Philippe Gatta
Version française

Trail Running and Mountain Biking in France

Trail running in the Park of Mercantour (© A. Gatta)
Trail running in the Park of Mercantour (© A. Gatta)

Introduction

Philippe presents some trail running that he has done in the French Riviera (Alpes Maritimes). He has chosen those trails based because of the amazing landscapes, variety, physical or technical challenge physique, training value (long ascent/descent, technical trail...), etc. All these trails have been done without support which means carrying out pack, water, food, clothes, safety and orientation gear... Some of these trails are short and easy, others are much longer or more technical. Some are quite remote, not so well marked, far way from water spring and of phone reach.

The distances have been measure with IGN 25 000e maps, Georando software and Google Earth. The real distances are often larger, especially when there are a lot of switchbacks.

The total ascent and descent have been measured with Suunto watches X6, T6 ou GPS Suunto X10. These true ascent are usually higher than the ones calculated by navigation software such as Georando.

The trails are briefly described using references to the signposts shown on the IGN maps and on the ground. They are mentioned as Bxx in the description where xx is the signpost number. The routes can be downloaded as Google Earth KML file or GPX file.

Many other Trails are described on the blog.

Note that the name have been translated in English.

The map at the bottom of the page shows most of the trails listed in the table below.


# Name of the Trail Start Valley Distance Ascent Descent
1 Around Jas Jausserand Saint Jeannet Littoral 13 600 600
2 Malaussène - Mount Vial Malaussène Moyen Var 14 1300 1300
3 Venanson - Caire Gros - Mount Tournairet Venanson Vésubie 18 1200 1200
4 Lauvet d'Ilonse Ilonse Tinée 19 750 750
5 Pierlas - Lauvet d'Ilonse - Pommier Pierlas Cians 19 1000 1000
6 Lantosque - Granges de la Brasque Lantosque Vésubie 20 1400 1400
7 Tour du Mouton d'Anou Saint Jeannet Littoral 22 970 970
8 Plan du Var - Mount Vial Plan du Var Littoral 23 2000 2000
9 Coaraze - Cime de Roccassièra - Mount Férion Coaraze Paillon 25 1600 1600
10 Clans - Mount Tounairet Clans Tinée 25 1700 1700
11 Roquebrune - Cime du Baudon - Ste Agnès Roquebrune Littoral 26 1500 1500
12 Moulinet - Mangiabo - Authion - Turini Moulinet Bévéra 30 1800 1800
13 St Grat - Madone de Fenestre - Vallée des Merveilles St Grat Gordolasque 30 2500 2500
14 Tête du Pommier, Col Couillole, Les Cluots Pierlas Cians 35 2000 2000
15 Transvésubienne La Colmiane Traversée 36 1800 3100
16 Lantosque - Authion Lantosque Vésubie 38 2400 2400
17 Pont du Loup - Caussols - Cipières Plan du var Littoral 47 2000 2000
18 Plan du var - Férion - Utelle - Mount Vial Plan du var Littoral 55 4300 4300
19 Peira Cava - Breil - l'Arpette Peira Cava Vésubie - Roya 70 5200 5200
20 Pas de la Cavale à Utelle par le GR 5 Pas de la Cavale Traversée des Alpes Maritimes 105 5850 7630



Around Jas Jausserand (13 km , +-600 m)

Small trail perfect for training but a bit technical and rocky. Since it's a loop, it can be done in both direction.

Itinerary: park your car at Saint Jeannet. Cross the village till Notre Dame des Champs (church), descend toward the climbing site of the Source then go up to the Ruine. At the first crossing (signpost) take the GR 51 on the left until the signpost 15. Take to the right to the Jas Jausserand (B14, B13). Descend to St Jeannet (B12).

GPS route: Trail around Jas Jausserand in KML format. Trail around Jas Jausserand in GPX format

Other option: It's possible to shorten the trail when crossing the GR 51 : take right toward the Bergerie des Allouchs then to St Jeannet. Distance: 8 km, +-400 m.

Baou of Saint Jeannet (© A. Gatta)
Baou of Saint Jeannet (© A. Gatta)

Malaussène - Mount Vial (14 km, +-1 300m)

This trail is located in the North face of Mount Vial in a nice forest. It is very shady and can be done even in summer. The total ascent is a bit lower than the trail on the South side but it is very steep between 800 m and the top, so a very good training. The view from the pass and the top of Mt. Vial is great.

