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Happy Hiker discovers Sospel (pont de Cai)

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The Bévéra Valley

Tour de Mont Grazian

by Judy Churchill

If you are looking for a ‘green and pleasant’ land just 40 minutes’ drive from Monaco, then Sospel (just North of Menton) is the answer to your prayers. Truly blessed with lush green hills, beautiful streams and rock pools, forests, olive groves and picturesque mountain paths, the Bévéra valley has it all.

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Many have chosen to make Sospel either their permanent or second home and it is close enough to Monaco to enable hikers and bikers to go there as often as they wish. Even the drive there is incredibly scenic. Here the Bévéra meets the Roya valley and creates some of the most beautiful walks in the region. This is another town that has changed hands between Italy to France several times over the centuries before becoming permanently French in 1860.

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This time I’m taking you on one of my favourite Bévéra valley circuits around Mont Grazian where all the features of nature seemed to have teamed up to give you the best possible spectacle.
This is a middle-mountain, medium level walk, suitable for all the family (including the dog) and will take you around 4-4.5 hours to complete (depending on how long you stop for lunch) with 470m of gradient. The best time of the year to do this hike is between May and November.

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By car from Monaco, the fastest route is to take the A8 motorway to Menton and then the D.2566 to Sospel via the road under the col de Castillon. From Sospel go East into the Bévéra Valley via the D. 2204 and then take the D.93 and park on the side of the road as close as possible to the “pont de Cai” (orange maps has the location). Start the hike just before the “pont de Cai” by taking the pathway just above road level at way marker 89 (300m). You will be tracking the Bassera stream, following the yellow rectangular way markers and always taking a right turn when you reach a crossroads. This happens twice. Do not be tempted to take a left turn however pretty and tempting it looks as this will throw you off track (I speak from experience!). Make your way up to the Garba Plateau (ruins) and then on up to way marker 96 (570m) where the path meets the GR52A. Keep right and follow the path up to the Col de Paula at way marker 119 (739m). From the col keep right again (south) and follow the path down to way marker 115 (you’ll see the village of Peine Haute to your left). Follow the D. 193 road for 500m to way marker 440 and then take the pathway down towards the Saint-Jerome chapel, past an olive grove and onto the D.93 road (just above the old border crossing with Italy) at way marker 441. Take the road on the right up to way marker 442 and then leave the road at way marker 443 and join the old path to Sospel (GR510) with the beautiful Bévéra river running below and catch some breathtaking views on your way back to the pont de Cai at way marker 89.

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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.

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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° 3741 ET map (Vallée de la Bévéra et des Paillons) to mark out your trail before you set off (all numbered way markers are indicated on the IGN maps which are available for purchase online or at good book and sports shops).

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If you are a French speaker you can also find the hike on this link: https://randoxygene.departement06.fr/bevera-paillon/tour-du-mont-grazian-9383.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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About the author

Judy Churchill

Judy Churchill

Judy Churchill is a British national, resident in Monaco. She a speaker of 6 languages, was educated both in Britain and Europe and holds an honours degree in modern languages (French and Spanish – University of Hull), teaching and training qualifications, is a certified translator/interpreter (Monaco law courts), winner of the 2007 JPC Citywealth award and a UK (skillfair) five star rated consultant.

Over the past 35 years Judy has set up and run her own Language and Training consultancies in three European countries, has worked with, coached and advised royalty, VIPs, HNWs, ministers of state, film, sports and TV personalities, and private individuals across the globe.

Judy has been interviewed and featured in training videos, radio, TV and Internet broadcasts. .

She has spent much of the past 20 years designing, developing and running communications and team building courses around the world for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries amongst others.
Much of Judy’s work today involves helping people to achieve their short and long-term personal or professional goals through life coaching as well as teaching French, English and Spanish.

Judy is a regular conference and motivational speaker, has written numerous articles, published both on and off line, and has published an e-book on How to Cope with Exam Stress, an on-line training tool on Emotional Intelligence and is a co-author of the MBA Women’s Guide to Success https. Her work is quoted on the University of Cambridge ESOL examiners’ reading list.

Judy’s hobbies include many outdoor pursuits, theatre and reading. She is an accomplished athlete, having competed for many years in track and field both in the UK and Monaco at a national and international level.

Judy is General Secretary of Outward Bound Monaco a charity she helped set up in Monaco and in whose programmes and events she plays an on-going active role.

In 2011 Judy set up the group New Women Networking on the Riviera to coach, support and mentor women in and around Monaco.

Email:[email protected]
www.judychurchill.com

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