Roure: Mont Autcellier

 

Final push to Mont Autcellier



In search of new mid-altitude hiking trails in Alpes-Maritimes, we came across an interesting option above the village of Roure.

Although the trail to Mont Autcellier (2204 m) has been described and recommended by some French rando sites, both the trail and the mountain turned out to be less frequented than many other similar itineraries in the region.

One reason might be the access: The narrow and sinuous road which ascends from St-Sauveur sur Tinée (M30 then M130) first passing near the village of Roure then the Roure Arboretum above the village. There is a parking about 700 m from the Arboretum (La Barre; signpost #241 at 1373 m elev.).

Signpost #254 to Mont Autcellier
Signpost #254 to Mont Autcellier

View down to Tinée Valley
View down to Tinée Valley

Forêt de la Fracha Roure
Forêt de la Fracha Roure

Signpost #251 to Mont Autcellier
Signpost #251 to Mont Autcellier

Mont St-Sauveur
Mont St-Sauveur



We started along a dirt road (also part of the GR5) as far as to signpost #254 where we forked left, and ascended along a very soft forest trail. Beautiful larch forests in Alpes Maritimes are ubiquitous, but this particular forest -Forêt de la Fracha-exceeded our expectations.

The itinerary was straightforward. We passed signpost #251 showing the way to Autcellier. We reached a forested ridge (Crête de la Clouetta) and ascended along it, still heading northwest. The ridge already offered multiple great views.

View southeast from Crête de la Clouetta
View southeast from Crête de la Clouetta

Crête de la Clouetta higher up
Crête de la Clouetta higher up

Mercantour peaks seen from Autcellier southern flank
Mercantour peaks seen from Autcellier southern flank


Alpine meadow before Mont Autcellier
Alpine meadow before Mont Autcellier

Tête de Pommier and Roubion ski runs
Tête de Pommier and Roubion ski runs


Gradually, at about 2000 m elev., the forest gave way to alpine meadows, and we had Mont Autcellier in front of us. Its south-eastern flank was very easy to climb. On the grassy summit plateau, a cairn with a stick probably marked the highest point. The panorama had been praised by many hikers and they were right:  From Mont Mounier in the west to the snow-capped Mercantour summits further away in the east. The day was gorgeous but we only met one sole hiker and a few mountain bikers.  Two Canadair fire bombers flew back and forth over us. Apart from these, we were alone in the pristine nature.

We returned along the same trail.

Mounier seen from Mont Autcellier summit
Mounier seen from Mont Autcellier summit

Valberg viewed from Mont Autcellier
Valberg viewed from Mont Autcellier

Southern Tinée Valley seen from Mont Autcellier
Southern Tinée Valley seen from Mont Autcellier

Climb: 830 m

Distance: 11,6 km

Duration: 4h 30 active

Map: « Moyenne Tinée » IGN 3641 ET


Mont Autcellier hike track
Mont Autcellier hike track











0 comments:

Pollock on new potatoes and fennel

 

Pollock on new potatoes and fennel


The island of Noirmoutier is famous for its new potatoes. They are gathered before their maturity, 90 days after plantation, and are known for their good taste and very fine skin. 

The following carefree recipe is adapted from a news clip on the French morning TV, Télématin. The chef cooked outdoors pollock on a bed of Noirmoutier new potatoes and fennel. Instead of pollock you could use any tasty white fish.

My recipe is for indoors cooking using a heavy Le Creuset pot but if you have an outdoor cooking stove feel free to experiment. It looked fun!

2 servings

About 8 medium size thin skinned new potatoes

½ bulb of fennel

3 tbsp. olive oil

A small bunch of dill

150 ml white wine

Freshly ground black pepper

2 nice pieces of pollock fillet

Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pot. Wash the potatoes, cut them into halves or quarters and add to the pot. Stir now and again for a few minutes. Wash the ½ fennel, cut into sections and add to the pot. Stir again and cook for a few minutes. Pour in the wine, cover, and cook for about 15- 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

Add the pollock on top of the potatoes and fennel and grind over some black pepper. Cover and cook for about 8- 10 minutes until the fish is done. Divide on the plates and decorate with chopped dill.


0 comments:

Levens to Colla Bassa

 

Levens and Mont Vial


Levens north of Nice is a good starting point for hikes. Even the tourist office has eight suggestions on their web site. We planned to do the loop called Circuit de Péloubié but on the day of our hike there were road works in St Claire south of Levens, just where our hike itinerary would have passed on the way back.