Itinerary: park at Malaussène, cross the village going toward the pass of Serse and the Mt Vial (B6, B7, B8). At the top of Mount Vial (1 541 m) take th etrail to the pass of Vial which roughly follow the crest (B285, B284, B283, B282, B281). At the pass of Vial descend to Malaussène (B9, B10, B11). Be carfull to not miss the crossing at the B10.

GPS route: Trail Malaussène - Mount Vial in KML format. Trail Malaussène - Mount Vial in GPX format

Mont Vial far behind (© P. Gatta).
Mont Vial far behind (© P. Gatta)

Venanson - Caire Gros - Mount Tournairet (18 km, +-1 200 m)

Trail in higher altitude, perfect for the summer. It crossed several pasture, crest and forest. The trail between Caire Gros and Mount Tournairet offers great views over the region from the park of Mercantour up to the sea.

Itinerary: park at Venanson. Climb to the vacherie des Colmianes (B305, 306, 307, 308) then the pass of Varaire (B309, 310) and the pass of Deux Caires (B99). Follow the GR5 to the Mount Tournairet (B101, 317, 318, 319, 320). Join the pass of Fort (B321) then descend to Venanson (B322, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49).

GPS route: Trail Venanson - Caire Gros - Mount Tournairet in KML format. Trail Venanson - Caire Gros - Mount Tournairet in GPX format

Other options: Venanson 2 (in green in the KML) : it is possible to shorten the trail by descending to Venanson from the Baisse de la Combe (B317, 316, 315). Distance: ~16 km, +-1 000 m.

Anna Gatta going to col du Varaire (© P. Gatta)
Anna Gatta going to col du Varaire (© P. Gatta)

Anna close to the Baisse de la Combe. Cime du Mounier behind (© P. Gatta).
Anna close to the Baisse de la Combe. Mounier behind (© P. Gatta)

Lauvet d'Ilonse (19 km, +-750m)

Nice trail starting at the village of Ilonse in the valley of Tinée. The traverse from Col des Fourches to the Baisse de Tavanières, around the Lauvet of Ilonse is quite pleasant with a great view over Mercantour.

Itinerary: park at Ilonse, take a trail going to the Col de la Sinne (B219, 220). Continue to the col des Fourches (B221, 222) and then to the Baisse de Tavanières (B308, 307). From there descend to the col des Fourches on the Pierlas side (B117, 221). Then return to to Ilonse.

GPS route: Trail Lauvet d'Ilonse in KML format. Trail Lauvet d'Ilonse in GPX format

Ilonse and the Lauvet d'Ilonse (© P. Gatta).
Ilonse and the Lauvet d'Ilonse (© P. Gatta)

Pierlas - Lauvet d'Ilonse - Pommier (19 km, +-1 000m)

Another nice trail with great views over the Mercantour from the peaks of Lauvet d'Ilonse and Tête du Pommier.

Itinerary: park at Pierlas (1 078 m, B114). Go toward the Est to the pass of La Sinne (signposts 113 et 220). Continue to the pass of Fourches (B221, B222), and then to the North to the signpost 308 and the Baisse de Tavanières (307). Continue to the Tête du Pommier (124, 123). Redescend to the South to the Serre (B122, 120, 119) and then to Pierlas.

GPS route: Trail Pierlas - Lauvet d'Ilonse - Pommier in KML format. Trail Pierlas - Lauvet d'Ilonse - Pommier in GPX format

Early climb to the pass of La Sinne (© P. Gatta)
Early climb to the pass of La Sinne (© P. Gatta)

The Lauvet d'Ilonse seen from the Tête du Pommier (© P. Gatta).
The Lauvet d'Ilonse seen from the Tête du Pommier (© P. Gatta)

Lantosque - Granges de la Brasque (20 km, +-1 400 m)

This trail starts in Lantosque and goes up the famous Granges de la Brasque. It crosses pastures, different kind of fruit trees and forest from 450 m up to 1 700 m. Overall the trail is good and it's possible run all the way. Some years the famous Transvésubienne mountain bike race follows the same descent.

