Hike: Rastel d'Agay from Agay
Distance: 7 kilometers
Difficulty: No flat terrain - only ups and downs of medium difficulty; mixed terrain with cemented steps Esterel rocks (mostly), and return section on wide graveled road.
Equipment: Hiking shoes a must, or at least good running/exercise shoes with thick enough soles to taper the sharp rocks and good support. Always carry drinking water as no fountains are available.
We've hiked the Rastel d'Agay before, but from within the Estérel Mountains. See here for details.
There's another way to reach the top of the Rastel d'Agay: heading up from the town of Agay. It's more work to step up from sea level to close to 300 meters. On the other hand, you discover the nesting site of a few nice villas hidden in the Agay hills. Best of all, you don't need a car if you're in Agay.
To reach the trek's starting point, take a look at the Google Map below:
Click to enlarge map
The hike begins within the Domaine du Rastel d'Agay, from the tunnel that tucks under the railroad tracks by a waterway.
You walk up the many steps among mimosa trees and cork oaks and keep heading straight at the intersections with the Rue des Mimosas and Avenue de la Mer then at the intersection with the Avenue des Lauriers Roses and the Avenue du Bourg. You soon reach the Impasse des Bruyères and then up the steps of the Allée G Bruerre.
At the top of the Bruerre steps, turn right onto the Rue du Bourg, then left at the T intersection.
As the road begins to veer to the left, enter what appears to be a private property at #228. Take 55 steps heading down on this wooded alleyway and spot an opening in the wired fence to your left.
Take this path up Esterel rocks. It's fairly steep. The path will swing to the right and up in thick bushes of maquis.
When the path reaches a V intersection (with a rocky cairn when I visited Jan 09, but those can quickly disappear), go left and up.
After a pleasant 15 minutes in the now open paths of the Esterel, you reach a major intersection marked "Groupement Forestier de l'Ubac". This is the Col des Rendez-Vous. You might spot horseback riders around here. There are a couple of stables by the Estérel.
Notice the small St Honoratus chapel by the intersection. Take the small path that heads up right in front of this chapel, by a cork oak tree.
You'll be heading up. Stay on the main narrow path, continue pass a rocky promontory (leaving the promontory on your right) and continue up to the belvedere where an orientation table still stands, badly beaten by the elements.
You can head up to the metallic flag that stands motionless at the top of the rastel. Just head up the footpath set among rocks opposite the sea that makes its way up toward the top. You'll have to climb a couple of short sections.
To return, walk back to the orientation table.
Take the wide and once graveled road that winds down from the orientation table toward the sea.
When you pass a huge cement water cistern, take the small path that heads down in front of the cistern.
When you reach the residential road, take the road on your left. This is the Avenue du Bourg which you walked on briefly at the beginning of the hike.
Pass the dead-end Rue des Pins and head right on the Allée G. Bruerre shortly after, in front of the villa named El Paradon. These steps will look familiar, and more friendly going down.