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Happy Hiker explores The Siagne-Loup Valley

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Courmes and the Saint-Barnabé Plateau

This time I’m taking you on an easy hike that can be done all year round, in the beautiful and relatively undiscovered Siagne-Loup Valley. Hidden away between Cagnes-sur-Mer and Grasse, the village of Courmes will give you a real taste of mid-mountain walking without being too demanding. This is a walk that’s suitable for all the family. The circuit can be completed in 2-2.5 hours and has a mild gradient of 350 m. The only challenge is the numbers on the main way markers. All the recent guides and maps have the new numbers but you may find (as I did) that the old numbers still appear on about 50% of the way markers so to help you on your way I’ll give you both old and new numbers. The circuit is simple to follow so you shouldn’t encounter any issues.

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The drive to Courmes will take you through the beautiful Gorges du Loup and upon arrival in Courmes you already have the feel that you are in the middle of the mountains. Courmes is situated 32 km from Nice airport. Take the A8 motorway to Cagnes-sur-Mer and then follow signs to la Colle-sur-Loup. Go up the Gorges du Loup by the RD6 until you reach Bramafan and turn right to follow the narrow road up to Courmes where you can park in the large village car park at 630m altitude.

The hike which has been completely retraced and rerouted from the old version (so be careful if you have old hiking guides) starts from the car park behind the communal buildings at new way marker 250 (le chemin des Combes) but you may still find the old way marker as I did (83). The important thing is that you should be following signs to Plateau de Saint-Barnabé and have this circuit plotted out on your detailed TOP 25 3642 “Vallée de L’Esteron” map.

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The path goes up through a pretty forest of oak trees to way marker 256 where you turn right and find yourself on a gentle, level ‘balcony’ pathway which you stay on until you reach the plateau and “la Baisse” at way marker 255 (86). Turn right to join the GR51 which crosses the plateau until you reach the edge at 948m and way-marker 254 (85). Stay on the GR51 and you will have incredible views at this point over the surrounding villages and valley. Continue right, way marker 253 (84), and descend before crossing a pathway which takes you slightly up to rejoin the GR51 at way marker 252 (83) and then back to the village.

I advise taking hiking sticks, as they will help you both on 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. 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° 3842 OT map to mark out your trail before you set off (all way markers are indicated on the IGN maps which are available for purchase online or at good book and sports shops). If you are a French speaker you can also find the hike on this link: https://randoxygene.departement06.fr/siagne-loup/plateau-de-saint-barnabe-9071.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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