The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.

Coast Walk: the Cap d'Antibes

Cap dAntibes look twds MercantourThe Cap d'Antibes on the French Riviera, a name synonymous with luxury properties, phenomenal wealth and perfect manicured gardens is not often linked with untamed natural beauty. But a walk around its coastal path reveals a surprisingly wild landscape, often more reminiscent of Brittany than the Côte d'Azur. It's a delicious walk, perfect really, taking in gorgeous views of the Mercantour National Park one way and the Estérel mountains the other while gently climbing up and down well maintained rocky paths next to the crystal clear sea.  I can't stress more how lovely this walk is. 

danger sign cap dantibesThis hike (though that word implies more effort than is required here in my mind) is just under 5 kms long and takes about two hours without extended picnic stops.  Start at the car park behind the plage de la Garoupe and take the path that runs along the right side of the beach along a stone wall.  From here on for as far as you can go along the coastal path the route is obvious and doesn't need to be marked as there's no choice.  A note of warning however, do not take the path in bad weather/high seas/strong winds as it can be dangerous.  This is a fair weather walk and none more fair than the day we did it during the Toussaint holidays in early November.

We stopped for a picnic early on, almost immediately in fact, owing to the time of day.  This turned out quite fortuitous as further on along the path there are fewer places to make a camp and at times there is no room at all to leave the narrow track.  We ate our lunch on a wide open point with a magnificent view over the eastern side of the Côte d’Azur and across to the Alps behind.  Despite it being November we were all dressed lightly in t-shirts and the children even swam at the end of the walk!  Our group consisted of three generations from seven years old to over eighty and everyone coped well with the length and level of difficulty of this walk.  I must admit though that the eighty-three year old with us was fit and determined and I doubt many of her age would be able to manage it.  

path cap dantibesThe trail follows the old customs path right along the water’s edge, winding up and down along steep white lime cliffs and past narrow rocky coves.  It’s well maintained, even cobbled at times, with hand rails to hold onto in the more precarious parts.  Looking down to the left the water is beautifully clear, deep blue and sparkling, and looking up to the right you catch glimpses of private gardens behind high stone walls.   Every now and then there’s a gate into one of the luxurious gardens through which you can see ancient olive trees, Aleppo pines, enormous agaves and exotic cacti.  Did you know that the agave flowers only once and then dies?  (Well now you do!)  The jagged white rocks are covered in succulents, such as the “Witches Finger” which seem to grow out of nothing.  You wonder how they could possibly survive but apparently they thrive on the salty spray and warm sun. 

After a while the path levels out onto an open flatish area of rough low rocks with a newly renovated wall on the right.  You get the feeling someone really big lives here judging from the amount of security cameras and you’d be right.  The Château de la Croë, once home to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and known locally as The White House, is now in the hands of Russian squillionaire Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC.  You’ll notice an ugly round concrete block at the end of a path heading out towards the sea.  This is all that remains of a failed attempt by Abramovich to build a pontoon to moor his yachts at.  In a true David and Goliath story a local sea urchin fisherman pulled the plug on these illegal plans as no one, not even Roman, has the right to build up to the water’s edge.  The irony of this is that now that all the curious walkers can spy into his property as the concrete block serves as a viewing platform without which his house would have stayed truly private.

path cap dantibes 2This is the end of the coastal section of the walk as the path turns inland between two high walls separating two enormous properties: the Villa Eilen Roc on the left and le Croë on the right.  I couldn’t help thinking as I walked along here that the budget for Roman’s security alone, and perhaps just along this section of his boundary, was undoubtedly more than my own house, Lou Messugo, is worth.  The wealth in this part of the Riviera is astounding and at times overwhelmingly vulgar but it only goes to highlight one of the reasons why this walk is so lovely; the contrast is so unexpected.  The Cap is wild and untouched, almost fierce in its beauty, yet it’s bang in the middle of one of the most heavily developed parts of the French Mediterranean coast.

cap dantibes pontoonThe last part of the walk is along the street.  Take Avenue de Beaumont until you get to the main road and then immediately turn right into Avenue de la Tour Gandolphe.  This street is full of surprisingly modest old houses with small holdings.  I’m sure the property developers would love to get their hands on some of this land but it’s certainly refreshing to see that some ordinary folk still live here.  I wonder for how much longer?  At the end of this lovely street you’ll find yourself back at the car park where you started.

Bonne balade!

                  path cap dantibes 3

agave flower

path cap dantibes 5

cap dantibes view copyright Phoebe Thomas

Do you have a favourite walk?  Do tell!

