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  Sports in Provence / Hiking / Grandes Randonnées / GR51 Menton - Gorbio

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This is our first-hand story of hiking the GR 51 from east to west. Starting in February 2009, we're making the complete journey from Menton to Marseille, but not all in one trip. We're doing it bit by bit when we can schedule the time and the necessary transportation.

Part 1: Menton, Castellar, Monti, Ste Agnes, Gorbio.

Menton - Plan du Lion

The GR 51 begins in the mountains two hours (and 700 m vertical) above Menton. Since you need to start somewhere, Menton is a good place, on the coast and on the main rail line.

The GR52 Menton to Plan du Lion page describes the trail up to the official start of the GR 51.

Start to Castellar

GR52 junction with the GR51 trail Marked "1h00" to Castellar, we did this is about 45 minutes, without rushing. It's all down hill, pretty easy going after the 2-hour trudge up from Menton.

Castellar village, north end You arrive in Castellar at the north end of the village. The trail west towards Monti and Saint Agnes is up the street, just past the first small building at the right.

Castellar to Monti

GR51 start at Castellar (1 The GR51 departure point to Sainte Agnes isn't very well marked. This tiny chapel is at the north end of Castellar (our photo is looking east). The faded GR red-white mark is on the narrow gatepost at the right of the chapel.

The trail starts down the cement drive at the right.

GR51 start at Castellar (2 About 20 meters down this cement drive, the trail goes off to the right, poorly marked.

First view of Monti village from The GR51 trail from Castellar to Monti is mostly through woods with great shade and not much view. The is, finally, this nice view of the tiny village of Monti.

Small bridge for the GR51 approaching After crossing a pretty little stone bridge the trail goes up to the village and the main road.

The village church of Monti It's clearly marked when the trail arrives at the main road. Go off to the right and cross the road at the crosswalk, up the steps inside the bus stop, and go left along the side of the church.

Monti to Sainte Agnes

GR 51 trail exiting Monti Past the church in Monti, start up the hill and turn right immediately onto this cobblestone lane (photo). Keep left and go up the hill.

The trail passes a small cluster of houses and then off into the wooded hills.

View of mountain hiding Ste Agnes The mountain at the left is hiding the village of Sainte Agnes, sitting on the saddle behind this peak. In the notch down to the right we could earlier see the tall waterfall, "Cascade duBorrigo". The GR51 trail later passes a junction where a side trail goes out to the falls (closed early 2009 because of rock slides).

Fellow travellers on the GR51 at About an hour after leaving Monti the upward GR51 levels out at a clearing called La Virette. Stopping for a short rest, we were invaded by a group of fellow travellers: a herd of goats and attendant goatherd and his dog. Some of the goats were friendly enough to lick the salty sweat from our bare arms. The goatherd was very friendly, of course, in spite of the ferocious appearance of striding along with an ax in one hand.

Chapel below Sainte Agnes This section of the GR51 ends by passing beside the "waterworks" before climbing to the junction of roads and trails at the lower edge of Saint Agnes, in front of this little chapel (602 m altitude). The GR51 from Monti and Castellar arrives from the left of this chapel.

A water source is located across the road from the chapel, with a nice grassy hillside for stretched-out resting.

Sainte Agnes to Gorbio

Water fountain and trail/road junction Behind the water source a marked trail goes up the hill to Gorbio. This is not the GR trail but a longer, steeper loop via Bausson. We've taken this trail on non-GR hiking days.
GR51 departing Sainte Agnes for Gorbio For the GR51 to Gorbio, start up the road (to the left when facing the fountain as in the above photo). The trail goes down to the left of the road (this photo). Ste Agnes village is in the upper-left corner of the photo. The trail crosses down through the pastures and then steeper down the valley to the south.

GR51 trail donkey-road trail south The first part of the trail is made of ancient cobblestones and stepped, probably the old donkey-trail road to the next village.

It's about an hour to Gorbio, almost all downhill. About 15 minutes down the trail, there's a 10-minute stretch up the road, then back on the trail and all downhill.

GR51 trail arriving near Gorbio, from In the valley just north of Gorbio the GR51 meets with the PR that joins Ste Agnes and Gorbio via Bausson. The joined trails cross the little stone bridge for the final 5-10 minutes up to the village.

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