Beaulieu: Beautiful by name, beautiful by nature
Beau-lieu translates literally as “beautiful place”. Which may not have stretched the imagination of whomever came up with the name, but it is nonetheless quite apposite. Equally importantly, it’s the perfect place to be based for a cycling trip on the Côte d’Azur…midway between Nice and Monaco, within less than a minute you are on the stunning coast road. You can avoid cycling in the city of Nice altogether if you so wish.
Beaulieu has a substantial selection of hotels from which we can choose including the Michelin-starred “La Reserve de Beaulieu”, but the vast majority of the hotels here are more modest ** and *** establishments offering just as gracious a welcome at a more reasonable price. We will organise your accommodation on a bed & breakfast basis in one of the hotels we know well which offers decent storage for bikes (not all do!).
For people who want the hustle and bustle of the city and a thriving nightlife, then Nice has all that and more. We will organise your accommodation in one of the many hotels in the triangle between the old town (Vieux Ville), the main avenue leading to the station, and the famous Promenade des Anglais. The hotels in Nice tend to be a little more expensive than those in Beaulieu like-for-like.
The group guided rides we organise generally start and finish in Beaulieu, so small groups would need to make their way to Beaulieu from Nice – this is a straightforward 30-minute bike ride along the coast, or less than 10 minutes on the train.
For larger groups staying in Nice with your own guide (private ride), your guide can meet you at your hotel so you can start from there.
“La Petite Afrique” – the beach on the east side of town a few minutes walk from the apartment, with Cap Ferrat visible in the distance
Beaulieu sur mer is surrounded by famous places: Cap Ferrat to the South, its villas owned for the most part by Russian oligarchs; Villefranche-sur-mer to the West with its mediaeval old town and harbour, and amazing sub-terranean cobbled street “Rue Obscure”; and Monaco to the East, all supercars, superyachts, supermodels, supercyclists, and the famous casino.
Whilst it may not be as well known, Beaulieu has a character all of its own: elegant, relaxed, refined. It’s reputation was established when the railway was built along the coast, and Queen Victoria amongst other notables started to visit regularly during the winter months to enjoy the sunshine.
The legacy of English involvement with one of the most chic towns on the Côte d’Azur is visible in the names given to the so-called palaces – the magnificent “belle epoque” hotels (now apartments) built in late Victorian and early Edwardian times: le Bristol, le Victoria, le Palais des Anglais – as well as one of the main roads, Boulevard Edouard VII, and so on.
Le Bristol – classic “Belle Epoque” architecture
Whilst it definitely gets busier in the summer months, Beaulieu is less seasonal than its neighbours, having a higher proportion of year-round residents. As a consequence, it has grown very much as a living town, rather than tourist resort, and as such boasts shops that are actually useful to day-to-day living…like a bike shop!
At its heart is the market square – a pretty space bordered by trees, shops and cafés where les Berlugans (as the people from Beaulieu are known) meet at lunchtime and in the evening. Two main roads criss-cross the town, both lined with shops from the practical and modestly-priced to the luxurious and outrageously-priced.
A couple of minutes walk away from the Place du Marché is the station and supermarket. A few minutes further, and you are at the sea. Two beaches, one at each end of the town; next to them two harbours, the original being small and quaint, the second one being large and home to some astonishing superyachts alongside more modest boats.
The second of the two beaches…this is the one to the west of the town, with the small harbour in the background
To the East, steep cliffs plunge dramatically into the sea. To the north, behind the town, a road zig-zags up the hillside, stunning villas lining the road. It’s hard to imagine somewhere better to be based for a cycling trip!
Beaulieu itself is a lovely place and a great base to ride from…you can climb almost out of the front door and there are lots of different route options to choose fromJames W
Riding from the door you are met with sensational views of the Mediterranean. Depending on your route the climb can begin within minutes of departing or you can ease yourself in along the beautiful coastal road.Simon J
The charming daily food market in the Place du Marché
Although it would be easy to visit Nice for an evening meal or nightlife Beaulieu is a lot less “touristy” and the food was always top-notchRob G
Belle Epoque villas line the road up the hill heading out of town