•Alpes-Maritimes (06710) • Population: 83 • Altitude: 1042 m
Thiéry is perched on a rocky spine nearly surrounded by deep valleys, including the Gorges du Cians to the west. To the southwest you can see a succession of valleys and mountains stretching out forever.
Route. Villars is on a small road 2.5 km off the N202 that follows the Var river. Thiéry is 14 km up, and at the end of, the D226 road that goes west out of Villars. The road is sometimes narrow, and it might take you 30 minutes to cover the 14 km, but there is good visibility and very few blind curves. The scenery is so beautiful, the round trip would be worth it even if there weren't a lovely village at the end.
There are perhaps about 15 full-time inhabitants, but over 80 on weekends and in the summer. Because of the standard problem of employment for the villages of the "arrière pays", many of the residents work in the larger towns and cities, such as Nice, and spend the weekends in their village.
If you arrive here on the weekend and expect to find a deserted little village, you'll be surprised. The terrace café of the Auberge (closed in the winter) will be packed. Visitors, hikers and residents seem to fill the open area at the entrance to the village. There's no other commerce, though, so bring your supplies with you.
The village is surprisingly big, with steep, narrow streets winding between the buildings, taking you eventually past the church and up to the cemetery at the highest point. Thiéry is lovely and neat (there are no ruins here), and incredibly clean. This is a village that's obviously loved and cared for.
The 11th century church is completely restored, at least back to it's 17th-century state, and is very well maintained. It is kept locked when not in use, but you can ask anyone you see, to be directed to the key holder. The wife of the late mayor showed us around, explaining the history of the paintings and other ancient objects.
• GPS: 43.978285, 7.030319
IGN (1/25,000) #3641 OT "Moyenne Var"
IGN (1/25,000) #3641 ET "Moyenne Tinée"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #9 "Mercantour"
Using the Train des Pignes for transportation (or leaving your car on the N202), you can hike up from Touët in about 2 hours (about 700 m altitude difference), going past the Baisse de Thiéry (861 m). To make this a loop hike, follow the GR510 northeast from Thiéry towards the Pointe de Chavanette (1753 m) and the Col de Courbaisse (1629 m). Either at the Col or just past the Villa Souberre (1348 m) 1 km before the Col, a trail turns east and then south for Villars, where you can catch the return train.
From Thiéry, a loop hike takes the GR510 north past the Baisse du Grand Pallier (1007 m) to Lieuche (880 m), northeast to Clot de Marre, and then to the chapelle at the Col de St.Pons (1467 m). From the Col de St.Pons, take the trail southeast to the Col de Courbaisse (1629 m), and then follow the GR510 southwest back to Thiéry.
You can extend the above loop hike by turning north at Clot de Marre and taking the trail to Pierlas. From Pierlas, follow the Vallon de Coulié east to the Col de la Sinne (1438 m). From this junction, take the trail southwest to the Col de St.Pons, joining the loop described above.
The Col de la Madone (1162 m) on the road to Thiéry is also a popular starting point for hiking. You'll find plenty of space for parking, a working farm, the ancient Chapelle Ste. Madeleine, an outstanding view, and trails going everywhere.
* There are two different trails (one of them the GR510) going south to Villars.
* A trail goes north to the Pointe de Chavanette and the Col de Courbaisse, where it branches out north or east through the Forêt de Duina.
* A trail goes east towards the village of Bairols, above the Vallée de la Tinée.
* A trail goes north to the Villa Souberre, where it turns southwest for Thiéry.