Instead of doing the loop, we decided to start along the first part of the hike from les Grands Prés (soccer and other fields 546 m elev.) next to the M19 road. We walked to signpost #261, forked right and ascended along Chemin de la Madone, then Chemin Pré des Cavaliers, passing some nice properties. We came to signpost #265 where the public road ended. There is a small parking (Les Mulières) which we had used before. In fact, on a hot day, we recommend to drive up there instead of walking along the streets from Levens.


Les Grands Prés Levens
Les Grands Prés Levens

Path after signpost#265 Levens
Path after signpost#265 Levens

Mont Arpasse
Mont Arpasse



We continued towards Col de Travail (760 m), passing a crossroads and signpost #266. After a short descent, we crossed a small stream named Péloubié before ascending to Col de Travail (#281).

Heading to Col de Travail Levens
Heading to Col de Travail Levens

Crossing Péloubié
Crossing Péloubié

Mont Chauve and Cima
Mont Chauve and Cima

Colla Bassa
Colla Bassa

Rose bushes in Levens
Rose bushes in Levens





Just after the Col, we forked left into the woods ascending to signpost #280 near Col de Rosa and further the Colla Bassa (881 m), our turning point as we had planned to do a moderate hike.  The path from Col de Travail to Colla Bassa runs in the woods, but we had nevertheless some views down to the valley and to the mountains in the west (Mont Chauve d’Aspremont, Mont Cima). Colla Bassa too was surrounded by woods and maquis, so no views from there.
We returned to Levens along the same path.

Duration: 4 h

Distance: About 12 km

Climb: 430 m

Map: 3741 ET Vallées de la Bévéra et des Paillons

Levens to Colla Bassa track
Levens to Colla Bassa track


0 comments:

Hummus and scallops on a vegetable bed

 

Hummus and scallops on a vegetable bed


This recipe is a perfect example of combining vegetable and animal protein. It also shows how we should increase colourful vegetables and reduce carbohydrates from pasta, rice or bread in the modern Mediterranean diet that is now scientifically shown to be one of the best options for a healthy diet. 

In France, the scallop season runs from 1 October to 15 May. In summer, mussels could replace the scallops in this recipe.

2 servings

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 medium sweet potato

A handful or two of baby spinach

About 10 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tbsp. black olives

About 4 tbsp. hummus

8- 10 scallops

2 tbsp. hazelnut powder

Olive oil


Warm 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium- low heat and gently sauté the onion and garlic for about 10 minutes.

Peel and chop the sweet potato. Microwave for about 5- 6 minutes until soft, then add to the skillet.

Preheat the oven to 200° C. 

Oil a smallish ovenproof dish and place the scallops in it. Sprinkle with hazelnut powder and some olive oil. Roast for 4- 5 minutes depending on the size. It is nice to leave them a bit mi- cuit, half- cooked, inside.

When the scallops go into the oven add the spinach, cherry tomatoes, and olives to the skillet. Increase the heat to medium. The spinach takes only a few minutes to be wilted.

Place a heap of hummus in the centre of large plates and surround with the vegetables. Divide the scallops on the vegetables and serve.


0 comments:

Montauroux: Loop hike near Lac St-Cassien

 

St-Cassien Lake seen from G49 trail


The Saint-Cassien Lake (147 m elev.) is an artificial water reservoir in the southeastern Var Department, inaugurated in 1966. The terrain west of the lake has a network of trails, offering several hiking itineraries, many of them not officially marked as hiking routes.

The GR 49 long distance trail runs along the forested western shore of the lake. Several tracks and trails connect the GR trail with the yellow marked PR trail which runs on the adjacent hills. We wanted to explore the area and tailor-make a nice loop.

We drove to the parking at the Fondurane Biologic Reserve. It took us less than an hour from Nice. 

GR49 bridge over River Biançon
GR49 bridge over River Biançon
GR49 from Fondurane
GR49 from Fondurane

GR49 near Gayet
GR49 near Gayet

Heading south along the GR49, we crossed the bridge over the River Biançon. We followed the white/red GR markings. There were sporadic old signposts, but it was easy to follow the GR trail which in fact was a good dirt track, also used by cyclists. We crossed a stream, turned 180° and continued to a crossroads named Gayet on our map. Here, the GR49 forked left and we came nearer the lake. Climbing a bit, some stretches offered good views of the lake and the vicinity.

