The Siagne-Loup Valley
Arche du Ponadieu
by Judy Churchill
If you are feeling a little out of shape after the weeks of lockdown and seek a walk that is not too demanding, with stunning views, close to the water, and in glorious scenery, then Arche du Ponadieu is the one for you. This trail will take you out of the concrete jungle into the wonderful Siagne-Loup valley, and you will discover one of the secret beauty spots of the Siagne River. It’s worth taking a picnic for this one as you will want to linger.
This hike can be done between April and December, so now is the perfect time of year. It is a Happy Hiker green trail with 200 m of positive gain and will take you around 2 – 2.5 hours to complete.
Drive to Grasse and follow the route de Napoleon (N.85) to Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey. At the northern end of the village, just by a large meadow, turn left into a small road that will take you to la Chapelle St-Jean. After a 3.5 km park by the reservoir.
From the Cavalaire car park (715m – waymarker 81), go down the steep, stony, pathway where you will soon cross the GR510 (way maker 80) that links Saint Cézaire-Sur-Siagne and Escragnolles.
Carry on along the ‘Vallon de la Combe,’ which runs above the river, full of shady leafy green trees and continue down on the left, ignoring the paths going up the right. After a short descent, you will come to the naturally sculpted bridge of Ponadieu, which stretches across the river (521m). Do not take any of the small paths used by the fishermen as they can be dangerous and slippery.
Enjoy this beauty spot and go back up the same way you came down.
When walking, I advise taking hiking sticks, as they will help you with 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. This jacket 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 “Haute Siagne” TOP 25 n° 3543 ET map (can be purchased online or in newsagents and sports shops) to mark out your trail before you set off.
If you are a French speaker, you can also find the https://randoxygene.departement06.fr/siagne-loup/arche-du-ponadieu-9069.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 totaling 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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