Today the man has the floor – at my request! Maybe you’ve already noticed that he is diligently cycling up and down the hills, sometimes on a racing bike, sometimes on a mountain bike. I can give you his experiences, but that’s not really brilliant. That’s why I begged, pleaded and whined – and finally talked him into it. And now he has the floor:
Pic de L’Ours
Is a mountain always a mountain?
If you ask me about my favorite mountain, I can clearly say: Pic de L’Ours!
It is not a mountain of superlatives, a giant in the Alps or a monument of cycling history. Not a mountain that every racing bike colleague knows and nods approvingly.
The Pic de L’Ours, with its 492 meters, is more of a dwarf compared to the other giants France has to offer. On the other hand, the ascent provides magnificent views after every turn, which are so varied that they never get boring. The dwarf easily outranks many of the big ones. Whether in sun, rain or snow. The last one, however, is a very rare guest – but in return all the more beautiful.
The Pic de L’Ours is accessible all year round – typical Côte d’Azur.
While the eyes wander across the vastness of the Mediterranean Sea, which spreads with every meter you climb even more majestically in front of you, or you admire the old as stone and marvelously crooked cork oaks along the way, the ascent flies by.
The scent of lavender, rosemary and thyme in the nose, the short, somewhat steeper ramps are also relaxed as you climb up. The Pic de L’Ours offers aromatherapy for free to anyone who conquers it. For there is no traffic in the streets. Only a few hikers drive by to reach one of the many parking lots. Some sections are completely closed to traffic and the air is therefore clean and fresh. Provencal herbs and birdsong instead of exhaust fumes and traffic noise.
The road to the summit is a dead end in the National Park of the Massif de l’Esterel. The only asphalted road on the Pic de L’Ours is unfortunately in a bad condition. So you better switch off the race mode and become a pleasure cyclist.
The asphalted driveway from the north over the Avenue de Fréjus (D6007) is no longer accessible, as the road slipped down and is now completely closed. There are two more roads from the south. You can enter the National Park from Agay via Avenue des Golfs (D100) or at Cap Roux via the Route du Trayas (D559).
Access from Cap Roux
The tour across the Cap Roux is my favourite: pass the barrier and turn into the national park and enjoy the car-free drive… As soon as one turns into the first steep ramp onto the Rocher de Saint-Barthélemy, the panorama spectacle starts. Not that the approach via the D559, coming both from Agay and Mandelieu, is not already an absolute highlight itself. But additionally, in the national park, the everyday noise and the traffic disappears with every gained altitude difference. All what is left is the very own soundscape of the racing bike and the fresh air.
From the first ramp the road continues wavy. Sometimes with a view over the azure blue sea, sometimes with a view over l’Esterel. On the descent, one flits past the crossroads where the roads of Agay and Cap Roux meet.
Shortly afterwards, one climbs past the parking lot at the hiking path leading to the Grotte de la Saint Baume and shortly after rolls over the Col de l’Évêque, which is the starting point for the final ascent up to the Pic de L’Ours. From this point on, the distance to the summit is only 6 km and 350 altitude meters (category 3 mountain with an average gradient of 6%).
At the top
Arrived at the top, the bay of Cannes with its offshore islands spreads out in front of you. The view often extends to the foothills of the snow-covered Alps and the high peaks of the back country of Cannes and Nice. On clear days, one sees in the west up to Saint Tropez.
Or one literally has one’s head in the clouds, as especially in spring, they often accumulate at the first peaks of l’Esterel and the trip ends in their middle.
These days with light clouds are the most beautiful! The ascent begins in the sunshine, then with the gained meters of altitude the clouds pass you at the same height and on the last meters you dive into this cloudy silence, into this fluffy world. Everything glitters under a cover of moisture as soon as a small hole appears in the clouds and the sun reaches the ground again.
Magical moments of cycling.
And we are at the Cote d’Azur: it is usually not cold even in the clouds, quite the opposite. Sometimes it is even warmer above the clouds than below them.
An unforgettable experience at any time of day
Or would you prefer sunrise or sunset? Also an absolute highlight, but not during summer, because the national park is closed from 21:00-6:00 o’clock and driving is forbidden.
Let’s move on
After you’ve had your fill of the summit panorama: We put our wind jacket on and cycle back. The descent partly uses a different road than the ascent, as the middle section is a one-way road.
On the way back, it is possible to make a detour via Agay. Therefore, roll back the 12 km dead end road and this time turn right, direction Agay, to the Lac de Grenouillet.
Afterwards there is a short and a long way to Agay. Since the way is the reward, of course we choose the long way. So we turn right up to the Col du Mistral. The first meters are a little steeper, then very flat the road winds along a stream in a wonderfully relaxed manner. After the crest, it continues wavy, passing flocks of sheep and a small waterfall with an inviting pool for bathing, always following the asphalted road.
After leaving the national park, you pass the campsite and go downhill to Avenue des Golfs (D100). To the left, the road leads directly to the beach of Agay and to a popular bakery, which invites you to recharge your batteries behind the roundabout. If you have more time and hunger, the “Bahia” to the left is always a good choice.
So many ways to choose
Invigorated and resting on the beautiful beach, you will be spoilt for choice: either take the dreamy coastal road back to Cap Roux or simply turn around and drive back through l’Esterel. Perhaps a little detour over the Pic de L’Ours? Because in the meantime it’s certainly a completely different mountain again.
If the sun is low in the west, wild boars, red deer, foxes, rabbits and badgers slowly appear. (So be careful in the descents!)
Or was the first drive up too early in the morning? Then only now the full aromas of the herbs unfold along the way under the southern sun…
Coming out of the clouds? Then on the second lap the summit is certainly cloudless and the panorama becomes visible. So many faces, so many impressions. The Pic de L’Ours is much more than just a mountain… It is a whole range of mountains.
Time, leisure and good legs? Then I recommend the way back through the countryside. Follow the D100 to Fréjus, then the D37 up to DN7. Follow it and either up Mont Vinaigre or past it directly to Mandelieu and the coastal road back to Cap Roux.
1: Cap Roux – Pic de L`Ours and back (33Km / 900Hm)
2: Cap Roux – Pic de L`Ours – Agay – Cap Roux (50Km / 1000Hm)
3: Cap Roux – Pic de L`Ours – Agay – Fréjus – Mont Vinaigre – Cap Roux (90Km / 1700Hm)
So even me, a real couch potato, feel like getting a bike and climbing up the mountain. Whereby – stop! I would rather take a motorized vehicle. But maybe a stylish, maybe a nice old timer or something. Yes, that would be perfect! And the dog next to me with waving ears and a big grin… (He finds cycling completely stupid and totally refuses to run alongside… So I am practically forced to take the car. All for the dog, what should I do?!)
Many thanks to the man and friend Ingo for the driven kilometers, the impressions and the pictures! Keep on rollin‘!
And how about you? Do you already know the Pic de l’Ours? On foot or by bike? Or maybe completely differently? Tell me!