High on the hill above the glitz and glamour of Monaco is the tiny town of La Turbie. Initially, it was just a name on a map, and somewhere from which I thought we could enjoy a great view of Monaco. Now I know it is a gem in it’s own right. The idea for the hike came from a blog tip.
On a beautiful July morning, we arrived at the Monaco train station at 10:00 a.m. to begin our hike. There weren’t any good signs that directed us immediately toward La Turbie, so my wife and I simply started toward the hills and away from Monaco. After winding our way up a couple streets, we came across a sign that told us we were on the right track.
This was exactly what I was looking for. The simple directions I had noted down included walking ‘Chemin de La Turbie’ and ‘Chemin Romain’. The middle part between the two was kinda fuzzy. But I was sure we would manage just fine.
After the sign the path began to steepen and alternate between street and pedestrian path. A couple hundred yards later we arrived at a busy road. The Chemin de La Turbie (Path of La Turbie) continued up some stairs, straight across from us. We caught our breath and waited for a break in the traffic.
Then it was onward and upward. The view got better and better the higher we climbed. My wife and I were soon dripping sweat just a few hundred more yards up the hill, so we began to stop in every patch of shade we found that offered a view of Monaco (and some that didn’t).
The only point at which we got confused was an intersection of four different roads. There were no signs, and we had two uphill options. We look the left fork, which seemed more direct, along Chemin de Sotto Baou. Looking at Google maps later, we could have easily taken either, although it would have been a bit longer if we had taken the other fork along Chemin des Révoires.
Overheated and winded, we finally reached the top. The climb took about an hour, but the view from the top was entirely worth it. We headed over to the lookout point. The view is exquisite.
Just next to the lookout area is the entrance to the Trophée Auguste à La Turbie. For those who are completely hopeless in French like myself, that equates to the Augustus Trophy in La Turbie. Besides the clues that the signs had given us along the way, I really had no idea what the Trophy was, and I assumed Augustus referred to the famous Roman emperor. My latter assumption was correct. The new revelation was that a spectacular monument once existed on the site commemorating Augustus’ victories in the Maritime Alps. It has been partially restored.
Instead of heading up to the monument, however, my wife and I spent some time exploring the streets of old La Turbie. The old section of town is very small, but it is incredibly interesting. The gates and a few of the buildings date from the Medieval period.
We spent about 20 minutes wandering around before heading back to the monument. The Trophée Auguste costs €5.50 per person, but it is entirely worth it. The first stop was the overlook to get some more panoramic shots of Monaco.
Our next stop was the tiny museum. Along the way we stumbled upon a random foosball table near the Trophy.
The museum was a single room. In the middle is an artist’s model of what the Trophy probably looked like when Emperor Augustus had it built to commemorate his victories in the Maritime Alps. Around the rest of the building are details on the history of the monument and details on its partial restoration in the early to mid 1900s.
The best part was getting to climb up on the Trophy itself, accompanied by a guide. Most of the monument was torn down by locals through the centuries to use as building materials for homes and fortifications, but the restoration gives a glimpse of what it may have originally looked like.
After exploring the trophy, we headed back to the main road through La Turbie.
Lunch was in order, and we treated ourselves at the Hôtel Restaurant Napoleon, not far from the tourist info office and the old town.
My wife had fish with veggies and potatoes, and I had pasta with smoked salmon. Everything was excellent.
After lunch it was time to return to Monaco. We considered returning by the way we came, but it was already later than I had anticipated, and we still wanted to see some of Monaco. The quickest way down was by bus, and we caught it at the stop just off the main road. Twenty minutes later we were back in the tiny principality and off on our next adventure.
Looking back, I am extremely glad that we stumbled upon the idea of hiking to La Turbie. It turned into one of the best days of our entire trip. If Monaco is on your list of places to visit, make sure you don’t overlook the lovely little town sitting on the hill above.