22 Km from Nice by the D2204.
Escarene is a small old town in the Nice hinterland, halfway between the sea and Mercantour National Park, located on the Tende road between Col de Nice and Col de Braus, a road that is familiar to followers of the Monte-Carlo Rally!
Although the rally cars don't stop on their way through, L'Escarene is well worth a visit, since it has many hidden charms. In fact, every since the time many centuries ago when the village was a stopping off point on the Salt Road, its motto has been "sta viator" (stop traveller!).
The main visual characteristic of L'Escarene is its impressive viaduct consisting of eleven arches 40 metres high, spanning the Paillon valley and towering over the village.
It was built in the 1930s , and every day it is used by the "train des Merveilles", a train which takes you to the well-known valley with the same name, and even as far as Cuneo in Italy.
But of course it's the historic centre lying at the foot of the viaduct that really deserves your attention.
Start your tour at the church of Saint Pierre Es Liens, a marvellous 17th century baroque edifice which together with its chapels dedicated to White and Black Penitents constitutes an outstanding architectural ensemble, listed as a historical monument.
Inside you can admire the organ built in 1791 by the Grinda brothers, who were known as the "King of Sardinia's organ-builders". Honoré and Antoine were both born in Nice, participated in the construction of several organs in the county of Nice, at Villefranche-sur-Mer and at Clans.
The organ too is listed as a historical monument. It is the pride of the town, and is still in active service. Every summer the town organises the "Rendez-Vous de l'Orgue Vivant de l'Escarene" free of charge, an event to which the best organists are invited. Not be missed if you like authentic baroque music!
Then you should take a stroll along the alleyways and over the old stone bridges. As you wander through Place de la Gabelle, over the Pont Vieux bridge or along "Carriera dou Mitan", you will get an idea of the past splendour of this medieval village, which was a stronghold and priory of the Saint-Pons abbey from the 11th century onwards, and a seigneury of the Tonduti family from L'Escarene in the 18th century.
If you like the great outdoors you'll be happy to learn that several waymarked paths start out from L'Escarene, through forests of pine, larch and oak, and that trout are abundant in the two rivers that flow through the village.
What to see
St Pierre church (17th century) adjoining two 18th century chapels.
"Greek style" olive oil mill with its granite millstone and paddle wheel, a "mill museum" where
exhibitions are held, and which can be visited by appointment at the Tourist Office.
Chapel of St Pancrace (17th century) and chapel of St Roch.
The Le Serre quarter. The Ste Brigitte tower.
Hiking. Tennis. Trout fishing.
In the summer, the "Rendez-Vous de l'Orgue Vivant de l'Escarene" music festival.
Holiday rentals. Gites