Cap Martin and the Sentier des Douaniers


Cap Martin and the Golfe Bleue beach

This coastal footpath is part of a longer walk between Monaco and Menton, alongside the picturesque Cap Martin, a rather wild peninsula with very secluded villas separating the two towns.  It affords fantastic views of Monaco, the perched village of medieval Roquebrune, Menton and the Italian coastline so is well worth a few hours on a beautiful afternoon.  The most scenic part however is located between the railway stations of Carnolès and Roquebrune-Cap Martin so I will be covering this in that direction, as the views are slightly nicer.  Walking at a leisurely pace, this section can be covered in about 2 hours and combined with a visit to Menton or Monaco to make a pretty complete day trip.

Starting from Carnolès train station, walk down to the coastline and follow the way round the peninsula to the tip in about 15 minutes: this part is actually rather urbanised but still affords good views of the old town of Menton as well as of the Italian coast, up to Bordighera and San Remo.

Winter view over the Italian resort of Bordighera from the tip of Cap Martin

The tip is really the start of the “Sentier des Douaniers” (sounds nice in French but which actually translates less romantically as the “Footpath of the Customs Officers”) – fortunately this is also known as the Sentier Le Corbusier, named after the legendary Swiss-born architect, famed for his minimalist modern styles, who lived here until his death in 1965 and is buried in the village of Cap Martin.  The path winds its way along the coast, offering fine views of the skyscrapers of Monte Carlo, the older buildings of Monaco Ville as well as hang-gliders diving from the mountains and landing on the beaches if they are lucky or the sea otherwise…  If you’re interested in the amazing views offered by this, see the site of the local hang-gliding club.  Various very secluded luxury villas with amazing views can be spotted if you are able to take your eyes off the water views and look upwards: the building pictured here is just the “seaside lodge” of the huge residence located on top of the hill and hidden away by rather impressive gardens!

There are plenty of lovely private villas on the Cap Martin coastal path – this is only the “pavillion” of one of the huge properties on top

At the end of the footpath, you can get a decent view of the medieval village of Roquebrune, which is a stiff walk uphill but worth it as the ancient castle has amazing bird’s eye views over Monaco and the surrounding mountains.

The medieval village of Roquebrune, viewed from the coastal footpath

After this, you can either head back to Nice or wherever from Roquebrune-Cap Martin train station or sample the delights of the long and sandy Golfe Bleue beach: Le Corbusier also built a beach house on the Plage de la Buse, just before that.  It is also possible to walk back to Monaco, also following the coastline: allow about 45 minutes for this.  As with the Cap d’Ail itinerary, French speakers can find some excellent and detailed background information on the regional government website.

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