Itinerary: park at Lantosque and take the trail of Vallons de la Vésubie (B28, 30), leaves it to climb to the Villar and the Granges de la Brasque (B221, 212, 220, 219, 218, 217, 223, 224). At the Granges de la Brasque descend by the crest Tardieu to the Baisse de Cangelard (B149, 150, 135). Continue to descend to Campaouri (B134) and then to Lantosque (B133, 132, 26, 27).

GPS route: Trail Lantosque - Granges de la Brasque in KML format. Trail Lantosque - Granges de la Brasque in GPX format

Other options: Lantosque 02 (in red in the KML file): form the Granges de la Brasque it is possible to make a nice extra loop up to the top of Mount Tournairet (B320, 319) then go down to the pass of Monigas. Take left before the pass (B103) to join the pass of Andrion (B151) and follow the GR 5 to the Granges de la Brasque (B147, 149). Distance: ~30 km, +-1 900 m of ascent.

Philippe at the Granges de la Brasque (© A. Gatta)
Philippe at the Granges de la Brasque (© A. Gatta)

Spring at the Granges de la Brasque (© P. Gatta).
Spring at the Granges de la Brasque (© P. Gatta)

Around Mouton d'Anou (22 km , +-970 m)

Extension of the trail around Jas Jausserand (described above) which goes to the village of Le Gourbel, close to Bézaudun-les-Alpes. Then the trail goes up to Mouton d'Anou, small peak of 1 078 m.

Itinerary: start in Saint Jeannet (430 m) or at L’Auberge des 4 chemin at La Gaude (+1km and +-100m). Cross the village of St Jeannet toward Notre Dame des Champs (church), descend to the rock climbing site of La Source, continue on the same trail then go up to the Ruine (690 m). After the ruin continue and take left on the GR 51 at the signpost. Continue on the same trail, pass the signpost 15. Continue on the GR 51 up to the Gourbel (post 139, 140, 131). Continue on the trail and on a small road via the signpost 132, 133, 134, 135. Take the trail to the Mouton d’Anou (137, 138) then go back to St Jeannet through the Jas Jausserand (138a, 14, 13, 12).

GPS route: Trail Around Mouton d'Anou in KML format. Trail Around Mouton d'Anou in GPX format


Plan du Var - Mont Vial (23 km, +-2 000 m)

Perfect training trail if you're looking for long uphill/downhill: +2 000 m/-2 000 m for only 23 km. This trail passes through the nice village of Bosson. After Revest les Roches is offers great views over the Alpes and the French Riviera. It can be done all year round but it is very hot in summer. In general there is some at the fountains of Bonson and Revest. The first part of the trail, between the signpost 26 and Bonson is not always well maintained and may have lots of bushes.

Itinerary: park at Plan du Var, cross the Var river and climb to the village of Bonson (B26, B22, B21). Continue to the Baisse du Collet (B28), descend to the Villar (B36), and climb to Revest les Roches (B35, B31). Continue to the pass of Serse then the Mont Vial at 1 541 m (B32, B8, B285). Come back by the same trail.

GPS route: Trail Plan du Var - Mont Vial in KML format. Trail Plan du Var - Mont Vial in GPX format


Clans - Mount Tounairet (25 km, +-1 700 m)

This trails crosses the village of Clans and its forest in the Valley of Tinée. The trail follows crests with views over two valleys; Vésubie and Tinée.

Itinerary: park at Clans. From the village climb toward the Plan de Cloutas (B119) then the Pointe de Sérenton and the Tête de Clans (B120, B101). join and follow the GR 5 toward the South (B317). Let the GR 5 after the signpost 318 and take the trail on the right (South) to the pass of Monigas (B110, 102, 103, 117). Descend to Selva Plane (B114) then continue to Clans through the dirt road Tire Domaniale (B115, 52, 54, 47, 46, 45, 44).

GPS route: Trail Clans - Mount Tounairet in KML format. Trail Clans - Mount Tounairet in GPX format

Other options: it is possible to shorten the trail by returning to Clans after the 120 or 110.

The Pointe and crest of Sérenton (© P. Gatta)
The Pointe and crest of Sérenton (© P. Gatta)

Anna Gatta close to the pass of Combe (© P. Gatta)
Anna Gatta close to the pass of Combe (© P. Gatta)

Coaraze - Cime de Roccassièra - Mont Férion (25 km, +-1 600 m)

There are numerous trails starting at the village of Coaraze including the race called Trail du Férion. the trail described here is very pleasant and nice because it remains of the crest with great views over the mountains and the valleys of Paillon and Vésubie. The trail crosses 7 passes and several peaks but still with not too much uphill.

