The Esteron Gorges
by Judy Churchill
You will (depending on how much time you have available) also be able to visit Ferres, another typical village along the trail.
This is a Happy Hiker blue level (medium) hike with a vertical gain of 640m. It will take you between 4h15m and 4h50m to complete depending on your pace and is best done between April and November.
From Monaco take the A8 motorway and then the RM6202 following the Var valley up to the pont de la Manda where you turn left. Cross over the river, go over the first roundabout and then turn right on the second, following signs to the village of Carros on the RM1. Follow the road to Broc and then Bouyon on the RD1.
Start the hike at the top of the village at 650m altitude and waymarker 5. Follow the route de l’Aiguillete , way marker 6. Climb northwards on the Sentier du Seuillet which crosses the Vegay canal and climbs up a scenic pathway to waymarker 100.
Carry on right and cross the Moul stream before arriving at the Estellier ridge (1000m altitude).
Carry on along the edge of the cliff and then start the descent on the left in the direction of the village of Ferres (North-west). You will arrive at the village after crossing the Vegay canal path (828m) at waymarker 116, la Vallière at waymarker 45 and the col des Ferres (596m) at way marker 44.
At this point, you can decide to take a break and visit the village or carry on down the track which leads to the pont de la Cerise (approx. 3km). When you reach way marker 102 (359m) leave the track and take the path (South-west) close to the gorges. Carry on along this which ends at waymarker 103 with a magnificent view over the cliffs of the Baus de la Clave. From this point take the path on the right and climb up the windy pathway through the woods and then return to Bouyon via an easy path which crosses a small road just before the village at way markers 2 and 1.
When hiking, 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 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 golfing top from One Eagle Monaco which not only enables a full range of movement but is also great for cooler Spring walks as it keeps you at the perfect body temperature. Last but not least, you will need the IGN n° 3642 ET map (Vallée de L’Estéron) 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/esteron/gorges-de-l-esteron-9111.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!