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| 5h45 | 19.1 km | 1241 m | 1216 m
This long, low-altitude stage leaves Sospel and heads towards the Farguet pass before descending again through very Mediterranean countryside to the preserved village of Peille before arriving at the hamlet of Peillon, the stage destination.
From the village, cross the Bévéra bridge, walk alongside the river on the right bank (westward) and at the last bridge, take Rue Vincent Comiti and then Rue Auda, which leads into an uphill road that opens onto departmental road D2204. Pass the bridge on the railway, walk past the cemetery and 150 metres away on the right, you will find the red and white markers for the GR® 510. A series of hairpin bends brings you to a road that serves the remote countryside areas overlooking Roccas valley. This brings you to the St Jean pass. Cross the D2204, take a little path on the left, cross the road once again, follow it for 300m approximately and then head to the left on an initially steeply climbing and fortunately shady path leading to the terrace of the Pape pass. Take the track on the left that heads directly southward to the Farguet pass (yellow markings). The track splits into two. Take the right-hand option for a few metres, which descends to the north, and then take the path that descends southward to the left into the monoclinal valley. The trail crosses a stream and 1km further it crosses a road to reach the hamlet of St-Siméon. Keep following the yellow markings. The trail winds its way down to the south and arrives at the hamlet of Pas d’Ongrand. From the hamlet, follow the road to the intersection with another road. Take this road to the right. About one hundred metres further, leave the road to take the path to the left that heads uphill and leads to the little Christo pass, where it joins the road. Follow the road to the left for a few metres and then take the track to the right that first heads northward and then south, giving way to a path that leads to the St-Bernard pass. Follow the tarmac road (Barn path) to the south leading to the village of Peille. Walk through the village on the Barri path, cross the road and take Rue du Castelet (stairs) and then Rue du Pous. Continue to head downhill and follow the signs for "La fontaine". The trail arrives on departmental road D53, which must be taken to the left. About 50 metres after the village, take the path to the right (yellow markings) that descends in hairpin bends into the little Farquin valley. The trail touches on the road once at a bend and continues to descend, crossing the Farquin stream and gently climbing again for 3km to then head downhill once more to the village of Peillon. Follow the signs that lead to Peillon village.
This penultimate stage of Via Alpina offers the opportunity to discover the hanging villages so typical of Mediterranean civilisation, which adapted to the relief. The market towns of Peille or Peillon are therefore very characteristic today of this very narrow type of architecture and of these sinuous little streets, all of this perched on the edge of impressive cliffs. On leaving Sospel, between the St Roch and the Mont Barbonnet forts, both built in “Séré de Rivières” style, Via Alpina climbs to the St-Jean pass at 642m in altitude, in the eponymous ravine. It then continues to the ascent to the Baisse du Pape pass, from where it is possible to reach the top of the Lavina (1,117m), an interesting vantage point over Sospel, before continuing up to the Farguet pass below the summit of the same name (1,186m). Next, climb back down to the hamlet of St Siméon, and then take an old mule trail to the Ongrand pass, from where you can admire the Ours mountain (1,239m) on the left. The trail climbs again below the rock of the Pied de Jacques to the St Bernard pass, thus taking you to the hanging village of Peille nestling among forestland and olive groves, over which towers the Baudon (1,264m), the Rastel (802m) and the Agel (1,148m) mountain peaks. This old medieval town with its typical little streets has both a municipal and superior court owing to its past as a consular town, and tourists can pay a visit to Lascaris Palace, built on the edge of the cliff in the XVIIth century. But the parish church is also of great interest due to its pyramidal bell tower in local cut stone dating back to the XIInd century. In addition to the ruins of the old castle and the lookout post, there are other attractions such as the old Miséricorde and St Sébastien chapels and the modern St Martin-de-Peille chapel, the local history museum and the XVIth century Gothic fountain of which Léo Ferré speaks in one of his poems… But Peille is also synonymous with a great number of festivals: the wheat and lavender festivals, the Assumption, Les Baguettes festival, the Pomme Fleurie festival, or the festival of Ste-Anne at La Grave-de-Peille… On leaving Peille and after a vertiginous descent into the little Farquin valley, the trail takes the old Roman Way to reach Peillon, another village hanging over an eagle’s nest and overlooked by the Pointe de Lourqière (678m). The entire old village of Peillon is listed for its very typical architecture and its little winding streets, besides which the chapel of the White Penitents is decorated with XVth century frescoes by the travelling painter Canavesio. But Peillon also has a church dedicated to the Transfiguration, several oil and flour mills and a bronze sculpture workshop.
Last update : 2013-02-06