Itinerary: park at Coaraze. Descend to the Plan de Linéa (B221, B222). Climb to the pass Baisse de la Croix (B223, 224, 225). Continue to the passes Baisse de Buse (B226), Baisse de Marsan (B227), Col du Savel (B237, B232), col de Saint Roch (B235, B187) and then col de la Porte (B188, B189).
Climb to the Cime de Roccassièra (B194, B449) and descend to the pass Col de l'Autaret then the ruins of Rocca-Sparviera and the pass col Saint Michel (B448, 447, 444, 443). Climb to the Mont Férion (B460, B206, B273). Redescend by the same trail up to the signpost 206 then turn right to join Coaraze (B205, 204, 203, 202, 201, 200).

Comments: this trail can be done in either direction but counter clockwise the climbs are less step. It can be done all year round but it's very hot in summer and there is no water along the way. The Cime de Roccassièra can be difficult in winter if there are some snow or ice.

GPS route: Trail Coaraze - Cime de Roccassièra - Mont Férion in KML format. Trail Coaraze - Cime de Roccassièra - Mout Férion in GPX format

Options:

Cime de Roccassièra, Col Saint Michel, Mout Férion seen from the GR 5 (© P. Gatta)
Cime de Roccassièra, Col Saint Michel, Mout Férion seen from the GR 5 (© P. Gatta)

Roquebrune - Cime du Baudon - Ste Agnès (26 km, +-1 500 m)

Great trail going around the Cap Martin a few meters away from the sea and climbing Mount Baudon which is technical and difficult. Note that the Ultra Trail de Cromagnon and the Trail de Gorbio cross the cime du Baudon too.

Itinerary: park close to the train station of Carnolès at Roquebrune-Cap Martin. Run along the sea toward the Ouest and take the trail going around Cap Martin. At Massolin leave the beach to climb to Roquebrune via steps and a steep trail. Continue to the Coupière up to the junction with the GR 51. Continue toward the Cime des Gabanelles (below Mont Agel) then the pass of Madone de Gorbio. From the pass, follow the steep trail going to the Cime de Baudon. Descend on the other side to the Pas de la Piastre then the village of Ste Agnès. Descend to Gorbio but just before the village descend to Castagnins then the beach of Menton. On the beach, take right to go back to Carnolès.

GPS route: Trail Roquebrune - Cime du Baudon - Ste Agnès in KML format. Trail Roquebrune - Cime du Baudon - Ste Agnès in GPX format

Options:

Monaco and Cap Martin (© P. Gatta)
Monaco and Cap Martin (© P. Gatta)

Moulinet - Mangiabo - Authion - Turini (30 km, +-1 800 m)

This trail crosses the famous col de Turini, the forest of Peira Cava, the village of Moulinet and the crest between Mangiabo and Authion thru the GR 52.

Itinerary: park at the village of Moulinet (before Sospel). Take the trail below the village close to the road D2566. cross the river and climb the pass Linière (B20, 21, 24, 22). Take the GR 52 North crossing the top of Mangiabo (B23, 144) and the crest going to the Authion (B143, 142, 141, 151, 150, 410). Descend to the Baisse du Camp d'Argens then the Col de Turini (B244, 238, 31, 30, 29). Climb the GR 52A at the Cime de l'Escalou (B183), continue to the pass of baisse de Patronel (B181, 34) then descend to Moulinet via the GR 52A (B11, 1).

Comments: it is possible to start either from Moulinet or the col de Turini. it's also possible to do this loop in any direction. Overall the trails are good (GR) and well marqued.

GPS route: Trail Moulinet - Mangiabo - Authion - Turini in KML format. Trail Moulinet - Mangiabo - Authion - Turini in GPX format

Autumn colors from the Authion (© P. Gatta)
Autumn colors from the Authion (© P. Gatta)

St Grat - Madone de Fenestre - Vallée des Merveilles (30 km, +-2 500 m)

This trail is at a higher elevation (1 500 m to 2 700 m) than most other trails presented here and is a good training for races such as Trails du Mercantour, Cromagnon, the 6000D, etc. It is an amazing trail crossing 3 valleys: Gordolasque, Madone de Fenestre and vallée des Merveilles. There is a great variety with some easy sections and other more difficult with some rocky sections between the Madone de Fenestre and the lake La Fous.

