The Tête de Chien Hike
The only way is up! Hiking in the French Riviera is a favorite past time of many of us who not only live here but also to those that visit the region.
Year round it’s a great way to get in some exercise, fresh air and enjoy the natural surroundings. What’s not to love with the abundance of amazing vistas many of which look out on to the Mediterranean Sea with a smattering of historic villages here and there for you to explore.
One such hike that you should try is one that leads you to the top of the Tête de Chien (Dog’s Head) above the Principality of Monaco.
As imposing as it looks, this is a relatively easy hike and totally worth the efforts.
The Tête de Chien is a 550 m high rock promontory near the village of La Turbie in the Alpes-Maritimes department of France. It overlooks the Principality of Monaco, and is the highest point on the Grande Corniche road.
Now there are a few ways one can get to this point and noticeable efforts have been made in the past year alone making it easier to find your way to the top. There is some signage so keep a look for those while on your journey, there are also marked areas along trails with spray paint, yellow spray paint on a rock usually means good path to go, an X spray painted in pink means do not enter but an arrow pink signage also means good to go.
One word of advice, do a bit of research on google maps ahead of time to get an idea of where the trails start and end. We have currently found two ways up. The marked trail closer to Cap d’Ail is the easiest and offers the best views.
If you take the trail closer along the main drive leading up to La Turbie the trail will venture off and take you behind the Tête de Chien which is still not bad it just offers views towards La Turbie at one point but will lead you to the only main street that takes you direct to Tête de Chien.
As with any hike it’s best to plan ahead. Just over year ago on a whim, in the heat, we hiked up half following the main drive up to La Turbie and thought we would save time by cutting through certain areas we thought were trails only to find they all of a sudden ended so then we were in areas especially higher up practically crawling on our hands and knees to try and find the proper trail.
It made for a hilarious story but totally ate up time and we thought we were going to have heart attacks not being the kind of people to give up what we start nor did we bring enough fluids and there is no shop at the top.
There are various ways to get to the main hiking trails. Drive and park next to the Cap d’Ail Tourism office and walk up. The bus (100 Menton or 100 Nice) will also drop you off outside the Cap d’Ail Tourism office or get off the train at the Cap d’Ail station and make your way through the village to the top from there.
La Turbie is 3 kms from Monaco and there is no bus service to the village on Saturday and Sundays. Uber will pick you up but it’s also not that bad to walk down either if you are in La Turbie.
Weekends tend to be busier for this hike but certainly not over crowded plus you will usually be able to see experienced mountain climbers scaling various rock surfaces.
Overall, this is a great hike and the reward at the top is the most extraordinary panoramic sea views imaginable. One visit is not enough.
Disclaimer: Hike at your own risk. There are no park officials on site for help. Wear proper attitude (no flip flop shoes) and take plenty of fluids and food plus your mobile phone. Go with a friend and/or let people know when and where you are going before every hike. For garbage, please keep to the rule of whatever you bring in, you take out.