Côte d’Azur - The French Riviera Trek
A few kilometers away from the Mediterranean shores, between Cannes and Menton, stands an impressive limestone wall with large plateaus and deep gorges. Not easily accessible, this southern foothill of the Alpine range used to be a natural shelter for local inhabitants against invasions coming from the sea. This gave birth to numerous defensive villages located on vertiginous rock peaks. Often built on different levels and crossed by narrow alleys, many of them still have the same aspect today, outdoing each other in charm and loveliness. The several mule tracks that used to link them together clung to the wall or at the edge of the plateau, offer an original and panoramic route over the French Riviera. These very charming surroundings have always been conductive to artistic inspiration and meditation: painters, novelists, philosophers, musicians and film-makers. The purity of light, the lush vegetation and the prettiness of the small villages of the area have been praised for ever and made the place a vast and very active art gallery.
Day 1: GRASSE
Welcoming of the travelers late in the afternoon. Accommodation: hotel on a bed and breakfast basis in Grasse, the French Perfume Capital, an artistic town with important cultural heritage.
Day 2: GRASSE - PONT DU LOUP
Before leaving, possibility to visit Grasse Old Town and the famous Fragonard perfumery. Then the itinerary rises above the town to become a panoramic route. It goes down again towards the lovely hilltop village of Bar sur Loup. You will then reach Pont du Loup, at the entrance of the gorges. Accommodation: half-board in a hotel in Pont du Loup. Hiking duration: around 4 hours and a half (16km); cumulative ascent: 400 m – cumulative descent: 550 m.
Day 3: PONT DU LOUP - COURMES
The day starts with a small ascent towards the medieval village of Gourdon via the “Chemin du Paradis”. After strolling in the small alleys and into the craftsman stores, the route continues towards the bottom of the gorges through an amazing path carved into the cliff and dotted with tunnels and viewpoints overhanging the Gorges du Loup…. Unforgettable! The trail will lead you to Courmes, a tiny village located above the gorges. Accommodation: half-board in an inn in Courmes. Hiking duration: around 5 hours and a half (13 or 16km); cumulative ascent: 700 m; cumulative descent: 250 m.
Day 4: COURMES - VENCE
Start of the hike in a lovey small valley, leaving the village of Courmes to reach the plateau of St Barnabé ant its small chapel. The track sneaks into an arid landscape notched by deep valleys and then goes down towards Vence, a small town that attracted great painters like Matisse or Dufy… Take the time to walk through the old town and its sheen old houses. Accommodation: bed and breakfast in a hotel. Hiking duration: around 5 hours (15km); cumulative ascent: 470 m; cumulative descent: 770 m.
Day 5: VENCE - ST-JEANNET
Ascent to the Baou des Blancs before walking around it towards the Plan des Noues, a limestone plateau dominated by the Col de Vence. Crossing of the steep-sided valley of La Cagne at Le Pas de l’Escalier, the route then leads on the other side of the ravine to the famous Baou de St Jeannet. This huge limestone headland, from which you can see the sea, dominates the village of more than 400 meters. Descent towards the village of St Jeannet, at the foot of the cliff. Accommodation: half-board in a hotel or a “chambre d’hôtes”. Hiking duration: around 5 to 6 hours (20km); cumulative ascent: 500 m; cumulative descent: 630 m.
Day 6: ST-JEANNET- STE-AGNES
Taxi transfer from St Jeannet to La Turbie after breakfast (40 minutes). Walk towards the Col de Guerre via the Mont Bataille. Ascent to the Mont Agel via the Col de l’Arme, you will go over Monaco and pass near the RMC radio antennas. The view over Monaco is stunning! You then go down to the hilltop village of Gorbio before going up again towards Ste Agnès, the highest village of the coastline (766m) and the nearest to the sea (4 km). Accommodation: half-board in an inn. Hiking duration: around 5 hours (14km); cumulative ascent: 700 m; cumulative descent: 300 m.
Day 7: STE-AGNES - MENTON
You’re going down, down, down towards Menton and the Mediterranean sea. The relief is very sharp and impressive, with extraordinary dominating views. Menton is already a very Italian-like town, full of colors… and the Mediterranean Sea is waiting for you! Hiking duration: 3 hours (10km); cumulative descent: 700 m.
Day 8: MENTON departure
Accommodation and luggage transportation:
Alternation between hotels of different categories and family inns, en-suite rooms. Breakfast and dinner (except dinners in Grasse, Menton and in Vence); meals are served within the accommodations. Lunchpacks can be booked in the accommodations on the previous day or by phone two days before. Luggage transfers are included.
Single room supplement: 215 Euro
The price includes: Roadbook (itinerary description in English and detailed walking maps); accommodation and meals as mentioned, luggage transfers; taxi transfer on Day 6; local tourist taxes;
The price does not include: other meals and transfers, personal expenses; entry fees;
Tips: Best travel period: spring and autumn. Best airport to use: Nice-Côte d'Azur Airport. There is a Nice (airport) => Grasse shuttle available every day (departure times very frequent, every hours or every 30 minutes)-Ouest RCA. There is a train station in Grasse but depending on where you’re coming from, it might be easier to go to the Cannes train station, and then take a bus between the Cannes and the Grasse train stations: line 600 – RCA Company – TAM. Information at 0 820 48 11 11 and on : www.rca.tm.fr.
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