Itinerary: park at Saint Grat, in the Gordolasque valley (1 564 m, B275). The trail starts with 3 km and 800 m of ascent up to the Baisse de Prals (B365). Join the Baisse des 5 lacs (B364, 366) then descend to the Madone de Fenestre (B367), take to the right and climb to the pass of Mont Colomb (B400). Descend to the lake of La Fous (B416), climb to the Nice hut (B417) and continue to the pass of baisse du Basto (B418, 401). Join the pass Baisse de la Valmasque (B95, 94). Descend along the valley of Merveilles to the lake Long Superieur (B93), take right and climb to the pass Pas de l'Arpette (B402). Descend to the Vallon d'Empuonrame to the lake St Grat and the signpost 274 and 275.

GPS route: Trail St Grat - Vallée des Merveilles - Madone de Fenestre in KML format. Trail St Grat - Vallée des Merveilles - Madone de Fenestre in GPX format

Options:

Chammy in the park of Mercantour (© P. Gatta)
Chammy in the park of Mercantour (© P. Gatta)

Pas de Pagari seen in the lake of La Fous (© P. Gatta).
Pas de Pagari seen in the lake of La Fous (© P. Gatta)

Tête du Pommier, Col Couillole, Les Cluots (35 km, +-2 000 m)

This trail is an extension of the trail " Pierlas - Lauvet d'Ilonse - Pommier " described above. After the Tête du Pommier it crosses the Pin Pourri, Tête de Giarons and the Cluots. The second half of the trail offers reat views over the Mont Mounier, Beuil and the Gorges du Cians. The trail varies with mostly easy sections but with some more technical ones especially at the end.

Itinerary: park at Pierlas (1 078 m, B114). Go toward the Est to the pass of La Sinne (signposts 113 and 220). Continue to the pass Fourches (B221, B222), continue to the North up the signpost B308 then the pass Baisse de Tavanières (B307) and continue to the Tête du Pommier (B124, B123). Go to the Terme de Ribi (B62a, B65) and the pass Col de la Couillole (B51). After the pass, descend toward Ciriei following the GR52 (B101, B59). Climb to the Tête de Giarons via the signposts B60, B61, B61b, B73, B76 et B121. Turn around the Cluots via the West to the signpsot 120 and descend to Pierlas, B119 and B118.

Comments: this trail is best in summer or autumn. There is no water except at the restaurants at the Col de la Couillole or at Beuil.

GPS route: Trail Tête du Pommier, Col Couillole, Les Cluots in KML format. Trail Tête du Pommier, Col Couillole, Les Cluots in GPX format

Options:

Philippe close to the Cluots, Mont Mounier behind (© A. Gatta)
Philippe close to the Cluots, Mont Mounier behind (© A. Gatta)

Mount Mounier (© P. Gatta)
Mount Mounier (© P. Gatta)

Transvésubienne (36 km, +1 800 m / -3 100 m)

Perhaps the nicest trail of the Alpes Maritimes. The trail described here is different from the famous mountain bike race. It stays closer to the crest between the valleys of Vésubie and Tinée. There a great variety of sceneries with some forest, pastures and peaks. The view over the Mercantour and the cost line is amazing.

Itinerary: park at La Colmiane. Start at the signpost 93 and climb to the pass Suc (B312a) then the pass of Varaire (B310). Continue along the GR 5 to the pass of Deux Caires (B99) then the Mont Tournairet (B101, 317, 318, 319). Descend to the Granges de la Brasque (B320, 149), continue along the GR 5 thru the passes of Andrion, Grateloup, the Brec d'Utelle, Col du Castel de Ginesté, just before Utelle (B147, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 438, 156). At the signpost 113 just before the village of Utelle, take right to the Madone d'Utelle (B114, 115, 116). Descend to the pass Amberlarte (B117, 118) then continue to the pass Moutère (B105, 100, 99). Then descend to the Chaudan (B98, 97).


