Visiting the Seemingly Vertical Municipality of Beausoleil, France: Exploring on Foot Not for the Faint of Heart!
[The visit to Beausoleil occurred a number of years ago, before the writer underwent heart surgery for a condition which challenges attempts to make progress on foot up steep gradients. Would be strollers with similar issues are warned!]
The French municipality of Beausoleil is remarkable for the amount of buildings which stand upon sloping ground. As one visits Beausoleil, progress on foot can be laborious at times even over a few metres.
The photo, supplied above, centres upon a (former) hotel (1), but the steep inclines of the surrounding municipality are very apparent.
The public transport system in Beausoleil follows routes along parallel roads which at times wind into hairpin bends: thus, the traffic winds back and forth, climbing and descending, although even in times of light traffic, progress is fairly slow and as far as the proverbial crow flies.
In places, parallel streets which mount steep gradients are connected by alleys containing many steps, sometimes with a central railing for the support of climbers.
Pressure on real estate at Beausoleil is reportedly so intense that the average municipal worker employed here is compelled to live at a substantial distance from the municipality.
Beausoleil borders the Principality of Monaco; I have supplied a photo, below, which shows a street (1) with two names and with distinct paving stones which mark the transition from one jurisdiction to another. The Monégasque side of the road depicted is called Boulevard de France, while the French side is Boulevard du General Leclerc. Some of the paving stones in Beausoleil notably depict a sun device which has been adopted in keeping with the name of the municipality.
This boundary between Beausoleil and Monaco, which dates from 1760, from a time when the County of Nice was not yet part of metropolitan France, follows a fairly flat path; but it is when one ventures more than several metres into France that the gradients seem to become very steep. A clue about this is perhaps seen in the name of the local French department: Alpes-Maritimes. Here, the mountains in places truly do descent fairly steeply towards the sea; close to Beausoleil, the gradients are seemingly broken only by a fairly narrow strip of land alongside the Mediterranean to which the Principality appears to cling.
April 1, 2020
(1) The former Hôtel Riviera Palace de Beausoleil dates from 1903, the design of Georges Chedanne.
(2) Some of the streets in Beausoleil have typically southern European frontages, with somewhat ornate railings and balconies.
Also worth seeing
In Beausoleil itself, the regularly floodlit Town Hall is a splendid building. The tower of the church of St.Joseph is a prominent landmark.
In the Principality of Monaco, close to the border with Beausoleil, is St.Charles's Church, Monte-Carlo (distance by road: 1.4 kilometres). Monaco Town (French: Monaco-Ville ; (distance: 3.4 kilometres) has numerous visitor attractions, including the Prince's Palace, the Cathedral, and the Oceanographic museum.
How to get there: Delta Airlines flies direct from New York to Nice, France (Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur ), where car rental is available. There are regular bus links from Nice airport to Beausoleil /Monaco. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. For border crossing arrangements which may apply to travellers of certain nationalities, please consult the appropriate consular sources.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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