Arriving in Nice

After arriving in Nice in the afternoon, we took a bus to the Gare SNCF and walked a couple blocks to our hotel, the Trocadero Inn.

There is a balcony from the room and bathroom! Here are a few photos taken right from the balcony.

View from the balcony at the hotel in Nice
View from the balcony at the hotel in Nice
A view of the building next door out the window
A view of the building next door out the window
Lush plants already in late April
Lush plants already in late April
The street from the balcony
The street from the balcony
The nearby Gare SNCF (train station)
The nearby Gare SNCF (train station)

Taking a Walk Around Nice

I had a nap in the hotel, still tired from jet lag. Afterwards we went for a walk.

We went around the area.

Cafes along the walk
Cafes along the walk
Taking a walk in the busy streets of Nice
Taking a walk in the busy streets of Nice

Walked past many shops…

Toy Store
Toy Store
PIZZA!!!!!!
PIZZA!!!!!!

Including a really neat candy store!

Candy!
Candy!
Candy Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Marzipan mushrooms
Marzipan petit poissons
Marzipan petit poissons

Walked by la plage as well (Mediterranean Sea).

A walk along by the Mediterranean
A walk along by the Mediterranean
Walk along the promenade
Walk along the promenade
More along the beach in Nice
More along the beach in Nice
Even more along the beach in Nice
Even more along the beach in Nice

Still tired from jet lag, I had a short nap in the room after the walk, then had dinner at the Anglaisterre Restaurant where we had a big pig-out. I ate vegetable soup, poisson du jour, a lot of vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, green beans, zucchini, potato), an egg. There was also about a half cup of garlic butter on the side, a bowl of spaghetti, and camembert. It was lots of food, and I had to con my dad into eating lots of it.

I had a very good sleep after that.

En Route to La Brigue

This morning we had a continental breakfast at the hotel, where I had infusion tea, orange juice, Chocopics, and a croissant. We had a quick walk in Nice again, before heading to the train station to Ventimille in Italy (Ventimiglia in Italian). From Ventimille we take another train to the town of La Brigue, which is back in France.

The train ride was filled with beautiful scenery. I took a couple pictures along the way, but it was mostly difficult as the train goes fast, and kept darting into tunnels. The train passed through 55 tunnels on the way to La Brigue, which speaks for the ruggedness of the southern Maritime Alps.

Passing the town of Breil-sur-Roya on the train
Passing the town of Breil-sur-Roya on the train
Passing French countryside on the train
Passing French countryside on the train

At 12:57 PM we made it to La Brigue!

Yay! This is a street!
Yay! This is a street!
La Brigue chapelle de l’Annonciade

We are staying in Les Fleur des Alpes Hotel.

Les Fleurs des Alpes Hotel
Les Fleurs des Alpes Hotel
My room and bed at the hotel in La Brigue
My room and bed at the hotel in La Brigue

Exploring La Brigue Pt. 1

For lunch I ate salade de chévre chaud. The literal translation is hot goat salad, but actually seems to refer to “hot/melted?” goat cheese salad.

Salade de chévre chaud for lunch

Afterwards we walked around and explored the narrow cobblestone alleys. La Brigue is a small medieval town, with only about 600 people living here.

Around La Brigue
Around La Brigue
Another typical sight in La Brigue
Another typical sight in La Brigue

Aside from walking around the streets, we visited the St-Martin Collegiate Church in a square across the road from the hotel.

Striped facade of the St-Martin Collegiate Church
Striped facade of the St-Martin Collegiate Church
It seemed kind of odd to have a hand sticking out of the side of the pulpit like this...
It seemed kind of odd to have a hand sticking out of the side of the pulpit like this…
Inside La Brigue's church
Inside La Brigue’s church
St-Martin Church clock tower
St-Martin Church clock tower

While the buildings are all very close together in this town, there are also some pretty flowers!

Pretty Flower #1 - I don't know what kind of flower it is, but it's pretty.
Pretty Flower #1 – I don’t know what kind of flower it is, but it’s pretty.
Pretty Flower #2 - Pink frilly tulip
Pretty Flower #2 – Pink frilly tulip
Reminds me of a scene from a children's book
Reminds me of a scene from a children’s book

More sights from exploring:

A dry riverbed running through the town
A dry riverbed running through the town
Interesting looking building
Interesting looking building

 

Exploring La Brigue Pt. 2

Continuing the walk, La Brigue is also home to the Chateâu Lascaris, a ruined castle.

Approaching Château Lascaris
Approaching Château Lascaris
The Tower of Château Lascaris
The Tower of Château Lascaris
Castle ruins
Castle ruins

Just beside the castle are some interesting houses.

Houses in La Brigue
Houses in La Brigue

A little path gives a wonderful view of La Brigue amidst the surrounding mountain landscape.

Another view of Château Lascaris and surrounding mountains
Another view of St-Martin Collegiate Church
Another view of St-Martin Collegiate Church
A house on the terraces
A house on the terraces
Dense buildings (look at the party walls! :s )
Dense buildings (look at the party walls! :s )

Walking through the town, cats wandering about are a common sight.

A black cat runs into a building
A black cat runs into a building
Cats sleeping in a barrel
Cats sleeping in a barrel

It is also common to see plaques or other figures above doorways. These are said to protect inhabitants from bewitchment.

Warding away the witches
Warding away the witches

Finally we came to a wide square. After visiting the square, we went to the Heritage Center, which had a cute dog called Tommy.

A square in La Brigue
A square in La Brigue
A war monument in La Brigue
A war monument in La Brigue

After returning to the room, it was raining. Some time later the sound of bells ringing could be heard. A very strange but neat sight was see a whole herd of sleep running down the road just outside the window. They were noisy because they were wearing cowbells.

We had another three course meal for supper at the hotel (since it was included). I had chèvre chaud, ravioli, and creme brulée.

The EPIC Journey Begins!

We woke up this morning at 7:30 AM. The bells from the church clocktower rang twice every hour, and once every half hour all day and night. I can see the clocktower while lying on my bed and looking out the window.

For breakfast I ate croissants, and toasted baguette slices with butter and plum jam. I also drank orange juice and tea.

Today, we begin a hiking adventure. We will walk from La Brigue all the way back to Menton on the Mediterranean coast, which will take about a week, staying the nights at various towns along the way. Below is a map of the approximate route:

An approximate route from La Brigue to Menton

The hike will be a wonderful way to experience this south eastern area of France along the Italian border.

We started our walk near the Mirval Hotel and went the wrong way. 😮 Then, we went the right way and took the path out of La Brigue, and walked along the side of the valley towards Ste-Dalma de Tende.

A last look at La Brigue
A last look at La Brigue
Looking back at where we’ve gone

It was still mid-morning when we came to the town of Ste-Dalma de Tende. We walked across the river and through the town. There are lots of flowers like wild irises.

The town of Ste-Dalmas de Tende
The town of Ste-Dalmas de Tende
Buildings and terraces in Ste-Dalmas de Tende
Buildings and terraces in Ste-Dalmas de Tende
Houses and gardens near the river
Houses and gardens near the river

Mountains, cliffs, ancient stone buildings, streams

Leaving Ste-Dalmas de Tende, we went up a path further up the mountains. The weather was quite nice, making this a wonderful way to enjoy the scenery. 🙂

Not far after leaving the town we crossed a bridge over some hydro pipelines running all the way up and down the mountain.

Hydro pipelines running up and up
Hydro pipelines running up and up

Occasionally we would pass by an old stone building, or other relics, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

House in the middle of nowhere
House in the middle of nowhere
A little shrine in the mountain?
A little shrine in the mountain?

Of course there was also some very pretty scenery along the way with the mountain cliffs and forests.

A mossy stream
A mossy stream
Looking straight up the mountain
Looking straight up the mountain
Steep mountain cliffs
Steep mountain cliffs
Not blueberries

Again, random old buildings in the middle of nowhere seem to be common.

Old stone building by the side of the road
Old stone building by the side of the road
Is that a little shack on the edge of a cliff?
Is that a little shack on the edge of a cliff?

We continued walking – we still hadn’t even made it to where we were supposed to have lunch!

The next town is just over the ridge
The next town is just over the ridge

And then, finally we arrived at the little Hamlet of Granille!

Arrival in Granille
Arrival in Granille

The Hamlet of Granille

Here we are in the hamlet of Granille, which has a population of … 10? (Or so our walking guide book says).

Houses in Granille
Houses in Granille

Granille is a colourful little community with many flowers lining the walkways, inviting us into the “roads” passing through the village. I say “roads”, because technically I think they are roads, but there is nothing here that would be wide enough to fit a car, so they look more like cobblestone pathways. I’m pretty sure a donkey cart could fit down these streets though!

Pretty yellow flowers!
Pretty yellow flowers!
Many lovely flowers
This is a road, right?
This is a road, right?

The hamlet has many old stone buildings, but I wouldn’t call them run-down. Despite everything being inarguably ancient, the village seems quite tidy and cozy.

An old stone house
An old stone house

There is also a church that has a bell that goes DONG DONG DONG DONG DONG DONG DONG DONG DONG DONG DONG DONG!

Granille's church
Granille’s church
Those are the bells that go DONG DONG DONG…
Those are the bells that go DONG DONG DONG…

We ate our packed lunches on the terraces just past the hamlet. From here, there is a great view of the entire village. I ate a long sandwich made from a baguette.

A view of Granille
A view of Granille
More of Granille
More of Granille
A view of the entire hamlet
A view of the entire hamlet
A little blue butterfly, close to where I was sitting
A little blue butterfly, close to where I was sitting

Bergue Supérieur and Bergue Inférieur

After leaving Granille, we continued through the glorious woodlands, mostly downhilll and then back up to the village Bergue Supérieur. Bergue Supérieur is another small medieval village with stone buildings and narrow streets.

A little stone building
A little stone building
Another different assortment of buildings
Another different assortment of buildings
Where do the stairs go?
Where do the stairs go?
Built right into the mountain side!
Built right into the mountain side!
Winding through the village
Winding through the village
Old building along the road Tchassa de Bal
Old building along the road Tchassa de Bal

It was fun to explore the village while passing through the streets, but it wasn’t long before we had passed through the town and were on our way to the next. Meanwhile, the way out of Bergue Supérieur provided a wonderful view.

Terraces from Bergue Supérieur
Terraces from Bergue Supérieur
The village of Bergue Supérieur
The village of Bergue Supérieur
A last look at Bergue Supérieur
A last look at Bergue Supérieur

Not far out of Bergue Supérieur, a view of the next town, Bergue Inférieur could already be seen. However, it was still some distance away, and we needed to go down into a valley and back up to get there.

Looking ahead to Bergue Inférieur
Looking ahead to Bergue Inférieur

On the descent into the valley, we almost got lost by the rooster and chickens.

Rooster and chickens (wrong way)
Rooster and chickens (wrong way)
An occasional house is still around
An occasional house is still around

In the valley we encountered a bridge and waterfall. Along the road afterwards was a long line of caterpillars following each other. (48 caterpillars in a line!)

Finally we arrived at Bergue Inférieur. There were more stone buildings here. As a note, the “Supérieur” and “Inférieur” in the names of these towns refers to which town is further along the road, and not which has a higher elevation.

The town of Bergue Inférieur
The town of Bergue Inférieur
A short little building with slate roofing
Heading through the streets
Heading through the streets

We continued past this town as well, onto our final destination for the day…

13 km Later – Fontan

It was mostly downhill from Bergue Inférieur. We kept walking along the road and path to some ruins with some very purplish coloured rocks.

Purple stone ruins

The town of Fontan (pop. ~300) came into view, nestled in the mountain valley. We went along a road with hairpin turns all the way down the mountain into the town, our last destination for the day.

Fontan Castle
A highway passing through Fontan
The Town of Fontan

Wandering through the streets in the town of Fontan, one of the highlights was the colourful church.

Church of Fontan
Narrow walkway
Belltower of Fontan's church
Belltower of Fontan’s church
A war monument
A lot of lilacs!

In Fontan, we stopped at a café to celebrate a successful hike to Fontan and I ate a triple chocolate crème glacée! Then we headed towards the train station at Fontan-Saorge back to La Brigue. It started raining as we were waiting for the train to come. My dad has issues putting his rain pants on properly.

Here is a map of our walk for the day.

Day 1 of Hiking – Map of La Brigue to Fontan

After the train we went back to the hotel in La Brigue for supper. I ate bresaola (an arugula salad with dried beef/bresaola and shaved parmesan cheese), and stewed beef with pasta (a special type of pasta made in La Brigue). For dessert, I ate salade du fraise. Then I went to sleep.

Saorge

Breakfast today was a very fat looking croissant, and toasted baguette slices with beurre et confiture du framboises. Then, the man from the hotel drove us with our luggage to Saorge which is not far from the Fontan train station.

From here we continued our walk that started yesterday at the Saorge’s mairie (city hall).

Mountains around Saorge
Saorge’s Mairie

We walked through the narrow streets of Saorge, which is high up along a mountain cliff. As another small medieval town, the streets were narrow, however, Saorge is an architecturally unique town with closely clustered buildings rising steeply in steps like the seats of an amphitheatre.

Buildings are nestled right into the mountain cliffs
Which way to go?
Taking in Saorge’s steep terrain from a lookout
Black cat down a passageway

We gradually made our way towards the Saorge monastery, which was unfortunately closed. Then we headed higher, up the steep pathways in the village to gain a better view of our surroundings.

Exploring the winding, narrow passages through Saorge
Buildings at higher and higher elevations
The Saorge Monastery
The top of Saorge!

We headed back down and through the town. The dense buildings and mountain scenery is amazingly picturesque. One of my favourite towns on this trip!

Stone walkway, stone buildings, stone walls
Buildings in a row
Looking up to see buildings!
Looking to the side for more buildings!

Eventually we took a path leading out of Saorge. What a wonderful start to another day!

A view of the town from the path
Farewell Saorge

France 2010 Gallery

All photos currently published from my France 2010 trip are displayed in this gallery.

France 2010