Sunday, 24 July 2016

Les Arcs - by foot and pedal

The glorious countryside around Les Arcs-sur-Argens - something to enjoy on foot or by bicycle.

Walking and cycling are really the best ways for people to enjoy La France Profonde - the deep French countryside.

Cycling through the vines. Courtesy Caminan Les Arcs.
'Les poles Nordiques' - or Nordic pole walking - has caught on here with twice-weekly walking groups setting out from the Mairie - and returning for a coffee and chat under the plane trees in the main square.

Young lads on their BMX - known here as VTT - show off their style wherever there's enough space, while others parade regally on their old bicycles to the boulangerie  for their daily bread.
In the past year, the Ville des Arcs – our town council – has created a perfect cycle track for riders. In fact it has a vision for many more, in conjunction with the Dracénie region.

La Vigne a Velo. Courtesy Caminan Les Arcs.
The first track – a 4.7km stretch out past Ste Roseline chapel to the La Motte roundabout – was opened last December.
It will eventually link up with a larger, 40km track that will wend its way from Taradeau, through Les Arcs, taking in three more villages before finishing at Draguignan.
They are open for cyclists, roller bladers, joggers and walkers to enjoy the countryside without having to compete with cars on the roadways.
Known as ‘La Vigne à Velo’, the track meanders through the vineyards of the Côte de Provence appellation wines.

The new track follows the road from Les Arcs, with only one roundabout to negotiate before you’re in the country – and for the faint-hearted, there are pedestrian crossings.
It closely follows an old railway track (the former spur line to Draguignan) as far as the La Motte roundabout. 

A sign indicates the Ste Roseline chapel about two-thirds of the way along, if you would like to pay her a visit, or stop to sample the Chateau Ste Roseline vintage next door.

Former deputy Mayor of Les Arcs (2003-14), Max Carzoli.

Just after we arrived in Les Arcs this year, 'La Balade en Réal’- a walking track alongside the Réal river that trickles through Les Arcs - was officially opened.

The former ‘balade’ was washed away in the devastating flood of 2010 that deposited silt and rubbish all along the river banks leaving them overgrown and choked with weeds.

The idea for the walking (and cycling) track along the river bank came from the former deputy mayor of Les Arcs, Max Carzoli, a visionary man who sadly died before he could see the balade become a reality. It has been re-named ‘La Balade en Real Max Carzoli’ in his honour.

At almost one kilometre long, people jog, walk or just take an evening promenade ‘en famille’. There are seats placed along the length of it for reposing in the shade for a chat, to read a book, sketch or just gaze into the greenery. New trees have been planted that will provide future shade. 

The 'balade' takes you right down to the Avenue de la Gare - turn right and you are about 150m from the railway station; turn left, cross into the car park opposite, climb the overpass above the railway line, and you're five minutes from the giant hypermarket at the edge of town.
The Balade en Real Max Carzoli takes you right into the heart of Les Arcs-sur-Argens.
But Max Carzoli’s vision went even further than that. He wanted to see the balade extended past the railway line, past the giant supermarket at the edge of town, across (or under) not only the N7 highway, but the A8 autoroute, into the Massif des Maures.

The section of the Maures mountains south of Les Arcs is set aside as our town’s ‘communal forest’ with its own network of walking tracks. These tracks take people high up to the summit of the hills where you can find prehistoric monoliths, called dolmen.
Townsfolk walk the newly-opened 'balade' through the town.
It is a tribute to Max Carzoli – and the council that has carried on his vision – that both the inhabitants and visitors to Les Arcs-sur-Argens will sometime in future years, be able to access these tracks and footpaths directly from the town – on foot or by bicycle - to experience both the man-made and natural heritage of the area.





  1. What a perfect way to experience a place - walking or cycling pace allows so much more depth

  2. Travelling slowly enables you to really observe and 'be' in the landscape.

  3. No excuses Jan, you have your jogging track now!

  4. Alan jogs it, I prefer to 'balade' - at least in hot weather.