May is a lovely month on the Côte d'Azur. Not only is it often sunny as it points the way to summer, but it has lots of jours féries often extended with ponts that bridge a day off work with another day off into order to reach a weekend or possibly another day off. Gently and without straining, the single day off stretches into a short week off. It's a brilliant touch on an already wonderful month, sort of like a stained glass window over an arched doorway.
So Antoine and I decided to celebrate the ponts of May by hopping on a few stone bridges in the Parc Departemental de La Brague, west of Biot and east of Valbonne.
This wooded La Brague park is huge: 1500 acres (633 hectares). It shoulders the sprawling Silicon Valley center of the French Côte d'Azur, the Parc Technologique de Sophia-Antipolis. What's more, Parc de La Brague links the villages of Biot and Valbonne so you can hike from one village to another.
We trekked the 18 kilometers (round-trip) along the La Brague river banks. The round-trip walk takes about 6 hours at a very leisurely pace.
The entire walk takes place alongside the river, under the umbrage of European Alders (les Aulnes) and their rounded leaves, the Ash trees (Les Frênes), linden or lime trees (Les Tilleuls), by the wide fronds of moisture-loving ferns. The small cascades make the river gurgle. All we could hear was water splashing and a few birds singing spring. No cars except for one fleeting road intersection at Le Bruguet.
The trees rule at La Brague. In fact, they speak. Don't believe me? Next time you visit, take a look at their roots. And see what this tree did to the "No Hunting" sign?
If you leave Biot before 10AM, you can reach Valbonne for lunch, stroll around town (you might think you're elsewhere - English is widely spoken in the little streets of international Valbonne) and return to Biot on time for dinner. We had to be back by 7PM so we ended up running part of the return leg. The terrain is rocky part of the way, with jumble of roots over the footpath - I don't recommend running it with a recovering sprained ankle...
Interested in more gorgeous walks in the French Côte d'Azur? Check out our latest hiking guides.