Between the sea and mountains, the Côte d’Azur abounds in extremely varied landscapes. Hamlets, lakes, valleys, gorges and even islands: lots of Côte d’Azur wonders to discover during a simple stroll or a bike ride. Whether you’re on a sporting trip or with your family, these sites are sure to turn your head! Here is a selection of the 9 most beautiful hikes not to be missed on the Côte d’Azur!
1 – La Gordolasque – Vallée de la Vésubie
Alpine hiking in the heart of the Parc National du Mercantour.
From the Countet car park in the Gordolasque valley, along the Empuonrame valley, 1,000 metres higher up you reach an incredible place for hiking! Did you know? This valley is the site of the Refuge du Grand Baou, where many of the scenes from the famous series “Belle et Sébastien” were filmed. Be sure to stop there. As you go up, the Refuge will be on your left. From Pas de l’Arpette at 2511 meters, you can see the famous Vallée des Merveilles, the imposing Mont-Bégo and a number of glacial lakes such as Lac Long or Lac des Merveilles. The marmots will accompany you on your hike with their shrill whistles. An ideal hike from June to October.
2 – La Vallée des Merveilles – Vallée de la Roya
Alpine hiking starting from Lac des Mesches in Castérino
In the heart of the Mercantour national park, more than a remarkable hiking site, the Vallée des Merveilles is listed as a historical monument. A communion with nature as you walk alongside the lakes, the shimmering colours of the green, orange, reddish or purple stones testifying to its history. The Vallée des Merveilles contains nearly 40,000 prehistoric rock engravings at an altitude of 2000 metres around Mont-Bego. From Lac des Mesches, go up the Vallon de la Minière to Lac Long (2,111 m) on the shore of which is the Refuge des Merveilles. Then enter the Vallée des Merveilles through a gigantic amphitheatre of smooth walls, called “chiappes”. A signposted route will take you to some of the most famous engravings. An ideal hike from June to October.
3 – LE BAOU DE SAINT-JEANNET
A breathtaking view of the Mediterranean and the Alpine peaks awaits you from the summit!
In the “baous” chain, the Saint-Jeannet summit is distinguished by the exceptional scale of its limestone surface, easily recognizable from as far away as the Côte d’Azur coast. Starting from the village of Saint-Jeannet, the Castellet circuit is worthy of its place in our selection of the most beautiful hiking routes on the Côte d’Azur. The view is breathtaking from the top. The ensemble formed by the baou and the village of Saint-Jeannet perfectly symbolizes the art of integrating buildings into their natural environment. Allow 4 hours for this hike of nearly 8 kilometres. It is an ideal hike for the spring or autumn.
4 – LE RASTEL D’AGAY – MASSIF DE L’ESTEREL
Estérel: a not to be missed place to hike on the Côte d’Azur!
On foot or by bike, the Massif de l’Esterel is a must-see place. Created 250 million years ago, this volcanic massif is easily recognizable thanks to the red colour of the rock. There are numerous possibilities for hiking: Mont-Vinaigre, Dramont, Cap Roux, Corniche de l’Estérel from Théoule to Trayas… But our favourite hike is Rastel d’Agay. Go to Avenue Gratadis in Agay to start this easy 2½ hour hike. From the orientation table, you will enjoy a magnificent view of the bay of Agay, as well as Saint-Tropez up to the Baie de Cannes.
5 – ILE SAINTE-MARGUERITE IN CANNES
Lush nature and a change of scenery are guaranteed for this hike, which will seduce young and old alike!
Located in the Baie de Cannes, Ile Sainte-Marguerite is the largest of the two Iles de Lérins. In the heart of a luxuriant nature, Ile Sainte-Marguerite should be explored on foot for a total change of scenery. From the landing stage, go up a few steps to reach the track on your right heading towards the Batéguier pond. Then, walk around the whole island along the coast in the shade of the magnificent umbrella pines and eucalyptus trees. Don’t forget to stop on one of the island’s many beaches or coves for a break. A visit to the Royal Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will undoubtedly give your walk a fascinating taste of history.
6 – LES GORGES DE L’ESTÉRON
Beautiful hike from the village of Bouyon in the Vallée de l’Estéron!
Close to the crystal clear waters of the Clue de la Cerise, the Gorges de l’Estéron hiking route will reveal the picturesque villages of Les Ferres and Bouyon. The spectacle of these narrow limestone gorges, flown over by many species of birds of prey such as eagles, falcons, hawks and buzzards, is truly stunning. This 5-hour hike starts at the top of the village of Bouyon, heading towards Les Ferres via the ridges. After discovering the village, go down the track to the famous Pont de Cerise and then head for the oratory of Notre-Dame-du-Brec, a stone sentinel over 3 metres high that watches over the Gorges de l’Estéron.
7 – PRESQU’ILE DE GIENS – HYERES
A dream walk to explore the coast of the Presqu’île de Giens.
From Port de la Madrague, skirting the sea, go for a 3½ hour hike to discover the Giens peninsula. You’ll fall in love with the beauty of this coastal path and its sublime rocky landscapes that provide a striking contrast between the green vegetation and the blue Mediterranean. The panorama is truly exceptional covering holm oak forests, pine forests, cliffs and small secret coves where you can combine hiking with a dip in the Mediterranean.
8 – THE EMBLEMATIC ROCHER DE ROQUEBRUNE
From the top, enjoy an unforgettable view of the Estérel, Argens and Fréjus!
Well known for its red and ochre colour, the Rocher de Roquebrune stands out majestically above the Plaine de l’Argens at 376 metres. From the ridges, the panoramic views offered by this site, listed as a Natura 2000 site, are breathtaking. Rocher de Roquebrune is of course the subject of our 8th hiking idea on the Côte d’Azur. The start is at the Chapelle Saint-Roch car park, as you leave Roquebrune heading for Puget. A signposted path will take you to the top of the rock with its famous three crosses carved by Bernar Venet.
9 – LES GORGES DU CIANS
A sporting hike from Beuil in the breathtaking landscape of the Gorges du Cians!
Let’s leave the coast for the peaks! The impressive Mont-Mounier and its blackish limestone rock, which contrasts with the vegetation, is at the centre of this 8th hiking route. The highest limestone massif on the Côte d’Azur has a majestic relief, with completely unspoilt gorges giving it the feel of paradise! This hike, reserved for well-equipped and well-trained walkers, will allow you to discover the famous Canyon du Cians. Ideal hike from June to October.
The 9 best hiking routes
On the Côte d’Azur
Who hasn’t dreamed of changing lives one day and earning a living doing something you love? Two years ago, I left my job as an engineer to become a photographer, videographer and digital nomad. Living in Nice, I fell under the spell of the Côte d’Azur. This region has made me what I am today: a fulfilled sportsperson that loves and respects nature. I share the beauty of this area and its many sporting possibilities and show you the things that made me fall in love with it!
By Isabelle FABRE
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