GPS route: Trail Transvésubienne in KML format. Trail Transvésubienne in GPX format

Crest and Sanctuary of Madone d'Utelle (© P. Gatta)
Crest and Sanctuary of Madone d'Utelle (© P. Gatta)

Forest close to the pass of Amberlarte (© P. Gatta)
Forest close to the pass of Amberlarte (© P. Gatta)

Lantosque - Authion (38 km, +-2 400 m)

Nice loop starting in Lantosque and going through Col de Turini, Authion, Col de Raus, Mont Pela and the village of Bollène Vésubie. The trail is rather easy and crosses several forest and crests.

Itinerary: park at Lantosque. Climb to the pass of Turini (B94, 186), join and follow the GR 52A (B186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 191). Leave it to climb to the crest of Gaglio and the one of Calmette (B192, 193, 194, 182, 183). Descend to the pass of Turini (B29) and climb up again to the baisse du camp d'Argent (B31) and Authion (B244).
Descend to the Baisse de St Véran (B410, 409) then follow to the Col de Raus (B406). Descend to the Granges du Colonel (B403) then the Mont Pela (B257) and the village of Bollène Vésubie (B250, B202), continue to Lantosque (B185, 95, 94).

Comments: there are some restaurants at Col de Turini, Baisse du Camp d'Argent and the Bollène Vésubie.

GPS route: Trail Lantosque - Authion in KML format. Trail Lantosque - Authion in GPX format

Fort of Authion, GR 52 to the Baisse St Véran, Cime de Tuor and Cime du Diable (© P. Gatta)
Fort of Authion, GR 52 to the Baisse St Véran, Cime de Tuor and Cime du Diable (© P. Gatta)

Pont du Loup - Caussols - Cipières (47 km, +-2 000 m)

Nice trail to discover the Gorges du Loup, the village of Gourdon but also Cipieres and the Plateau de Caussols. The trail has un interesting profil with a steep climb, then 9 km flatish, another climb and 15 km of descent.

Itinerary: park at Pont du Loup. Climb to Gourdon through the trail of Paradis (~600 m of ascent). After Gourdon take the trail to the Chapelle St Vincent (West) and continue to the South in the wood of Gourdon, cross the road to join the GR 51. Follow the GR 51 toward Grasse through the Parfumerie, karting and continue to up to the GR 4, close to the road Napoléon. Follow the GR 4 to the pass of Clapier (or Femme Morte). Cross the plateau of Caussols on the GR 4. At St Lambert climb to the plateau of Calern, pass North of the observatory of Cote d'Azur and descend to Cipières on the GR 4 (B181, 160). After Cipières descend to the Fontaniers (B25, 26, 20, 165, 166). Continue along the water pipe crossing the GR 51 at Bramafran, follow it to the source of Laquet, take the trail going to road D6. Stay on the road fro about 2 km, pass in front of the Saut du Loup, the waterfall of Courmes then descend on the right after a long tunnel. Follow this trail along the shore of the Loup river to the village of Pont du Loup.

GPS route: Trail Pont du Loup - Caussols - Cipières in KML format. Trail Pont du Loup - Caussols - Cipières in GPX format


Plan du var - Férion - Utelle - Mont Vial (55 km, +-4 300 m)

Philippe was looking for a tough trail as a training for his Everest expedition. This trail is perfect for that, it crosses three of the best peaks of the French Riviera with a total of 4 300 meters of ascent. Overall the trail is good but sometimes rocky and technical with a few long descents and climbs.

Itinerary: park at Plan du Var. Climb to Levens (B298, 296, 294, 293, 292). Continue up to the Mont Férion via the pass of Dragon (B250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 257, 272, 273). Descend to the pass Saint Michel (B206, 443).
Climb to the pass of l'Autaret (B444, B447, B448) then descend to the village of Imberguet via the Collet de Boiera (B123, B122a, B122). Continue to Saint Jean la Rivière (B121, B124).
Climb to Utelle (B12, B111, B112, B113), continue to the signpost 114 then descend to the road N202 through the Reveston (B119, 109, 108, 107, 106).
Follow the road toward Nice for about 1 km to the signpost B1 then climb toward the village of Malaussène through the signposts B2. Just before the village at the signpost B6, take left the trail going to the pass of Serse amd the Mont Vial (B6, B7, B8).
At the Mont Vial (1 541 m) descend to Plan du Var through the villages of Revest les Roches and Bonson (B32, 31, 38, 28, 20, 22, 26).

