Notre-Dame de la Menour chapel with an unbeatable location

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Notre-Dame de la Menour chapel with an unbeatable location

Close to the mountain village of Moulinet and in unique symbiosis with the gorge down to the river Bévéra is a beautiful chapel, which for centuries has been one of the a favorite residences for pilgrims through the Maritime Alps. The location of the chapel of Notre-Dame de la Menour is fantastic and on the outskirts of most tourists’ reach, but is definitely worth a visit.

Chapel Notre-Dame de la Menout in Moulinet
Although the chapel is not located along the coast, it is worth a visit – ©

The trip to Notre-Dame de la Menour

The trip to Notre-Dame de la Menour must be planned thoroughly. The chapel is located 30 kilometers north of Menton, up in the mountains at an altitude of 780 meters, through a serpentine road, which the traditional Monte-Carlo Rally visits every year in January.

We recommend, if you are coming from one of the towns along the coast, driving towards Menton and take the D2566 towards Sospel and, from there on, towards Moulinet.

At a distance of 3 kilometers from the small town of Moulinet, a staircase leads up to the chapel, and you can park your car in the small gravel parking on the right side, just before driving under the viaduct (from Sospel). 

You can see the parking lot in the drone video below.

It’s worth the trouble

Once you stand at the stairs up to the chapel, it’s worth the whole trip. The staircase itself leading up to the chapel was classified as a historical monument in 1937, and the building has played an important role in French history for more than a thousand years.

The earliest information says that the sacred building was originally part of the fortifications of Chateau Menour in the 12th century. Only a small part of the eastern castle wall that crosses the mountain road has been preserved, but it shows that the chapel defended the southern access to the castle.

To the north, the chapel has two apses, which were extended at different times. One has an irregular shape, which dates from the late 12th century, while the other has a more regular spatial shape, which architecturally indicates that it was built about a hundred years later. And most recently, in the 17th century, the building was enlarged and altered in its direction, so that the choir is now oriented towards the east side of the chapel.

Interieur of Notre-Dame de la Menour
The interior of the chapel is beautifully decorated and can be admired 3 times a year.

Inside, the furniture and large frescoes in the vaults are of recent date. The façade and part of the roof were renovated in 2019.

Open three times a year

The chapel is only open for mass three times a year, twice at Easter and once in September.

Lunch at the chapel

When visiting Notre-Dame de la Menour, we recommend a pit stop in Moulinet or in Sospel, which is located 10 kilometers south of the chapel. Both cities offer good opportunities for a cup of coffee or a lunch. And if you bring a packed lunch, the small area outside the chapel offers a bench with a great view for lunch.

The area is also known for many good hikes.

See other interesting chapels on the Côte-d’Azur.

By Tommy Sverre – 2024

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