A small hike in the footsteps of Asterix and Obelix, following in part an ancient Roman road, with the same backdrops as the well known Uderzo and Goscinny albums. A small valley lost in the hollow of a glacial cirque, with a meandering stream in the middle, and above, beautiful views across the French Riviera, the Esterel and the Maures off in the distance. With a little luck, you can meet deer or roe deer!
This hike is in the Regional Natural Park of the Azur Alpine foothills. Located on Route Napoleon in the direction of Digne, from Grasse towards Saint-Vallier, one can take Route Napoleon or La Route de Cabris. From Cabris, once you are on Route Napoleon before Saint-Vallier, back-track to the Col du Pilon, to the east. Park at Col du Pilon, to the right coming from Grasse, or ahead at the entrance to the industrial area of Pilon.
(S) Take the path which heads north, towards the mountains for about 100 m. Then follow the path to the left through a gate. Follow that same path for 500 m to a ford with a garden on the left, opposite a spring and a path starting on the right.
Cross the ford (1) and follow the left path that goes up an 800 m slope to the entrance of the Feïssolade cirque which opens onto a ledge.
(2) There, on the right, the trail climbs to the Col de la Gardette (this will be the return path). On the left, the trail branches off to the south side of La Chèvre d’Or and/or the way up the Chèvre d'Or from the east which I would not recommend (sharp vertical slabs making any fall extremely dangerous).
I prefer to take the path straight to the bottom of the cirque, to the middle of the valley, and from there go around the left where I meet a path (not shown on the map) which climbs up the southern flank the valley to the pass between the Chèvre d'Or and La Gardette.
At the pass (3) I like to go south to the left through a small wood where there is nested a wild boar lair, and then continue up the ridge to see views of the Saint-Vallier valley. Follow the ridge above the southern slope to the ruin at the top of the Chèvre d’Or. Continue south-east to the end (4) overlooking the trail from the Col du Pilon and arriving in the cirque and the sharp slabs that I recommend you avoid, even with a path through them. Turn around and return to the ruins, and follow the path along the top ridge of the north slope to the pass (3).
Then follow a trail north around the cirque through the ridge between the cirque and the Saint-Vallier valley that climbs to La Gardette. On this path, go past a dry stone hut (5) before reaching the summit (6), visible from afar.
Then head back down through the pass to the east of La Gardette, which goes to the left towards the east and the summit of La Malle. Turn right down the normal path returning to the Col du Pilon by the old ruined farmhouse (7) and then along the eastern edge of the cirque. Then join (2) the path used during your ascent: take it back to your starting point.
D/A : km 0 - alt. 795m - Col du Pilon
1 : km 0.85 - alt. 803m
2 : km 1.97 - alt. 774m
3 : km 2.5 - alt. 798m
4 : km 3.17 - alt. 785m
5 : km 4.89 - alt. 795m
6 : km 5.35 - alt. 779m
7 : km 7.4 - alt. 773m
D/A : km 11.72 - alt. 794m
A spring just after the ford, 600 m from the start.
Points to take shelter:
- A dry stone hut (5) when you go up La Gardette starting from the west pass between the Chèvre d'Or and La Gardette, about 200 m from the pass.
- The top of La Gardette there is a shelter with an box hedge entrance and a pile of rocks where you can sit and have a picnic.
- An old farm whose vaulted cellar is exceptional and can be a safe shelter, about 100 m uphill the trail to La Gardette to the north.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
From the starting point to the ford, even more visible on the way back, see this Roman road on which we walk, which takes us back to the days of Asterix the Gaul.
See also the beautiful buildings on the left of the path.
The spring is built into the wall in front, just after the ford.
On the left (to the south) when you are at the entrance of the cirque, the sharp ridges that rise up the Chèvre d'Or.
On the north side of the cirque, several small ruined farmhouses.
The valley at the end of the cirque, with or without the flocks of sheep, is very beautiful and peaceful, and feels like a little corner of paradise, with its stream winding through it. The summit of La Gardette gives an excellent view across it and back down the path that leads to the farm.
On top of the pass to the west into the cirque towards Saint-Vallier, take the path into the woods to the south and 50 m onwards you will find the area the boars come to bathe.
On top of the Chèvre d'Or, a ruin.
From the top of La Gardette, a 360° view over the peaks of La Malle to the east, in the north is the summit of the South-west Caussols (Le Ferrier), and to the South, the whole Côte d'Azur, the Esterel, the South-west Maures, and finally to the west, La Montagne de Thiey, the Audibergue, the Lachens and Canjuers.
The GPS track and description are the property of the author.