Plateau de Caussols - Provence Beyond
The plateau is about 1100 m high, overlooked by another at 1300-1400 m, and there is a tiny hamlet of Caussols with a few inhabitants. The town of St. Vallier-de-Thiey, on the Route Napoléon, is only 10 km away, yet Caussols is much, much quieter in the tourist season.
About 30 km to the North you'll find Gréolières les-Neiges, a small local ski station in the winter and a pleasant hiking area for the rest of the year.
The Plateau de Caussols is large and open and flat. Go up in the winter and build a snowman on the slope big enough to be seen a kilometre away, or take some cardboard or a cheap plastic sledge for a few hours of no-cost winter sports.There's plenty of space for cross-country skiing, and if the snow is gone it's a perfect place for picknicking with kids.
In Spring and Summer, the open plain gives you plenty of sun, and there are enough pine trees for shady walks. Trails wander across the hills and to the adjacent high points, and the GR4 Grande Randonnée trail crosses the plain north-south.
The southern half of the Plateau de Caussols is full of pot-holes and caves, and require casual visitors to be prudent when exploring the region.If you go south from Caussols on the tiny road (also the GR4) about two km, you'll find to the east of the road an incredible sight: a chaotic mass of bare rock and fissures. This place is called Les Claps, which means stones in the ancient provençal language. There's also an ancient borie near the road, which has for a backdrop a modern telescope dome on the top of the cliffs to the north.
An ancient troglodyte cave called "the Forteresse" is located at the far east end of the plateau. It's about a 4-km hike due east from the point where the D12 road turns south to go down towards Gourdon. The "Forteresse" is at the east end of the Plateau de Cavillore, overlooking the Gorge de Loup.
A spelunking cave, the Gouffre de l'Embut, is located about 2 km east of the hamlet of Caussols, just south of the D12 road. The Gouffre du Calernaum, located on the upper Plaine de Calern (see below), is a set of underground caves with over 8700 metres of galleries.
The plateau is about 15 km long and mostly flat, with gentle hills along the southern side. It's near the coast and easy to get to, and it's large and open and beautiful in the winter.
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The GR4 hiking trail trail from Grasse crosses over the Col du Clapier (1260 m) just south of the Plateau de Caussols, crosses the plateau south-north, and climbs up to cross the Plaine de Calern and continue north.
On the upper plain, short hikes take you to:
- Colle de Rougiès, at the southern edge of the plain to the east, at 1334 m altitude.
- La Faye, beyond Colle de Rougiès
- Plateau de Cavillore, beyond La Faye. The southern edge of the plateau de Cavillore overlooks Gourdon to the south, and is a favorite launching site for hang-gliding.
- Sommet de Calern, less than an hour's hike up the edge of the plateau to the west (1458 m).
- Cipères, to the northeast, follows the GR4 trail.
- Caussols, follows the GR4 trail to the south, down to the lower Plateau de Caussols.
On the Plateau de Caussols, the GR4 traverses north-south. There are also several trails on the hills to the south of the road, at the eastern side of the plateau:
- Le Haut Montet (1335 m) and L'Embarnier (983 m) both take you to the top of the ridge, about an hour's hike.
- The "Voie Romaine" trail that starts near the road, heading south, still has some of the Roman paving stones.