Distance: About 5 Kilometers round trip
Difficulty: Moderate, some steps here and there
Approximate Time: Around 2 to 2 1/2 hours for the entire hike
If you are looking for a hike along a rocky, rugged coastline, one that you can do easily any time of the year, you won’t find anything better than Cap d’Antibes. Cap d’Antibes is the large peninsula that spreads out between Antibes and Cannes along the Côte d’Azur. It’s very ritzy real esate, full of expensive villas, private beaches and breathtaking gardens. There’s a spectacular path that runs along part of the cap, known as the Sentier de Tirepoil. It’s easily accessible from Antibes, is pretty flat, not too long and very easy to navigate. The trail is very, very well defined. In fact, in many places you’ll find it paved with rocks and stones and it’s more of a small road than a “trail.” I think it’s basically impossible for anyone (and I mean anyone) to get lost on this hike. I like to make this trek on a regular basis, at least twice a year.
[more info after photo gallery]
The hike begins at Plage de la Garoup, a very nice little beach on the southeast side of the cap. There is a lot of parking available here though on busy summer days it can get quite full. At the end of the beach you’ll see a white sign on a brown, wooden post titled “Sentier Littoral” which means “coastal path.” They give you 4 options for hiking:
Pointe du Cap Gros: 0h20 (the very eastern tip of the cap)
Anse de l’Argent Faux: 1h10 (a very nice little beach)
Villa Eilenroc: 1h10 (a beautiful 19th century French villa)
Tour du Cap d’Antibes: 1h50
If you don’t wish to make the entire hike, which will bring you back to Plage de la Garoup, you can choose to just go a certain distance and then turn back. Of course, at some point it’s faster to just keep going and complete the circle rather than turn back. You could also arrange to have someone pick you up near the Villa Eilenroc if you wanted.
The first portion of the hike traverses a beautiful stone pathway before giving way to a more natural trail. The shore is filled with rugged rocks that have obviously been carved away over the years by the surf. It’s a beautiful section of the coast and one worth lingering on. After about 10 minutes you’ll arrive at a metal gate and a sign warning you that it can be dangerous to hike the trail during any kind of storm. In really bad weather the city closes the gate and you won’t be able to access the trail anyway.
After the gate the hike begins in earnest. The trail follows the very edge of the coast, winding in and out and up and down. There are occasionally steps and stairs here and there. In some places you’ll find small safety fences to keep anyone from stumbling over the side. On the right you can often peak into private gardens and estates, though they do a great job of keeping the villas and houses hidden with greenery. All along this coast are rugged rocks, some of them brown, some of them white. In many places there are what can only be described as “fields” of stone. It’s so charming to see the lush greenery on one side, the stunning blue sea on the other and the rocks and stones that separate the two.
Eventually you will come to small path paved with stones that leads to a nice viewing platform from which you can see quite a ways in both directions. At this point you are a little more than halfway through the hike. The trail will turn inwards shortly after this point and you’ll head up onto the hill a bit, passing by the backside of the Villa Eilenroc. Next you’ll find a wonderful little beach where you can take a swim if you’d like. Finally the trail will empty out onto a street at the entrance to the Villa Eilenroc. From here it’s just a matter of following several city streets back to the Plage de la Garoup. This portion of the hike is not marked though, so you’ll need a map or GPS to find your way back to the starting point.
Important Notes: This trail might be closed in bad weather. In fact, I’ve found it locked when there was just a really strong wind blowing. If you are not sure about the status you can call the tourist office in Antibes and they should be able to tell you if the trail is open. As always you’ll want to make sure you have good hiking boots and plenty of water. I would suggest at least one liter of water for this hike, more if you are hiking in the heat. There is no water or food along the trail. The best time to make this hike in the summer is early in the morning when it’s the coolest, the best time in the winter is early in the afteroon when things have warmed up a bit. You might be fine in just a tshirt during most of the year, but if the weather is cool you’ll want to consider bringing a light jacket. It can often be windy along this trail, more so than along other portions of the coast. If the weather is colder you might even want gloves and a hat. You should always hike with a first aid kit, a good knife, a raincoat, a flashlight and a whistle. If you are hiking alone make sure someone knows where you are going and what time you should be back. I always wear an identification bracelet that I got from Road ID.