Coastal footpaths and urban hikes

1 September 2021

Whether you are a sport addict, a Sunday walker or simply curious to discover the area around you, you won’t be disappointed!
In many ways the metropolitan territory is, in all seasons, a superb playground. For leisure but also for sports, you will love discovering the coastal paths or the more discreet but no less incredible paths that will make you admire breathtaking views and panoramas. Although they are maintained and marked out, it is important to bring good closed shoes and to respect all the safety instructions before walking along the coast or climbing a hill!

1 – Coastal footpaths from Nice to Cap d’Ail

No need to be an experienced sportsman to use the coastal paths as they are within the reach of anyone in good physical condition.

Cap de Nice

However, some parts are steeper and require more vigilance. It is also important to check the weather conditions before venturing along the shoreline, as seaslides can be frequent. You have been warned, so follow the trail and let yourself be seduced by the beauty of the scenery, to the rhythm of the waves!

From Nice to Villefranche

If you are in the Côte d’Azur capital, you will love to discover the Cap de Nice footpath which allows you to walk from the Lympia port to the town of Villefranche-sur-Mer.

It starts at the Jardin Félix Rainaud, after the restaurant “la Réserve” and overlooks the famous “Coco Beach”, nicknamed “the pool” by the locals and many regulars …
The view is breathtaking, blue as far as the eye can see, and the trail winds its way along the properties. After passing the Cap de Nice, you can see the Palais Maeterlinck. A long series of stairs awaits you (you’ll remember!) and allows you to reach the Basse Corniche, on Boulevard Maeterlinck to reach the second part of the path.

La Réserve Nice

You just have to walk about 800 meters along the boulevard and the path starts again on your right at the stairs. After passing the blockhouse of the Pointe des Sans-Culottes (restored and secured by the Department), you will go up and down a series of stairs dug into the rock to enjoy the panorama of the famous bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer. Opposite, you can see the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula, a real garden overlooking the sea.

La rade de Villefranche-sur-Mer
Citadelle de Villefranche-sur-Mer

At the end of the road, you arrive in the Lazaret district of Villefranche-sur-Mer and you pass the Paganini Tower (which according to the legend would have sheltered the remains of the violinist) and its glazed earthenware roof, the only existing vestige of the Lazaret. You can continue your walk to the heart of the city by continuing along the port of La Darse (which houses the shipyards and the National Centre for Scientific Research) and then along the Citadel Saint-Elme, a vestige of the 16th century..

Distance : 2.4 km
Duration : 45 min (1h30 round trip)
Difficulty : medium (stairs)
More information: Our information offices in Nice and Villefranche-Sur-Mer

Discover the peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat…along its three paths….

The Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula can best be discovered on foot!

Equipped with three footpaths, accessible from the heart of the village and the port, you will be amazed by the beauty of its landscapes on the Bay of Beaulieu, the Cap de Nice or the Rade de Villefranche-sur-Mer.

If you want to enjoy a family outing, head for the Promenade Maurice Rouvier, which links the town of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat to Beaulieu-sur-Mer over a little over a kilometre. Flat and tarred, it is accessible for people with reduced mobility. On the way you will be able to admire exceptional residences such as the Royal-Riviera Hotel, or the villa “Lo Scoglietto” today “La Fleur du Cap” where the actor David Niven lived.

For a more nature-oriented visit, take the Pointe Saint-Hospice trail, which starts at the Jardin de la Paix, above Anse des Fossettes. Six interpretive panels allowing you to discover the fauna and flora will accompany you along your walk* in this idyllic setting where maritime pines, bent by the winds, witch’s claws or sarsaparilla overlook the azure sea. You walk along the limestone rocks to the mythical La Paloma beach, where the path ends. Don’t miss the ascent via the Edmund Davis traverse which takes you to the top of the Pointe (+/- 100m) to the Chapelle Saint-Hospice, the 11m40 high bronze virgin and the Belgian military cemetery in honour of the soldiers who died during the First World War.

And finally, for the most courageous, more than an hour and a half will be necessary for you to walk around the Tour du Cap, from the quarry path (which was exploited to build the extension of the Hercules port of Monaco at the beginning of the 20th century) to the beach of Passable (or the other way round). The path runs along the coast and winds its way through the limestone rocks torn apart by the onslaught of the waves. You will pass at the foot of the swimming pool of the Club Dauphin of the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Season Hotel *** Palace and the lighthouse.

The west side of the peninsula becomes wilder, you will also see small creeks with crystal clear waters that will surely make you want to dive more than with your eyes … or take a picnic break in the sun. In a monochrome of blues and greens, the panorama opens onto the splendid bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer and its colourful old town. What can we say except “wow!”?

