From the Col de Brouis in Breil-sur-Roya
by Judy Churchill
Amazing views over Sospel, lush green forests, Mont Gros is a place of great beauty and yet still harbours many vestiges of the second world war with its abandoned army barracks and other military fortifications. This area was occupied by the Germans until 25th April 1945 and they must have been pretty sad to leave given the amazing beauty of the place.
The ascent to the Col de Brouis is a favourite of cyclists and our hike starts at the Col itself at 879m.
The drive is 40 km from Monaco (58 minutes) so a good one to do if you just want a half-day hike. It’s simplest to take the motorway exiting at Menton 59 exit and then at the roundabout take the second exit onto Route de Sospel and then left onto the D2566. From Sospel follow the road to Breil-Sur-Roya (D2204) until you reach the car park at the Col de Brouis.
This hike is a Happy Hiker blue trail with a positive gain of 390m and will take you around 3 hours to complete. The recommended period of the year to do this one is between April and November.
From waymarker 124 take the old military track to the vallon de Brouis way at marker 125 where you will come face to face with the old army barracks. After the vallon be careful as the path bears right and then down on the left where you will see a notice saying that you are entering National Park space. Make sure you are following the yellow ‘balises’ (see below). Here you will enter the Albarea wood. Thus if you are not in a thickly wooded area you have gone wrong, so backtrack to the last ‘balise’ and go left. The path will take you up to the Baisse de Levens (1088m) at waymarker 139 where you will change direction and bear left (South, then East) onto an almost horizontal forest path which meets the North face of Mont Gros at balise 138.
A slightly steeper shortcut on the right (South) will take you up the final slope where you’ll see a camouflaged bunker and then a little higher up is the Eastern summit of Mont Gros at 1266m with a breath-taking view over Sospel. Come down the same way you came up.
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). Good quality, 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 a 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° 3741 ET map (Vallée de la Bévera) 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/bevera-paillon/mont-gros-9382.html but you will still need your IGN map as these online guides 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 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.
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