Guide to Sospel in the alps Maritime
First, Let me say thanks to whoever recomended Villa Amiel in sospel. It was actually better than you said.
Second. There is a very good guide to sospel in english which we found in the tourist office and have since found on line for free.
Its called 'Secret Sospel' and it tell you all about the town. It has been written like a guided tour round the town and was fun as well as informative to do.
You can get it from http://www.sospel06.com
All the best BBB
- Hiking and Walking
The river Bevera, splitting Sospel in two
On it's way down the mountains, the river Bevera is splitting Sospel in two halfs. The famous bridge runs high over it, as this is very necessary in the times the snow melts and the river wtaer is rising to a wild massive level taking everything with it on it's path South towards the mediterranean sea. Usually it is however a calm peaceful river attracting many eyes (and ears) to enjoy the valleys view.
Inside the cathedral of Sospel
Of course you have to go inside the cathedral and there awaits you again a stunning spectacle of pastel colours and silver, gold as well as magnificent paintings and statues. The retable of Francois Brea symbolising the holy madonna surrounded by angels is a true work of art and attracts the eye for a long time.
And then suddenly ... there it is: the Cathedral
Walking thruogh the gate and down the stairs of the alley behind it we are not knowing what surpise awaits us. Until we are on a square and often first look right to streets leading away and then turn around and almost tumble backwards from the beauty that suddenly appears in front of us. On the other side of a sunny square a baroque facade is rising up besides a roman old bell tower of grey stones. This is the cathedral of Sospel and now it's hard to believe that Sospel actually was the seat of a bishop, but indeed in medieval times it was. The square (Place Saint Michel) is wonderful and the facade full of nice details. The "Eglise Saint-Michel" (Saint Michael's church) is dating back to the 10th century, though the facade is later added on the front of the church.
Parts of the town wall and entrance gate
At the top of the road we have been following we see an old brick stone wall with a gothic shaped gate in it. Somewhat further is a ruin of a tower. Some say they date back to Roman times, but medieval they are for sure. These are the remainders of the town hall that once surrounded Sospel and kept unwished visitors out. In front of the gate are fountains with large drinking boxes (for the mules and donkeys that transported the salt). In the wall is a small maid Mary statue, blessing the people entering the town as well those who leave it.
The old town of Sospel ...
From the town hall square go up the narrow alley on your left hand side. One immediately can enjoy the old town with three to four story high old buildings and steep streets with old stones and stairs. Some houses are in need of new plaster layers, other look fine and colourful with pastel tints walls. Some windows have flowers in trunks ouside and the view over the little stream running towards the Bevera into the mountains is beautiful.
Town of water, refreshing place along the route
As told, Sospel was a very important town along the salt route that ran between Italian Torino and the Riviera coastal towns (Menton, Nice and others). Salt was extremely important for conservation of food (fish!) and necessary for making leather of animal skin. The road through the mountains was long and heavy and the transport was done with mules and donkeys. Fresh water was not always easily available, but in Sospel it was the trademark of the town. Numerous fountains were available and special drinking boxes were standing ready for the animals. The animals have disappeared (though around Sospel you still can see some) but the fountains are still there and the water is still running.
"Hotel de Ville", the town hall or "mairie"
Sospel is already long time a town, though in present day it still is small. In the mountains along the salt route between Torino and the Cote d'Azur (Nice) it however took a very important place. The town hall is a colourful building where proudly the Fremch flag hangs outside. Alongside a square with some terraces and fountains.
Sospel Westbank ... in the town's centre
West of the river Bevera is the largest part of Sospel, including the most important public buildings. A scenic walk in this part will give away some wonderful secrets as well as the towns history and story. Follow the next "must see activities" around in a walk through Sospel. We start at the parking across the street of the town hall (Mairie) and the little central park of the town.
Sospel Eastbank ... the town's silent side
Walking over the bridge one enters a wonderful square with irregular stones from which narrow alleys run away in three directions. This is the silent and least visited side of the old town and here one finds some little secrets that are known by the inhabitants. The school and two churches (one not used anymore) as well as old houses that often are badly maintained. Up the hill one finds the green side of Sospel, in little footpaths going up and passing wonderful gardens and olive tree yards. Still, to know the town a walk here
The symbol of Sospel: the old bridge
When driving through Sospel you can't miss it. Connecting the two sides of the town, the bridge over the river Bevera is like an ancient symbol of Sospel. It dates back to the 11th century and all this time kept the road between the two halfs of Sospel. The tolehouse was removed in the first half of the 20st century, but rebuilt again later. In it is the tourist information.
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