Pic de Courmettes
If you are after the most mind-blowing views, are looking for a challenge and a lot of personal satisfaction, then the Pic de Courmettes is the hike for you. This is a Happy Hiker red trail which starts from the quiet village of Courmes in the Vence hinterland. Located at 62 km from Monaco, the village is very easy to reach by taking the A8 motorway to the Cagnes-sur-Mer exit and then follow directions to la Colle-sur-Loup. You will drive through the pretty Gorges du Loup via the R6 as far as Bramafan and then turn right onto the narrow road up to Courmes.
This hike starts at 630m and will take you up a further 730m and can be done at any time of year. You will cover 8 km in total and will need to allow 4-4.5 hours depending how much time you spend at the summit.
A word of warning regarding the numbers of the way markers: the IGN map has been recently updated with new numbers and we found that until way marker 190 the numbers do not match. However, there is no real difficulty as you just need to keep following the signs to Pic de Courmettes.
Leave the car in the spacious car park and start from the village square taking the (GR51) path at new way marker 251 (red and white ‘balises’) behind the church. Remember as I mentioned the old way marker numbers may still be in place and if this is the case just follow signs to Pic de Courmettes. The path is lined with oak trees and then at new way marker 252 go right (GR51) and keep going up through the woodland until you reach the DFCI track at way marker 190 (great views). From here leave the GR51 and go left onto a track that bears right and goes along a flatter part with fabulous views. At way marker 189 leave the track and start climbing up through the trees following the yellow ‘balises’ and then the final steep rocky slope still following the yellow ‘balises’ and ‘cairns’ (small pyramidal piles of stones) until you reach the top. The ‘balises’ are not always easy to see on this last part so you have to keep your eyes peeled.
You will undoubtedly find other hikers at the top having a picnic as this is one of the most amazing view points in the area. You will get a real sense of achievement from this hike and some great photos.
Come back down the same way and you should find a small kiosk in the village car park selling hot beverages and snacks if you need replenishment.
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 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° 3643 ET map (Cannes-Grasse) 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-vencois/pic-de-courmettes-9309.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!
‘balises’ = small yellow rectangles painted on tree and rocks to mark the trail.