Loop hike in Auron


Col de Blainon view southeast

In addition to the usual summer activities such as mountain biking, the ski resort of Auron (1600 m) offers a network of hiking trails in the mountains above the village. The GR5 long distance trail runs through Auron.

It was exactly the GR5 we planned to use on the first part of our hike.

Because of a small golf court, there was a marked detour for the GR5 which we took near the Blainon chair lift. The chair lift was running, and many visitors took advantage of a free ride to reach higher terrain.

Starting from signpost #11, we walked under the chair lift, crossed a ski run and entered a beautiful larch forest. We passed signposts #12 and 12a, then a viewing point named Belvédère des Chamois (1810 m). The path crossed MTB/VTT trails a few times.

We reached Col du Blainon (2008 m; signpost #13a) on a picturesque ridge. The GR5 descended from here to the hamlet of Roya. We forked right (west), and ascended a bit more along a PR (yellow) trail to Baisse du Colombier (2070 m) near the chair lift upper station.

Our ambitious plan was to circle as far as via Col du Chavalet (2323 m), but the wind picked up, with some nasty gusts. We therefore opted for a shorter loop, and started to descend along a familiar ski run (dirt track in summer). We walked under the Las Donnas gondola (not in summer use), passed two chair lift stations where we forked right, and continued straight to Auron.

Distance: 9 km

Climb: 550 m

Duration: about 3h 15 active

Map: Haute Tinée 1 Auron 3639 OT

Auron loop hike track


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Chicken breast bruschetta with zucchini and pistou

Chicken breast bruschetta with zucchini and pistou

This very green bruschetta is a variation of the classic tomato bruschetta. Pistou is the French equivalent of the Italian pesto; there is no cheese nor pine nuts but a generous amount of fresh basil. 

Serve with a side salad and tomatoes for a healthy and balanced lunch.

2 servings

2 large slices of rustic country bread 
2 small organic chicken breasts
1 small zucchini
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

For the pistou:
A bunch of basil
½ clove garlic, minced
Olive oil 
A pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper

With a peeler, cut the zucchini into very thin slices. Place in a bowl with 1 tbsp. olive oil and some black pepper. Set aside. Wash and dry the basil leaves.
Preheat the oven to 200°C roast.

Warm 2 tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook the chicken breasts until golden on both sides, about 15 minutes in all. Grind over some black pepper and keep warm.

In the same pan quickly sauté the zucchini. Keep warm.

Brush the bread slices with olive oil and roast for about 10 minutes until golden. Place on a cutting board.

Make the pistou by crushing the basil leaves with minced garlic, salt, black pepper, and olive oil with mortar and pestle. Add olive oil into a nice consistence.
Slice the chicken breasts. Divide the pistou on the bread slices, then the sliced chicken and top with zucchini.


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Mont Lion from Tourette-du-Château

Mont Lion summit

Mont Lion (1050 m) above the Esteron River Valley can be reached from Gilette or Tourette-du-Château (900 m). We have climbed to Mont Lion a few times from Gilette, and wanted to explore the shorter route from the perched village of Tourette-du-Château by the D27 road.

We walked past the church to signpost #45, descended to a wide track which led us straight south to a valley to signpost #50 at 721 m elevation (le Collet). Here you have the option to fork right and circle around Mont Lion, doing the Tour du Mont Lion as indicated in the signpost. It is a longer hike which we in fact did years ago in the summer heat.

We continued straight towards the mountain top, and started to ascend along its northern flank in a nice forest. We reached signpost #53 (950 m elev.) at a crossroads where the path from the east ascended from Gilette. This is also where you arrive if you hike around Mont Lion.

We headed south to the summit. The southern and southwestern flanks of Mount Lion are precipitous. The winter day was almost clear and we could admire the evergreen Esteron River Valley as well as the snow-capped Cheiron Mountain Range further away.

We returned back to Tourette-du-Château along the same trail. It was a short hike in distance but nevertheless included descents and ascents both ways, in other words gave us good interval training!

Distance: 6,1 km

Climb: 530 m

Duration: 3 h

Map: Vallée de l’Esteron Vallée du Loup 3642 ET

Mont Lion hike track


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Smoked salmon and egg toast on creamy spinach


Smoked salmon and egg toast on creamy spinach

This easy recipe makes a delightful and quick lunch. Serve it with a mixed side salad for a balanced meal.

2 servings

2 whole wheat toasts

Olive oil

120 g smoked salmon, preferably wild Alaska salmon

2 soft-cooked organic eggs

2-3 handfuls of organic baby spinach leaves

50 ml chicken stock

2 tbsp. crème fraîche or cream

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C, roast.

Cook the eggs for 6 minutes. Peel and set aside.

Brush the toast on both sides with olive oil. Roast for 8- 10 minutes until golden brown.

Warm 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large casserole over medium heat. Add the spinach leaves. When the spinach is wilted after a couple of minutes, add the chicken stock and stir. Remove from heat, add the black pepper and crème fraîche or cream. With a handheld mixer, purée the spinach, then divide on deep plates.

Place the toast on spinach. Top with the smoked salmon and egg and grind over some black pepper.


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