Sospel is a more of a mountain town than a quaint little village; as well as having its fair share of crooked back streets and ancient buildings, it also has quite a large population of residents and attracts lots of hikers and bikers, so it doesn't rely entirely on coachloads of sightseers to get by.
On leaving the train station it's a short walk cut through a charming little park to get to the Place des Platanes; a large square with benches, shaded promenades, flowerbeds and a boules club. There is a large market here every Thursday morning and you can still see some 15th century columns dotted about – they are all that remains of the old church of Saint Pierre.
Once you arrive at the River Bévéra look left for a wonderful view of the colourful houses with their trompe l'œil façades on the opposite bank and the old bridge with its fortified gate house. Le Pont Vieux was built as a toll bridge for travellers in the 12th century and was damaged in the Second World War, then rebuilt using the original stones.
Sospel has lots of faded charm in its chipped stones and peeling paintwork; the dark alleyways and hidden courtyards are cool even in the height of summer and far less frenetic than some of the more touristy villages. Some areas are currently undergoing renovation, which is much needed, but it'll be interesting to see how it looks in a year or so. The project plans look sympathetic to the original architecture, so hopefully the town won't lose any of its character.
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