French Riviera Hiking and Biking in the Estérels
Estérel French Riviera
Located in southeastern France, the Estérel coastal mountain range straddles both the Var and Alpes-Maritimes departments. Of volcanic origins, the massif is roughly 32,000 hectares of rugged terrain awaiting exploration. Mont Vinaigre is the highest peak at 618 metres. According to the Estérel Côte d’Azur tourism office, there are 72 trails for biking (road, gravel and mountain), hiking, and walking that crisscross the range, including many within the protected Forêt domaniale de l’Estérel. We highlight below a few of the popular trails.
The Customs footpath
Created during the time of Napoleon III (Second Empire 1848-52), customs officials walked the coastal pathway – le Sentier du littoral – monitoring marine traffic and smugglers.
Start this moderate trail at the San Peïre beach in Roquebrune sur Argens – Les Issambres. Parking is available in the Arpillon lot. Walking east towards Saint-Raphaël to the Pointe de la Calle, you will pass sandy beaches and small inlets. Enjoy the viewpoints, including a Gallo-Roman era fishpond, along this 4.8 km trail (one direction). Walk the path as an out and back excursion, or take the bus from Pointe de la Calle back to your starting point.
Fayence: Le Vallon de la Camandre
Enjoy the Pay de Fayence countryside with views of the Estérel massif on this family-friendly walk. Starting in Fayence, the 2-hour walk is a leisurely 6.6 km stroll along La Camandre through the forested hills. In Fayence park near the Tourist Office and follow the yellow markings. The trail passes a small waterfall.
Le Pont des Tuves
A 6km hike from Montauroux of medium difficulty, the walk takes about 2 ½ hours. Along the route, discover the enchanted oak forest with trees that are several hundred years old. Situated in Les Gorges de la Siagne, the trail follows the river with a waterfall and Le Pont des Tuves. Constructed in 1802 atop Roman ruins, Le Pont des Tuves is beautiful and steeped in history.
Prepare for your Active Visit
The Esterel Côte- d’Azur tourism website includes a handy tool for searching by activity type, length, and difficulty. There is something for everyone.
In the summer months, between June and the end of September, make sure to check this website for the current fire risk. When the fire risk rating is orange or red, choose another activity away from the forest.
Guidebooks and maps are sold (€ 2.50) in tourist offices of Saint-Raphaël, Fréjus, Puget-sur-Argens, Les Adrets, the 9 tourist offices of the Pays de Fayence, at the Maison du Lac de Saint-Cassien, as well as at Leclerc Valescure. They are also available on the tourism website for a fee that includes shipping costs.
Plan to visit some or all of these five (5) parks near the French Riviera.
Whether hiking near the French Riviera or elsewhere, always take the appropriate safety precautions: carry water, snacks, sunscreen, hats, wear proper shoes, and take extra layers. Never hike alone, or if you must advise someone of your departure and expected return time. A set of compact walking/trekking poles is always a good precaution for rocky, steep or slippery trails.
Institute National de l’Information Géographique et Forrestiére (IGN) maps are detailed and very accurate. There is also an IGN application for smartphones and details on the IGN website.