“I hope you like hills,” he said when I asked where was a good place to run.
Earlier this year, I was given a precious invitation to stay with a group of people who were spending the week in Villefranche-sur-Mer, a Mediterranean town next to Nice. It was a beautiful trip and I’ll recap the gorgeous sunny trip in another post.
The apartment we were staying in was located right off Boulevard Napoleon III. Head west and I run toward Nice. Head east and I run toward Monaco.
Villefranche-sur-Mer to Nice
Originally I was supposed to do a tempo run, but that didn’t happen. My legs were totally toast. 1) It was overly warm, 2) I was jetlagged, and 3) Even for a “flat” route, it was still hella hilly, as my friends from the Bay Area would say. From where I started in Villefranche, the route is fairly high up, so you have a nice grand view of the Mediterranean and Nice. Eventually you descend down to sea level and will run into the port of Nice, and past that Old Town where you would be able to run along the waterfront. Along the waterfront, it truly is flat, but I never made it that far. The farthest I ran toward Nice was to the port. The views are nice. There are nice long uninterrupted stretches so you can zone out or be able to run fast without (much) interruption. The sidewalks for Europe were roomy, so I felt comfortable. I always found plenty of runners (both foreign and domestic) on this route. There’s not much shade on this route, so it’s a bit brutal on a hot day. I also didn’t see any water fountains or public restrooms.
Villefranche-sur-Mer to/around Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Hands down, this is one of my favorite routes of all the places that I’ve ever run in my life! I did most of my running heading east on Boulevard Napolean III. The view of Villefranche from this particular section of Boulevard Napolean III was breathtaking! I wasn’t the only one who thought so as there were almost always cars that had pulled over in order to spend several minutes admiring the view. This section, like the other section of Boulevard Napolean III, is just as hilly or flat, depending on your perspective, meaning it’s flat for the area, but no one who comes from flatland would ever describe this as anything remotely resembling flat.
At the peninsula, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat (aka Presqu’ile du Cap Ferrat), I had a choice of continuing on the boulevard and going to Beaulieu-sur-Mer, or turning right and running on the paths encircling the peninsula. One of the guys in our group who used to be an avid runner recommended the path (with the stipulation that I should also enjoy rocks because a portion of the trail was too rocky to go fast), so I decided to run down to the lighthouse.
If you are ever in this area of France, you must must must go to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat!!!! I absolutely loved it! Honestly, in terms of running, sections of it aren’t the greatest because either the trail is too rocky for running (a part of the west side of the peninsula) or the path was very hard (east side of the peninsula), so I had to run carefully in order to not fall.
Regardless, the views along the peninsula were EPIC!!!!!! There were other runners and walkers on this path. I loved running here. There’s something marvelous about running and overlooking endless waters.
There were also little paths going down to what they call “bathing” areas, but they’re areas where you can go swimming out in the ocean. No beach, but there’s a ladder where you can lower yourself. I chose to take my dip at the beach closer to the apartment instead.
One of the nicest things about running here was that after a long warm run, there’s nothing more refreshing than running straight into the cool ocean. I didn’t do a whole lot of “quality” runs while in the south of France, but I did spend a lot of quality time relaxing, having fun while running, and really loving my life.