Alpes-Maritimes (06640) Population: 3,188 Altitude: 400 m
The village of St. Jeannet sits on a ledge beneath the towering Baou de St. Jeannet, with the Baou de la Gaude just to the right (east), and the Baou des Noirs and Baou des Blancs lined up to the west towards Vence. The village is beautiful, picturesque, authentic, and not overrun with tourists.
Use the free parking lot at the entrance to the village; it's only a short walk into the center. The Place St. Barbe comes first, with benches and a great view out to the sea. (The view is even better if you take a walk up to the top of the Baou de St. Jeannet.) There's a handy café-terrace right at the place, and an excellent Auberge-restaurant.
Take the time to explore the village before you hike up the baous. There are a lot of little streets winding back through the ancient buildings, and you'll see the lovely Eglise Paroissiale St-Jean-Baptiste, built in 1666 and currently being renovated (28 May - 26 July '96). Wandering through the old streets, you'll discover a little "Panorama" terrace after going through a beautiful low arched passage. Among the old buildings and other ancient things to see in the village are a couple of pretty fountains, one of them dating to 1875.
St. Jeannet is reputed to be a center of "witchcraft", with some of the older village women apparently using herbs and spells to cure ailments and who-knows-what else. Another rare feature is that the village has its own water system, from springs high on the Baou.
The Baou de St. Jeannet also has well-hidden caves up on the side, where the villagers have sought refuge in times of trouble for many, many centuries. The Baou de La Gaude, to the right looking up from the village, has the remains of a neolithic fort at the peak. Another feature for walks up this Baou is "le vieux chêne", an oak tree at least 600 years old, on the wooded peak about 200 m north of the Baou's front peak.
History of Saint Jeannet
First record, 13th century Castrum de Balma loannis
Prehistoric: There are oppidum and prehistoric sites on the Baou de St. Jeannet, Baou des Noirs and Baou de la Gaude (a prehistoric fort).
Gallo-Roman: The prehistoric site at Collet du Mourre was reoccupied in Gallo-Roman times.
Medieval: Saint Jeannet was ruled by the Villeneuves from the 13th century until the Revolution.
• GPS: 43.748294, 7.143588
IGN (1/25,000) #3643 ET "Cannes, Grasse, Côte d'Azur"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #26 "Pay d'Azur"
The GR51 (Balcony of the Cote d'Azur) goes through the village.
• Going east, the GR51 leaves the village by a road to the north, then traverses the lower part of the Baou de la Gaude. It continues northeast to Gattières, drops down to cross the Var river at the Pont de la Manda, then climbs up to Aspremont, Tourrette-Levens and points east.
• Going west, the GR51 climbs up the valley between the two Baous, then zigzags through the hills before dropping back down to Gourdon from the north.
• The GR51 up through the Baous connects with an endless number of other trails going out into Beyond.
• Baou de St. Jeannet, 45 min, 807 m.
• Baou de La Gaude, 45 min, 792 m.
• Bezaudun, 2 hrs. Two different trails allow a loop hike. The northeastern trail goes past the Mouton d'Anou (1078 m). The southwestern part circles the Colle de Menon (1029 m) and follows the GR51 for most of the distance to St. Jeannet.
• Le Broc, 2 hrs. The trail (starting with the GR51) goes up the valley between the Baous and continues on almost due north. You can loop back to the west, near Bezaudun and the Mouton d'Anou (1078 m), to avoid returning by the same trail, except for the part closest to St. Jeannet.
• Le Castellet, 1hr 30, 712 m. This is an ancient fortified bergerie (sheep farm). It's abandonded now, but some of the buildings are in good condition, and the surrounding woods and fields are lovely.
One of our readers "ate quite regularly in the Chante Grille, M. Ferro, owner/chef, and found it to be a quite delightful little bistro".
Grotte des Gours - 350 m are developed.
Grotte Scelo - on top of the Baou de St. Jeannet, about 800 m back on the eastern edge, has a small stream about 50 m deep inside.
Grotte de St. Michel - high on the western side of the Baou de St. Jeannet.
Several small caves and grottos are in the cliffs of the Baou, including those used by the villagers in times of trouble.
Contributed by Elaine, Dec 2010
I would like to recommend the place I am staying in St. Jeannet, l'Auberge de Baous.
You can read about this place on TripAdvisor, or in Rick Steves' Provence books. It is only 3 years old, run by a young couple who speak both French and English. They are warm and caring, the breakfast is good, and the views are amazing. The hiking trails to the baous begin just steps away in the town.
And I dined at Le Petit Grillon, an incredibly wonderful local bistro. Tres sympa!