This 8-days adventure will take you through the Roya Valley from the mountains to the sea, weaving from one balcony path to the next, amongst pine forests and olive groves. Get away from the crowds on forgotten paths leading to some of the most beautiful perched villages on the Côte d’Azur.
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Day 1: Nice/St Dalmas de Tende
Arrive in Nice. You can spend the day sight-seeing and checking out what Nice has to offer, including St Pons church and the Miséricorde chapel, Church of the Gésu, the steep and winding alleyways of the old town, the castle hill, the Louis Bréa altarpieces in the Cimiez monastery. Then you will continue to St Dalmas de Tende by train (12:30 or 17:24). Overnight in St Dalmas de Tende, dinner included. You can also book an extra night in Nice before the holiday.
- Accommodation: Hotel Le Prieuré or similar
Day 2: Tende and La Brigue | 17.8km
Take the morning train to Tende (20 min at 9:20). In Tende you can discover the Saint Michael’s church, a Baroque-style church that is home to an Italian organ, the village’s medieval streets are also worth exploring. Visit Notre Dame des Fontaines with one of the largest collections of mural paintings. From Tende to La Brigue, you will follow a stunning balcony path to reach the Boselia pass (1111 m). You will walk down to La Brigue, and you will also visit Notre Dame des Fontaines, a beautiful church tucked away in the countryside. You can return to St Dalmas de Tende from La Brigue on foot or by train (5 minutes). Overnight in St Dalmas de Tende, dinner included.
- Walking for the day: 17.8km, 5h ↑400m ↓400m (you can optionally take the train from La Birgue to St Dalmas and shorten your walk by 4km / 1h)
- Accommodation: Hotel Le Prieuré or similar
Day 3: St Dalmas de Tende – Fontan – Saorge | 16.6km
Today is one of the most beautiful days of walking that you will do on this trip, strolling along the balcony paths above the Roya gorges From St Dalmas de Tende to Fontan, passing by the hamlets of Granile and Berghe and then to Saorge, the most beautiful village perché (perched village) in the region. Overnight in Saorge, dinner included.
- Walking for the day: 16.6km, 4-5h ↑400m ↓400m (you can optionally take the train from Fontan to Saorge and shorten your walk by 2.5km / 45min)
- Accommodation: Chambre d’hôte Cadabarrera or similar
Day 4: Saorge – Breil sur Roya | 11.7km
You will walk from Saorge to Breil on a path through the Roya valley, with some short but steep climbs rewarded by magnificent views. You will also discover the Baroque Franciscan monastery and the Notre Dame del Poggio chapel. Overnight in Breil sur Roya, dinner included.
- Walking for the day: 11.7km, 5-6h ↑850 m ↓1100 m
- Accommodation: Le Roya or similar
Day 5: Breil sur Roya – Piène Haute – Sospel | 15.5km
Today you will walk from Breil sur Roya to Sospel, passing by Piène Haute, with breathtaking views as you cross balcony paths and walk through olive groves. Explore the village of Piène Haute and its church, as well as the 15th-century bridge of Sospel. Overnight in Sospel, dinner included.
- Walking for the day: 15.5km, 5.30-6h ↑450m ↓450m
- Accommodation: Auberge Provencale or similar
Day 6: Sospel – St Agnes | 13.7km
In the morning, you can visit the impressive Sospel cathedral. You will then take the bus from Sospel to Col de Castillon (€1,5; 15 min; departure at 10:30 on weekdays and at 10:05 on Sundays). Walk from Col de Castillon to the village of St Agnès, via Mont Ours’ summit (1239 m). Overnight in Night in Sainte Agnès, the highest hilltop village on the Côte d’Azur, dinner included.
- Walking for the day: 13.7km, 4h ↑550 m ↓500 m
- Accommodation: Hotel Le Saint Yves or similar
Day 7: St Agnès – Castellar – Menton | 14.3km
Walk through the pine forests on a balcony path until you reach the hilltop village of Castellar, then you head straight down into Menton’s old town, enjoying the amazing sea views. Explore Menton’s old town and the Baroque church of St Michael and visit the Jean Cocteau Museum. Overnight in Menton, dinner on your own.
- Walking for the day: 14.3km, 4-5h ↑200 m ↓500 m
- Accommodation: Hôtel Le Parisien or similar
Day 8: Departure
End of the trip after breakfast or extra nights in Menton.
What to Expect
Accommodation is in simple but charming 2-star hotels and country inns in private en-suite double/twin rooms. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour. Optional hotel upgrade is possible at some places.
Click to view default hotels
- Hotel Le Prieuré
- Chambre d’hôte Cadabarrera
- Le Roya
- Auberge Provencale
- Hotel Le Saint Yves
- De Londres
- Hôtel Le Parisien
*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
**A word of “warning” for the Le Saint Yves guest house in Saint Agnes
The Hotel St Yves in Saint Agnes’s village is rather a simple hotel than a “standard” comfort one: it offers modest rooms, with a family and fellow walkers’ ambience that is extremely warm and friendly. The Saint-Yves hotel is set in the centre of Sainte Agnès, listed among the most beautiful villages in France. It’s the only accommodation in the village, and a wonderful way to experience the village once the tourist crowds have left when you get the village to yourselves, and see it in its authentic light, hovering high above the Mediterranean Sea. While the hotel is very welcoming, serves heaps of comfort foods for dinner, and hosts many other walkers such as yourselves, it is essentially a clean backpacker’s hotel. It is intentionally unpretentious. Nothing fancy, and certainly no bells and whistles. We still receive hand-written faxes from Saint Yves as a means of communication. Seriously. And because the village of Sainte Agnès is a true highlight of the back-country, a real gem-of-a-village, we feel strongly that this hotel should be a part of the holiday, even though the hotel hasn’t really conformed to the goûts du jour. We’re certain you’ll feel the same way too.
All breakfasts are included as well as all dinners except for Menton. Lunch packs for the next day can be pre-ordered at each accommodation, or you can buy bread, cheeses and meats as well as fresh fruit and vegetables from the villages you pass through or at local markets.
Difficulty & terrain
This holiday is appropriate for walks with an average level of fitness; average walking time is 4-5 hours per day. Please note that this is not the typical Rivera walk, the terrain is mountainous and on some days there are steep ascents and descents – although no scrambling is involved and there are no exposed sections (read more about difficulty grades). On some days there are options to shorten the walks using local trains. The trails are generally well marked. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to go
This trip is available between the 20th of March and the 20th of June 2022, and between the 1st of September and the 25th of October. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season. We recommend starting your trip on a Sunday because this is the only day you can visit the baroque churches in the old town of Nice.
Due to hotels being fully booked, it may not be possible to do the walk during the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco in late May and Monaco Grand Prix Historique in early June.
Late autumn, because of the beautiful colours, or early spring, because of the abundant flowers are without a doubt the most pleasant times of the year for a walking holiday – but please note that these are also the months with the most rainfall.
Click to view travel options
Our recommended airport for this tour is Nice (NCE).
By train or bus
- You can travel from Nice on the Ligne des Merveilles, a panoramic train line offering a scenic journey. There is a direct link between the Nice Airport and the train station – you need to take Bus 99.
- From Menton at the end of the trip, there is a direct bus to Nice’s airport. For more information, use the Omio planner above.
- 7 nights double occupancy with private facilities, in 2-star hotels and guesthouses
- 7 breakfasts
- 6 dinners
- Luggage transfers on all walking days
- Detailed holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions and road notes; maps with daily routes and optional hikes marked (provided only digitally as access to our Navigation app; printed documents available at extra cost)
- 24/7 phone support by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinner in Menton, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not explicitly listed as included
Options, extras & supplements
- Single room supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
- This holiday is NOT available for solo travellers
- Extra nights before or after the holiday
- On request, we can organise privately guided itineraries for groups of min 4 pax