France Via Aurelia Via della Costa

Day 2: Gattiers, La Manda Bridge to Laghet

Another beautiful day for walking. Yet another day over 1.000m in ascent (1040m) and an achievable distance of 25kms despite the ups and downs.

As with day 1, I had decided to take this leg in reverse, so Lene drove me to the Sanctuarie Notre-Dame de Laghet, in the mountains between Nice and Monaco. There has been a church here since 1652, and a statue of Note-Dame de Laghet to celebrate the many miracles that have happened here 17th century is the main attraction of the church (can be seen above the alter in the top picture above). There are many other rooms with many old and new pictures decorating the walls of the Sanctuary, as well as a hotel, where walking pilgrims, and others can stay. A nice place to visit, albeit a bit off the beaten track.

I left Laghet walking west towards the suburbs of Nice, initially along a ledge at ca. 300m asl., before descending towards Drap, a small town of ca. 4.000 inhabitant, with an excellent baker, where I bought a sandwich and cake, and a railways station, without a railway.

Out of Drap, the serious climbing started. A 400m climb up to 500m, within 2,5km. A s always, the views from the top were great and the paths on the way up were fine.

After an ascent, there is always a descent. The descent was tricky, the rain had washed parts of the path away and a small stream (not shown on the maps) had turned into a bigger stream and flooded the path. Although not as steep as the climb, the descent was still fairly steep and made more tricky by the water and loose stones on the path. I got down to the valley with more or less dry feet. I met a couple of walkers at the bottom, and told them that the path was a bit wet, to which the man responded “We are here to experience nature”. His female companion, already lagging behind, didn’t look to happy.

Following a descent, there is always a climb, and there was no exception here. A steep climb to the beautiful hilltop village and castle in Tourette-Levens (first picture below). On the way up I passed a plaque honoring the local people that have worked the soil with respect and passion, as well as a cross for St. Jacques de Compostelle.

Tourette-Levens is one of 16 perched villages around Nice, and I have no doubt that it is packed in summer. It was a bit sleepy at 2pm on a Thursday afternoon. It was another hard climb, before I stopped to eat lunch, in a square with a view of the next descent and climb.


After a short downhill, it was time for another climb, this time to another perched village, Aspermont, and more fantastic views towards the lower Alps, and along the Var to Nice and the coast. I passed a water tank full of goldfish – they evidently clean the water.

From Aspermont it was pretty much downhill all the way to the  bridge, on a mix of paths and road. The final decline towards the bridge was todays most difficult, steep with loose stones. It was a tiring stretch at the end of a long day with another 1.000m total ascent. I was a bit disappointed at the quality of the last path, I have never experienced a path in such a sorry state in Spain, Portugal or Japan.

Despite some paths that could have been in a better state, it was a beautiful day with fantastic views.

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