the Polygone Riviera) which will lead you past some picturesque views across the hilly landscape …

"Cagnes sur Mer seen from hills of Villeneuve Loubet - Off the Beaten Path"

… and other interesting motifs …

"interesting photo motif in Villeneuve Loubet - Off the Beaten Path"

… to the charmingly isolated Chapelle de Notre Dame de l’Esperance …

"Chappelle Notre Dame de l'Esperance - Off the Beaten Path"

… from where you can then descend on a stairway right into the heart of the old village.

"old village of Villeneuve Loubet - Off the Beaten Path"

The walk from Cagnes-sur-mer train station to the village of Villeneuve-Loubet should – without detours – not take you more than a little over an hour. In fact, it may be a good idea to go straight to the village and return to the Polygone Riviera afterwards: you have a far wider choice of places to eat at the shopping mall (more than 20 cafés and restaurants to pick from) and can, if you are tired, walk to a near-by bus stop and take no. 500 back to Cagnes-sur-mer station or all the way to Nice.

We have more interesting walks for you in the French Riviera for your next visit this summer. Be sure to get the latest by subscribing to our free updates via email or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Why not include us in your G+ circles too?

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