Circuit du Castellet
by Judy Churchill
Wild and beautiful this Happy Hiker blue trail is a hike through history with the remains of the 14th century Castellet fortress dominating the valley. The village of Saint-Jeannet is another of the charming Provencal-style villages so characteristic of Vence countryside.
This trail will take you 4 hours to complete and you will cover 7.8km with 450m of positive gain.
The village of Saint-Jeannet is easy to reach from the A8 motorway. Take the Cagnes-sur-Mer exit. On arrival in the village leave your car in the village car park and locate your first-way marker 90 at the top of the car park (420m). Cross the village via waymarkers 91 and 92 until you get to the old stone washhouse and go up the rue de Baou past the last village houses.
At way marker 94 a path goes up north into the Parriau Valley between the Baou de St-Jeannet and the Baou de la Gaude until you reach a flat area (650m) at way marker 95. Turn left to take the Sentier du baou de St-Jeannet and go up to the high plateau (760 m) on the North of the baou ignoring the direct pathway a little higher up on the left (waymarker 84) .
Cross westwards over this vast area and dip down slightly into the vallon du Castelet and then a promontory at way marker 80. A pathway on the left bypasses the ruins of the castle (700m) and takes you down towards Cagne on a pathway that winds around the cliff and then along the vallon du Castelet before easing off to way marker 81. Here you will reach the “la Source” a local rock climbing area for beginners. Go back up to the village of St-Jeannet and through its narrow streets to come back to the washhouse (way marker 93) and the car park.
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, 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. Last but not least, you will need the IGN TOP 25 map n° 3643 4T map (Cannes-Grasse) to mark out your trail before you set off.
If you are a French speaker you can also find the https://randoxygene.departement06.fr/pays-vencois/circuit-du-castellet-9307.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.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 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!
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