Promenade Maurice Rouvier

Distance: 1.3 km
Duration: 20 min (40 min round trip)
Difficulty: Easy

Pointe Saint-Hospice

Distance: 1.8 km
Duration: 40 min (1 hour if visiting the Chapel)
Difficulty: Easy (average if access to the Chapel)

Tour du Cap

Distance : 4.8 km
Duration: 1h30
Difficulty: Medium

+ more information: Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Information office

Cap d’Ail and its wonders

From Marquet beach located on the border with the Principality of Monaco to Mala beach, the coastal path connects the Pointe des Douaniers, Cape Rognoso and Cape Mala.

Sentier des douaniers Cap d’Ail

The Pointe des Douaniers is the result of an extinct volcano off Cap d’Ail, which explains the grey colour of the rock called andesite. On the route, there is also the site of the old millstone quarry, once used for the construction of the many mills in the area. 

The trail, punctuated with explanatory panels* invites you to discover the riches of this preserved environment.
Enthusiasts of botany, history, geology or architecture will be conquered. You won’t fail to admire the Belle Epoque residences that have made the town famous. Greta Garbo, Winston Churchill or Sacha Guitry liked to walk there. After passing Cape Mala, you will finally reach the Mala beach at the level of the white rock cliffs of the Pissarelles. You can continue your visit of the town of Cap d’Ail by taking the (endless) stairs to the majestic “Eden Palace” (ex Grand Hotel of Cap d’Ail).

Distance: 3.6 km
Duration: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy

+ more information : Cap d’Ail Information Office

*The Centre de Découverte Mer et Montagne regularly organises free guided hikes on the coastal path of Saint-Hospice and Cap d’Ail. These visits have everything to please: they are instructive and will allow you to become an expert on the fauna and flora of the Mediterranean coast!

Did you know?

It was during the French Revolution that the customs administration made the decision to have a path traced along the coast. For the southern part, it starts from Saintes-Marie de la Mer to the town of Menton and will be operational from 1792. Customs posts will thus be installed along the entire coast which gave it the name of “chemin des douaniers”.

From Cap-Ferrat to Cap d’Ail, the marine area is part of the European network Natura 2000, which includes more than 26,000 land and marine sites across the European Union. Among the 13 Natura 2000 sites in the Nice Côte d’Azur metropolis, this area is the only marine site.

2 – Urban (or semi-urban) hikes

If you want to get away from the steep paths of the rocky coastline, there are many paths that will allow you to gain height while staying just a short distance from the sea! These hikes will not fail to seduce you…

You will be surprised to find yourself in the middle of nature after having climbed a series of stairs hidden between two buildings. You will cross landscapes as varied as garrigues, this typically Mediterranean plant formation or plains and forests. The vegetation is then luxuriant and you find yourself out of time…nature takes back its rights and the noise of the city is gradually fading away…

The ascent of the Nietzsche path to Eze

After having passed the last residences, the ascent starts quickly on a garrigue path, with only blue horizon as far as the eye can see (Remember to take enough fluids and protect yourself from the sun!).

The view is breathtaking and you will need some to climb the two kilometres of this 400 m high path that separates you from the finish!Here you have reached the bottom of the medieval village next to the entrance of the hotel of the Château de la Chèvre d’Or! You have also been able to see the sculptures exhibited in the gardens of the hotel during your ascent.

If you wish to discover the village, don’t hesitate to “get lost” in the stone alleys and go to the top for a visit of the exotic garden overlooking the Mediterranean. (Really splendid!)

*The path was named in honour of the German philosopher because he would have found there the inspiration to write the third part of the book Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra during one of his stays on the French Riviera at the end of the 19th century.

Nietzsche path

Distance: 2.1 km
Duration: 1h30 min
Difficulty: Medium
+ more information: Eze Information Office

The tour of Mount Boron and Mount Alban

Discover the park of Mont Boron, a real green lung of 57 ha located to the east of Nice which shelters a forest of pines, carob and olive trees as well as rarer species.

Le Mont Boron

You will be delighted to walk in this preserved site, with more than 11 km of trails.

The Mont Boron park offers you splendid views and panoramas over the city of Nice but also over the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer or the Saint-jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula. It shelters the battery of Mount Boron, built in 1886-1887 and intended for the protection of both the Baie des Anges and the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer.

A little further north you can admire the fort of Mount Alban, built between 1557 and 1560, which is a true testimony of military architecture of the mid-sixteenth century.

Numerous stairs, will allow you to reach the park, which makes this ascent more sportive!

Don’t forget your camera, in order to immortalize these magnificent points of view! A change of scenery is guaranteed!

The Castle Hill in Nice

If all roads lead to Rome, the same goes for the Castle Hill!

