Saturday, 16 February 2008

Cap Ferrat

Looking back to the Pointe de St-Hospice

We have been to Nice many times, but this is the first time we have thought of going walking. Cap Ferrat is reached by a remarkably cheap bus ride from the main bus station in Nice. The bus drops you in a beautifully designed and maintained street overlooking the port. Cap Ferrat is essentially a finger of land pointing south into the sea, but this finger has a further thinner finger pointing off to the east: the Pointe de St-Hospice. The walk follows the line of the coast from the town centre on the east, right round to the equivalent point on the west, whereupon there is a short stroll along roads back to the start. 8 km in all.

After passing Pointe de St-Hospice, there is a very pleasant detour to the nineteenth century Chapelle St-Hospice. The chapelle is notable for a vast - and rather kitsch - bronze statue of the virgin and child, but it does have some rather nice stained glass.

The cemetery has a surprising number of war graves. We think these must have been linked to a military hospital near here during the first world war.

Cap Ferrat itself is a fairly desolate and windswept spot, but the path from then on towards the lighthouse is interesting, passing over curious rock formations. You can visit the lighthouse, but it involves a robust climb up steps, which we decided to forego.

The west coast is less rugged, and the path passes above various small bays to reach the one real beach: the Plage de Passable. Here you turn inland to return to base.

From: Walk and Eat: Nice, by John and Pat Underwood (Sunflower - a new venture for them, and very good it is).

Rating: four stars.


The main lesson is a pretty obvious: there are walks everywhere. You just need to look - and be prepared to do something different, in this case get on a bus.

Cap Ferrat, which must be one of the most exclusive areas on the Cote d'azure, was a surprise. Vast mansions hidden behind high walls located up on the hillside were perhaps to be expected, but the town and port itself were remarkably quiet. Very orderly, but low key and not at all deluxe.

The other surprise was an area of wasteland on the east of the main peninsula which was really scruffy with derelict buildings and rubbish. Virtually every other part of Cap Ferrat is so tidy and private that we wondered what the story was.

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