Easy ‘On-your-doorstep’ Mountain Hikes
Roquebrune – col de la Coupière
Tour du Mont Gros
This hike is one of my all-time favorites. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done it. It’s my regular ‘go-to’ hike. It’s on Monaco’s doorstep, is a perfect length in time and distance, has the best views over Monaco and the coast as far as Italy, and has a true mountain feel to it. As the altitude is low this trail can be done all year round, so you can hike your way around the seasons.
It’s great fun if the paragliders are taking off as you will visit the take-off strip and can see them in action. This particular take-off site is world-famous due to the optimal air conditions and beauty of the scenery. The gliders land on Cabbé beach in Roquebrune so you will probably see them flying overhead if the conditions are right. It is also a great walk for dogs as there are plenty of trees and greenery.
This Happy Hiker green trail will take you around 2.5 hours to complete or less for 4.3 km and 330 m of positive gain. You start from the col de la Coupière, so if you are driving from Monaco you need to take Menton/Carnoles direction and then the RD 51 towards La Turbie for 2.5 km. On a large bend, you will see the signs for Gorbio on your right (RD 50). Follow this road for 1km and then take a sharp left to go up a steep, narrow road and then continue to the parking area of the col de la Coupière (440) on the left.
Once you’ve done this hike I’m sure you’ll be smitten and come back again and again. I’ve been doing this for over 25 years, having taken my children there for picnics on many an occasion when they were small – there is a little pond full of tadpoles which is a perfect spot on the way up.
From the Col de la Coupière, go up the DFCI track GR 51 (South) and then take a left turn onto a little path called ‘Rossignola’ and follow this pretty loop over the little bridges and up past the ruins of an old stone house and past the insect ‘hotel’. By the stone house, there are two wooden sunbeds for those that don’t want to go any further and j
ust want to picnic and chill out. Carry on up the path and rejoin the main track only to leave it again shortly at a signpost on the right. Keep winding up following the red and white GR signs to the top of the hill. Go left and you’ll immediately see the signpost pointing up to the take-off strip on the left. Go up to the top (686m) and you will be awestruck by the incredible view across Monaco. To my mind the best on the coast.
Come back down again to the main path and keep left going down a path that faces the sea. Much further down the path goes left and you will start walking along the east face of Mont Gros with incredible views over Roquebrune, Menton and Italy. This path is all on the same level until the final bit which winds up again and comes out partway up the hill where you’ll be able to rejoin the main path you took to come up. Go back down to the col de la Coupière using the main DFCI path all the way back.
If you have a camping car the col de la Coupière is an ideal spot for summer evening bbqs!
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, 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. Last but not least, you will need the “Nice-Menton” TOP 25 n° 3742 OT map (can be purchased online or in some newsagents and sports shops) to mark out your trail before you set off.
If you are a French speaker you can also find the hike on the following link: https://randoxygene.departement06.fr/pays-mentonnais/tour-du-mont-gros-9243 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.com
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 i-phone to record steps, km, and gradient.
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