Saturday, 21 February 2009

Nice: Mont Boron, Mont Alban and the Port

Nice and the Baie des Anges seen from Mont Boron

In Nice for our annual burst of winter sun - and it did not disappoint with 15 degrees of sunshine around lunchtime. Last year we went on a lovely walk around Cap Ferrat, and this year we decided to try one on the two hills on the outskirts of Nice.

You take the Number 14 bus out to the terminus on Mont Boron. I had foolishly imagined a sort of empty car park on a bare mountain peak, but in fact it is a pleasant little square, with some houses. It's obvious really that a regular bus route would go to an essentially developed area.

From here you take a path into the nature reserve which covers the top of Mont Boron and make a complete circuit of the peak, very quickly enjoying a splendid panorama over the port, the city and the whole of the Baie des Anges.

Further round the circuit there is a lovely view over the Bay of Villefranche.

On completing the circuit, and almost returning to the bus terminus, you turn left onto a path which completes a second circuit at a higher level. This time you can see the walls of the old fort.

You return to the terminus and take the road towards Mont Alban, cutting through a very pleasant wooded picnic area on the way. The fort of Mount Alban is in a poor state, but at least the tiles on the roofs of the four towers have been recently refurbished, so the overall effect is charming.

From here there is a lovely view over Cap Ferrat , which clearly shows the spit of land pointing out to one side where St Jean Cap Ferrat is located.

One you have enjoyed the views to the full, you return - yes, to the bus terminus, happily for the last time. You now begin the long descent, mainly down steps, to the port.

On the way, you pass the Church of Notre Dame du Perpetuel Secours (Our Lady of Perpetual Help), which dates from 1927. It is essentially a square building with an octagonal lantern. The style is described as neo-byzantine and the church was the work of the architect Jules Febvre. Our Lady of Perpetual Help is also apparently the patron saint of Haiti.

Finally, you reach first the commercial port, where we were staggered by the sheer size of the car ferry to Corsica. It looked more like a cruise ship. Soon afterwards you come into the pleasure port with its colonaded blocks and church of Notre Dame du Port.

The walk then continues with an ascent of the Colline du Chateau (castle hill) by lift and a return to the city centre.

We have enjoyed the sights of the Colline du Chateau before, so on this occasion we followed the coastal path around the headland and were soon rewarded with a view of the Promenade des Anglais, with the palm trees that feature in paintings of it by Dufy.

From: Walk and Eat: Nice, by John and Pat Underwood (Sunflower)

Rating: four stars.

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