 

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Comments

  • Guest
    Elena @ Home That We Built Monday, 09 November 2015

    Oh My God - let me catch my breath. THIS is my favorite walk! What an amazing hike! Not only the views -i don't have enough of vocabulary to express how excitedly in love with all of it I am - but how the path was created and maintained! Thank you so much for taking us for this walk :)

  • Guest
    Phoebe Tuesday, 17 November 2015

    Thank YOU for your enthusiastic response to my walk!

  • nomad, interrupted
    nomad, interrupted Monday, 09 November 2015

    I came here through Jo's Monday walk. So nice to come along on your beautiful coastal walk in France, Phoebe. It looks like it was a gorgeous day and your pictures are fabulous!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 09 November 2015

    Thanks for joining me Nomad.

  • Badfish
    Badfish Monday, 09 November 2015

    Found you at Jo's Walk. Very cool photos, and story.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 09 November 2015

    Thanks Badfish!

  • Guest
    Johanna Bradley Monday, 02 November 2015

    I enjoyed this walk so much, Phoebe! Many thanks for your visit to mine. Nice to know that you can still enjoy the Cote d'Azur without the hefty price tag. :p

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 09 November 2015

    Thanks Johanna! There are still plenty of places to enjoy the Côte d'Azur cheaply or freely if you're in the know! I'll share some more of my local walks with you.

  • Guest
    Paula Williams Tuesday, 11 August 2015

    Hi thank you for posting the walk. We will be staying in Juan les Pins next July 2016/Aug2016 for my husband's 50th Birthday and plan to do this walk when we are there. Your photos and description are fantastic and we are really looking forward to seeing the scenery in the flesh! I will be printing off your blog for my husband and kids to read and to take with us!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Thursday, 20 August 2015

    I'm happy you found this Paula, do check out my other posts on things to do in the area, such as reviews of beaches and hill villages as there's just so much here! I hope you have a great celebration.

  • Guest
    Sj @ Chasing the Donkey Tuesday, 11 March 2014

    How simply beautiful ! I have only even been to Paris. Adding this to the list!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 12 March 2014

    We're not *so* far from Croatia, make it a road trip and get over here!

  • Guest
    Adelina | PackMeTo Tuesday, 11 March 2014

    How beautiful! I've always wanted to go to southern France but I still haven't had a chance. With views like these, I hope its soon.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 12 March 2014

    I hope you get here soon too Adelina!

  • Guest
    jpepe@tulane.edu Tuesday, 11 March 2014

    What a beautiful walk! I love that rocky shore. I think I would probably want to just sit and take in the view every five minutes.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 12 March 2014

    It is one of the hazzards of doing the walk, it's just so damn beautiful!

  • Guest
    Ashley @ A Southern Gypsy Monday, 10 March 2014

    This looks like a wonderful walk--beautiful photos!! Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler! :)

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 12 March 2014

    Thaks for hosting Ashley :)

  • frankaboutcroatia
    frankaboutcroatia Monday, 10 March 2014

    This seems like a beautiful walk to do. I'll be back in Antibes in December (I know it's still long way to go), and I will definitely look for this trail.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 12 March 2014

    You'll love it Frank!

  • justinpluslauren
    justinpluslauren Sunday, 09 March 2014

    What a lovely walk that must have been - beautiful scenery and photos!!!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 10 March 2014

    Thanks for stopping by Justin + Lauren

  • Jonathan
    Jonathan Sunday, 09 March 2014

    Loved reading this and seeing the pictures. I really enjoyed visiting places along the coast between Marseille and Nice over the years. Cassis is another place that's great for walking. A bit inland, I remember doing an almost circular walk from Aubagne, into the hills and then down to the village of La Treille. It was part of the 'Circuit Marcel Pagnol', and I did it due to Jean de Florette being one of the first French films I watched.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 10 March 2014

    How lovely to do the Marcel Pagnol walk. This whole area is so beautiful that the choice of walks is just amazing. Thanks for telling me about your experiences.

  • Guest
    Delia Saturday, 29 December 2012

    Sounds wonderful and the photos are amazing, Phoebe! You should start a photography blog :)

  • Guest
    Cheryl Friday, 30 November 2012

    It looks like a beautiful walk. One to try on our next visit!

  • Guest
    Corinna Klaentschi Friday, 30 November 2012

    Fabulous, wish I could be walking along there now - next year perhaps.

  • Guest
    Col Thursday, 29 November 2012

    It sounds really nice Phoebe. I defo want to try it soon if the weather permits.

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Guest Sunday, 24 June 2018

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