Boréon: Mont Archas

Mont Archas 2526m summit

The 15th of August, L’Assomption, is a public holiday in France. We knew that large crowds would head to the mountains as the weather forecast was favourable, and August is the peak season for mountain activities.

To be able to find a parking spot in Le Boréon, we tried to leave early. When we arrived, the Salèse Valley parking was almost full. In addition, we saw that there was a fête patronale in Mollières, now a ghost village on the other side of Col de la Salèse. There was a lot of car traffic apparently heading there as the track that normally is closed had been opened for this event. So, the normally quite tranquil Salèse Valley was very busy that morning!

We had chosen to do a hike “off the beaten track”, first towards Lacs des Adus, then up to Mont Archas (2526 m) via Col de la Valette des Adus (2356 m) as we knew that most hikers would head to Lac Negre, Col de Cerise etc where chamois may be spotted.

We started from signpost #434 at the parking, crossed the stream to signpost 397, and followed the trail that climbed steeply in the woods. We then passed a private refuge and Lacs des Adus. Most of the lakes were dry. We met only sporadic hikers and a few trail runners. We continued the ascent towards Col de la Valette des Adus, now above the tree line. The trail followed the border of the Mercantour National Park. From the col (signpost #394), we continued east along a well-marked trail towards Mont Archas already well visible in front of us. The yellow markings along the trail were new as the route is used by the trail runners.

After a break at the saddle between Cime de la Valette and Mont Archas we were ready for the last 160 m climb to the summit. There were many trails, and we followed the one with yellow markings. The summit itself was marked with a large cairn. The 360° panorama view was quite stunning: Argentera, Cime du Gélas, you name it! The town of Saint-Martin-Vésubie was 1500 m below us.

From the summit, we started the descent heading east, still using the trail runners’ itinerary. The initial descent was steep and rocky along a ridge, so our respect for trail runners increased even more!

Eventually we came to a crossroads at signpost #393 and forked left to Les Adus, the area which we passed in the morning. At signpost #396, a little below the private refuge mentioned above, we closed the loop and headed back to our starting point in the Salèse Valley.

Parts of the trail were rocky and hence more strenuous. The ascent from the valley was more or less continuous. However, navigation was easy as the signposts and marking were new.

Elevation gain: 882 m (Our log)

Distance: 14 km
Mont Archas trail

Duration: 5h 30

Map: 3741 OT Vallée de la Vésubie


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White bean and red quinoa salad

White bean and red quinoa salad

The following salad recipe makes a light and tasty lunch. It is full of vegetable protein, which we should be eating more of, antioxidants and heart-healthy olive oil.

2 servings

A tin of white beans
100 ml red quinoa
About 10 red cherry tomatoes
About 10 yellow cherry tomatoes
1 spring onion
A generous handful of baby salad leaves, mesclun
Freshly ground black pepper
Basil leaves to decorate
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 tbsp. olive oil

Cook the red quinoa in 250 ml water for 20 minutes. Let cool in a bowl.

Rinse the white beans under running water and add to the bowl.

Wash the cherry tomatoes, cut into halves and add to the bowl. Wash the spring onion, slice it including the green part and add to the bowl. Grind over some black pepper.

Whisk the dressing in a small bowl, add to the vegetables and mix. Gently fold in the salad leaves. Divide the mixture in two bowls and decorate with basil leaves.


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Planetary trail above Valberg

Planet Saturn by the trail from Valberg

This relaxed walk starts from Valberg ski resort (1680 m) about 80 km from Nice. Valberg is built in a classic alpine style and has an atmosphere of a larger, chic resort.

The trail is called Sentier Planétaire, the planetary path, because it is dedicated to astronomy; at various spots you will discover the sun, the earth and seven other planets as well as information about the milky way, galaxies etc. It is a great hike for kids too.

In summer, some trails are dedicated to hikers, others to mountain bikers. From many spots you’ll be able to see the village and signposts are numerous along the trails. You will not get lost here! You can benefit from the crisscrossing paths and dirt roads and tailor-make your walks if you wish.

We modified the itinerary by taking the planetary trail on the way back, and by making an extension to a nearby summit called L’Adrech de Forche (2011 m).
From the centre of Valberg we started ascending along a road first to Lac de Sénateur then further to a crossroads and signpost #20 where we came to the planetary trail proper. The itinerary continued in the woods to a small summit with the planet Uranus.

A short descent then took us to Col des Anguillers (1854 m, signpost #24), next to Lac des Anguillers. From here, we climbed along the trail, zigzagging in the woods up to the turning point of the planetary trail and the planet Neptune (1926 m).

The summit of L’Ardeche de Forche was visible in the southeast. We descended about 50 m from Neptune then climbed up to the summit which was our turning point. Dome de Barrot was visible in the south while the long ridge of Mont Mounier dominated the scene in the north east.

On the way back to Valberg, we used the dirt road to signpost #20, then the very picturesque path running along the western slope of the mountain (signposts # 11,10,9) with further astronomic information (albeit only in French) in several places.

Even if you wouldn’t be interested in the theme itself, this walk along good trails offers truly great views.

Duration: 4 h
Our planetary trail track Valberg

Distance: 11 km

Elevation gain: 450 m (our variant)

Map: “Haut Cians” 3640 OT


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Turkey escalopes Milan style

Turkey escalopes Milan style

In the following recipe hazelnut powder, noisettes en poudre, is used instead of the usual breadcrumbs. This gives a nice nutty taste for the dish. In France we can buy hazelnut powder in ordinary supermarkets, but it is easy to make with a kitchen machine. Any leftover hazel powder can be added in your morning muesli.

2 servings

2 turkey escalopes
1 egg
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. hazelnut powder
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. good mayonnaise
2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 180° C.

In a bowl, whisk the egg. Spread the flour on one plate and hazelnut powder on another plate. Warm the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan.

Dip the escalope first in egg, then in flour, then in hazelnut powder and fry on both sides until golden brown. Transfer the escalope on an oven dish and bake in the oven for 15- 20 minutes depending on thickness.

Meanwhile microwave some new potatoes and wilt three to four handfuls of baby spinach. Make a sauce by whisking together the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Divide the sauce in small bowls and place on the plates.

Divide the escalopes, new potatoes and wilted spinach on the plates and serve at once.


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