Easy Coastal Hike in the Esterel
Notre Dame d’Afrique
by Judy Churchill
Outdoor Pursuits Editor
By the time you read this lockdown should be finished and we should be able to hike anywhere around our local region; so I thought I’d give you an easy hike with brilliant vibrant colours and great views.
Try and choose a sunny day for this one because the vivid colours of the terra cotta Esterel against a beautiful blue sky surrounded by greenery are unbeatable.
There are many ways to walk to the impressive Notre Dame d’Afrique monument but here is a Happy Hiker Green trail that shouldn’t take you much more than an hour depending on your pace and how much you linger. The positive gain is about 150m and this hike can be done all year round.
To find the start point you need to drive to Théoule-sur-Mer and then follow the RN 98 (av. De la Cote d’Azur) until you reach Miramar and la place Vert Bisson. This is where the bd. De l’Esterel begins which you take and go up until you reach the parking supérieur du col de L’Esquillon. You will know when you have arrived as you will pass the “Terrasses de Saint Honorat” residence and then you’ll see the parking spaces.
The start of the path is on the right of the bins at way marker 513 (105m).
Go along a path that overlooks the road with a beautiful view of the sea and the Islands of Lérins.
Within 25 minutes you should reach the huge statue of Notre Dame d’Afrique. Come back the same way.
This hike combines pine woods, pretty paths and amazing views. It’s worth taking a picnic to have when you reach the statue if the weather is good.
When walking, I advise taking hiking poles, as they will help you on 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, 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 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. Last but not least, you will need the IGN TOP 25 3643ET Cannes-Grasse 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 totalling 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
Inspiring international lifestyles based on the French Riviera