Hiking around Saint-Jeannet...is Baou a mountain?

Baou de St-Jeannet

Ascent, view and the summit of Saint Jeannet
Baou is a Provençal word meaning a rocky limestone hilltop with a flat summit.

The Baou de Saint-Jeannet (800 m) is a prominent landmark when driving north from Nice along the Route de Grenoble. It is about 20 km from Nice. The medieval village of Saint-Jeannet is protected from northern winds by the Baou. It used to be a frontier village between Provençe and the Comte de Nice during the time when the River Var separated them.

Hitchcock’s 1955 film How to Catch a Thief starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant was primarily filmed in the South of France. The Villa des Bijoux in the film is situated in Saint-Jeannet. See Hitchcockwiki for details.

The Baou de Saint-Jeannet is well known for climbers who use its southern precipice. The village is a popular starting point for hikes to the Baou and around it.

The hiking trail from the village to the summit is signposted and initially follows GR 51 then bifurcates left ascending along the hillside to a plateau from where the summit with the viewpoint indicator can be reached in 10 minutes. There are, as always, many variants. The Randoxygène guidebook hike called “Circuit du Castellet” continues north after the summit along the plateau, eventually joins the GR 51 trail, descends to the western side of the Baou, bifurcates again from the GR 51, just before Castillon ruines and continues back to the village right under the steep southern wall of the Baou. Visiting the summit is described as optional but in reality it is the highlight of the whole hike. In fact, it is one of the most popular summits among locals and visitors. If you haven’t done this hike on the French Riviera you haven’t done anything!

Every spring, a competition called la Foulée des Baous is arranged, this year it is on 13 April. It is an event attracting a lot of people. If you are a participant it’s OK but for other visitors, hikers etc there will certainly be a parking problem on that day!


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