Roquebrune-Cap-Martin lies between Monaco and Menton- and like so many towns on this dizzyingly steep section of the Riviera, has distinct parts-in this case, 3! Perched high above the coast, you'll find the medieval village of Roquebrune, a very pretty and extremely atmospheric 10th century village with spectacular views. Below is the forested headland of Cap Martin, where grand Belle Epoque villas sit beneath the cool pines. Down on the beach you'll find the resort town of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, where most of the accommodation and new apartment blocks sit in front of a stony beach. Be very aware of which part of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin you are booking in or travelling to, for the beach resort and the medieval village are 2 kilometres ( and significant altitudes) apart, and have extremely different characters. There is a train running from Nice, however, the train station is down by the sea meaning a very steep climb if you want to go to the old village. There is a bus (no 100) that will deposit you below the village (but the remaining steps are very steep), or take the bus no.21 from Monaco or Menton. If driving, take either the Grande Corniche road from Nice or the A8 exit off the motorway.
If you’re looking for somewhere atmospheric to have dinner then try Au Grand Inquisiteur, a tiny stone vaulted restaurant tucked away up near the chateau - it’s so small that the kitchen is in another building on the opposite side of the street! Les Deux Freres, meanwhile, has mesmerising terrace views across the coast and offers up French gastronomy, while elegant Elsa has won a Michelin star for its wonderful use of fresh and local produce- and it's 100% organic. For something less high-falutin but still delicious, head to Euro Pizza, for some of the best pizza, bruschetta and salads you'll find on this side of the Italian border- and refreshingly cheap!
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The main event in Roquebrune is the extraordinary Carolingian-style chateau-fort which has towered over the village for over a thousand years. Built in the 970's to fend off the invading Saracens, it is now half in ruins: wander through the old kitchens, hall of knights, armoury and dungeon. You'll get some heart stopping views from up here too.The village of Roquebrune-Cap Martin dates from prehistoric times and is home to one of the oldest human settlements in Europe - the Caves du Vallonnet. (Check with the tourist office before visiting the Caves du Vallonnet as they are often closed for excavations.)
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Things to Do nearby
Cap Martin is the start of the Corbusier walk, a beautiful and easy stroll around the rocky headland that takes you to Monaco (about 2 hours one- way.) There are also a number of tougher hikes starting from Roquebrune Cap Martin that head off into the mountains beyond the old village - you can access the start of the GR51 from here. Roquebrune is also popular with road bikers and there are some beautiful climbs in the area. For those wanting organised sports, the Monte Carlo Country Club is located in Roquebrune Cap Martin; it has tennis and squash courts, snooker, golf practice and a pool and spa facilities- all with stunning views over the Med. This venue hosts the tennis Monte-Carlo Masters.
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Most of the beach is free access and they have a designated “Handiplage” section where those with disabilities can access the water safely and with assistance. The main beach, Carnoles, runs along the front of the town and is the most popular. There are two others, much smaller and more secluded that are also worth a visit - see our beach guide for details. There are a couple of private beaches and restaurants towards the Cap end of Carnoles beach - family-run L'hippocampe is popular for its good quality home cooking and fantastic views of the bay
There's golfing practice offered at the Monaco Country Club (actually in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin), but for a real golf course the closest is the Monaco Golf Club (actually in La Turbie.) The 18 hole course is quite an expensive place to play, but with extraordinary views and an elegant, historic clubhouse, it's certainly a Riviera experience. For other options on the Riviera, see our golf guide.
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The 'nightlife' high up in Roquebrune village is fairly if not completely tame; drinking a glass of good Provencal wine while watching the twinkling lights of Monaco and listening to busking accordion players is probably much the extent of it. Down in the beach resort there are bars along the seafront which have a bit of a buzz in the summer months. For a seriously glamorous night out, the Monaco side of Cap Martin is home to some very ritzy beach clubs like Sea Lounge- this is where the superyacht set of billionaires and models come to drink cocktails, smoke shisha pipes and lounge about listening to DJ's in front of the shimmering sea. And once in Monaco, there is plenty to do-see our Monaco nightlife guide for more details.
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