Mont Viroulet

 

Mont Viroulet


Mont Viroulet (1864 m), as shown in the image above, has a forested northern flank and a quasi-bare and grassy southern face. Located above the Bramafam Valley (Valdeblore), the mountain can be easily reached from several points in the valley. 

We chose to start from La Colmiane (1500 m) but the village of St-Dalmas Valdeblore (1290 m) is another popular option.

Peaks above Millefonts Lakes
Peaks above Millefonts Lakes
St-Dalmas Valdeblore
St-Dalmas Valdeblore
St-Dalmas Valdeblore
At Col du Varaire

Argentera seen from trail above Col du Varaire
Argentera seen from trail above Col du Varaire



From La Colmiane, we hiked along the familiar trail to Col du Varaire (1710 m), passing signposts #94 and #98 where the trail merged with the GR5. We continued to Col de deux Caïres (1920 m) at the foot of Caïre Gros (2087 m). At the col, we forked right (west), and descended along a PR trail(yellow) to Col de la Madeleine (1736 m; signpost #97). We were at the foot of Mont Viroulet, and ascended along its partly forested eastern flank. The summit was actually a long ridge. We assumed that the highest point was marked with a large cairn partially hidden behind vegetation. We walked to the end of the ridge with great views to the west over the Tinée Valley as well as to the south.


We descended back to Col de la Madeleine where we forked left and descended further along a good and wide trail as far as to a dirt track. We headed east along it. The forest track ended near Col du Varaire but a path zigzagged the short remaining distance to the Col.


From Col du Varaire, we took the same trail back to La Colmiane.


Pic de la Colmiane and Gélas
Pic de la Colmiane and Gélas
Near Col des Deux Caïres
Near Col des Deux Caïres
Near Col de la Madeleine
Near Col de la Madeleine
Col de la Madeleine
Col de la Madeleine

Caïre Gros seen from Col de la Madeleine
Caïre Gros seen from Col de la Madeleine
View south from Col des deux Caïres
View south from Col des deux Caïres
Mont Viroulet summit
Mont Viroulet summit

Distance: 14 km

Climb: 680 m

Duration: 5 h

Map: “Moyenne Tinée” 3641 ET


Mont Viroulet hike track





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Polenta, bell pepper, egg, and pistou salad

Polenta bell pepper egg and pistou salad


 Here in Nice, we are lucky to be able to buy ready-made polenta in nice slices. You only need to reheat them for about 10 minutes in the oven and they make a nice side to many recipes.

If you cannot find ready-made polenta slices, cook it according to the advice on the package, pour into a tray about 1 cm thick layer and let cool in the fridge. Then slice it and warm as above.

2 servings

4- 6 nice polenta slices

1 organic courgette

1 organic red bell pepper

2 tbsp. black pitted olives, pref. organic Kalamata olives

2 eggs

For the pistou:

A bunch of organic basil 

½ clove garlic, minced

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ tsp. salt

Olive oil


First make the pistou by crushing in a mortar with a pestle the basil leaves, garlic, salt, black pepper, and 2 tbsp. olive oil. Add more olive oil if needed to a nice consistence. Cover and keep refrigerated until needed.


Preheat the oven to 210° roast.


Cut the courgette into thin slices lengthwise and the bell pepper into nice pieces. Place 1 tbsp. olive oil in a plastic bag, add the bell pepper and shake. Pour in an oven tray and roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile cook the eggs for 6 minutes. Peel and set aside.


Place the courgette slices in the same plastic bag and shake. Add to the oven tray, as well as the polenta slices. Continue roasting for 10 minutes.


Divide the polenta on the plates and add the courgette, bell pepper, and black olives. Place 1 egg in the middle and slice it. Drizzle with pistou and serve lukewarm.


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Another loop above Tourrettes-sur-Loup


Tourrettes-sur-Loup seen from trail to Pié Martin




Sometimes you can find new hiking itineraries even in well-explored areas by keeping your eyes open when hiking, and by studying maps. You can also find alternative routes on several good web sites, such as https://mercantour.info/ and https://www.visorando.com/


Besides being most charming, the village of Tourrettes-sur-Loup certainly ticks most boxes when it comes to hiking.


We have previously done a loop called Circuit de Pié Martin. In today’s option we used its descending trail for our ascent. 


Entrance to Tourrettes-sur-Loup
Entrance to Tourrettes-sur-Loup
Start of trail to Pié Martin
Start of trail to Pié Martin
Starting to Ascend to Pié Martin
Starting to ascend to Pié Martin
Start of path to Pié Martin
Start of path to Pié Martin
Chemin des Courmettes
Chemin des Courmettes
Path from signpost#179
Path from signpost#179
Holm oak wood after signpost#179
Holm oak wood after signpost#179


From the village centre, we first followed the Pié Martin trail from signpost#160, walked past chapelle St-Jean and several residences to signpost#181 where we forked right (The Pié Martin loop continued straight). The narrow street ended and we hit the ascending path at signpost#182.


We came to the panoramic plateau of Pié Martin, then hiked along a dirt track (Chemin des Courmettes) north. A delightful trail in the woods forked right from Chemin des Courmettes after 1,2 km (signpost #179). The trail ended at the paved Route du Caire next to a stable (signpost #174). We descended back to the village along it.



Distance: 8,6 km


Climb: 430 m


Duration: 3h 10 (active)  


Map: “Cannes-Grasse” Côte d’Azur TOP N°o 25 3643 ET


Another loop above Tourrettes-sur-Loup track

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Cod and spinach gratin


Cod and spinach gratin


This simple recipe is a great way to make fresh cod or other firm white fish more interesting.

2 servings

2 pieces of cod fillet, dos de cabillaud

Olive oil

½ medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves, pref. organic

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. dry bread crumbs


Warm 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium- low heat in a large saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic for about 10 minutes until soft but not browned. Add the baby spinach leaves and continue cooking until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and stir in the Dijon mustard and some black pepper.


Preheat the oven to 200° C, roast.


Lightly oil an oven- proof dish and place the cod in it. Cover with spinach mixture and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Drizzle 1 tsp. olive oil on top and transfer in the oven. Roast for 15- 20 minutes depending on the thickness of fish fillets.


Serve with new potatoes or blond lentils, roasted cherry tomatoes, and lemon wedges.


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