Long loop from Tourrettes-sur-Loup

Descending from Puy de Tourrettes


After the devastating storm named Alex in early October 2020, most of the trails in the Mercantour National Park and elsewhere in the northern part of Alpes Maritimes were closed.

On the other hand, many communes nearer the coast saw little or no damage. We designed a new variant from Tourrettes-sur-Loup (400 m), using mostly familiar paths from our previous hikes. We wanted do a circuit which includes the “twin peaks”: Puy de Tourrettes (1268 m) and Pic de Courmettes (1248 m). We have hiked up to them many times, but never ascended to both from Tourrettes-sur-Loup. We have instead used the village of Courmes (630 m) as our starting point.

From Tourrettes-sur-Loup, we started to ascend along the paved Route du Caïre. While not the most authentic route, it enables a rapid access to higher ground, and offers nice views.

We proceeded all the way to the end of the road, walked past le Caïre (850 m) and a guesthouse named Le Mas de la Source. We continued along the trail proper (indicating St Barnabé etc) behind the last houses and reached a crossroads at la Baïsse (1020 m). The marked trail continued north. Our trail to Puy de Tourrettes forked left (west). While not shown on maps, it is well visible and there are cairns here and there. We ascended along it diagonally along the south-eastern flank of the mountain.

We reached the summit plateau, and near the highest point forked left along a descending trail (still unmarked) which led to the saddle between the two peaks. Continuing straight south, we then climbed to Pic de Courmettes. The trail ran close to its the steep western face. Near the summit, we came to a marked trail which was our route back. We descended along the south-eastern flank first in open terrain, then in an oak forest.

We crossed to a dirt track not far from Domaine de Courmettes and turned left (north-east). We followed it about 2 km, as far as to signpost #179 where we forked right and descended to Route du Caïre (at signpost #174). Completing the loop, we followed the road back to Tourrettes-sur-Loup.

Duration: 5h 30 active

Climb: ≈1000 m

Distance: 16 km

Map: Cannes Grasse Côte d’Azur 3643 ET

Long loop above Tourrettes sur Loup track


Sea bass fillets with vegetables

Here in Nice, sea bass is called loup if it is caught in the Mediterranean Sea and bar when caught in the Atlantic Ocean. It is often sold as a while fish so for this recipe you have to fillet it or ask for your fishmonger to do it.

The fillets are roasted and covered with basil oil and raw vegetables, walnuts, and capers. Roasted sweet potato slices compliment this colourful recipe.

Instead of sea bass you can use any tasty white fish fillets in this recipe.

2 servings

2 nice fillets of seabass

Juice of ½ lemon

Olive oil

A small handful of basil leaves

A pinch of salt

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ clove of garlic

About 1 tbsp. walnuts, crushed

About 6 radishes, finely sliced

2 small spring onions, chopped

About 10- 12 small baby spinach leaves

About 6 large capers chopped

1 or 2 sweet potatoes

First make the basil oil with just a hint of garlic. Crush the basil leaves in a mortar with a pestle adding enough olive oil to get a green sauce. Mix in some black pepper, salt, minced garlic, chopped spring onions, and chopped capers. Set aside in the fridge until needed. 

Preheat the oven to 200° C, roast.

Peel and slice the sweet potato. Brush the slices with some olive oil and place in a large ovenproof tray so that you can later add the seabass fillets in the same tray. Sweet potato slices need about 20- 30 minutes of roasting and the seabass about 8- 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. 

While the sweet potato is roasting, wash and thinly slice the radishes and coarsely crush the walnuts. Set aside the small baby spinach leaves.

When the sweet potato slices are soft, add the seabass fillets in the tray and continue roasting for 8- 10 minutes until the fish is cooked.

Divide the seabass fillets and sweet potato slices on the plates. Sprinkle the lemon juice on the fish. Divide the basil oil on the fillets and decorate with baby spinach leaves, crushed walnuts, and radish slices.


Tête de Pierrous above Beuil


Final push to Tête de Pierrous

The landscape between Mont Mounier (2817 m) and Beuil consists of vast alpine meadows, larch woods and steep ravines. There are several easily reachable summits exceeding 2000 m elev. 

The River Cians has its sources below Col des Moulines and Tête de Pierrous (2046 m). We decided to explore the picturesque area, starting from Col de la Couillole (1673 m; excellent parking by the D30 road).

Signpost #51 at Col de la Couillole showed the path to Col des Moulines. We first ascended along a soft trail in larch woods interrupted in places by alpine meadows, passing signposts #102 and 102a. 

The path became rockier and we hiked past some exposed stretches to signpost #104 where the trail turned to the north following the western flank of Sommet du Countent. 

We reached the border of Mercantour National Park, and had our goal, Tête de Pierrous, in sight. We followed the main trail to the eastern flank of the mountain where we forked right and ascended to the summit along the grassy but steep slope.

Not surprisingly, the Mont Mounier Massif dominated the landscape in the northwest but we had super views of Valberg and Beuil as well as of parts of the still show-capped Mercantour peaks near the Italian border.

We took the same trail back. It is also possible to do a loop from signpost #104 to the south to Cabane d’Ars, then via signpost #103 to the east passing Cruset and Ars to signpost #100 by the D30, near Col de la Couillole.

Climb: 480 m

Duration: 3h 50

Distance: 10,6 km

Map: Haut Cians Valberg 3640 OT

Tête de Pierrous hike track