Hautes-Cagnes and Cars Don’t Mix

By | Category: Travel destinations

Nice, Antibes, Juan-les-Pins and Cannes are well-known by British visitors to the French Riviera but there are some gems to be found by moving away from the big cities. Take Hautes-Cagnes for example.
Because it sits on the top of a hill and has a walled fortress to protect it, Hautes-Cagnes seems to be a village within a village. It is difficult to take a car up to the top, most preferring to leave it in the car park half way up and walk the last quarter mile mile or so. But if you are not so agile, some of the hotels run a connection service. But their vehicles aren’t large. They have to navigate the lanes (that’s a better word than roads) which are narrow and small. Larger vehicles have to drive carefully and there are examples of ripped off wing mirrors. That deters some visitors but the brave are rewarded with a village reminiscent of the past rather than the future.
Established in the thirteenth century, the castle, now known as the Chateau Grimaldi, was extensively converted by Jean Henri Grimaldi (the same family that provides the princes of Monaco) in the early part of the seventeenth century. Now it’s a museum and provides spectacular views over Cagnes-sur-Mer below and the Mediterranean. In truth though the views from anywhere at the top where you have a clear view are just as good. Today this district has over 12 hotels ranging from Le Cagnard with its Michelin starred restaurant and hand painted panel roof which draws back up to reveal the evening sky to two star premises tucked away up steep paths. And Le Black Cat, the jazz club/eatery connected to the Grimaldi Hotel is worth an evening’s visit. There are restaurants ranging from pizzeria to bistros and the best that you’ll find anywhere. Down in Cagnes-sur-Mer there are even more but most importantly there is a thriving market where you can buy a wide assortment of bread, cheeses, fruit, vegetables as well as meat and fish, ideal for daily trips or if you cook your own.
At one stage the area was referred to as the Montmartre of the French Riviera because of its links to artists and musicians. Renoir lived here from the turn of the twentieth century until his death and his house, now a museum is nearby.
To get there, BA and easyjet have flights to Nice, the nearest airport, which is about 9 miles away. You can take a taxi but it will be pricey. The local bus service is cheap and convenient and will cost a fraction of the taxi fare. That will take you to Cagnes-sur-Mer where the free bus goes every 15 minutes up most of the way to the top.
For more information click here.

Image courtesy of Cagnes-Tourisme

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