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Utelle Hike

Gallery of 12 photos for Utelle Hike

This is a 5 hour loop hike from Utelle, north toward Le Figaret (St-Honorat église), south back along edge of Vésubie gorge, and a climb back up Utelle. Most of the hike is well shaded, beneath the leaves of the forest-covered mountain sides. Only the last hour, climbing back up to Utelle village on the south-facing, exposed slope, an August mid-day, could have been better.

Utelle | Utelle Hike | Cros d'Utelle Hike | Hiking |

Hiking map Utelle, St-Honorat, Le Borne 111, north end of village. The GR goes up a tiny paved road, but quickly branches into a rocky path, still heading up.

Borne 112 is just a few minutes up from the start. Continuing north is the GR5 to the Col du Castel Gineste and Le Brec d'Utelle, as well as the way to a northen loop to th Madone d'Utelle. We branched right here, towards Le Figaret par Les Corniches.

About a quarter-hour from borne 112 there's an excellent view back to the perched village of Utelle. Then the trail bends north and follows the mountain-side up through the trees to the north.

This northward leg goes steadily up, but nothing severe. Partially shady and partially exposed, with nice views out to the east, and for us the rising sun.

About an hour and three-quarters from the start, the trail reaches a small plateau-peak at 1017 m altitude. From here, the trail plunges down into the trees for a very shady hike all the way to St Honorat (church) at the bottom.

The trail cross a very nice stream (runing well in a dry August) just a few minutes down the the plateau-peak.

Only a quarter-hour later there's another stream crossing. This one a bit smaller, but still running nicely, even with some small pools and tiny waterfalls just above the crossing.

About 2-1/2 hours from Utelle, the trail drops down to St Honorat (church), a tiny sub-hamlet attached to nearby Le Figaret. There are well-tended olive groves on the hillside, and (in Aug-Sept) lots of blackberries to snack on along the trailside.

At borne 15 of St Honorat our "par Les Corniches" trail arrives at a road to join the "Sentier Valléen de Vésubie" trail. Turning northeast, you could hike up to the hamlet of Le Figaret to explore, or continue hiking on the many trails in that direction. We turned south to explore St Honorat before continuing southwest to Utelle.

St Honorat is a group of a few houses, a church and a cemetery, attached to the hamlet of Le Figaret. We explored the small cemetery (as we usually do) and looked around the sub-hamlet, but there really isn't much here. We did find the remains of an ancient sundial on the church; enough left to be recognized (buy us) as a sundial, but absolutely no detail.

Departing St Honorat southwest is a bit tricky, because the only yellow PR mark there is angled up, indicating (wrongly) a private path. With your back to the front door of the church you see a short driveway up to a gate, and to the left a very nice fenced garden, with vegetables, sunflowers, olive trees and corn. The trail goes soutwest, between the driveway and the garden, along the garden fence.

Borne 14 is just 10 minutes south of St Honorat, a junction where a trail zig-zags down the hill to the roadway below (not our trail).

The trail south along the western side of the Vésubie is beautiful hiking, very shaded and ocassional views down into the gorge (and now sounds of traffic on the road below). There's one spot with a clear, but brief, view of St Jean-la-Rivière village on the river.

Borne 13 is less than an hour from St Honorat (and nearly 4 hours from our start at Utelle). Here another side trail goes down the mountain to cross the river and join the road near St Jean-la-Rivière. We continue southwest, and gently upward.

A quarter of an hour later we pass a stone house with tended gardens and terraces in the Vallon de Saniberge. The trail crosses a stream here, and there's another stone house, with wooden balcony, hidden in the trees.

The trail is steeper as it heads south, but still very nicely shaded through the trees.

We arrive at borne 12 about 4-1/2 hours after the start, and 1-1/2 hours from St Honorat. Borne 12 is on a small side road, beside the middle "lacet" of three "lacets" of the Utelle road. And from here it's all up-hill.

The trail goes west, up the side of the steep hill, first crossing the road a couple of times (and borne 11), then on its own along the hillside. The trail is mostly exposed, and south-facing to absorbe the maximum amount of mid-day sun in August. Still, the view is nice, and there are blackberries along the way.

It's about an hour's hot hike up the side of the hill to finally bend south and join the village of Utelle at borne 10. There are welcome benches with views at the parking areas, and restaurants in the village.



IGN (1/25,000) #3741 OT "Vallée de la Vésubie"

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