Easy hiking in the French Riviera
Finally, we were able to get some hiking done after a day of enforced inactivity. The normally sun-spoilt French Riviera has been blessed by the country’s worst weather all week, and the azure which is usually the cote’s trademark has been fading to a dark hue of grey.
The Cap d’Antibes
But that’s only the beginning. I don’t know what kind of grudge the Sentier Littoral – the path, in theory at least, along all of France’s coastline – has against me but I am beginning to suspect that it is reading Easy Hiker and is objecting to what I have been writing about the Sentier Littoral here and the French Coastline here.
So, for our third visit, the Littoral apparently decided to cooperate in the spirit of an actress who is forced to shoot a movie with a director after this director has gone on record accusing her of being lazy, unpunctual and never remembering her lines.
As it happened: On the third day of our stay in Antibes,we went to the trailhead of Cap d’Antibes’s Sentier Tirepoil to find everything fine for the first mile or so until we hit a locked gate (again.)
It turned out that the city of Antibes locks the gates to the most scenic – and exposed – section of the Sentier in the morning if they have received a storm warning.
So, we tried again the next day, and to make sure that we would not step into the same trap a second time, we confirmed with the local Tourism Office (over the phone) that all was clear to revisit the Cap d’Antibes.
The sun was out, too. But the moment we stepped on the bus (no. 2 from the Gare Routiere to Eden Roc, get off at the station Fontaine), the weather turned cloudy again, and when we hit the trailhead (at the bottom of Avenue Mrs Beaumont, straight ahead from the bus station), it started to drizzle, ever so slightly.
For the next hour and a half, that fine drizzle never went away completely but also never turned into something more serious than that. In the end, rather than throwing an almighty tantrum, the Sentier appeared happy just to pout a little, reminding us how ugly things could turn if only it set its mind to it while actually putting in quite an impressive performance, like the consummate pro I have always suspected it to be.
Yes, in a tight two-hour outing, hiking the Cap d’Antibes at the Sentier Tirepoil will present you the best features of the Mediterranean Littoral:
enchanting bays …
… close-up views of impressive villas (this one, now owned by the City of Antibes, which is why it is not surrounded by a three-meter high wall) …
… craggy rocks …
… and a lot of scenic drama, provided by weather-worn stone walls and steep stairways that have been carved onto the cliffs.
At the end of your hike around the Cap, continue along the Plage de la Garoupe until you hit the Boulevard de la Garoupe. Turn left here to return to the Fontaine bus station – or right, on the boulevard alongside the bay, in the direction of Antibes.
If you take the latter, turn left from the Boulevard at any time – into the Avenue de l’Antiquite, for example, or a little later into Avenue Guide – for a short cut to the centre of town and pass through a very interesting quartier, ancient villas in the shadows of huge mature pine trees that just ooze old money. (The French Riviera is very unsnooty about the nouveaux riches, which is why they love it so much here, but that does not mean that the Cote’s Old Aristocracy has simply gone away.)
I have to warn you, however: this is an interesting but also a rather long extension of your walk, and while I am glad that we took this route, I am not sure that Mrs. Easy Hiker has entirely forgiven me yet.
A little observation: the municipal bus company that will ferry you from hither to yon around Antibes and its surroundings is called the Envibus, rather fittingly, it appears, because there are indeed many things on the French Riviera to be envious about.
If you have not felt a pang today, there is more – much more – on our next trip.