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Thorenc To Hike

ThoBeau 
It has been said that the most stunning views of the region above Grasse in souteastern France is from the top of Pic de l'Aiglo. With a statement like that, we had to check it out.
 
And so we began our hike from the village of Thorenc with high spirits.

Tucked at the bottom of the mountain range that runs straight like a rock wall, Thorenc sits quietly with its mairie, its office du tourisme, its friendly country store and its auberge des merisiers (closed when we visited)  lined up on main street. In the late 19C and early 20C, the village drew many well-to-do families from Nice looking to escape the heat of summer on the French Riviera and to invigorate lungs and spirits in the lush mountainous sites around Thorenc.

Egliserusse 
Russians loved the region during that time, and a old wooden Orthodox church still bears witness to their presence. Today, the village appears peaceful and awaiting summer when more visitors enjoy it. We were surprised by the number of "For Sale" signs on the beautiful large homes that surround the village.

Onwards with our hike by the Maison Forestière de Bleyne, then up through lush green hills...
ThorencPlain 
We follow the sign (post 105) toward the Pic d'Aiglo...
IMG_3668 
and are soon rewarded with a gorgeous viewpoint:

Thorenc 
 
We continue up, following the sign for "Gréolières"...
IMG_3680 
Thorenc Pine Trees

and enjoy the coolness that the surrounding pine trees provide. Another short leg up to reach the crestline...

Thorenc Heading to Pic de l'Aiglo 
At the top, beyond the underground green water cistern, sheers drop straight down to open up all-around views. Be very careful here, especially if you visit over snow. You see the plains of Thorenc and the Loup Valley, the Audibergue mountain and the snow-capped mountains of the Mercantour. Straight ahead, you spot the site of Casteleras topped with ruins of its ancient oppidum.
Thorenc at Pic de l'Aiglo 
At 1644 meters, Pic de l'Aiglo is one of the high points on the Estéron mountain east of St Auban.

We took the 15 km (round-trip) hike, but you could take a shortcut. Begin at the Col de Bleine (1439 m) and follow the yellow-marked trail and signs to Col de l'Aiglo.

This hike is fine in the late spring, most of summer (not on hot days) and gorgeous in the fall when leaves turn fiery red. Snow won't slow down the pros - they'll just wear snow shoes and plan their day to ensure a safe return ahead of sunset.

How long is the hike? From the Col de Bleine to the Pic de l'Aiglo and back, it's 5 km for a 2-hour hike.

Yes, it's a gentle slope up and a short hike. But as with any hike, you are responsible for your safety: always leave prepared. You're in mountain territory here. Check on weather - it's always cooler around Thorenc than on the French Riviera and dark clouds do come & go suddenly in the mountains, dropping the temperature as they block the sun or on occasion dropping buckets of water! Take water, snacks, cell phone & additional clothing and give yourself plenty of extra time to return before nightfall.

Hiking by Thorenc 


Megalithic French Riviera

Ferrieres2 

With the snazzy Cannes Film Festival currently thriving, it's hard to think of the French Riviera as old-fashioned. Yet if you venture out a bit inland, you'll find that's it's outright pre-historic.

Both the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var count a large number of menhirs, those large pre-historic stones plopped upright and sometimes carved with megalithic art forms.

If you've read our hiking guide to the western french riviera, you may have ventured around the Dolmen de Gaoutabry (hike #26 in the guidebook). That prehistoric burial site dates back some 4,500 years ago.

Closer to the resort town of Agay, not too far from the Cap Esterel vacation resort, you'll find the Ferrieres Menhir. You won't find much of a hoopla around it, not even a sign.

Yet the surrounding footpaths are wonderful, especially in the Spring when flowers are in bloom and the sun still soft. If you're staying at Cap Esterel, ask the center for directions to the footpaths (many of them!) that lead to the Ferrières menhir. Or drop us a line for details.

Ferrieres1 


Meet A Hermann Tortoise

IMG_3562 
At some point in time, the Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni) was commonly seen slowly strolling the Maures and Esterel Mountains of the French Riviera. Nowadays, the tortoise is considered almost extinct in the wild in Southern France.

Why? Because these tortoises are adaptable, many folks grabbed them to keep as pets. Forest fires and land deforesting gave the animals another fatal blow.

We've talked about the Tortoise Village in Gonfaron before here on AzurAlive, Le Village des Tortues (SOPTOM), home to over 2500 tortoises of all kinds. Since its creation, the village has releases over 8000 Hermann tortoises into the Maures.

As local hikers, we are seeing regular signs that the tortoises are coming back to the Maures Mountains. Last month, we spotted one by hiking trails in the Petites Maures by Roquebrune-sur-Argens. Last week, we spotted another one by La Bouverie on the Petit Redon hiking footpath. A good sign for the local SOPTOM efforts and for the local eco-system.

Happy hiking! Turtle