Cime du Pisset above Boréon

Goats on the trail to Cime du Pisset

Ascending from the upper parking of Boréon

Cime du Pisset (2233 m) is one of the lesser known summits in Mercantour National Park. It offers nevertheless a magnificent view over the higher summits nearby such as Gélas, Malédie, Caïres de Cougourde etc. In winter, the trail to the summit is one of the snowshoeing itineraries.
Caïre de Cougourde seen from the trail

It takes about 1h 20 (70 km) to drive to Boréon from Nice. Drive past the reception building, turn right and continue 1,6 km to the lower parking (1610 m elev.). The upper parking is at 1660 m, but the last part of the road is unpaved with a lot of deep potholes.
Midway to Pas de la Maïris from Boréon

Sheep flock on the way to Cime du Pisset

Walk past the cowsheds to the upper parking, where you enter the Mercantour National Park and see signposts showing several itineraries. Follow the main cobbled path a few hundred meters. Here, the trail to Cime du Pisset forks right at signpost # 421. The trail marked with yellow ascends steeply in the woods to signpost # 432 and further to Pas de la Maïris above the tree line (1h 20, 2106 m elev.). The undulating mountaintops on the ridge comprise mainly alpine meadows. The signpost # 431 is the crossroads either to our goal today, down to the next valley (Madone de Fenestre), or west to Cime de Piagu and further. For Cime du Pisset, turn left (east) and follow the well visible path that soon starts ascending. Most of the climbing is already done; the last part ascends only about 130 m or so to the grassy summit.
The gentle trail ascending to Cime du Pisset Gélas in background

Back to Boréon from Pas de la Maïris

If you meet a sheep flock on the trail, step aside and wait for it to pass. The shepherds have full control over the sheep dogs and will tell you when you can continue.

Even on a partly cloudy day, and in spite of the “modest” altitude, the scenery is fantastic. It is a perfect spot for a break & picnic, too. Return along the same trail.

Cime du Pisset trail image
Climb:  630 m

Duration:          3h 15

Map:                IGN 3741 OT Vallée de la Vésubie

Image of trail courtesy of Google Maps


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Rabbit with carrots

Rabbit with carrots

Rabbit has traditionally been as familiar on the table as chicken or duck in the Mediterranean countries. Lapin à la moutarde, rabbit with savory mustard sauce, is a very typical French recipe.

The following simple recipe is a twist of this French classic. Somehow the carrots, fresh thyme, rabbit and grainy mustard, moutarde à l’ancienne, wonderfully complement each other in this recipe.

Rabbit is very low in fat. For convenience I have used rabbit fillets which are easy to cut into smaller chunks. The recipe can also be made of skinless chicken breast cut into smaller chunks.

2 servings

About 300 g rabbit fillets, cut into about 2,5  x 2,5 cm chunks
3 carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 ½ tbsp grainy mustard, moutarde à l’ancienne
200 ml chicken stock
50 ml white wine
A small bouquet of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

Slice the carrots and microwave until almost soft.

Wash and dry the thyme and remove the leaves from the sprigs.

Preheat the oven to 180⁰ C.

In a heavy casserole warm the rapeseed oil over medium heat. Cut the rabbit fillets into smaller chunks. Peel and chop the onion, peel and mince the garlic. Add the rabbit, onion and garlic in the casserole and fry for about 10 minutes stirring frequently until the rabbit chunks are golden brown on all sides. Add the white wine, carrots, mustard, black pepper and chicken stock. Add half of the thyme leaves, save the rest for the decoration. Stir and transfer the casserole to oven for 40 minutes.

Serve with new potatoes and Brussels sprouts or green beans. Decorate with fresh thyme leaves.


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Col de Fenestre

Ibex (bouquetin) near Col de Fenestre

Col de Fenestre (2474 m), the mountain pass at the Italian border above Madone de Fenestre is ideal for spotting ibex(Bouquetin). These nearly became extinct and were reintroduced to Mercantour from Grand Paradiso on the Italian side. Every time we have visited Col de Fenestre we have seen ibexes that were half-tame and very easy to photograph.

Trails ascending from Madone de Fenestre (1903 m) are very popular. You are surrounded by the highest peaks in the region, including Cime du Gélas (3143 m). Driving time from Nice is about 1h 20/ 71 km, first to St-Martin-Vésubie from where the narrow paved road climbs to Madone de Fenestre.

Image of trail from Madone de Fenestre to Col de Fenestre

Col de Fenestre was already known by the Romans, and later became an important route between Savoy and Piemonte. Remains of military bunkers (all built by the Italians) from the early 20th century can be seen on both sides of the mountain pass. It is now at the border of the two countries. Before 1947, it belonged to Italy. It was one of the escape routes used by Jews escaping the Nazis from Nice in September 1943.

The trail from Madone de Fenestre ascends along the GR52 trail to signpost #368, then forks right and continues to Lac de Fenestre (2266 m) and further to signpost #369 just below the mountain pass. It is an easy ascent all the way. One can return along the same trail or take the trail from signpost #369 to Pas des Ladres (2448 m) to signpost # 428 then return along the GR52 trail back to the starting point.

Duration: 3 h (4 h via Pas des Ladres)
Vertical climb :    570 m (660 m via Pas des Ladres)
Map : IGN 3741 OT Vallée de la Vésubie
Info in French, via Pas des Ladres (Guide Randoxygéne)
Image of trail courtesy of Google Maps


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