Three weeks after our return to France, we decided to take a week-long vacation where we basically just stayed local. The idea was to take in a couple performances at the Jazz-à-Juan festival, which was now in full swing, soak up some rays on the beach, take some day trips, etc. One of our day trips was something that sounded intriguing to us when we had first heard about it a long time ago, but never made the effort to look into it until now. We took a trip on Le Train des Merveilles, from Nice Ville to the medieval perched village of Tende. It was an hour and 45-minute journey through the scenic Paillon and Roya-Bevera Valleys (Les Vallées des Merveilles), with a running commentary in both French and English by a lovely professional guide from the Tourist Office in Tende. We traveled through steep canyons, vertiginous viaducts, and winding tunnels, one of which was a helical tunnel which spiraled around, crossing over itself inside the tunnel. We climbed to an altitude of 1000 meters, stopping at a number of picturesque villages along the way, many of which are popular hiking destinations. We disembarked at Tende, where we hiked around a bit, taking in the views and the architecture. We then lingered over an alfresco lunch in the warm sunshine before checking out the Musée des Merveilles.
Hilltop Cemetery in Tende
Ruins of Château Lascaris in Tende
Wall Art in Tende
After the museum visit in Tende, we hopped back onto the train and headed over to the village of Breil-sur-Roya, which sits beside the cool and colorful Roya River. After exploring the village, we found a comfortable rocky platform next to the river where we cooled off by sticking our bare feet into the fresh flowing water, while we watched others swimming, kayaking, and jumping from the cliffs into the river. It would have been a great picnic spot.
We were not prepared to do any hiking on this trip, but the next time we go that will be our primary objective. It would be great to stop at one of the villages and do a nice hike and spend the night, then stop at another village the next day for another hike before taking the train back home. We’ll have to add this to our “To Do” list.
Sancta Maria-in-Albis Church in Breil-sur-Roya
Kayakers on the Roya River in Breil-sur-Roya