There are times when I hike simply to breathe in gulps of fresh air, to stroll, to relax.
Other times I trek to plunge into a new environment and discover new grounds.
In this south eastern corner of France along the French Côte d'Azur, miles of footpaths cross the country side. Some paths skirt the sea and lead us by ancient Roman vivariums, others have us cool off by riverbeds as we walk from one village to another (see hiking from Biot to Valbonne), others take us around islands or over volcanic rocks (see our hikes postings on the Esterel Mountains).
Some of the hikes start out as exploration and end up as simple strolls.
Recently, I trekked up by the little town of Le Rouret along the rolling hills behind Cannes and just ahead of the Gorges du Loup.
Le Rouret is a quiet village, even if the Pink Floyd keyboardist, Richard Wright, used to live there part of the year (Sep 15, 2008 addendum: we sadly learned today of the death of Richard Wright in London, of a yet-undisclosed form of cancer). Because it's close to the perfume town of Grasse, Le Rouret cultivates patches of flowers that blossom in season with jasmine, violet and roses.
My idea was to hike from Le Rouret and reach the Roman Camp at the top of the forested hill behind the village.
Excavated by a team of archaeologists lead by Paul Goby, at the end of the 19C, the site revealed not just a roman camp site, but ceramic debris dating from the Iron Age.
So off we walked to discover Le Rouret and its Roman wonders.
The walk to the opidum site headed uphill, with a short steep section followed by a gentle climb. The dirt trail passed by a handful of villas, then headed for the woods. Anyone who thinks the French Riviera is nothing more than blocks of palaces by the sea needs to visit these cool wooded hills.
After about forty minutes of gentle uphill following the signs "Camp Romain", we reached the top of the hill...
No Roman ruins.
They were supposed to encircle the top of the hill.
We headed back down the other side of the hill. The dirt road was wide and winding across park-like settings.
In the early 1990's around 30,000 truffle-friendly trees (oaks mostly) were planted in the departement of the Alpes-Maritimes, between the coast and up to 1200 meters altitude. The idea was to cover 300 hectares (600 acres) of truffle farm of "truffières" in this departement by the year 2010 to expand the production of these precious mushrooms.
Today, the Alpes-Maritimes produces about 100 kg a year of cultivated black truffles and another 400 kg is picked up from wild truffle hunts.
This truffiere of Le Rouret is experimental and pretty secretive. Not a lot of information is published about it, possibly to keep intruders out given the price of black truffles.
And thus ended another Côte d'Azur hike filled with discoveries.