Boxing day walk above Gourdon

Haut Montet 1335 m with radar dome on summit


Sometimes an easy walk in fresh and clean air is all you want. This nature walk above the hilltop village of Gourdon (758 m) offers magnificent views on a clear day while the vertical climb is just 250 m.
The walk starts from the parking by Chemin des Claps at 1112 m altitude. From the roundabout at the entrance of Gourdon, take the RD12 road to Caussols. Continue about 5.5 km, then turn left and follow chemin des Claps about one km. From Nice, the driving time is about an hour. You’ll see a closed gate and a stone wall, and a narrow paved road behind it leading to the summit of Haut Montet (1335 m). The civil aviation radar dome on the top is clearly visible. In fact, the dome can be seen from many places on the coast. This is also the highest point of the walk.









Immediately left of the closed gate there’s an opening in the wall for walkers. Follow the “Circuit du Haut Montet  2h30” signposts. The trail (yellow marks) first takes you to a ridge frequently used by paragliders. The trail ascends gently along the ridge before turning right joining the paved road up to the summit. It is an easy trail but caution should be exercised in poor visibility, and of course in icy and wintery conditions.

We did the walk on a clear albeit a bit hazy day. When we reached the summit, the Mercantour peaks were actually better visible than the coast.

Descend back to the starting point along the paved road.





Duration: 2h30


Map: IGN Cannes-Grasse TOP 25 no 3643 ET



Map image courtesy of Google Maps

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Our French Nordic Christmas menu

Oysters Claire nr 2

Over the years our Christmas menu has evolved to include the best of French and Nordic flavours. Christmas Eve´s menu is French with a South of France twist. The French have their Réveillon, the traditional dinner after the Midnight Mass, but we have our dinner at the usual time.








The dinner starts with oysters. Our French daughter-in-law taught us to open oysters, and they have since been our first course at Christmas Eve.

The main course is Le foie gras poelée, sauce safranée et à l’orange, pain de campagne et de la salade verte. This is not as complicated as it sounds. It is simply slices of raw foie gras which are quickly fried in a hot dry pan and served over country bread slices with two different sauces and a green side salad. Champagne or crèmant sparkling goes beautifully with both dishes.

Treize desserts, thirteen desserts, is a very old ritual in the South of France. The thirteen desserts represent Christ and the twelve apostles. These desserts used to be very simple and modest; in the Provencal countryside they could be just thirteen different dried fruits and nuts. In Nice, fresh seasonal mandarins were served as well as candied fruits. Dark and white nougat and calissons d’Aix were also usually served.

Christmas Day’s menu starts with smoked salmon and dark green baby salad leaves with olive oil and vinegar dressing. A glass of champagne or crèmant is enjoyed with the first course.

This is followed by oven-cooked pork tenderloin with mustard, potato-carrot gratin and Brussels sprouts. The huge Nordic Christmas ham steak is too much for a small party, and is replaced by pork tenderloin. Red wine from Luberon is our preferred choice with the main course.

For dessert we have pears poached in red wine and decorated with pistachios and dark chocolate shavings.

The leftovers of the potato-carrot gratin go very well with duck breast on Boxing Day. This is a simple and quick to cook dinner after a winter hike.

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Frittata recipe with ham, spinach and green beans

Frittata recipe




















Frittata is an egg-based dish similar to an omelet. The word frittata is Italian and means fried. Frittatas are cooked in a cast iron pan or ovenproof skillet because they are started on the stovetop and then finished in the oven.

Various vegetables, cheeses and meats can be added to frittatas. They make a nice lunch or a simple dinner
served with a side salad and some good bread.

In my frittata, I prefer spinach, onion, green beans and a dash of garlic which I think go very well with eggs. But you can choose what you prefer or find in the pantry. In the South of France they make an egg-dish with truffles during the truffle season.

4 servings

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
About 250 g / 9 oz green beans, chopped
About 2 handfulls baby spinach
About 250 g / 9 oz ham, chopped
About 110 g / 4 oz shredded mozzarella
12 free-range eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
Minced basil or parsley to decorate

Preheat the oven to 200⁰ C / 400⁰ F.

