Monday, March 1, 2010

La Turbie and Roman ruins

If you want to see an iconic French Riviera film, then To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, is the one. In the film Grace Kelly takes Grant for a ride in her convertible at wild speed on the Grande Corniche (rather unnerving to watch considering her tragic crash near this area many years later). The Grande Corniche is the most breath-taking, winding coastal road on the Riviera. As you drive along it and reach the village of La Turbie, an extrordinary sight comes into view: the remains of a Roman ruin rise up behind the medieval hilltop town.

The Trophy of Augustus was built about 2,000 years ago to celebrate the victory of Augustus over the people of the Alps. It was partially restored during the early part of the 20th century and the steep climb is worth it to see the beautiful views over the sea and down to Monaco. There is a a tiny, rather shabby, but none the less interesting museum attached to the site. But the pleasure is seeing the architecture of the monument and walking through its wild hill-top setting.

If you want to eat at a really good restaurant with the locals, try Café de la Fontaine on La Turbie's main road. It's a blackboard menu and one of the better meals I have had on the Riviera recently. Honest steak and chips and other simple rustic dishes in a great atmosphere.