We had seen pictures of the Esterel massif on the blog of 2 readers of our site (their site is called vogot.fr and is really very cool… you should take a look) and we thought we couldn’t come to the south of France and pass by these red rocks that flow into the sea. And then, as our first hike above Menton had made our mouth water, we only wanted one thing: to put on the hiking shoes again 😉
As a result, we waited until the end of the day to do the hike from Cap Roux peak at sunset. You will see that in terms of landscapes and colors, timing was not too bad:)
departure from the heart of the Esterel massif
You may have noticed it, but for once, we’re travelling by car… It’s not too much in our habits but since we plan to travel all over France and public transport is not very well developed (sorry but this is not France’s strong point), we’re making a road trip to be as flexible as possible.
The starting point of the hike is the Sainte-Baume car park, which is easily accessible by car from Saint-Raphaël. We decided to leave in the late afternoon (4:30 pm) to enjoy the beautiful lights of the end of the day on the red rock. Of course, we had also taken a few small local specialities with us for an impromptu picnic at sunset at the top of the peak of Cap Roux 🙂
The Sainte-Baume car park is easily accessible from Saint-Raphaël by taking the seaside to the Agay roundabout. At the roundabout, follow the direction “massif de l’Esterel” until you reach the bridge that crosses the Agay. Just before the bridge, take the road on the right that enters the Esterel massif and follow the direction “col Notre Dame” until you reach the Saint-Baume car park. Be careful, note that the road opens at 06:00 and closes at 21:00, so you must have left the area by that time.
The hike of the peak of Cap Roux
The hike begins by climbing quietly up to the Col du Saint Pilon from where you have a magnificent view of the massif and the sea. In addition to the pretty orange colours, there are also all these aromatic plant smells (which unfortunately we can’t name exactly) that remind us that we are walking around Provence. And then as it is only in March, the temperature is quite pleasant to climb to the peak (15 degrees celsius)…
After the pass, turn left to pass under the Saint Pilon towards Cap Roux. We do a lot of contemplative (and photographic) breaks because the landscapes are absolutely magnificent. Instead of climbing directly to the peak of Cap Roux, we go down on our right to follow the path that goes around the peak. Well, you will understand us… we would have been wrong not to prolong the pleasure! And then we still had time to reach the top before sunset.
Following this path on hillsides, you can start to see the whole French Riviera from Canne to Nice. Once you reach the other side of the Cap Roux peak, you take the path that climbs on your left to go to the top. 20 minutes later you are there, and we can promise you that the 360-degree panorama is up to your expectations. On one side we have the sun setting over Saint-Raphaël and on the other side a view to fall on the whole French Riviera.
On the other hand, for the bucolic picnic during the sunset we will have to come back another time… the fault to this crazy Mistral who blew super hard at the top. It’s easy to see, we were more busy not losing part of our picnic than enjoying the pretty evening colours. But well, despite these Dantean conditions 😉 we still found a way to bring you some small pictures of the view.
As it was getting late (and the road closes at 21:00), we made us on the way again for the car around 20:00. The path that goes down passes on the other side of the Saint-Pilon to join the path that we had taken on the way up. Allow 20 to 30 minutes to descend.
- Distance 7.1kms
- Elevation 370m up and down
- Start parking Saint-Baume
- Difficulty easy
- Duration 3-4h
That’s all for this superb sunset hike in the Esterel massif. We hope that you have been inspired to come and discover this beautiful part of southern France. Believe us, nothing like a sunset at the peak of Cap Roux to finish the day!
Otherwise we also wanted to say that we just hallucinate about the beauty of the landscapes we’ve discovered since we started travelling in France… Honestly french friends, you have a beautiful country:)