Libre is more than a hilltop village where weathered young men in waist length dreadlocks amble into town with a mule. I’ve always loved the hippie vibe of Libre but now I see it as the launch point for one of the region’s most scenic hikes. The landscape ranges from views of the Mediterranean to the peaks of the Roya valley.
The hike followed the recommendations of the Randoxygene. Full details are here.
Beginning in Libre at Borne 417, the path mounted steadily. It was in good condition although narrow at points. For the first hour or so sun and shade alternated making this a good hike at all times of the year except the heat of summer. The views facing west were spectacular the entire course of the hike.
I followed the sign to La ColetteThen at Borne 419 the path forked north still affording excellent views.
After about an hour of climbing:
There weren’t many picnic opportunities along the narrow path until just short of its highest point where there was a large rock that made a good rest area.. The hike reached its peak just under the looming Cime of Mairise (about 500m denivilé from Libre) and then began the descent. It took me about 2h45m to reach that point.
The descent was long and rocky, winding around a ridge, but posed no particular difficulty. After La Collette at Borne 421 the path basically followed a rocky ditch that had probably once been a creek but it was very well signposted. The descent was fairly well-exposed to the sun which is why it would not be good to do this route in reverse. After a while there were views over the hamlets of Cotté and Bergogni. Finally reaching the fountain of Cotté was a huge relief! The hike ended with a gentle trail between the two hamlets. I was glad I parked near Borne 416.
Climbing up there were hardly any flies until I neared the peak. On the descent there were some flies but many more butterflies.The hike took about 4 1/2 hours, not the 3 predicted by the Guide Randoxygene. I made a number of short stops but no long lunch stop.