Roquebrune-Cap Martin Travel Guide

Nestled between the Principality of Monaco and the charming town of Menton, Roquebrune-Cap Martin is a famous location on the French Riviera. It is a perfect hideaway from the urban glitz of Monaco (in fact, Karl Lagerfeld had a vacation estate in Cap Martin), far from the noises of Nice.

As one of the medieval perched-villages, Roquebrune rises up to 300 meters in altitude. It offers an all-out experience for an ideal luxury retreat. The historical architecture and monuments are pleasant treats for history lovers. There are medieval, and even a prehistorical, attractions, with magnificent villas and avant-garde structures to balance the experience of every visitor.

With lush vegetation sprawling all over and the unspoiled coastline, Cap Martin has breathtaking views stretching from Italy to Monaco.

Iconic Riviera is once again taking you to this another one-of-a-kind journey to the quintessential town of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on this travel guide. Let us show you a preview of the surprises this town in the French Riviera has to offer.

Introductory information

Roquebrune-Cap Martin is a commune in the Alpes Maritimes départment. It has around 12,000 inhabitants, and locals are called Roquebrunoises. The local dialect is Roccabruna, but the majority of the inhabitants speak French.

The town got its name from the brown stones that were used to build the old houses in the village. There are two major districts: the historic perched-village (Roquebrune) and the more modern coastal area (Cap Martin).
roqubrune cap martin old village, french riviera

Further division of the town includes five urban areas. They have different features depending on their location, but most have interesting spots that tourists can visit.

Roquebrune, the old town, is the perched-village with the castle. The medieval town is overlooking the coastline of the French Riviera. It has narrow streets, arched passages, intimate little squares under the shades, and ancient fountains.

Cabbé, Bon-Voyage, and Serret are mostly residential areas with the typical steep setting of the French Riviera. It is also the place for several architectural and cultural heritage.

Saint-Roman is on the borders of Monaco with sports and leisure facilities.

Carnolès is the primary urban center of the town.

Cap-Martin marks the town’s booming resort tourism. The magnificent villas dotting the area are reminiscent of the belle epoque. They have their prominence in the area while the thick woodland surrounds them around the peninsula.

What to see Around the Town

roquebrune cap martin, french riviera

Nature Trails in Roquebrune-Cap martin

You must not miss the millennial olive tree. You can see this ancient tree east of the Roquebrune village. Many consider it as one of the oldest olive trees in the world, hence the name, and some sources say that it might be older than 2,00 years old.

It has a total circumference of 23.5 meters and a total mass of foliage measuring 18 meters wide. The historian and minister Gabriel Hanoteaux saved it from being taken down by purchasing the land where it is planted.

The tree still produces little black olives.

Cap-Martin Park is a lovely public park in the center of the plateau with numerous olive trees aging several hundred years old. There are also contemporary sculptures and some busts of famous personalities who stayed in the town.

There is a playground for kids to enjoy and a place to buy snacks and drinks.

promenade la corbusier roquebrune cap martin

Another nature trail is the Promenade le Corbusier. It was the “custom’s path” for a long time before and still serves as a link between the point of Cap Martin and Monaco following the edges of the sea.

It weaves its way to many private estates on Cap Martin and has a magnificent seaside landscape all around. You can find along the path the bust of the architect Le Corbusier, his Cabanon, and E1027 house.

Cros de Caste Park is a very suitable place to relax and do some outdoor activities while enjoying the stunning view of nature. This 9 hectares land is in the hills of Roquebrune-Cap Martin and has pathways around military forts.

It is one of the 16 regional parks that the Maritime General Council established.

Historical sites In Roquebrune-Cap Martin

Roquebrune town is one of the earliest human settlements in prehistoric times, and the Vallonnet cave testifies to it. The cave is a prehistoric site and is one of the known earliest settlements in Europe.

Its location is on the western slope of Cap Martin and 120 meters above the bay of Menton. Opening up onto a ravine with a small creek, it drops down into the bay.

The series of discoveries during the 1960s led to its declaration as a Historic Monument. The site is closed to the public, but the chance to see the findings is on the exhibit Grotte du Vallonnet à Roquebrune at Menton’s Regional Museum of Prehistory.

lumone tomb, roquebrune cap martin, french riviera

One Roman antiquity is also present in the area. The Tomb of Lumone is the only remnant of the Roman way station Lumone built during the 1st century before our common era.

It also served as a Roman funeral monument for a nearby ancient Roman villa of Julia Augusta. You can see the vaulted arches, inscriptions, and some traces of fresco decorations.

For a medieval experience, see the Château de Roquebrune. It is the hilltop castle and belongs to the list of the oldest fortresses in Francs and a surviving example of Carolingian fortress.

Some of the castle’s interiors look like the builders carved them from the solid rock mass. Decorations are set-up on many rooms and halls so visitors can have the feel of the medieval period.

The topmost part of the château opens to many picturesque views of the Mediterranean coast. On the area around you can see ancient lavoirs (traditional wash areas), Place des Deus Frères, St-Marguerite Church, and the Thousand-year-old oak tree.

Architectural heritages

cabanon le corbusier roquebrune cap martin french riviera

One interesting structure is a small cabin in the bay, the Cabanon Le Corbusier, The notable French architect Le Corbusier (1187-1965), a pioneer of modern architecture, built this beach hut to serve as his holiday retreat.

He lived here until his death in 1965. It belongs to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site, being the smallest of them. Inside, you can see the mural paintings and other works of Le Corbusier while noticing the harmony of the interior.

This cabin is an excellent example of modulor and minimalist functionalism in architectural designs. A lush garden surrounds the cabin, and there are five comping units in the area that Le Corbusier designed himself.

e1027 roquebrune cap martin french riviera

Another important structure is the E1027 house. It is one of the outstanding icons when it comes to modernity in architecture.

The celebrated Irish designer Eileen Grey created this seaside villa together with the pieces of furniture inside. The house overlooks the bay facing Monaco.

It has an intimate open interior, ingeniously designed free and fixed furniture, and evocative gardens. Murals from Le Corbusier is also present inside and outside.

Together with the Cabanon Le Corbusier, the nearby restaurant, and the camping units, this villa is part of the exceptional real estate complex called “Cap Moderne.” It is currently undergoing restoration and will be available to the public in 2020.

Beaches

There are a number of beaches to have fun within Roquebrune-Cap Martin. The Carnoles beach is a pebbly beach that stretches over a kilometer on the coast.

This beach is more urbanized than the other beaches in the town. It has a good view of nearby Menton on the east. The offshore breakwater makes it a good place for kids to take a dip.

Another good beach is Le Buse, a public beach in Cabbé bay. It is also a pebbled beach which you can reach on foot from the nearby train station car park.

The other way is through the Promenade Le Corbusier. Freshwater springs surge up beneath the sea among the rocks of Cap Martin and Pointe de Cabbé. To watch the beautiful Riviera sunset, be sure to stay here until sundown.

Le Golfe Blue is also in Cabbé bay, but separated to and larger than Le Buse. It serves as a landing area for paragliders and hang-gliders from Mont Gros.

Depending on the season, this beach is only accessible by two rails, one from Chemin de Golfe Belu or through the Customs path.

FINAL TAKE AWAY

To have a respite from the glitziness of the rest of the French Riviera, take time to visit this fantastic perched town. With its languid shores, crystalline water, antiquated spirit, and romantic location between Monaco and Menton, Roquebrune-Cap Martin in the French Riviera is truly an exceptional place to have an unforgettable sojourn.