Hikes on the French Rivièra, near Saint-Raphael
There are many reasons why we love the Cote d’Azur. One of them is because of the hiking possibilities. Part of our family loves the mountains, and part of our family loves the sea. On the French Rivièra, and particularly near Saint-Raphael, these two are combined in a breathtaking way!
Every time we go, we do at least one hike on the Esterel mountains near Saint-Raphael, which are also called the ‘Red Rocks’. It’s a beautiful scenery with the contrast between the red color of the mountains and the deep blue sea. From high above the mountains, you will have a view on the scenic coastal road called ‘la route de la corniche d’or’. We usually head up on the Massif de l’Esterel right before reaching Agay and walk on the ‘Sentier des Senteurs’, which is not a round loop hike but filled with lovely smells of the south and views of the coast.
There are three other hikes we recommend to do during your French Rivièra holidays: the Lakes of Villepey in Saint-Aygulf, the Sentier du Littoral along the coastline in Saint-Raphael, and the hike towards the ‘Pont des Tuves’ the Pays de Fayence countryside!
Les Etangs de Villepey
Just behind the beach of Saint-Aygulf is the protected nature reserve of the lakes called ‘Etangs de Villepey’. It’s like a laguna which results of the encounter of the salt water of the sea and the pure water coming from inland. It often feels as if people don’t see it’s just there when they park to go to the popular beaches of Saint-Aygulf, but the nature reserve lies just behind the beach parking lot. A beautiful wooden bridge and observatory is constructed, but you can also walk along the small paths in nature to explore the lakes further around.
Le Sentier du Littoral
The coastline walking trail, or Sentier du Littoral, is a breathtaking hike! The same color of red of the Esterel mountains continue right by the sea, and you can walk for quite a long while next to the coast. We started our hike at the beach ‘Plage du Camp Long’, also known as ‘Tiki Plage’ and headed towards the Cap Dramont. We continued along the coast and hiked up to the Dramont and then back in a round loop to the parking lot. Lots of beautiful plants and rock formations can be seen along the way! Wear good shoes!
We hiked for about 2 hours which is a shorter version of the total hike which goes from Port Santa Lucia in Saint-Raphael, all the way to Agay (total 11 km) with some points described as ‘difficult’.
Pont des Tuves hike
This is quite a steep hike, but one you will not regret! We did this hike with our 9-year-old, and it took us 2.5 hours total. The difficulty is to hike back up.
Starting point: Montauroux, on the parking lot of the Stade du Défens and the rope adventure park.
The road towards the starting point will lead you to the hilltop villages of the countryside of the Pays de Fayence region. You will pass the cute village of Montauroux, and you will be close to the town of Callian which is picturesque and worth a stop.
The hike leads you through a forest and so lots of shade on hot days. It is very well sign-posted so you cannot miss it. The Pont des Tuves is a bridge dating from 1802, which crosses the Siagne river, from Montauroux towards the village of Saint-Cézaire. You will have a view on Saint-Cézaire during the hike at several points. People swim in the Siagne river although the water is very cold. You will see people jumping off the bridge and there is a small waterfall for an adventurous shower on the other side of the bridge. If you would like to swim but not jump, or, if you took the hike with small kids, there is a small beach area to your left, at about 50 meters from the bridge while staying on the same side of the water. After the hike, we did swim despite the cold water and it was nice and refreshing! One of the most beautiful hikes we did on the Cote d’Azur!
In case you would like to explore more hikes, the nature around and hike towards the Broken Dam of Malpasset in Fréjus is really interesting as well. The history of the site is sad, but nature blooms around it. To see this hike, check out our article on the Broken Dam of Malpasset:
For our top 5 of Best Beaches around Saint-Raphael, check out this article: