For the past three weekends we’ve been visiting difference towns close to Nice but that are up in the mountains. This weekend we headed northeast and visited three towns; Peillon, Peille, St. Agnes and nearly made it to Gorbio. The drive is amazing, with great view points, a lot of hair-pin turns as you climb and some very narrow roads hanging, barely it seems, from the mountainside. You certainly need to keep your eye on the road! These towns are a little off the beaten path of the tourism circuit, like St. Paul de Vence or Eze, so there are less people around and tens to be less “Disneylandyish” – meaning people still live and work there like they have for hundreds of years.
For some of these villages, the residents have left for somewhere easier to live within (easier access, actual roads and less stairs), and their homes have been turned into art galleries, art ateliers, souvenir shops and fancy restaurants. You won’t find that in these towns. But they certainly have been kept in good condition or restored, and often there are photos mounted on the walls to show how the town and streets looked at the turn of the 20th century.
To take this drive, head out of Nice on D2204 heading for Sospel. Keep an eye out the sign for Peillon on the right, on D21. Once turned, keep following the signs for Peillon and soon you’ll see it perched on a cliffside as you approach it. Not a large village, but well restored and great views looking back towards the point of Antibes. Doesn’t take too long to do a tour of the town. You’ll have to take the windy road back down and then take D21/D22 on to Peille. Another quick tour, but worth visiting, and again, great views. The road out of Peille, heading to St. Agnes is quite something, built into the mountainside with numerous tunnels and very narrow roads. As you climb you’ll come to some great viewpoints that look back down at Pielle.
Along this road you’ll see Gorbi down below you on the right, and will come to a spectacular viewpoint with St. Agnes in the distance and panoramic view of Cote d’Azur, Menton and even into Italy, in front of you. Walk through St. Agnes and past the old World War II war fortifications to a viewpoint and take in the view. Next to this viewpoint is the restaurant Le Righi, which we highly recommend as a place to stop for lunch. Good charcuterie plates to share, wonderful french fries, a very nice rosé, and they specialize in different types of raviolis.
We didn’t take in Gorbi, but you can take the road down to Menton and follow the signs back up to Gorbi. We followed the coastline back to Nice, with a stop at the Rock in Monaco; love that cliffside garden walk along the perimeter of the Rock.