30 minutes from Nice and Monaco, they hide on rocky peaks and have as a common point their authenticity. Between sea and mountain, old stones and breathtaking panoramas, stroll on a balcony of the littoral unknown.
Preserved by winding roads, these “cliff villages”, typical of the county of Nice, offer spectacular views of the Alps and the Mediterranean. On the old salt road that connected the coast to Savoy, they contain splendid baroque churches, witnesses of the past wealth. Celebrities like Léo Ferré or Romain Gary dreamed in their narrow streets lulled by the murmur of the fountains. Beyond, hiking and mountain biking trails escape to the scrubland, conducive to the observation of orchids, deer, vultures and other birds of prey.
Peille, it’s extra!
Léo Ferré was in his element in this historically rebellious commune, whose inhabitants were twice excommunicated for refusing to pay taxes to the bishop of Nice! Chapel, church, oil mill are so many traces of the past of this village born in the eleventh century. From the rustling of the fountains to the biscuits with the lavender of the baker, this village exudes the joy of living. And for fans of sporting achievements, it is possible to borrow a Via Ferrata, or to climb by bike the formidable neck of the Madonna.
Lucéram, the salt road
Leaving Hyères, the muleteers climbed the steep paths of the coast. On their way, they paid the grant in the villages then delivered their salt in Savoie and in Piedmont. Even today, the streaked pavements that prevent the mules from skidding take the step. If Lucéram remains famous for its Renaissance houses and the fabulous altarpieces of its baroque church, it attracts more and more visitors for its collection of cribs: some gigantic and lively, others contained in a half-noisette … And then, the nostalgic Joe Dassin still look for the white house where the singer lived with his wife, native of the place.
From Peillon to Coaraze, in the footsteps of artists
In Peillon, as in the other “cliff-villages”, the first houses hung on the rock play the role of ramparts. Here, the old tower that belonged to the actor Pierre Brasseur still defends the village. There, the alleys infiltrate under “pontis”, arches that allowed to go from one house to another. Also charming, the village of Coaraze, has always been loved by artists. Jean Cocteau and Ben realized 2 of the 12 sundials visible in the village. However, far from being open-air museums, these villages remain alive thanks to the fierce will of their inhabitants.
Eze and Roquebrune Cap Martin, balconies on the sea
Between Nice and Menton, these villages suspended over the Mediterranean allow on a clear day to see Corsica. At the top of Eze, a garden of cacti and agaves invites to dream in front of these landscapes which inspired Nietzsche, and also Alfred Hitchcock who turned there the car chase of the film The hand with the collar. Le Corbusier, a great architect among others of the Fada House in Marseille, did not have the delusions of grandeur for his cabana, tiny and modest construction he put in Roquebrune Cap-Martin, facing Monaco. As for the writer Romain Gary, he preferred to stay at the top of the village, in his house located near a thousand-year-old olive tree.
St. Agnes, the highest
At more than 800 meters, this old village perched above Menton proudly displays its status as the highest coastal village in Europe. Located on the Italian border, it is dominated by an incredible castle. We linger willingly in the cobbled streets, between medieval houses and secular vaults, before admiring the view, 360 ° panorama of the nearby sea and the Mercantour mountains.
More informations : CRT Riviera: 04 93 37 78 78 and www.cotedazur-tourisme.com