The "Roman" bridge on the Vallon, just south of the village (about 250 m below), was a royal bridge built on a Roman site. The location gives this lovely village views out over the valleys to nearby hills; you can see the perched village of Bairols across the valley to the southwest, and the perched village of Ilonse further up the valley to the northwest, both with roads switchbacking up mountainsides to them. The photo (above) is looking past the village to the mountains on the far side of the Tinée.
The buildings in Clans, many 13th and 14th century, maintain their medieval character more than any other village of the Tinée. Sites to visit include the house of the Reine Jeanne, the Chapelle St. Michel and the large Chapelle St. Antoine in the main square. The Chapelle St. Antoine with its 14th-century frescos is one of the only two Collegial churches in the department (along with Nice ).
Visiting here on late-summer morning, you would see a golden eagle soaring out over the valley to the north, and an occasional logging truck coming down the tiny little road from the Forêt de Clans to the northeast. There are village squares on different levels, shaded by lime trees, plane trees and some horse chestnut trees (marronnier), and a small river runs along the side of the main square in a stone channel.
A modern "Salle des Fêtes" hosts local events, such as the Journée du Patrimoine. When we visited in Sept '96, ancient books were to be presented by James Daupine, local resident who's also a professeur of 16th-century litterature at the University of Toulon. M. Dauphine was carrying around one of the first ever "pocket books": a beautiful little hard-cover book from the beginning of the 17th century.
The village has two épiceries and a boulangerie, and travelling merchants stop regularly. The Bar-Tabac "Auberge St. Jean" is located at the entrance to the village.
The restaurant-bar "Les Tilleuls" beside the main square is open all year, with tables beneath the plane trees and good local food. Every Saturday the menu has home-made ravioli (prepared all of Friday afternoon) stuffed with daube mixed with blette. The restaurant is closed Wednesdays; tel: (33) 493 02 90 15.
Both olive-oil and flour were milled here in Clans, and the mills worked up until the 50's. You can see an old mill up the Avenue Aúguste Ghiraldi, past the new houses, where the stream runs down out of the woods. For the moment, it's just an old building with the interesting steel waterwheel outside, but there are plans to renovate the mill sometime in the future.
The playground off to the side of the main square has a pair of bright yellow slides with a nice wooden ramp between them. There's also a climbing rope-web, jungle-gym and swing. Another play area with merry-go-round and bouncing rides for small children is located on the square in front of the large Chapelle St-Antoine, beneath the plane trees.
History of Clans
First record, 1066 Clansis; and 12th century: Clanz. According to village information, earlier forms were Clancio (11th-c) and Clancius (12th-c), the name coming from Kalas (= rock) and the suffix -antius (= established on rocky ground).
Prehistoric: signs of bronze-age habitation discovered here in 1904 can be seen in the the Musée Archéologique de Cimiez at Nice Museums -- "Trésor de Clans".
Gallo-Roman: Clans was on the "Voie Romaine" that went between Nice, Embrun and the northern Alps. The 18th-century "Roman Bridge" is built on a Roman site.
Medieval: The village grew around the Collegial, started in 1137. Expansion was helped with the privileges given by Reine Jeanne around 1360 and the support of the House of Savoy at Clan's attachment in 1388. According to tradition, the earliest village was located at "Poët, or Puget-Garnier, and was abandonded during the plague.
• GPS: 43.995991, 7.148493
IGN (1/25,000) #3641 OT "Moyenne Var"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #9 "Mercantour"
Many of the hikes are through the Forêt de Clans, going northeast to the Mont Tournairet. Clans has a small Guide Touristique with the details of some hikes, and including a very clear map.
- Maisons Forestières (1358 m) - 12 km distance - 750 m vertical
- The trail goes northeast from the village, past the bornes #44, 45, 56 and 57. Continue on a trail to Les Bouïs (borne #111) on the west side of the Vallon , then northeast past bornes #112 and 113. The trail then curves around to the east and back south to the Maisons Forestières. The return trail continues south and then southeast to the village.
- Pont Romain, Bon Villars - 9 km distance - 950 m vertical
- This hike takes you down into the Vallon du Monar below the village to the southeast. After the Pont Romain, the trail continues east to Bon Villars, then circles around to the north and back east to Clans.
