It was a Sunday when we completed this section. There were no buses for destinations outside Fréjus that we could take on a Sunday. The Monday to Friday times of buses from Fréjus to les Adrets de l’Esterel are only in the evening. The times of the buses to Bagnol en Forêt are useful for walkers as they leave Fréjus at 09.15 (number 3602 varlib) Monday to Saturday, with one returning at 16.45 from Bagnols en Forêt, but only Monday to Friday. The hotels were also not open in the Adrets area so we thought Fréjus would be a good base – it mostly turned out that way. The taxi company took us back to the Col de Testanier – quick but a it was a Sunday an extra 5 Euros.
Col de Testanier to D4 12km (Note: the FFRP GR51 guide says this section is 4km – it is much longer)
D4 to Col de Bayonne 327m 5.5km
Col de Bayonne to Gorge du Blavet (entrance) 100m 4km
The wide track from the col continues westward going in and out of the ravines until after 3km there is a good view west over the autoroute A9 which follows the valley of the Reyran river. It is this river that was dammed and then there was the Fréjus Malpasset dam disaster in 1959. At the crossing of the river and where the GR51 goes under the autoroute there are huge lumps of concrete – parts of the dam swept down by the waters bursting through the ruptured arch dam. These have been swept up to a km down stream.
There are a number of explanatory boards and memorials to this tragic disaster. It collapsed on December 2, 1959, killing 421 people in the resulting flood.The remains are poignantly left as they were.
The large building of la Guardiatte Bastide is clear in the middle distance before the GR51 goes from the wide track into a rather rough and steep path through Mediterranean shrub before climbing up to the D4 – where the bus to Bagnols en Forêt passes Monday to Friday – but there no bus stop! We met a group from the CAF Nice who were walking in the area. We took a different route up to the Col de la Pierre Coucou because the path had been destroyed by flooding just west of the water tank at 287m and we couldn’t find where it continued after the damage.
The rock formations are really impressive after the Col de la Pierre Coucou and we had good views north to Bagnol en Forêt. After these rocks at 401m and then at the col de Bayonne there are tracks and paths into Bagnol en Forêt. We decided to press on for 2 reasons. We thought that there would be a taxi service or even bu from La Bouverie, and secondly we wanted to shorten the following day to Le Muy.
It was becoming a long day as we descended to the le Blavet river. There were a number of people exercising their dogs plus a few white vans which had in the back motor cross enthusiasts who had been practising in the area. In the gathering dusk we left the GR 51 and walked the 2km into La Bouverie.
There are no taxi services running from La Bouverie and on Sunday no buses. Stranded, very tired, we were indebted to Marie and her husband Michel who were so kind to take us back to Fréjus.
We did this section on February 12th 2012.