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The old capital of Ventimiglia County

About 20km/12m north of Menton in the valley of the river Bévéra the fascinating medieval village of Sospel lies waiting to be discovered.

It’s hard to believe today but Sospel was once the capital of the County of Ventigmiglia. It was an important stop on the Route de Sel which linked the coast with Turin in Italy. Even today it is on the main road to Piedmont from the Côte d’Azur.

There are many old houses in Sospel. One of the oldest is the Palais Ricci on the south bank bearing a plaque commemorating a visit by Pope Pius VII in 1809. Nearby is the Cathédrale St-Michel with its Renaissance façade and 13th century belltower.

Sospel’s fortified bridge

The most fascinating structure in Sospel is however the 12th century fortified bridge, or pont Fortifié, across the Bévéra. This unusual structure leads into the other half of the old town on the north bank of the river. In former times it was a toll booth on the Route de Sel and later housed the tourist information office although this is now located on avenue Jean Médecin.

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Nice Beyond: Driving the Roya

Amazing mountains, fast flowing rivers and a valley of marvels

Text © Paul Shawcross

Images by © Paul Shawcross