Hiking on Monaco’s doorstep
Circuit de Lorquière
by Judy Churchill
Perched above Monaco out of sight but not out of mind is one of the locals’ best kept secrets – Peille! When I arrived in Monaco back in 1982, many of my first clients were native Monegasques and I wondered why they would disappear off for weekends to their second homes in Peille. It didn’t take me long to go and investigate for myself and from that day to this began a love affair with this property owners’ and hikers’ paradise.
Geographically on Monaco’s doorstep yet psychologically half a world away, Peille allows you to get out into the fresh air and enjoy the benefits of being in the middle of the mountains without the long drive. Located just 20 minutes by car from Monaco, Saint Martin de Peille is naturally much sought after by those seeking to acquire a weekend country retreat while at the same time being able to spend the summer there with a hassle-free commute to Monaco. So when a rare property gem comes onto the market, it’s worth taking a look at. The Happy Hiker spoke to long-standing, Monaco resident Trevor Gabriel of Monaco Villas about an amazing property in Saint Martin de Peille. Hiking is a great way to see the area and get a feel of what it would be like to own a property there but if you want to see this villa in detail, take a look at this link http://www.monaco-villas.com/en/fiches/43945-saint+martin+de+peille+20+minutes+from+monaco.html .
It’s very rare to find such a jewel in such close proximity to Monaco, with peace and quiet and space for children to do things other than play with their devices. With olive and fruit trees in abundance and a beautiful garden, the villa and outhouses are designed to a very high standard. There is also a great pool and entertaining area with plenty of parking spaces for guests. In fact, it’s a house owner’s paradise. The fact that you have panoramic views of the country and the mountains is the icing on the cake. For me, Saint Martin’s real charm lies in the fact that you can step outside onto a mountain trail and hike to your heart’s content. For golf lovers the Mont Agel golf club is a few minutes down the road and for those who like to eat out, there is a good choice of local restaurants.
Today I’m going to take you on a 9.7 km, four-hour, medium level hike with a gradient of 460 m. This circuit will give you a good introduction to what the area around Peille has to offer and introduce you to the picturesque medieval village of Peillon.
If you are coming from Monaco just drive up to la Turbie and then follow the signs to Peille and then La Grave de Peille where you should park in the train station. This is the main station for the whole Peille area and has plenty of parking spaces. Orange maps will find it immediately. Once you’ve parked, walk back out of the station entrance and you will see the first way marker right in front of you at pavement level. Turn left (south) and follow the road for 500m until you reach the next sign-posted way marker where you will cross the railway line through a pair of gates and then start the ascent through the pine forest. Follow the yellow rectangular way markers and the regularly located sign posts indicating Circuit de Lorquière. You will soon catch a glimpse of the beautiful village of Peillon perched majestically on its rock and have an opportunity to visit the village on your way back as the path goes via the entrance to the village. As you walk through this beautiful valley, it is hard to imagine you are just a stone’s throw away from city life. Below these ancient paths, run streams and small waterfalls and above you are the immense rock faces of Peille which make this location a favourite for lovers of the Via Ferrata. You will eventually come out onto the quiet road that runs through the lower residential area of Les Lacs in Saint Martin de Peille. Stay on this road for about 2km where you can catch a glimpse of some of the villas and their gardens. Keep following the yellow way markers along the road until you eventually come to a sign post where you make a right turn (west) into another wooded area and then the beautiful pathway along the foot of the pointe de la Lorquière cliffs (678m). When you reach the entrance to Peillon, have a walk around the village before commencing the final descent back to Grave de Peille.
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) and several layers of clothing that you can shed or put on as your temperature changes. 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 gear, boots and a rucksack are a must and you will need lighter wear for the Spring/Summer season and heavier/warmer for the Autumn/Winter period. Last but not least as I mentioned above you will need the IGN n° 3742 OT map (NICE/MENTON) to mark out your trail before you set off (all numbered markers are indicated on the IGN maps which are available for purchase online or at good book and sports shops). If you are a French speaker you can also find the hike on this link: https://randoxygene.departement06.fr/pays-nicois/circuit-de-lourquiere-9299.html but you will still need your IGN map as these on-line guide maps 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 you do in any given year.
Enjoy your hike and don’t forget your camera!
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