It is always rather special, probably because there is less walking, to walk out of where we have stayed overnight and be on the GR51. This was the case at St. Donat and at the end of today in Préconil, a hamlet just south of Plan-de-la-Tour.
St. Donat (D25) to Léaubre, 327m 2km
Léaubre to col de Vignon, 352m 12km
Col de Vignon to Préconil, 66m 5km
Distance on the GR51 – 19km
The FFRP guide shows a loop south of Préconil which goes through Escarrays to the menhir at Prat Bourdin and back to the main road. The GR51 on the 1:25 000 map is shown following the D44 road south missing out this loop. This was the route that we took.
Our chambre d’hôte ‘La Bergerie’ was a couple of hundred metres south of this loop immediately where the GR51 leaves the road to climb gently up to Coriolan.
St. Donat has a chapelle and also marked on the map and a Musée Phonographique – not open in winter and we never checked if it is still open. However, that combined with the hotel/restaurant makes the middle of nowhere more interesting.
We crossed the road and made our way up the track opposite – again there were no waymarks until they appeared again somewhere later that morning. There were good views to the west of the Forêt Domaniale de Maures and the Massif Maures.
After the small hamlet of Les Gastons we climbed gradually from 140m to 514m. Here there was an icy slope to the highest point of the track before we descended to the col. Good views over to the Golfe de St. Tropez and the hills around our destination for the day.
From the col de Vignon, where there was a war memorial, we descended through the woods to the Préconil valley and the D44.
There is a Roman bridge marked on the map here which is located in a private house – it can just be seen from the road.
We stayed 2 nights at ‘La Bergerie’ and a kind couple took us to see St. Tropez and Porte Grimaud. It made a very different day to walking.
We did this section on the 15th February 2012.