Alpes-Maritimes (06440) Population: 1,139 Altitude: 372 m
Peillon is a very picturesque, perched fortified village only 20 km north of Nice. The village is very medieval looking, on top of a high narrow rocky peak, with the compact collection of houses in grey stone and narrow little streets winding up and down through low, vaulted passages and sometimes by steep stairs. Peillon is considered as one of the most beautiful perched villages of the Cote d'Azur
It's a pedestrian-only village; the road into Peillon ends at a plaza where you park the car, and you can then enter and explore the village on foot. The only commerce is the couple of hotels/restaurants at the entrance outside the village. There are no shops, no souvenirs, no groceries. There is a very nice "place" in front of the church [photo-7] with benches and a great view, but you have to climb to the very top of the village to get there. The plaza at the village entrance has a nice fountain from 1800, but it's in the busy little parking lot without much charm.
The short drive up the valley from Nice is through a really dismal industrial area, but once at the village you're in a gorgeous area of steep mountains and valleys, little rivers, forests and (usually) clear blue skies.
Peillon Village has a charming small gifts/souvenirs shop called La Maiouneta (the little house in Nice dialect). La Maiouneta is right above the fountain, at the beginning of the "Carrera Centrala" (or Central road) which leads to the Church square at the top of
the village. There you can find post cards, souvenirs, local produce as well as paintings and hand painted ceramics made by local artisans. La Maiouneta opened in October 2000 and caters for the passing tourists and the locals that look for original gifts. It is owned and run by a local girl, Isabelle.
History of Peillon
First record, 12th century Villa Pelone
Peillon was part of the fief of Peille until 1235. The two remained separated until the Revolution, and was ruled by many different co-Lords during the next few centuries.
Prehistoric: A Mesolithic (middle stoneage) tomb with the skeleten of "l'Homme du Rastel" was discovered at the Rastel grotto north of the village. The skeleten is now on display at the antropological museum of Monaco.
Tel : 0493 79 91 04
Mar - Carnaval de Peillon
• GPS: 43.777969, 7.382055
IGN (1/25,000) #3742 OT "Nice-Menton"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #26 "Pay d'Azur"
- Our speed was set to "very slow", so you can do it faster if you like. The trail is beautiful all the way, but parts are fairly steep. It's not suitable if you have hand luggage and, especially the first part, not suitable just after a heavy rain.
- Across the parking lot in front of the station, go up the concrete stairs and left on the paved road (Peillon will be perched in the distance straight ahead). Continue up the road, past the Chemin de Laghet crossing.
- 25 minutes, at a right hairpin: take the small road down angled to the left; 50 m down this road, a trail goes off to the right, just to the left of a private dwelling (wooden gate with pink gate posts).
- Follow the trail around past the house, down steps into a field and then into the woods.
- 5 minutes along the trail you turn right, up a steep hill (of course); this is the only "junction" along the way.
- 45 minutes along the trail (at our slow speed) your trail ("Vallée du Paillon - Ste-Thècle" comes out on a larger "Peillon Village-La Turbie" trail. Follow this trail around to the left another 10-15 minutes, across a pretty little stone bridge and into the back of the village.
There's a good PR trail between Peillon and Peille, about 6 km north-northeast (about 1h30-2h), with the possibility of an alternate route for the return journey.
The "Peillon Village-La Turbie" trail is a PR (petite randonée, clearly marked in yellow) south-southeast from Peillon to La Gorra. There is joins with the GR51 (Balcony of the Cote d'Azur) where you can continue south to La Turbie (about 7 km from Peillon) or head west on the GR51 to the Var river valley.
Two auberges in the village have restaurants.
Train. The village of Peillon is 4 km up a little road from the train station of the Nice-Cuneo line. The Gare de Peillon-Ste Thècle is an unmanned station; if you're catching a train here, you get your ticket on the train. The station is at 181 m altitude and the village 372 m, so it's an uphill trip. If you walk up the road, the many "lacets" (hairpin switchbacks) ensure the climb isn't steep. There's a very beautiful hiking trail from the station to the village (see Hiking), but it's a bit longer and parts are quite steep. There were no signs anywhere for taxis.
Gare-to-Village (1 hour): - Across the parking lot in front of the station, go up the concrete stairs and left on the paved road (Peillon will be perched in the distance straight ahead). - 5 minutes up the road where Chemin de Laghet crosses, turn left, down that small road (Marked no-entry "Sauf riverains" for cars). The road becomes unpaved and ends at a salmon-colored building by the tracks. - Cross the tracks (a pair of red-and-white gates) and follow the road down the hill past the cemetery; you'll come out on the main road that goes up the valley (another 5 minutes). - Turn right and follow the main D21 road 200 m, and turn right on the D121 road up towards the village. It's 3 km up the road to the village. The road goes only to the village, so if you put your thumb out there's a good chance you'll get a ride with someone.