La Colmiane

The nights are drawing in, the days are getting cooler, and time is running out if you want to go camping in the mountains. So last weekend was probably our one and only chance this year to get the tent out. A friend had recommended a little campsite at St. Dalmas, not far from La Colmaine, and I was keen to try it out. Camping à  la ferme is indeed lovely. Small, family run, clean and well maintained. We were the only ones there.

After a great dinner at my favourite restaurant in the whole of France, at St Martin Vésubie, it was an early night. Chilly outside, but inside, under the duvet, very cosy. The local donkey did his best to keep us awake, and neither of us slept well. It was a bit of a relief to get up to a beautiful sunny day the next morning.

Le Caire GrosSunday, we tackled le Caïre Gros. It’s a great spot. It’s 2,087m high, and is a fantastic vantage point. To the south you can see all the way to Cap d’Antibes. To the east, the bleak and forbidding mountains that separate France from Italy. Immediately below (relatively speaking!)  the Valdeblore, Tinée and Vésubie valleys. Fantastic.

There are a few ways to get there. We took the path from La Colmaine. Starting at 1,500m, the 500m (of altitude) to the top took us two hours. You can also start from St. Dalmas. In which case, you give yourself a tougher, 800m  climb. It’s easy enough to almost get to the summit. Col des 2 Caires is only 100m below the top. The last 100m is a pretty steep climb, but you’ll kick yourself if you don’t do it.