Hiking (mountain trail, in places narrow and exposed)
Alpine route (equipped or very exposed section, snow field, blocks)
Peillon » Monaco - Place du Palais
On leaving Peillon, the trail joins the GR® 51 B, crosses the village of La Turbie and its Trophy of Augustus and then, facing the Mediterranean and its increasingly present maritime air, arrives in the Principality of Monaco, which it crosses to reach the Palais square, the final destination on the Red Trail. **Stop at the Exotic Garden to sign the Via Alpina Guestbook, available at the counter daily from 9am-7pm(9am-6pm from February to April and in October, 9am-5pm from November to January). There you can also receive an official Via Alpina stamp to document your trip.**
Walk back uphill to the upper part of the village to get onto the trail. Take the path that leaves to the right towards the north (direction of St-Martin-de-Peille - La Turbie). The path descends towards the Calambert stream and then circumvents Lourquière point to the west and continues above St-Martin ravine, next running past private property on a little road. A post erected by the Conseil Général des Alpes-Maritimes invites you to head to the right in the direction of St-Martin-de-Peille - Chapelle St-Martin - La Gorra. Still in the same direction, take the Bonella path and you will find the red and white markings for the GR® 51 again. Head down along the La Gorra road. Pass a beautiful gateway in wrought iron on the left which blocks the road for cars, continue to descend and, at the intersection, take the road to the left for a few metres. After an EDF transformer, walk along the path that descends to the Gayan stream. The path crosses the stream and about 600 metres later arrives at a road, which must be taken directly south to reach the Guerre pass. Passe over the motorway tunnel and walk downhill to the south. Walk through the village of La Turbie to reach the Trophée des Alpes monument. From there, descend along a path that passes well below the Tête de Chien on the east side to take the steps down to the Principality of Monaco. (Paul Guglielmi, CDRP 06)
The Révoires path opens onto the “Moyenne Corniche” (main road RN 7). Cross it, swerving slightly to the west. Walk down the steps that then continue between the villas leading to Avenue Hector Otto; cross the avenue to enter the Vita health run and walk alongside the retaining wall that borders Cap d’Ail, and take the steps down to the south-west corner of the square of the Exotic Garden. Cross the square and follow the footpath that borders the Princesse Antoinette park as far as the first steps of the Révoires. Take these steps down, crossing three streets to reach the Rainier III boulevard and cross it at the traffic lights. Follow the footpath on the left and then take the pedestrian passageway with the long steps. Turn right into the Prince Pierre avenue; keep heading downhill, passing Rue de la Colle and arriving at the Place d’Armes. Cross at the traffic lights and walk alongside the rock overlooked by the Princes Palace as far as the end of Porte Neuve avenue. Walk along the footpath to reach a wide corner. Here, turn to the left (south) down the paths of a garden. Pass in front of the Museum of Oceanography (founded by Prince Albert I), walk towards the Saint Martin Gardens and follow the parkways overlooking the sea (cathedral) until they end at the little Sainte Barbe street on the Palace square, where the memorial plaque of the inauguration of Via Alpina is located. (Wilfrid Deri, Gouvernement monégasque)
Natural and cultural heritage
From Peillon the Via Alpina rises up towards St Martin-de-Peille then joins the col de Guerre pass from where, at last, you can see the « Mare Nostrum » that was left behind at Trieste. So the sea stretches right out to the foot of the mountains and this helps us to better understand the phenomenon of the alpine orogenesis caused by the tectonic phenomenon that pushed the African plate to meet the Eurasian plate in a movement from South East to North West. This is what created the shape of the Alpine arch and caused this chain of mountains to rise up suddenly from the sea. Via the GR 51®B, alternative route of the « Balcons de la Côte d’Azur » (Terraces of the Côte d’Azur), you wind downwards to La Turbie, another charming village with narrow cobbled streets and shady squares, overhanging the Mediterranean sea. La Turbie still has several traces of its medieval past (the old village, vaulted passages, portals from the XIII century walls). But also and above all from its Roman past with the Trophy of the Emperor Augustus (one of the only such Roman trophys in the world) a superb, completely unique tower, 35m high dating from the year 6BC. Today it is a listed building and home to a museum. This monument, also known as « The Trophy of the Alps » celebrated the arrival of Roman peace in the region but is also a symbol of the Roman victory over the 45 Alpine peoples who were defeated and forced into submission. In La Turbie the Roman church of Saint Michael, dated 1777, is also a listed building. Leaving La Turbie you should walk to the Tete de Chien (dog head) viewpoint (550m) situated directly above Cap d’Ail and the sea, from which you have an incomparable view over the gulf of Ventimiglia, Cap Martin and Cap Ferrat, the cape of Nice, Antibes and also the Estérel. The trail then winds down the East side of the Tete de Chien leading into the Principality of Monaco. (Nicolas Aubertin, Gilles Chappaz, Grande Traversée des Alpes) At the foot of the Alps the Monegasque region was a stopping off place on the roads that linked the large cities of the regions of Provence, Liguria and Piedmont: for example the Salt trail of the 16th century. But the history of Le Rocher (the Rock), as it is known, goes much further back than the ancient times when Monaco was Port Hercule, frequented by the Greeks and then the Romans: the Musée d'Anthropologie Préhistorique (Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology) contains the remains of primitive races excavated in the Principality and its neighbouring regions. Nearby the Jardin Exotique (Exotic garden) gathers greenery and « les plantes grasses » (succulent plants) side by side on the rock face, plants that are more than a century old and which here have reached the gigantic size of their original countries. Underground the Grotte de l’Observatoire (Observation grotto) opens out on a world of concretions, curtains of rocks, stalactites and stalagmites for a further change of scenery.
The old town on Le Rocher and Port Hercule are the historical areas of Monaco. The Grimaldi dynasty came to power almost 700 years ago: Francois Grimaldi, known as Malizia (the cunning one) conquered the fortress by secretly entering the main square disguised as a Franciscan monk. The Palais Princier (Prince’s palace) that was built on the site of the ancient fortress takes you on a trip from the era of the Guelfs and Ghibbelines to that of Napoleon. In the Cathedral in front of the Palais de Justice (Law courts), built in the Roman/ Byzantine style, are the tombs of the Princes of Monaco. The Musée Océanographique (Museum of Oceanography),one of several creations of Prince Albert the 1st, is home to a remarkable giant aquarium. (Wilfrid Deri, Gouvernement monégasque)
Other long-distance trails and alternative routes
On the gardens' trails: from the plants of the Exotic Garden to the Rose Garden, the Principality offers a condensed overview of the flora of the Mediterranean and other regions.