The Esteron Valley
Les Balcons de Carros
by Judy Churchill
Outdoor Pursuits Editor
Few people know the pretty village of Carros in the beautiful Esteron Valley, so if you want a taste of something different and a first easy hike to sample this amazing area then this trail will not disappoint.
As the name of the hike suggests you will be going up to a ‘balcony’ path that gives you a view over the whole of the Var valley below. It’s a great place to stop and have a picnic while contemplating the world beneath you in the peaceful haven of the mountains.
The is a Happy Hiker Green trail and covers 4.8 km with 350 m of positive gain. It will take you around 2.5 hours to complete.
Carros is easy to get to via the A8 and then from the Manda bridge via the RM1.
From the free car park on the Place de Puy, follow Carriero Fernand Barbary (waymarker 26). Continue for a short distance on the route de Broc and then at way marker 27 go left on a tarmac passage that goes up alongside the cemetery wall. Cut across a small road and then rejoin the path which goes up towards the Canal de la Gravière (waymarker 28).
Go past the old stone washing house (lavoir de la Foux) which was restored in 2015 and carry on going up before turning left at waymarker 29. The slope becomes a little steeper and you continue up along a path that goes through a wooded area until you reach a track at way marker 30. Carry on up left, winding up to the Canal de la Gravière (waymarker 31). Here is where you will walk along the horizontal balcony ledge on your left, all the way to the end (waymarker 32).
Take a moment to really enjoy the view, with the Mercantour mountain chain to the north and the low Var valley to the south. Your descent will be via a new recently opened path that goes through a recently reforested area before dipping down the mountain side to meet up with the little route de Goubet (way marker 33).
Follow this road to your left and in the first hairpin on the right take a shortcut that brings you back to the Chemin de L’Euze and onto the route Jean Natale (way marker 34, 26). Come back to your start point at the car park.
When walking, I advise taking hiking poles, as they will help you with both the ascents and descents. 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 quality protein bars are sufficient (always take a couple of extra ones). Purpose-made hiking boots/shoes, a roll-up rain jacket, a 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, lightweight golfing jacket from One Eagle Monaco that not only enables a 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. In the summer months when doing high mountain trails, do check the temperature at your destination before setting off as you may need some extra layers. If you are a French speaker you can find a link to this hike on : https://randoxygene.departement06.fr/pays-vencois/les-balcons-de-carros-11639.html . Last but not least, you will need the IGN TOP 25 3642ET Vallée de l’Esteron map (can be purchased online or in some newsagents and sports shops) to mark out your trail before you set off.
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 totaling up the number of km/altitude you do in any given year. You can also use the health app on your iPhone to record steps, km and levels climbed. I also have an altitude app which is very useful.
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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