- Mont Tournairet (2086 m) - 26 km distance, one way - 1400 m vertical
- The trail goes northeast, past the Pont Noir (716 m), the Maisons Forestières (1358 m) and the Col de Monigas (1476 m). An old military shelter is on the summit of Mont Tournairet, and the orientation table carved in stone on the ground was made by the soldiers at the beginning of the century. You can make the return journey by a reverse trip, or go southwest via the Vacheries de Clans (1687 m) and the Chapelle Ste-Anne (1250 m), and follow a trail south back to the Pont Noir and then return to the village.
- Going east out of the village, marked trails take you northeast through the Trémange and Balmarie mountains, passing the Pointe de Sérenton (1836m). For a day's loop hike, take this trail to le Caïre Gros, west past Mont Viroulet (1852m) to the Col de la Séréna (1300m), southeast to the village of Marie, and then south back to Clans.
- Trémange and back
- For shorter loop hike, go out to the Pointe de Sérenton (1836m) and continue for another km (1728m). Another trail branches off to the right, going south down the Vallon-de-l'Ortiguié to the Chapelle Ste. Anne. The trail then comes back southeast through the forest along the Vallon du Monar.
- Pas de Moulin
- East out of the village and then right takes you down past the Chapelle St. Michel into the Vallon du Monar. From the Pas de Moulin (760m), you can climb up the south side to the Bon Villars and then circle back to the west for a short (but hard) loop hike.
- North: Chapelle St. Jean; Rouves; Marie
- The trail north from Clans starts down into the valley past the Chapelle St. Jean, but you'll have some good climbing if you keep going. A long day's loop hike will take you past Marie, around to the east and back past Trémange (the inverse of the hike described above).
VTT (Mountain Biking)
- Les Bouis, Chapelle Ste. Anne (1250 m) - 17 km distance - 570 m vertical
- A trail northeast from the village takes you down the side of the mountain, through the forest going up the Vallon du Monar. Les Bouis is a little over half way to the chapel.
- Bon Villars, Maisons Forestières - 21 km distance - 650 m vertical
- This route goes northeast to the Pont Noir (716 m) and on to the Maisons Forestières (1358 m) before turing back south to Bon Villars and returing to the village.
Bus Line 750 Nice - Isola 2000
- 90 km (about 2h30)
- Cost (one-way): Some buses are standard, 1 euro;
some are 100% Neige, 4 € reserved online (www.lignesdazur.com); 5 € sans reservation, space permitting.
- Departs Nice Vauban (then Gare SNCF, Airport term-1, term-2):
- 7h20, daily, 100% Neige
11h00, weekends Feb-Mar, 100% Neige
13h00, sat, 100% Neige
16h30, daily except Fri
- Return departs Isola 2000 Les Hameaux (then : Isola 2000 Station, Village
- 7h50, daily
9h20, weekends Feb-Mar, 100% Neige
12h50, sat, 100% Neige
16h50, daily, 100% Neige
The Nice - Isola 2000 standard bus stops are: Nice Vauban, Gare SNCF, Magnan/Promenade, Carras/Promenade, Airport Terminal 2, Airport Terminal 1, Robini, Colomars Gare, St Martin-du-Var, Pont Charles Albert (RN 202), Plan-du-Var, Le Chaudan, La Courbaise, La Tour-sur-Tinée (gare), Roussillon, Pont-de-Clans, Bancairon, Marie (gare), La Bolinette, Rimplas (gare embranchement), St Sauveur (village), Pont de Paule, Isola Village, La Génisserie, HLM Ecole, Isola 2000 station, Les Hameaux.
The Nice - Isola 2000 10% Neige bus stops are: Nice Vauban, Gare SNCF, Airport Terminal 2, Airport Terminal 1, Robini, Colomars Gare, Plan-du-Var, La Tour-sur-Tinée (gare), St Sauveur (village), Isola 2000 station, Les Hameaux.
An official list of Alpes-Maritimes bus lines, with links to the schedules for each line (PDF), is available on the following link: http://www.cg06.fr/fr/servir-les-habitants/deplacements/transport-collectifs/lignes-et-horaires/lignes-et-horaires/
Line 750 schedule link (PDF): http://www.cg06.fr/document/?f=servir-les-habitants/fr/750.pdf