Skirting the Esterel

On our approach to Nice, the plane flew over the Mediterranean just west of Fréjus. As it banked to the east over the sea, I was rewarded with a tremendous view of the Côte d’Azur. I didn’t have a map or a camera, but I made a mental note of a beautiful bay that resembled a Mandelbrot set, and nearby, a sizable red rock separated from the mainland by a narrow, shallow, teal blue strait. I wondered if one could swim (or even wade) out to the rock?

That evening I described to Stephanie what I had seen and suggested that we go find it. After a quick survey on Google Maps, I discovered the bay to be the Rade d’Agay, and the rock to be the Île des Vieilles (named after a Mediterranean fish called a wrasse in English). The following Saturday, Stephanie and I decided to go to Agay in order to rent a kayak and with any luck, reach the island.

Map of the Côte d'Azur coastline around Agay, France
Map of Agay and the Île des Vieilles

Unfortunately we discovered that the kayak rental place was closed for the season. Oh well. After enjoying the view from Agay Plage with two paninis, we decided to drive back to Le Cannet via the Corniche d’Or, the coastal route between Fréjus and Mandelieu known for its stunning views of the red rocks of the Massif de l’Esterel.

Along the way, we found the hard-to-spot entrance to the secluded Crique de l’île des Vieilles, thanks to a website with very specific directions: “Juste après le passage piéton, au niveau du numéro 1890 (juste avant un panneau de limitation de vitesse à 50).” However, we were not prepared for swimming/snorkeling, so we admired the îlot from a distance, and decided to continue on our way.

Just beyond that point we stumbled upon one of my favorite vista points of the Esterel, with a view of the massive Viaduc d’Anthéor and the red rocks beyond. We had stopped at this very spot some 6 years before, during my first trip to France. The view left such a striking impression that we made of point of hiking in the Esterel on our second trip to France together. I think you’ll understand why.

Panorama of the red rocks of the Esterel from Anthéor

Red rocks of the Esterel from Anthéor

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