Ever since we arrived here, we have noticed Fort du Mont Alban looming over the hillside with a commanding view of Villefranche-sur-mer and the surrounding countryside. We had learned that Fort du Mont Alban, like La Citadelle de Saint-Elme was built around 1555. We also learned that in the 1600′s when the famed French military engineer Vauban dismantled most of the coastal defense forts in the area, he deliberately spared both of these Villefranche forts because he considered them exceptionally well built. At least, that’s how the story goes.
According to the French-written hiking guide we consulted, one should plan on an “easy” two hour hike with a 220 meter (72o feet) elevation gain. Jill, Rich and Henry Warner departed around 10:00 AM dressed lightly and carrying water and cameras. Dawn elected to stay at the apartment. There is no way to get from sea level in Villefranche to Fort du Mont Alban on foot, other than by going up. And up. And up. While most of the route entails simply climbing stairs, there are indeed a lot of them. We all agreed that the hike is “easy” in terms of technical difficulty, but we would rate it more accurately as “moderate” in terms of effort. You will do some huffing and puffing by the time you reach the summit.
In addition to getting a nice workout, the hiker is soon rewarded with spectacular views of Villefranche-sur-mer and the Mediterranean.
It was a beautiful, warm day, but not overly hot or humid. We have not had a drop of rain in the two plus weeks since we have been here and today was no different.
It took us about 45 minutes to reach the summit, but that included numerous water and picture-taking breaks. The Fort du Mont Alban is not open for inside viewing, but the exterior is quite impressive and worth the hike, in my opinion. Needless to say, the view is expansive in 360 degrees. We could even look down onto the Nice Promenade de Anglias, where just three days earlier a terrorist had struck the crowd celebrating the Fête Nationale of France. We spent about half an hour roaming the fort grounds before heading down. As the saying goes, it was all downhill from there!