Comments: hard and technical trail. It can be really hot, especially in the climbs and at the bottom of the valleys. There is no or little water along the trail.

GPS route: Trail Plan du var - Férion - Utelle - Mount Vial in KML format. Trail Plan du var - Férion - Utelle - Mount Vial in GPX format

Options:

The village of Utelle and the Mont Férion (© P. Gatta)
The village of Utelle and the Mont Férion (© P. Gatta)

Signpost above the village  of Utelle (© P. Gatta)
Signpost above the village of Utelle (© P. Gatta)

Peira Cava - Breil-sur-Roya - l'Arpette (70 km, +-5 200 m)

Here is another rough, steep and technical trail. Some sections are quite wild, the trail not always well marked, for instance between Baisse de la Déa and Moulinet. The elevation varies from 210 m to 1 780 m which implies important temperatures changes. Last but not least the total ascent exceeds 5 000 meters. But it is also an amazing trail crossing 3 valleys Bévéra, Paillon and Roya.

Itinerary: park between Peira Cava and the Mairis close to the signpost 35. From there, climb to the Baisse of Peira Cava (B179), descend tot he Baisse of Beccas (B6, 5) then Moulinet (B4, 3, 2, 1). Descend along the road D2566 to the signpost 20, cross the river and climb to the Baisse de la Linière (B21, 24, 22). Climb to the Mangiabo (B23, 144) then descend to the pass of Brouis (B124) then Piène Haute (B123, 119, 115, 113) and Piène Basse (B439, 114). Descend along the road to the signpost 425 and climb to the Roche Fourquin (B417, 418, 419, 437). Continue on the crest and later on a dirt road to the Arpette (B438, 111, 110, 109). Descend to Breil-sur-Roya (B108, 6). Cross the Roya (B7) and climb to the pass of Agnon (B8, 15, 14, 127, 128, 129, 146). Continue to the Baisse de la Déa (B 135, 140, 141). Descend to Moulinet via a steep and poorly marked trail (B142, 25). Cross the Bévéra and join the GR 52A, follow it to the Baisse de Patronel, before the Baisse (B34) take left to come back tot he Baisse de Peira Cava (B179) and the signpost 35.

Comment: hard and long trail. It can be very hot in the bottom of the valley and cold higher up. There is little or no water on the trail.

GPS route: Trail Peira Cava - Breil - l'Arpette in KML format. Trail Peira Cava - Breil - l'Arpette in GPX format


GR 5 from the Pas de la Cavale to Utelle (105 km, +5 850 m / -7 630 m)

The Alpes Maritimes has endless possibilities for ultra distance running. In juin 2008, Philippe run from the Pas de la Cavale (North end of the region) to Utelle along the GR 5 in 22 hours 28 minutes. He had to stop 30 minutes at the hospital of Saint Etienne de Tinée to get 2 stitches after a fall in the descent toward Saint Dalmas. Philippe run alone but Anna Gatta and Pascal Clementi provided some food and water in the villages. It is possible to continue this trail all the way to the sea at Nice, still along the GR 5. Then the total reaches 140 km, +7 150 m and -9 315 m, which is close to the race such as Diagonale des Fous at the Réunion or the Ultra trail du Mount Blanc (UTMB).

Itinerary: check out the numerous guide book about the GR 5.

Comments: with such a long distance, the long uphill/downhill, the altitude... one should wait for best weather conditions, perfect training, good gear (especially security gear, orientation, food, clothes...) to try it. Obviously there are big changes in temperatures between the day and the night, and between the important change in altitude. Note that there are some remote areas with mobile phone coverage (from Roya to Saint Sauveur for instance).

GPS route: Trail GR 5 in KML format. Trail GR 5 in GPX format

Panorama of the GR 5 going to the pass of Gratteloup (© P. Gatta).
Panorama of the GR 5 going to the pass of Gratteloup (© P. Gatta)

Philippe climbing toward the pass of Crousette, GR5 (© Pascal Clementi)
Philippe climbing toward the pass of Crousette, GR5 (© Pascal Clementi)

Camp des Fourches, GR 5 (© A. Gatta).
Camp des Fourches, GR 5 (© A. Gatta)

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