Glimpse of St-Cassien Lake from GR49
Glimpse of St-Cassien Lake from GR49


Pré Claou Bridge over St-Cassien Lake
Pré Claou Bridge over St-Cassien Lake

Track leaving GR49 above St-Cassien Lake
Track leaving GR49 above St-Cassien Lake

Same track higher up
Same track higher up

Esterel and the Med seen from trail
Esterel and the Med seen from trail

We continued along the GR49 5.9 km to a point (43.561798N 6.790824E) where we had found a good path to reach the hill. There were a few before this, but they looked both narrower and overgrown.  Leaving the GR49, we forked right and climbed, partly in Forêt Domaniale de St-Cassien to a PR hiking trail which was a wide dirt track as well. We turned right, started to follow it and climbed a bit more to about 340 m where we passed a water reservoir.
We now headed north, and descended rapidly to Gayet, where we re-joined the GR49 and walked back to our starting point.

Distance : 13 km 

Duration : 3h 20 (active)

Climb : 260 m

Map : 3543 ET Haute Siagne

St-Cassien loop hike track
St-Cassien loop hike track







0 comments:

Trout with kiwifruit chimichurri

 

Trout with kiwifruit chimichurri



Kiwifruit is particularly rich in vitamin C and vitamin K and contains moderate amounts of vitamin E and carotenoids. French kiwifruits are in season from November to May. France is now the third European producer after Italy and Greece. Nowadays we can also choose organic kiwifruits.

Chimichurri is a green sauce of finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and red wine vinegar. No Argentinian could think of eating steak without chimichurri!

I have seen some kiwifruit chimichurri recipes to go with meat, but I think that this sauce goes really well with roasted salmon or trout. I have changed the parsley and oregano with dill and basil which seem to better compliment fish. 

2 servings

For the kiwifruit chimichurri:

2 kiwifruits, peeled and finely chopped

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. red wine vinegar

½ clove garlic, minced

Freshly ground black pepper

A generous amount of finely chopped dill and basil


For the rest:

2 trout fillets, about 200 g each, with skin

About 10- 12 cherry tomatoes

Olive oil 

About 100ml green lentils 


Make the kiwifruit chimichurri by mixing all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until needed.


Cook the lentils for about 20- 25 minutes until soft but not falling apart. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed. When they are soft, cover and keep warm.


Preheat the oven to 200°C roast.


Wash and dry the cherry tomatoes. Place them in an oven- proof dish with a splash of olive oil and roast for about 15 minutes.


Oil an oven- tray with olive oil and place the trout fillets in it. Roast for 8- 10 minutes depending on the thickness.


Divide the trout on the plates and top with kiwifruit chimichurri. Place the lentils and cherry tomatoes on the side.


0 comments:

Balconies of La Turbie

La Turbie



The following short hike above La Turbie along the GR51/51B trail offers good views from several points down to Monaco, Cap Martin and La Turbie itself. In some guides, it is rightly called les Balcons de la Turbie. A part of the trail runs inside the nature protection area called Natura 2000 (A network of protection areas of the EU).






In La Turbie, we crossed the main D2564 road to signpost #620, passed an old washing place and the Gendarmerie.  We climbed along the GR51B first heading northwest then northeast and reached Mont de la Bataille (620m). The view down to the coast was great. There was nothing visible left of any bunkers etc reminding of any military history.


From Mont de la Bataille we descended in a forest to Col de Guerre (557 m; signpost #548) where we carefully crossed the D153 road. From the Col, we ascended along the GR trail, marked also as GR653A on the map. There were several viewing points by the trail, but most of the trail ran in a nice forest.


We reached signpost #547 by the D153 road. The hiking trail continued along it. There was more traffic than we had anticipated, and we did not feel comfortable walking along it any further. It marked our turning point today and we returned along the same trail.


Distance: 5,4 km


Duration: 2h 30


Climb: 360 m


Map: 3742 OT Nice Menton Côte d’Azur




La Turbie balconies walk track







0 comments:

Chick pea and shrimp stew

 

Chick pea and shrimp stew


From a tin of chick peas and some cooked shrimp plus a few other basic cooking ingredients, it is possible to make a quick and tasty lunch or supper. Serve this dish with fresh herbs and a green side salad for a balanced meal.

2 servings

A tin of chick peas

About 200 g peeled and cooked shrimp

1 shallot, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp. olive oil

100 ml tomato sauce

100 ml white wine

1 tsp. dried Provençal herbs

1 tsp. Piment d’Espelette or other mild chilli powder

A few fresh stems of basil


Rinse the basil under running water and let dry on kitchen paper.


Warm the olive oil over medium- low heat in a large skillet. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Raise the heat to medium and add the white wine, tomato sauce, Provençal herbs, and Piment d’ Espelette


Rinse the chick peas under running water, add to the skillet and stir. Let cook for about 5 minutes until the chick peas are thoroughly reheated and the sauce has somewhat reduced. Add the shrimp to the skillet and reheat for about 2 minutes.


Divide the stew into bowls and decorate with chopped basil leaves.


0 comments: