CÔTE D'AZUR & PROVENCE
Now that we're allowed out into nature again, we're sharing our article on Cap Roux. Our gourmet writer, Lewis Longman, traded his fork for trainers and takes us on a hike through the Esterel mountains just west of Cannes for breath-taking views of the Côte d’Azur. But did he bite off more than he can chew?
“We’re going up there?” I gulped as I gazed up to the top of Cap Roux, a big monstrous red rock, jutting out of the pine trees and into the blue sky. I could just about make out some insignificant silhouettes, like ants, edging slowly towards the summit. They seemed a long way away.
The beauty of the Esterel Mountains is unquestionable. Red and rugged rocks, stretching from Mandelieu in the east to Saint Raphael in the west, these old volcanic peaks erupt out impressively from surrounding pine forests and the turquoise Mediterranean Sea. The Massif Esterel covers 320 square kilometres, and its peaks and hills of varying sizes offer numerous hiking trails and walks.
One of which, is to the summit of Cap Roux, where my friends and I found ourselves, humbly standing at the bottom. The start of the walk was easy, perhaps too easy, with a tarmacked path slowly meandering its way up and through the trees, the sparkling sea to our left gradually falling further away below us. The sweet smell of the pine trees in the mild January air only encouraged and fuelled our misplaced enthusiasm and belief that this hike would be fairly easy. We carried on at a good pace until soon the vista opened up and allowed us to fully appreciate the enormity of the surrounding rocks, towering over us like monsters.
It then became apparent that this tarmacked path was just a route to the ‘actual’ path, up to the summit, and before long, tarmac would be nothing more than a luxurious memory. We stopped to take photos of the impressive scenery all around us. If I were not to survive the trek, then at least I’d have photographic evidence to show that I was there - grandchildren of grandchildren will know that I was there!
We stepped off the tarmac and onto the path, loose rocks crunching and tumbling under our feet as we marched onwards and upwards, the incline suddenly much steeper than previously. After an hour of deftly navigating the steep, winding path and the occasional small dog, we stopped for a quick drink and a bite to eat. As we sat on the rocks taking in much-needed sustenance, we could see the green and red hills below us stretching and bouncing out to the north and the west, out to the horizon which seemed much further away than usual. Behind us, we could see the top of Cap Roux, and see the little ant silhouettes shuffling slowly up and down the path - they still seemed an awfully long way away.
We continue along the path, some parts alarmingly steep, other parts reassuringly surmountable. As we reached the top, the incline increased but the seemingly endless views kept us on task. Eventually, the path stopped, there was no more in front of us, aside from a deep blue sky opening to vastness above us and all around - we had made it to the top.
Not only did we make it, but so did a hiking party of around 50 people, fully clad in unflattering spandex and equipped with colourful hiking poles. Despite it being winter, the weather was spring-like and warm, and as such, I had been so bold as to complete the hike with my top off. The mere sight of my shirtless body was enough to make the bustling party of brightly-coloured limbs and poles soon begin their hasty descent which worked well because we then had the top of the peak to ourselves as if true conquerors!
Cap Roux offers 360-degree views of the Côte d’Azur and we could see nearly as far as Toulon, the bay glistening silently in the west, and to the east, the snowy alps gleamed majestically above Nice. We sat for about twenty minutes, in sheer awe of our surroundings, euphoria coursing through us all. Then we just needed to get back down.
Cap Roux hiking trail
Located in Saint Raphaël, only a ten-minute drive west from Theoule-sur-Mer. Enter the trail from the Saint Baume parking.
- Distance: 4.3 Km
- Difficulty: Medium
- Highest altitude: 380 m
- Time: approximately 2 hours up