Les Esteréls rocksThe hills of Estérel
(Massif de L'Estérel) are famous for its red colour, due to which they in combination with blue waters of Côte d'Azur
offer great scenes to visitors of this part of Provence
. On the northern part they culminate with Mont Vinaigre, which is easilly accessible. But due to the fact that this summit is a bit remote of the coast, views from other summits can be even better.
On the fore-summit there is an old lookout and communication tower, which is seen from a far distance. In 2009 it couldn't be ascended, but the view from the highest point of the mountain is as spectacular as from the tower.
The whole massif is composed of old (Paleozoic - Permian) volcanic rocks, specifically porphyr, which gives these mountains their specific red colour.
Mont Vinaigre is a popular hike
. Most visitors do it mainly by a mountain road and on the summit area by good, marked paths. The area is also a popular destination of mountain bikers
. Moving outside beaten paths is hard because of a dense "macchia" - mediteranean bushes - and because of crumbling rocks. As the area is protected as a natural parc, it is not exploited by farmers, so outside beaten paths there is a true wilderness.
SW view - On St. Raphaël and Fréjus NE view - On Cannes
In a clear day from Mont Vinaigre you can see on the north-eastern side the coast near Cannes, and on the south-western side the coast near Fréjus and St. Raphaël. To the east there is the rest of Estérel massif, with a few characteristic rocky peaks. Towards the inlands there is the hilly Provence and if visibility is good you can see in the distance high, most of the year snowy peaks of Alps. The nearest is the group of Alps Maritimes.
The massif of Estérel is encircled by a good road and on the northern and north-western part also the A8 highway runs. The round tour by car is panoramic and worthwile, as said, there are also cycling options.
Mont Vinaigre itself is usually ascended from the north and west. The scattered village of Les Adrets lies along the main road (N7), which you follow till the crossroads where Logis de Paris is situated. There you can start a walk, but you can also shorten the ascent by driving further towards the SW, untill you reach Maison Forestiere de Malpey (a ranger station in the Estérel State Forest). There you can take the mountain road to the summit. It is about half an hour’s walk.
All other approaches are much longer, and come across the whole Estérel massif. As said the ares is touristically developed, so there are many itinerary variants. Paths are generally well marked and good maps can be bought.
A short normal route description
Hiking on Mt. Vinaigre
If you start on the crossroads near Logis de Paris, you firs follow a good, broad forrest road, which is, I guess, intended for fire protection and fire fighters access. But it is marked. It crocces the slopes just a little above the asphalt road, only after good 20 minutes the marked path ascends the SW ridge, where it hits the road from Maison Forestiere de Malpey. By the road we shortly continue towards the NE, but the marked path soon takes us directly upwards, so we cut the long road turn. Above we cross the road again and continue by the path all the way to the fore-summit with the lookout tower. After a short descent we reach the end parking place of the road and continue towards the east, where among the summit rocks a small concrete plateau represents the highest point.
The area is protected as a natural parc
When To Climb?
Mont Vinaigre can be ascended any time of a season. Choose a clear day with a good visibility!