The Conservatoire du Littoral protects three sibling capes on the St Tropez Peninsula: Cap Camarat, Cap Taillat and Cap Lardier. Cap Lardier is the most southern one, the thumb on a left hand raising three fingers.
Unlike Cap Taillat, with its thin finger of sand that dips into the sea, Cap Lardier appears wide and confident, a rounded promontory of forest that broods over the sea.
On a day such as we had last week (sun and balming temperatures in November), a hike to Cap Lardier is like sweet crème fraiche over a bowl of strawberries. Delicious.
| Time: 2 hours for 5.5 km round-trip |
Highlights: Hug the coastline to the sound of rumbing surf and discover remote coves, a rugged wild cape that points to the distant Iles d'Or. Return facing a green sea of umbrella pines.
Reach the beach community of the Mas de Gigaro, the pretty beach resort of La Croix Valmer.
You can park at the Parking Saint Michel, or on the street, if anything is available. Don't forget to purchase and place a parking ticket on your windshield as street parking is Payant. At the eastern tip of Gigaro, at the beach entrance, the site of the protected Cap Lardier welcomes you with informational signs and restrooms.
The open Sentier du Littoral begins through a cover of mimosas, green oaks, cistes de Montpellier and Eucalyptus trees, likely remnants of athe area's previous life as a campground.
At the end of the beach de Gigaro, the sandy path climbs. A few Umbrella Pines overlook the cliff. Their exposed roots meander across the path like the burrows of moles. A panel indicates the path to the Crique de l'Ilot du Crocodile, named because of its small island and its bumpy shape. Continue left towards the Plage de Jovat 150 meters ahead.
You navigate up and around a few tiny capes, through dense vegetation of maquis: Heading down, the eastern wind carries whiffs of algaes and sweet musty sea salt. The little Plage de Jovat curls up ahead. On the beach, gentle rollers spash the sand and retreat.
In the summertime, when suntan oils cover every inch of St Tropez's Plage de Pampelonne and Plage de Tahiti, a few escapees wiggle their way to the Plage de Jovat or to the next beach, Plage de Brouis. You might decide to take a dip.
As you continue on the coastal Sentier du Littoral, you pass a sign indicating La Maison du Pecheur and continue straight. Up a promontory, the deep green Cap Lardier looms ahead. The sound of birds chirping mixes with the louder rythmn of crushing waves. To your left, leaves of Salsepareille (the Smurfs' favorite food) twist around the foliage of oak trees and bushes.
Umbrella Pines appear over the Cap Lardier like a cover of green mushrooms. By the sea, white rocks tilt towards the hills.
You reach Plage des Brouis and continue a few meters on the sand to rejoin the path to Cap Lardier. A sign warns you of the impeding cliff. Indeed, the climb up steps of thick wooden planks and roots challenges the legs.
You reach the "Les Pins Blancs" promontory slightly out of breath.
To your right, a couple of umbrella pines hug. Continue the path to the right and follow directions to the "Vieux Semaphore de Collebasse." After passing a water citern for use against potential forest fires, you head right to the Sémaphore where white oaks, umbrella pines and the bay of Cavalaire surround you. This makes for a friendly picnic stop (remember to leave nothing behind).
You return to Les Pins Blancs through the same route. There, head back to Gigaro not through the Sentier du Littoral, but through the inland path. The Plage de Gigaro is 2.810 km away.
On the wide forest trail of your return, a sea of dark green umbrella pines stretches over the hill of the Brouis while the Bay de Cavalaire paints the southern view in a deep blue.
Discover the Côte d'Azur's most gorgeous footpaths with our latest hiking guide.
| Note: |
Around 250,000 people visit the protected site yearly.
Many do so delicately, for the purpose of discovery
and thoughtful enjoyment. A few come to tan on its beaches.
Unfortunately, an obstinate small number of visitors pick the site's plants, drop garbage along the trail, venture off-trail and tramp on plants. The Conservatoire du Littoral's aim to balance tourism with protection is a delicate one.
Please be one of the thoughtful visitors - treat the Cap Lardier with respect and leave nothing behind but memories.