Hiking the Alpes Maritimes: Highlights
Timeless villages nestled in wooded valleys, surrounded by high mountains
A fascinating cultural mix of Italian and French influences
The beautiful perched village of Sainte Agnès
The pretty “Italian style” town of Menton on the Mediterranean Sea
Self-guided walking holiday from the Alps to the Mediterranean.
Behind the French Riviera’s glitz and glamour, the southern Alps rise dramatically and are home to a back country of timeless villages, nestled in lush valleys and nesting atop rocky crags. The ancient paths wind their way through lush forests and majestic olive groves. Perched high above the sea, the views are truly breath-taking. The centuries-old footpaths eventually lead you back down to the shimmering Mediterranean and to the colourful Italian-style coastal town of Menton, one of the prettiest villages on the Côte d’Azur.
A longer version of this trip is available here.
|5 DAY TOUR||From €550 per person sharing*
*A high season supplement will apply during peak booking periods.
|ACCOMMODATION||In charming hotels/guesthouses on a bed & breakfast basis. All rooms are en-suite.
The standard hotels of this trip are listed below. If a hotel is fully booked, then we will book a similar one for you and inform you about the alternative booked.
You can also book additional nights at any of the hotels along the way.
|AVAILABILITY||You can start your trip on any day of the week (subject to availability) from March 1st to November 15th.
This trip is not available during the week of the Monaco Grand Prix
This trip is suitable for people who are used to regular and sustained exercise (whether walking, cycling, aerobics, etc.) and who can handle walking uphill (slowly) for up to 2 hours at a time. Walks are generally under 5 hours, on various types of terrain – though nothing technically difficult – with up to 600 m of climbing per day.
Day 1: Arrive in Breil sur Roya
Arrival on your own by train from Nice > Breil sur Roya (train ticket not included)
Nestled along the banks of the river Roya, your walking holiday begins in the picturesque town of Breil sur Roya, far from the bustle of the coastline. You’re surrounded by lush mountains in a place where time seems to be at a standstill. The town is shaped like a crescent along the waters, with colourful cobbled streets. The town has Italian, as well as French influences. You’ll hear both languages spoken and notice the influence of both cultures in the town’s architecture and food.
Overnight: Breil sur Roya (market on Tuesday & Thursday mornings)
Day 2: Breil sur Roya to Sospel
Distance: 15 km | Ascent: 600 m | Descent: 550 m | 5½ hrs approx.
Your first day’s walking takes you across the border into Italy, before returning to France. You leave Breil sur Roya by foot, giving you a wonderful panorama of the valley. There are two choices of paths above the village and we’ve chosen the one less travelled, following abandoned stone terraces, now dotted with olive trees. You will reach the stunning ghost town of Piène Haute, more Italian than French, perched high above the valley. Your path then takes you to Italy – to the colourful town of Olivetta – before returning France and to the town of Sospel. Sospel is an authentic medieval mountain town with an old stone toll bridge crossing the Brévera river.
Overnight: Sospel with dinner included
Day 3: Sospel to Sainte Agnès
Distance: 10 km | Ascent: 550 m | Descent: 550 m | 4 hrs approx.
A short taxi transfer this morning takes you to the start of your walk. After a gradual climb through a scenic beech forest, the summit of Mont Ours eventually appears. Now, standing at well over 1000m above the sea in the southern Alps, the Mediterranean is revealed before you in all its majesty. You finally reach the perched village of Sainte Agnès, listed among the most beautiful villages in France and – set at 800 m altitude – the highest coastal village in Europe.
Overnight: Sainte Agnès with dinner included
Day 4: Sainte Agnès to Menton
Distance: 14 km | Ascent: 250 m | Descent: 950 m | 4½ hrs approx.
Picnic lunch included today.
Once again you leave Sainte Agnès by foot and, walking along a deep and scenic valley, you reach the lost villages of Monti and Castellar. Castellar offers quaint streets and charming restaurants. Your path leads you to the heart of the town of Menton, the prettiest town on the French Riviera with its labyrinth of colourful streets and with several architectural treasures.
Day 5: End of the trip in Menton
Your trip ends this morning after breakfast. Au revoir…!
We would highly recommend booking and extra night in Menton as there is lots to see and do in this pretty Mediterranean town. Don’t forget to check out the town’s markets before you go. There is a covered market every morning, on Tuesday morning on Carei Square, and on Saturday morning a fish market at the port.
From Menton there are regular trains along the coast to Nice.
Getting to Breil sur Roya
Departure from Menton
|There is a regular train line from Menton to Nice.|