The Grand Braus Circuit
by Judy Churchill
This time I’m taking you to the secret Paillon Valley. Secret because so few people know of this peaceful, local beauty spot and our hike begins in one of my favourite villages – Luceram.
Luceram is a typical Nice hinterland village with quaint stone houses surrounded by magnificent forest in the middle of the Paillon de L’Escarène Gorges. A tour of this picturesque, medieval village and the beautiful art work adorning its church and chapels is a must either before or after your hike.
The village of Luceram is located 28 km from Nice centre. If coming from Monaco, set your GPS and leave the A8 motorway to take the D.2204 along the Paillon valley until you reach Pointe-de-Contes. Take a right turn to reach the col de Nice and then the village of l’Escarène. Turn left shortly after the bridge and follow the D.2566 to Luceram.
The hike starts from the centre of the village at way marker 171 (650m). Take the rue de l’église and go down to cross the Paillon (604m) via the GR510. You then start going uphill and you will climb a total of 740m so this is a fairly demanding walk. It should take you about 4 hours in total to complete the circuit and the views are nothing short of spectacular. A mixture of plateau, ridges and forest will give you a 360° bird’s eye view over this amazing valley. I guarantee you will fall in love with Luceram.
The best time of year for doing this particular walk is March to November as Luceram can have snowfall in the winter. As always check the weather conditions before setting off. I once thought I’d be clever and did this circuit one year on 30th November ignoring the weather warnings. Needless to say, I got caught in a snow storm and completed the circuit in 3 hours rather than 4, racing to get back with the trail disappearing before my eyes – not to be recommended!
You will certainly want to take hiking sticks with this gradient as they will help you on the ascents and 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 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 you will need the TOP 25 n° 3741 ET map called “Vallée de la Bévéra et des Paillons”, and follow way markers 171, 172,173,174, 179,53,180,183 and 184. If you are a French speaker you can find the hike on this link: https://randoxygene.departement06.fr/bevera-paillon/circuit-du-grand-braus-9385.html
Enjoy your hike and don’t forget your camera!