By Judy Churchill
Local Classic Trails on your Doorstep
Tour du Roc d’Orméa
If you want to sit on top of the Riviera with views as far as the eye can see, then how about conquering the Roc d’Orméa?
Nestled above Menton is the village of Castellar from where this hike begins. It was in this place that the famous “homme de Castellar” skeleton was found dating back 6000 years. The original village of Castellar was abandoned back in 1435 once the threat of invasions was over and the inhabitants moved down to the current location where you’ll be pleased to know there is plenty of modern village parking!
“This is a Happy Hiker red trail with a distance of 7.8 km and a positive vertical gain of 780m. The circuit will take you around 5 hours to complete and can be done all year round.”
Start at the cemetery above the St Sébastien chapel and go up a step concrete pathway. After 3.5 km you will be at the foot of the Col St. Bernard. Bear right (East) following the trail to the electricity pylon and continue on a cobbled pathway which weaves its way through two stone walls opposite the ruins of the old village of Castellar. You will then reach a plateau which runs alongside a private property. Keep climbing upwards on a fairly steep path through a pine wood. When you arrive at the Col du Berceau make a return trip to the summit of the Roc d’Orméa for a bird’s eye view of the Riviera (1132m) and take plenty of photos!
Back at the Col du Berceau go southwards down a steep stony path. The path evens out when you reach the forest near the vallon de l’Orméa. At this point go right (West) and follow the GR 51 trail which will take you through Olive groves and bring you back to Castellar.
Give yourself a huge pat on the back when you’ve finished – this is a trail that everyone should do to truly see the best views of the Riviera from up above but it’s not within everyone’s grasp so if you’ve done it, you’ve lived a special moment!
When walking, I advise taking hiking sticks, as they will help you on both the ascents and the way down. They also guarantee you get a full body work out. You’ll need a cap and sunglasses to keep the sun off your face (the sun is a lot stronger in the hills and mountains so don’t forget the sunscreen). Remember to take more water than you think you’ll need (at least a litre and a half per person) and enough protein bars for during and after the hike. I always have a high fibre, high protein breakfast before I set off which means that I don’t need to carry a large picnic with me as good protein bars are sufficient (always take a couple of extra ones). Purpose-made hiking boots/shoes, a roll-up rain jacket, first aid kit and a rucksack are a must and you will need lighter wear for the Spring/Summer season and heavier/warmer for Autumn and Winter. I have a Bogner zip-up, long-sleeved, light-weight golfing jacket from One Eagle Monaco which not only enables full range of movement but is also great for cooler Spring/Autumn walks as it keeps you at the perfect body temperature. In the winter months you will need extra layers of clothing, gloves, a warm hat and thicker socks. Last but not least, you will need the IGN TOP 25 map n° 3742 OT map (Nice-Menton) to mark out your trail before you set off.
If you are a French speaker you can also find the hike on this link: https://randoxygene.departement06.fr/pays-mentonnais/tour-du-roc-d-ormea-9263.html but you will still need your IGN map as these on-line guides are only approximate. There are also hike specific apps such as Visorando, which have both free and purchasable versions and can be very useful guides and even have GPS options https://www.visorando.comhttps://www.visorando.comwhic.
If you have Strava you can record your walk on this app and it will give you lots of fascinating statistics at the end as well as totalling up the number of km/altitude you do in any given year.
When you’re done, I strongly recommend a foot massage using Young Living Essential Foot Oil (a combo of Rosemary, Peppermint and Lavender) – your feet will thank you later!
Enjoy your hike and don’t forget your camera!
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