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