Part 2 in Monaco – French Riviera Winter Walks

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Walks in the South of France

From Monaco to a celebrated coastal spot

The stroll from Monaco to the near-by Mala Beach in Cap d’Ail is the classic family beach walk on the Riviera.

"Mala Beach in Cap d'Ail along one of the French Riviera winter walks"

It may not be as rugged and spectacular as some of the others trails in the area – there is no jumping from rock to rock here: the beach path is asphalted throughout. But what it lacks in drama, it makes up through its easy access and tranquility.

In fact, the Mala Walk is the perfect promenade for groups that feature small children and old folks: we even came across some couples with prams. With a length of roughly 5 km, it is also not particularly taxing. And since the walk starts in Monaco, it can be easily integrated into a “great day out”.

So while in the morning, it’s off to the Palace for a chat with Bertie and the Grimaldi sisters, in the afternoon, you can saunter down to the Marquet beach – which is where, at the far end, the Sentier Littoral (“coastal path”) to Cap d’Ail begins.

Along the trail, the only place where you can get your shoes a little dirty is a small peninsula, about half way down, where you can leave the Sentier Littoral proper and explore the cliffs and their neighbouring fauna a little …

"Sentier Littoral in Cap d'Ail - French Riviera Winter walks"

… but other than that, it’s like walking through a well-tended garden.

"Paved pathways of the Sentier Littoral in Cap d'Ail - French Riviera Winter Walks"

And while there is nothing wrong with that, you may feel – once or twice – that the “suburbanization” of this particular stretch of the Riviera coastline has gone too far. (Look closely.)

"A doggy-poo waste bin along the Cap d'Ail walking route"

Doggy-poo waste bin

On the plus side, there are some rather impressive properties on the coast, some of them romantically neglected, and you cannot help wondering what stories are concealed behind their barbed-wire fences and crumbling stone walls.

"abandoned villa along the Cap d'Ail trail in the French Riviera"

Others properties, meanwhile, are just as impressively sumptuous. Many date from the early 20th century, which means that they are practically antique by local standards. (This one is called the Villa Paloma and dates from 1903, now as then in private hands.)

"Villa Paloma along the Cap d'Ail trail - French Riviera Winter Walks"

Another great thing about the Mala Walk is that it offers plenty of spaces for a family picnic: wooden benches and stone benches, sometimes even with a table attached, but always with a great view.

"Picnic table with a view on the Cap d'Ail trail on the French Riviera winter walk"

One word of warning, however: there is a large number of joggers around, and since the trail itself is rather narrow, no romantic hand-in-hand-walking with your beloved is recommended unless you want to get, rather unromantically, shoved out of the way.

I don’t know if it’s like that all of the time, but when we were there, traffic on the trail reminded me of a German autobahn: you got to keep to the right to get out of the way of all those folks who appear to be in so much more of a hurry than you.

Mala Beach at the end of the trail is one of the Riviera’s most celebrated coastal spots, located underneath a formerly grand hotel (the “Eden Rock”) and named after the legendary Russian prima ballerina Mala Kschessinskaya who came here repeatedly with various blue-blooded lovers, who included – it was rumoured at the time – Nicholas II, Russia’s last Czar.

"Mala beach in the Cote d'Azur"

No Russian aristocrats and beautiful ballerinas were waiting for us, however – only a couple of excitable Labradors, a mature backpacker and an old man who had fallen asleep over his newspaper.

In fairness, however, it is said that Mala Beach only really comes alive in the summer – that’s also when the restaurants are open – and that it is a great place for a swim, even after dark which is when the real party begins.

If, however, you can’t wait that long, take the “Mala Stairway” right up to Cap d’Ail and follow the signs to the Tourism Office which is located on the town’s (single) high street where you can find a small selection of shops and restaurants. This is also where you can take the bus (no. 100, frequent service) back to Monaco.

One last advice: Marquet beach, the starting point of the walk, can be most easily reached from the Place d’Armes bus stop of Monaco (also line no. 100, which connects Nice and Menton). The beach begins on the far side of Monaco’s football stadium, the Stade Louis II, just to the west of Cap d’Ail harbour (on the French side of the “border”).

If you plan to arrive by train, walk to the far side of Monaco’s yacht harbour, always looking for street signs to the stadium, the Monaco Heliport or the Fontvieille shopping centre which are all in the Marquet area.

Read part 1 in Menton and part 3 in Nice of our French Riviera winter walks series.

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12 comments to Part 2 in Monaco – French Riviera Winter Walks

  • Glad you liked the walk, Marjorie. There are quite a number of really easy hikes you can do in the French Riviera. Thanks for droppingby!

  • marjorie

    Just come back from St. Jean Cap Ferat where I discovered two coastal walks a short and a slightly longer one, down on the rocks. Good paths. Did not know all these walks existed so look forward the next time, I’m sure there will be one, to taking the bus again and finding this sentier. It may be easier on my late 70’s legs than slogging along on pavements

  • Thanks Michael! We live in Italy, so we’re familiar with Ventimiglia. My husband was running in the Monaco Run on Sunday, so he ran from Ventimiglia to Monte Carlo. We did pop down to Menton for a bit on Sunday evening and walked the waterfront.

  • Jennifer, if you’re staying in Monaco for more than 2 days, why not hop over to Menton or even Italy (Ventimiglia), both just a few minutes by train from Monaco. Menton, by the way, is where we live. Say hello. And thanks for dropping by.

  • What perfect timing that I literally Stumbled Upon this article. We’re off to Monaco for a long weekend tomorrow.

  • What a scenic walk. I’m about to go out for a walk now but I definitely won’t have anything close to this view – there are snow banks everywhere. Wanna trade?

  • We did this walk last year and thoroughly enjoyed it! Great way to arrive in Monaco and walking along the coast is always interesting. Can’t wait to return this year to do it all over again.

  • Looks like a fantastic walk – and for winter it looks amazing – and quite warm.It’s hard to imagine the lives of the folks with their seaside villas.

  • Guaranteed a lovely walk, Jackie.

  • What a lovely walk – will put this one in the must do list!

  • Jogging in such a place would be wonderful. I did mine today but it’s snow up to the knee and -10C here. French riviera is far far away…

  • Fantastic looking walk especially if you are nosey like me !

    We did some lovely coastal walks in Brittany over the last two summers- you can walk right round Brittany ! The paths were well laid out and we were able to walk from where we stayed to a village in either direction – only about a mile or so which was ideal for me ! Especially when its hot !

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