Walking provides low impact health benefits and forces one to slow down and take in the scenery. The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region provides many breathtaking, walking adventures – from inner city or rural to passageways or coastline – as a way for you to better discover the area, and ultimately yourself, among its hidden treasures and only-on-foot wonders.
The world-famous Promenade des Anglais, that follows the curve of the Baie des Anges for 5 kms., is a perfect site for taking a leisurely stroll.Originally only six feet wide, the seafront walkway was widened in 1820 by an Englishman, Reverend Lewis Way, and was then known as the “Chemin des Anglais.” After the annexation of Nice by France in 1860, it was re-christened “La Promenade des Anglais.” In 1931, the Promenade, as seen today lined with palm trees and divided by two roadways, was inaugurated by the Duke of Connaught, one of Queen Victoria’s sons. It’s a lovely place to walk – to see and be seen. If you decide to walk the 200+ steps up to Castle Hill, with its park, waterfall and panoramic view, this walk instantly becomes upgraded from easy level!
The recently inaugurated 12-hectare urban park, “Promenade du Paillon,” is situated in the heart of Nice and provides colorful views of the facades of Old Nice. Running between the Nice National Theater and the sea near Jardin Albert I, the park provides a lovely green-space corridor for strolling among the fountains, playgrounds, and botanical gardens. It’s a truly magnificent and entertaining park for adults and children alike.
A leisurely stroll around the renovated, pedestrian-friendly Port of Nice allows one a bird’s eye view of boating life – from small fishing boats to super yachts. This area of “100 Antiquaires” (antique shops) and the “Puces de Nice” (flea market) entices one to walk and browse all in one.
If you desire a more strenuous walk, the 10 km. coastal path around the perimeter and the lighthouse of St. Jean Cap Ferrat provides a more rugged and up-close-and-personal view of the sea (takes about three hours). In some areas, the path becomes rugged with a drop off to the sea below; however, there are shorter walks that cut inland, passing by some beautiful villas, in particular, one formerly owned by British actor David Niven.
The “Sentier Tirepoil,” meaning the wind is so strong that it pulls your hair, begins at the Plage de la Garoupe in Cap d’Antibes. It is a two-hour, 5 km. walk that starts along a paved path but then becomes very twisty and rugged, with 50-foot cliffs; in case of inclement weather, gates are locked to prevent access. Providing views of the Baie de la Garoupe and the Alps, this walk is spectacular, but not for the faint of heart!
The walk from Eze-sur-Mer up to Eze Village is a climb of about 429 meters and takes around three hours. Once in the medieval village, you will encounter steep, narrow, cobble-stoned paths throughout the village shops, hotels, and sites, but the reward is a magnificent panoramic sea view!
Off the Beaten Path:
Above Cimiez in Nice, the “Vieux Chemin de Gairaut” originates from Rimiez as a route along the canal for a tranquil stroll, jog, or dog walk. Take in the small waterfall, “Cascade de Gairaut” on the Avenue de Gairaut while enjoying the quiet surroundings of this relatively unknown and hidden-treasure area.
In the heart of the Maritime Alps, the Mercantour mountains provide a variety of hiking explorations. There are four levels of walks to suit all ages and levels of fitness, originating from the ski resort of Isola 2000. The length of the round-trip walks averages five to seven hours, with routes well marked on the map “Institut Géographique National.” The various circuits wind around some beautiful and remote lakes, designated picnic spots, and provide breath-taking mountain top views.
Kim Defforge is the author of "Solitary Desire: One Woman's Journey to France" and "Kids Riviera – Sun & Fun Travel Focus" .
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