Over medium heat, warm the olive oil and butter in an ovenproof skillet. Sauté the chopped onion, green beans and minced garlic for about 10 minutes until softened. Add the chopped ham in the skillet and place the spinach on top of the ham. Whisk the eggs with black pepper. Add the mozzarella to the eggs and mix. Pour this mixture on top of the spinach.
Frittata with ham, spinach and green beans

Transfer the skillet in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes until the eggs have set. Slice the frittata into four wedges and transfer on the plates. Decorate with parsley or basil.










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Hike from Marie in the Tinée Valley

The village of Marie in the Tinée Valley


Hiking in the Moyen Pays is at its best in the end of May and early June when the nature is awakening to summer but it is not yet too hot at lower altitudes. Autumn is great as well, but you should then choose a day when hunting is not allowed!

The following hike starts from the well-maintained village of Marie (600 m), about 50 km from Nice. The village and its surroundings are said to be influenced both by the Mediterranean Sea and the nearby Southern Alps. The sinuous and narrow D58 ascends from the D2205 road to the village. Park your car at the village entrance.

The first signpost is located just before the parking. The start of the trail is paved and well marked with yellow. Follow the signposts that show Pointe de Clamia (887 m), the mountain to be circled on this hike. You are soon ascending in the magnificent pine forest called Lauzette towards the Pointe de Clamia. The col next to the mountaintop is the highest point of the hike (860 m). This is a good spot for a break, and has nice views down to the Tinée valley.
The peculiar shape of Mont Mounier (2817 m), partly snow-capped, can be seen in the distance.













Image of trail around Pointe de Clamia
The trail now descends sharply to north. At the crossroads, turn left to La Bollinette. Don’t go as far as the Bollinette (by the D2205 road) but at the crossroads choose the path back to Marie. The path eventually joins the D58 road about 2 km before the village. Ascend back to the starting point along this quiet road.

This is a truly relaxing and easy hike in the “middle country”, a bit off the beaten track if you like!

Total hiking time:       3 hours
Total ascent:                430 m

More info in French in the Randoxygène guide   


Map: IGN Moyenne Tinée 3641 ET


Image of trail courtesy of Google Maps






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Caïre Gros above St-Dalmas Valdeblore

Caïre Gros 2087 m

There are some easily accessed mountains at the entrance to Haut Pays from which you have a super panorama to the highest peaks of Alpes Maritimes. Le Caïre Gros (2087m) and Tête de Clans (2081m) above the village of St-Dalmas Valdeblore (1290m) and the nearby the ski resort of La Colmiane are two such summits.

Some guidebooks describing the hike to Le Caïre Gros recommend to take the trail back to St-Dalmas Valdeblore through the Bois Noir. Having done this hike previously, and lost our trail twice in the woods of Bois Noir, we suggest here a much nicer path with better views back to St-Dalmas Valdeblore. In good visibility you can easily do two summits by continuing from Le Caïre Gros to Tête de Clans. This requires practically no extra effort.









In St-Dalmas Valdeblore, park your car near the church. There is a small parking on the other side of the main road. The hike starts from the nearby signpost #78. Follow first the Grande Randonnée 5 and its red and white signs up to the Col de Deux Caïres (1910m). This first part is almost continuous and rather steep long ascent.

At signpost #99 leave the GR 5 and start ascending to the Caïre Gros (2087m). There a super panorama waits for you. You can see Mont Mounière, Argentera, Gélas…in fact many of the 3000+ summits!

After the summit, descend a little to south along the ridge. Climb a few meters to the Tête de Clans (2081m). Continue a bit more to south until you come to a nice alpine meadow, locate signpost #101 on the GR 5 trail a bit lower. Descend along the meadow to this signpost, and head north along the GR 5.

Follow the GR 5 as far as to signpost 98 after the Col du Varaire. There leave the GR 5 and take the right-hand path towards La Colmiane. This trail is marked with yellow signs. Follow this nice path, crossing twice a ski run, to signpost #94. There turn left and start first descending along a ski run, then along a stony unpaved road which will soon take you back to the starting point at signpost #78.

We did this hike in the middle of October on a warm and sunny day with just some scattered clouds.

Total ascent: about 850- 900 m.
Total hiking time: about 5h.
Map: IGN 3641 ET Moyenne Tinée

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