Days
7
Price from
€2,295EUR

Walk France's famous Cote d'Azur, from Menton to Arles

Chic elegance and lofty living ooze out of villages along the Côte d’Azur. This is your chance to stroll the hidden trails between villages and follow in the footpath of Cézanne and Van Gogh as they captured this beautiful region on canvas.


Start
Menton, France
Finish
Arles, France
Country
France
Style
Peregrine
Code
PEPC
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
6 reviews
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Ramble along pleasant coastal footpaths winding up and down the Mediterranean cost, speckled with pine and eucalyptus trees

  • Pick up delicious produce at local markets and then enjoy flavoursome picnics in picturesque scenery

  • Enjoy the Italianate atmosphere of Menton, one of the prettiest towns on the Riviera, and soak up the citrus scents of this lemon capital

  • Explore the maze of staircases and lanes, fine Baroque churches, bustling flower market and the famous Promenade des Anglais of Nice’s old centre

  • Walk in the footsteps of Hemingway and Cézanne in the artful city of Aix-en-Provence on a wander around its impressive morning market

  • Surrounded by aromatic herbs and wild flowers, discover the stunning views across the Rhône Valley hidden within the Alpilles Mountains (‘Baby Alps’)

Is this trip right for you?

  • You'll need to be in good health and able to walk for a few hours, with some up-and-down, and on varied terrain, from well-defined paths to rocky trails. You’ll only have to carry your day pack with essentials on the walking excursions, not your entire luggage

  • Summer temperatures can be extreme (over 40°C), so it's important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat and drink plenty of water. Please consider your suitability to the season you are travelling in.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 15 October 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Welcome to the Côte D’azur. Your trip begins in the seaside town of Menton. While it’s of course up to you, we recommend arriving and departing by train where possible within Europe, due to this method of transport's minimal carbon emissions. Menton sits on the coast, the last town in France before the Italian border, and it's often touted as the prettiest town on the Riviera. It boasts a warm microclimate that’s favourable to lemon, tangerine and orange groves. It was under the ownership of the Grimaldi family up until 1848, before breaking away from the principality of Monaco and officially becoming part of France in 1861. Today Menton is popular vacation spot for the well-heeled and a great place to indulge in some people-watching. Its colourful, centuries-old homes rise in circles above the coast, while the new town – with its casino, cafés and restaurants –sprawls along the coastline. No activities are planned this afternoon so you may arrive at any time. Please make your own way to the centrally located joining hotel, where there’ll be a Welcome Meeting at 6pm. Please check with reception to confirm the time. After meeting your leader and group, and a briefing on what lies ahead on your trip, head out in the evening for a delicious included dinner at a local Menton restaurant.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Prince de Galles or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Dinner
After breakfast, take the scenic train along the coast to the town of Beaulieu sur Mer. Overlooking the Cap Ferrat peninsula, the town’s harbour is the very definition of postcard-perfect. Begin your walk along a pleasant coastal footpath around a peninsula speckled with pine and eucalyptus trees, small sandy beaches, meandering creeks, small picturesque ports, and early 20th century villas containing magnificent gardens. It's an absolutely beautiful start to your trip. You will enjoy a flavoursome picnic lunch along the way, and there will be opportunities for a swim as well so make sure you’ve got your swim gear in your daypack. The warm climate in this niche on the French Riviera has made it a favourite holiday destination amongst European aristocracy and international millionaires for centuries. This geographic area was part of the Kingdom of Sardinia (now ruled by Italy) until 1860, when the County of Nice was finally ceded by treaty to France. This coincided with the time when the peninsula became a magnet for royalties and wealthy visitors alike. In 1905 Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild chose Cap-Ferrat to build an opulent and exquisite Tuscan-style palazzo, now known as Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. A real highlight today is an included visit to the villa and a walk around its impeccable gardens, including a Japanese garden and a splendid rose garden. Your walk ends back in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, another aristocratic vacation resort, before taking a short train ride back to Menton.

Notes: Total walking distance is 10 kilometres, approximately 3 hours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Prince de Galles or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cap-Ferrat Peninsula Hike
  • Villa Rothschild
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Today you’ll take a short scenic bus ride up into the foothills for the start of your walk. It will take you between the restful hamlets of St Agnès and Gorbio. St. Agnès, with its granite homes set like an eagle’s nest above the Riviera, sits a staggering 800 metres above the coast – the highest coastline village in Europe. The town is incredibly well preserved, and you can discover medieval cobbled village streets and vaulted passageways that seem timeless. The views of the coast are awe-inspiring. Walk on a series of cultivated terraces, which at one time were used for growing olive trees, grape vines and fig trees, en route to the village of Gorbio. Sitting in the shadow of rocky peaks, Gorbio has a charming large, open village square with a single café and restaurant, all dominated by imposing elm tree planted in 1713. The village streets wander through ancient limestone houses, some majestic and well maintained, others in states of disrepair. Beautiful yet haunting, this is a village set just behind the Riviera, yet untouched by modernity, and few tourists venture here. After time to explore pretty Gorbio, you will catch a local bus back to Menton. Enjoy the restaurants that line the Old Town tonight.

Notes: Total walking distance 5 kilometres, approximately 2.5 hours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Prince de Galles or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • St Agnes to Gorbio Hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast, take a local bus from Menton to Nice (approximately 30 minutes) and enjoy a morning of sightseeing on a walking tour of Nice's old centre. Explore its maze of staircases and lanes, fine Baroque churches, bustling flower market and the famous Promenade des Anglais. The Old Quarter is a warren of alleyways, boutique shops, cafes and restaurants just waiting to be discovered. After your exploration you will have free time for lunch – you might pick up some fresh local fare and head across to the buzz of activity that is the Promenade des Anglais, a hot spot for street theatre, locals artists, 'beautiful' people and visitors alike. In the afternoon, travel by private taxi to the centre of exquisite Aix-en-Provence, through heartland scenery that has long attracted the brushes of Impressionist painters (approximately 2.5 hours). After you arrive, enjoy a walk in the heart of this most ‘Parisian’ of cities. Wander through the Cours Mirabeau, Vieille Ville, and the wide boulevards, shady squares, and enticing cafes. Aix-en-Provence (‘Aquae Sextiae’ in Latin) was founded in 122 BC and was named for its healing thermal springs. It’s also often referred to as the ‘city of a thousand fountains’, and includes a hot-water fountain that dates back to 1734.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Saint Christophe or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Walking Tour of Aix-en-Provence
  • Walking Tour of Nice
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Browse the stalls of Aix-en-Provence's impressive morning market, a wonderful introduction to the sights, smells and sounds of a typically bustling French produce market. Be sure to stock up on local specialties for today’s picnic lunch, which is at your own expense today. With a relaxing ambiance, Aix-en-Provence's streets and parks are all well laid out. Cours Mirabeau, a wide thoroughfare planted with double rows of plane trees, bordered by fine houses and decorated by fountains, divides the town into two sections, with the old town lying to the north. This is the most interesting part of Aix-en-Provence, with wide but irregular streets and fine old mansions dating from the 16th to 18th centuries. Along this avenue you’ll find Les Deux Garçons (‘the two boys’), the most famous café in the city, frequented by the likes of Paul Cézanne, Ernest Hemingway, and Emile Zola. Mid way through the morning you’ll transfer to the start of today’s walk – a scenic pathway along the foot of the white-peaked Sainte Victoire, where Cézanne walked, mused and painted. Stroll through pine forests to the lapping waters of Lake Zola, where you'll enjoy a picnic lunch. It’s likely that in this ethereal countryside you may still encounter some artists working at their easels. A short climb leads you to a rim above the deep valley, where the views extend over a countryside draped in thyme and rosemary, with the imposing mountain of Sainte Victoire just a stone’s throw away. After your walk, transfer 10 minutes back to Aix-en-Provence for a free afternoon of exploring or relaxing.

Notes: Total walking distance 6 kilometres, approximately 2.5 hours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Saint Christophe or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • St Victoire and Lac Zola Hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Journey to the Alpilles Mountains (literally ‘Baby Alps’) after breakfast (approximately 1 hour). This is a small range of abrupt limestone crags carpeted with sparse pine, aromatic herbs and wild flowers. Perched above an otherwise flat Rhône Valley, the views are jaw-dropping – the vast plains of the Camargue to the south, a glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea and, to the north, the many villages that dot the plains – all with the famous Mont Ventoux providing a backdrop. After an hour’s stroll along the crest, the medieval village of Les Baux appears – grey stone buildings huddled in tight formation below the ruins of an imposing castle, all hovering dizzyingly above the plains. You’ll enjoy your picnic lunch by a centuries-old limestone quarry, before exploring the 1,000 year-old village of Les Baux, with its narrow cobbled streets and medieval buildings. Afterwards, take some free time in a little-known café that’s been run by the same family for 400 years. It’s the perfect place to sit and admire this stunning site. Then travel 15 minutes to Arles, where you’ll discover Vincent van Gogh's second home, the city’s Roman legacy, and its rich historical heritage. What could be a better way to round off the afternoon than a coffee or ‘pastis’ in one of the lively cafes that once paid host to the famous painter. You will enjoy a final group dinner in a local restaurant – the perfect way to bid each other bon voyage!

Notes: Total walking distance 5 kilometres, approximately 2 hours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Calendal or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Les Baux Hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Your trip will come to an end after breakfast in Arles. If you have time before departing, Arles has a good Saturday morning market with many local products that you might like to taste. It’s said to be one of the most beautiful markets in Provence. Arles is connected by rail to a number of other destinations in France including Nimes (30 minutes), Montpellier (1 hour), Marseille (40 minutes), Avignon (20 minutes), and TGV direct services to Paris (4 hours). For those wanting to spend more time in Arles to further explore this fascinating town and its Saturday morning market, additional nights’ accommodation can be arranged at the time of booking.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

6 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner

Transport

Local bus, Private vehicle, Train

Accommodation

Comfortable hotel (5 nights), Feature stay (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Cap-Ferrat Peninsula Hike
  • Villa Rothschild
  • St Agnes to Gorbio Hike
  • Walking Tour of Aix-en-Provence
  • Walking Tour of Nice
  • St Victoire and Lac Zola Hike
  • Les Baux Hike

Reviews

Our Images of Provence & the Côte d’Azur trips score an average of 4 out of 5 based on 6 reviews in the last year.

Images of Provence & the Cote d'Azur, June 2016

William Harrison

Images of Provence & the Cote d'Azur, June 2016

Kate Marshall

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Important notes

This trip can be enjoyed by just about anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.