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Visiting Cap-d'Aïl, France, and its coastal path: rock, light and Mediterranean waters juxtaposed

Updated on November 12, 2012
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Coastal path from Monaco to Cap-d'Ail, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Coastal path from Monaco to Cap-d'Ail, Alpes-Maritimes, France | Source
Winston Churchill. Drawing by Lyn Ott in 1942
Winston Churchill. Drawing by Lyn Ott in 1942 | Source
Map location of Alpes-Maritimes department, France
Map location of Alpes-Maritimes department, France | Source

French municipality which designated Sir Winston Churchill as its honorary mayor

What really struck me about Cap-d'Ail was the brilliant whiteness of the local rock, the brightness of the sun and the proximity of the Mediterranean Sea. Of course, these three elements at times blend together, as the light reflects off the water and onto the rocks and vice-versa. In short, a haven for artists, with plenty of elementally evocative primary colours and stark images.

One such artist who regularly came to Cap-d'Ail was an Englishman called Sir Winston Churchill. He was one of the many visitors who liked Cap-d'Ail so much that return visits became obligatory for him. Interestingly, in turn, the local municipality like Sir Winston so much that it created him honorary mayor of Cap-d'Ail: a rare accolade indeed.

Cap-d'Ail is situated in Alpes-Maritimes department of France, and is now counted as being part of the Urban Community of Nice, on the eastern coastal extremity of which the municipality lies. It is adjacent to the La Colle district in the western portion of the Principality of Monaco.

A coastal path, a few kilometres in length, is a popular and scenic, local, recreational route.

The municipality takes its name from a Mediterranean cape (French: Cap ), a local geographical feature. From 1880 onwards, Baron de Pauville undertook considerable building work on the Cap d'Ail, with the result that the local area became a popular residential area. The Hôtel Eden built at the end of the 19th century, became an especially sought after, local destination.

A number of the municipality's beaches have won the Pavillon Bleu award for their cleanliness.

The Tête du Chien, a noted rock formation, towers above Cap-d'Ail, often occurring also as a backdrop to photographs of Monaco. I think a more commanding view of the Tête du Chien may be obtained, however, from vantage points of Cap-d'Ail.

Also worth seeing

Monaco Town (distance: 2.6 kilometres) counts the guard changing ceremony at the Prince's Palace and the Oceanographic Museum among its many visitor attractions.

La Turbie (distance: 7.2 kilometres) has a striking Roman structure known as the Trophy of the Alpes (French: le Trophée des Alpes ), the traditional boundary between Roman Gaul and Italy.


How to get there: Delta Airlines flies direct from New York to Nice, France (Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur ), where car rental is available. The French railroad company SNCF maintains services to Cap-d'Ail from Downtown Nice. Please be aware that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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