La Maralpine: an ecotourist hike in the Préalpes d’Azur

A vibrant voyage from the banks of the tumultuous Estéron river to Mont Cheiron – the rooftop of the Préalpes d’Azur – and the impressive cliffs of the Côte d’Azur. Quite an odyssey! Delightful lodgings, local produce and preserved countryside… The finest ingredients for an amazing adventure.

5 days
Visited places
Step 1

From Saint-Auban to Amirat

Dive into the clear waters of the Estéron
16 km

Revel in the bubbling waters of the Estéron… Running through a stunning gorge, this wild river has literally carved out the landscapes of the Préalpes d’Azur Regional Nature Reserve. Take the GR510 long-distance footpath from Saint-Auban across Estéron valley, steeped in the typical local culture, picturesque villages and perfumes of Provence. The route crosses the charming villages of Briançonnet and Gars. After your first day of adventure, spend the evening in Amirat, home to many mysterious ancient remains standing witness to ancient civilisations…

Step 2

On the road to Aiglun

The beauty of untamed nature
17 km

The southern slopes of the hills offer breathtaking views over the whole Estéron valley: an infinite enchantment. Bordering the Alpes de Haute Provence area, the little village of Amirat, tucked away in verdant, untamed countryside, is an absolute must. As you leave the village, wind your way between hills and dales towards Aiglun, the site of an impressive gorge locally known as a “clue”. On the way, take time to observe the surrounding scenery offering some of the Préalpes d’Azur nature reserve’s finest vistas. The cherry on the cake? The itinerary winds up with the magnificent spectacle of Mont Cheiron. Simply awe-inspiring!

Step 3

Off to Gréolières

Meet the mountains
14 km

Set at an altitude of 620 metres, Aiglun benefits from an exceptionally sunny climate and architecture typical of lower Alpine areas. After exploring the village and Eglise Saint-Raphaël, it’s time to ascend Mont Cheiron on the GR4 long-distance footpath. Before reaching Gréolières and its medieval chapel, enjoy a well-earned rest and lap up the panoramic view over the foothills of the Southern Alps and Mediterranean coast. It’s time to leave the abundant vegetation of Estéron valley behind and explore the more arid and rocky southern face of the mountain, offering a succession of stunning landscapes promising a hike to remember.

Step 4

From the charming Gorges du Loup…

… To the lunar landscapes of the prealpine plateaux

Leave Gréolières behind you under the rocky ridges of Mont Cheiron and plunge into the valley carved out by the Loup river. You’ll be faced with a bit of a dilemma when you arrive in Cipières: should you head towards Grasse the perfume capital or the impressive mounts of Vence? If you opt for Grasse, follow signs to the village of Caussols via Calern plateau, famed for its karst rock formations. If you choose Vence, follow signs to the village of Courmes before spending the night at the foot of Saint-Barnabé plateau. So what will it be? The spectacular Cascade de Courmes waterfall or the limestone rocks of Calern sculpted by erosion?

Step 5

Between two worlds

Descend the mountains to the coast

Whether you’re starting out from Caussols or Courmes, the last stage of your adventure will lead you to the edge of the luxuriant Préalpes d’Azur Regional Nature Reserve. Gazing out over the Mediterranean Sea, two very different but complementary worlds stand before you: virgin prealpine countryside on one side and the buzzing Côte d’Azur on the other. In Grasse, sweet-scented flower fields and the ancient perfumery know-how of the Pays de Grasse (now part of UNESCO intangible heritage) await. If Vence is your destination, get ready to be bowled over by time-honoured Roman heritage and an awe-inspiring mountain backdrop as you roam the town. And of course, don’t miss the delightful painter’s trail and mysterious Chapel of the White Penintents

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