Set off to explore the Castle Hill (a listed natural site), a veritable labyrinth of greenery that you will appreciate for the freshness of its undergrowth and its surprising waterfall (built in 1885 on the ruins of the keep of a medieval castle and fed by the waters of the Vesubie river).
From the Quai des Etats-Unis, climb the 220 steps that separate you from the magnificent viewpoint over the Baie des Anges (for the less athletic, an art deco lift will take you to the top in a few seconds!).
Several accesses are also possible from the old town by stairs and small streets. Finally, you can follow the road, on the port side, which takes you to the castle park. Shaded walks and archaeological remains will enhance your journey.

The discovery of the Baous du Pays Vençois (semi-urban)

All around the pretty village of Vence there are 4 baous : Le Baou des Blancs, Le Baou des Noirs, Le Baou de la Gaude and that of Saint-Jeannet.


Do you know what a Baou is? It’s a Provençal term which means “small mountain with a flat top”.

Starting from Vence, go to the ascent of the Baou des Blancs which culminates at 673 meters of altitude so named because the vençois brotherhood of the White Penitents went up there annually in procession in the Middle Ages. After 50 minutes of crossing, the path will take you to the top of the baou where the panorama is exceptional. You can easily distinguish the historical part of Vence with its circular shape. A panoramic table will show you the different communes of the seaside, from Cap-Ferrat to the Esterel.

+ more information: Information Office in Vence

The destination offers such great hiking possibilities that we invite you to consult the RandOxygène website so that you can find your ideal itinerary!

3 – Strolls by the seaside

The coastline of the Metropolitan area is pleasantly landscaped and invites you to take a walk along the deep blue sea. Bordered by palm trees and architecture reflecting the cosmopolitan past of the destination, the walks are a real call to peace and discovery.

The most mythical is undoubtedly the “Promenade des Anglais“. Once a small earth track, it was laid out around the 1820s by local workers under the impetus of the Anglican pastor Lewis Way (it was predestined!) and thanks to the contribution of English donors who were very present in Nice at that time. The population came to refer to the new roadway as the “camin dei Inglès” or “English way”. It was then transformed over the decades to become a true emblem of the Côte d’Azur.

From the Jardin Albert 1er, in the direction of the Nice Côte d’Azur airport, you will stroll along the sea, overlooking the pebble beaches of the Baie des Anges. You can’t miss the Palace “Le Négresco”, a true jewel of the luxury hotel industry. The best way to make the most of your time on the Promenade des Anglais is to sit on one of the famous blue chairs and contemplate the spectacle before you.
Once past the airport, you pass over the Napoleon III bridge and overlook the Var river which flows a few meters further into the sea. If you take the time to contemplate the site, you will be surprised to discover one of the richest fauna and flora.

+ more information: Nice Information Office  

Starting from the Cap 3000 shopping centre, take advantage of a completely renovated pedestrian promenade that runs along the seafront to the marina. Over a 2 km walk, you can stop off at one of the many bars, restaurants and clubs along the way. Ideal for strolling under the Côte d’Azur sun!

+ more information: Saint-Laurent-du-Var Information Office

Did you know?

The Nice Côte d’Azur metropolitan area has its “little Camargue” in Saint-Laurent-du-Var.
Situated between the Cap 3000 shopping centre and Nice Côte d’Azur airport, this bird reserve is a privileged passage for many migratory birds, such as the Petits Gravelots and the Chevaliers. The Parc Départemental des Rives du Var has been set up to allow walkers and cyclists to observe these species thanks to explanatory panels along the route. Eventually, the promenade will be directly connected to the seaside.
Parc Départemental des Rives du Var
Finally, if you like family outings, the seaside of Cagnes-sur-Mer is ideal for enjoying the pleasures of the coast.
The fully equipped promenade of more than 3 km allows you to stroll along the beaches.
Keep your eyes open, the route is punctuated by magnificent sculptures such as giant fish or colourful butterflies that watch over this promenade of the arts.

Our French Riviera Pass good plan!

If you want to combine walking and culture, you can take the opportunity to discover metropolitan museums! These sites are easily accessible on foot from the trails and are all included in the French Riviera Pass.
Three splendid Belle Epoque villas can be visited along the coastal paths. The villa Les Camélias in Cap d’Ail, the villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and the villa Kerylos in Beaulieu-sur-Mer.
If you decide to cross Nice by the seaside, you can discover the Terra Amata prehistory museum, the Masséna museum and the Phoenix Park.
If you embark on the ascent of Nietzsche’s path, you may be rewarded by the breathtaking view of the exotic garden perched in the heights of Eze-village.

Now you know, the best way to discover our territory is to walk through it!
You don’t need to go far away to be on new territory, from the seaside to the top of the hills, all your senses will be awakened… So the most difficult decision now is to choose your next itinerary!

Photo credits : StudioBBO, Ville de Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, Ville de Cap d’Ail, Savita Couty, OTM NCA A. Issock, H.Lagarde, Ville de Vence, Ville de Saint Laurent du Var, Ville de Cagnes-sur-mer.

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Émilie et Laetitia