Autumn Hikes in Sospel
by Judy Churchill
To open our new series of Autumn hikes we are going to start somewhere close to Monaco, in the eternally green Bévéra valley in the lovely little town of Sospel. This is a great hike to start off your midmountain hiking as it’s a Happy Hiker green level with only 350 m of positive gain. It will take you around 3 ½ to complete or longer if you stop at the top for a rest and picnic. The whole family can cope with this one including the dog and you will be rewarded with great views over Sospel. The hike can be done between April and November but avoid the winter months due to snow and bad weather.
Sospel is only 19km from Menton from where you take the RD2566 and then go through the Col de Castillon tunnel. Cross over the Bévéra river using the bridge in the centre of town and park your car. Sospel has plenty of car parking space so you shouldn’t have any issues with that. If you don’t have a car, you can take the train to Sospel as the station is very central.
Although not lengthy and with a relatively low level of difficulty this is a real hike and will give you a taste of orientation (spotting balises and waymarkers) and show you what the Bévéra valley has to offer without exhausting you.
Start from the bridge over the Bévéra in the town centre (350m) and follow the road on the right for about 200m then go left and up the steps to the square by the primary school – waymarker 72 on your map. Carry on up the road following the yellow ‘balises’ (these are yellow rectangular way markers on trees, rocks, posts and walls that guide you round the local trails) to a hairpin bend – sign post way markers 73 and then 74 where the GR52 begins (GR stands for Grande Randonnée path – these trails marked with red and white ‘balises’ are famous and cross the whole of France from top to bottom. They combine with local trails, so sometimes you see both yellow and red/white ‘balises’. The wide GR52 path rises steadily to join a road which you follow northwards for about 250m to reach signpost waymarker 75. Here you take the path on the right which goes up to a crossroads at waymarker 84. Carry on Southwest on a fairly flat trajectory until you reach the collet de L’Agaison at waymarker 83 (666m). Now you are at the foot of Mont Agaison where you start the final climb via an old military pathway – waymarker 82 – until you arrive at the summit (751m) where you’ll see the abandoned bunkers. From the summit, you will have a good view back over Sospel and the valley and you may even see some hang gliders as this spot is one of their favourite launch pads.
Come back down again to waymarker 83 and start your descent by going around the north face of Mont Agaison via the GR52A which takes you steadily back down to Sospel cutting across the road on two occasions and finally finishing back at waymarker 81.
Finally, take the opportunity to walk around Sospel before you return home.
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 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 a full range of movement but is also great for cooler Spring/Autumn walks as it keeps you at the perfect body temperature. Last but not least, you will need the IGN TOP 25 map n° 3741 ET map (Vallées de la Bévéra et des Paillons) 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/bevera-paillon/boucle-du-mont-agaisen-9381.html but you will still need your IGN map as these on-line guide maps are only approximate. There are also hiking 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 heartily 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!
Inspiring international lifestyles based on the French Riviera