Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Guns and roses (well mimosa at least!) - walking/riding and military history holidays on the French Riviera
While most of your time spent in Sainte Agnès might be spent escaping from the heat of the French Riviera some 800m below, and where many a happy hour can be wiled away in its tranquil streets admiring the craft shops or taking a jar in the Hotel Saint-Yves or the splendidly located Restaurant Le Righi, do spare a thought for the village’s rich history. For sure you might be surprised to see an excitable American chasing a troupe of horses round the village which will take you back to cowboy days, but Sainte Agnès conceals much more. In the 16th Century the House of Savoy built a fortification in Sainte-Agnès, which was a strategic location between the Counts of Provence and Genoa. The fortress hosted no small amount of action between the French and the Sardinians, and became part of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia between 1814-1860.
In the 20th Century the Maginot fortification was planned to defend the Bay of Menton and to prevent attack on the coastal cities from the north. In the SE of France, the Maginot Line became the Alpine Line or the Little Maginot line. Built between 1932 and 1938, the “ouvrage” in Sainte Agnès consisted of one entry block, two artillery blocks, two infantry blocks and one observation block which faced Italy, plus underground catacombs of more than 2000m2. Perched at 780m it was one of the most powerfully armed sites of the Maginot line and even today many of the guns are in working order.
Ste Agnès can be visited everyday from June to October and at weekends in winter months.
Military buffs might well be interested in the military relics of the Maginot Line in the Alpes Maritimes which gives details of all the military relics of the Maginot Line in the Alpes-Maritimes, in the late 1920s up to some 400 installations were being planned. Further images of the Maginot Line can be found on www.fortweb.net. Many of the sites today do require some finding, and come right up to the Vésubie valley near to the base of spacebetween, Mercantour walking holidays and accommodation specialists, who don’t do specific military history targeted breaks but would be bound to help visitors to get the most out of their break in this lovely part of the world.They do also offer more general walking breaks around the beautiful village of Sainte-Agnes, which military history or not is a splendid base for a holiday, and further north in the Mercantour.
The photo is dusk returning to the Med, and Sainte Agnes after a day out on horseback. For local horse riding contact Denis Longfellow on 00 33 622 295 886.