Walking Among the Mimosas in the South of France

There is one constant that you can expect from me during wintertime in France – I will be complaining about the weather. I’ve even said it many times on here, so I won’t bore you with another long rant about how my California blood will never get used to the short, dreary, gray days in the north of France. (Oops, I’m doing it again.) But what I will tell you is about my strategy for surviving, which is usually to escape. This time, we escaped to the south of France, staying in the beachside town of Frejus, right on the Mediterranean Sea. And we arrived at the right time, to walk among the mimosas.

Now, when I mention the word “mimosas”, you’re probably thinking about the bubbly orange juice and sparkling wine mixture served with brunch, right? (Side note: Although brunch is becoming more popular in France, the Mimosa cocktail is still relatively unknown.) The French have a different connotation of mimosas – in France, they’re little pom-pom shaped flowers that grow on trees from late January to early March, signaling the imminent arrival of spring.

The History of Mimosas in France

The first surprising thing to know about mimosas is that they’re not native to France! They are a native plant of Australia and were brought to Europe in the late 18th century by the explorer James Cook. Later, the first mimosa trees were planted in the south of France and from there, they flourished and thrived in the region, due to its sunny and relatively frost-free climate. These prolific mimosa trees can be found all over the Côte d’Azur, bathing the region in yellow during the late winter months.

Now here’s a little history on the Mimosa cocktail and its relation to the flower. Although its origins are not completely clear, one theory is that it was developed at the Hotel Ritz in Paris in the early 20th century. This drink became known as the Mimosa due to its color resembling… you guessed it… the Mimosa plant. Despite its possible origins in Paris, as I mentioned earlier, the drink is relatively unknown in France; in fact, most French will question why you’d want to spoil the taste of good champagne with orange juice. 😝

Walking Among the Mimosas

Although mimosa trees can be found everywhere in the Côte d’Azur, from sidewalks to private gardens, the best place to see them is in nature. There are many choices as to where to see them, but we chose a walk around the Les Lacs des Peguières (The Peguières Lakes) in the Foret Dominiales de l’Esterel, mainly because I found an excellent blog (in French, but you can always use your browser’s translation feature to translate it into English) describing the route. The blog also includes a link to a trail on Google Maps, which was pretty easy to follow.

I used Waze (always my navigation app of choice when driving) to take me to the GPS coordinates for the parking lot in the blog, which was about a 25-30 minute drive from Fréjus. One thing to note about the road, especially once you enter the Foret Dominiale de l’Esterel (or the forest), is that it is full of potholes. Tons of potholes, including some massive ones, which required quite some maneuvering. Thankfully for us, we went during a quiet time, so there wasn’t much traffic coming at us from the opposite direction – we definitely needed that extra space to get around them.

Once we got to the parking lot, it was an easy 1.6 mile (2.6 km) walk / mild hike around the 2 lakes, which took about an hour and a half for us, because we were taking plenty of pictures. The lakes themselves are quite small and plain, but once passing the first lake, we were lost in a world of mimosas.

Just a note, if you’re following the Google Maps route of the blog I mentioned previously, we found that, at one point, the trail from “Lac no 1” to “Lac no 2” was too overgrown to walk through. We stayed on the main trail, and then at “Lac no 2”, we cut back up the trail to the “Panorama”. It gave us a beautiful view of the first lake and the mimosa trees from above.

Looking down at the first lake. Although the lake itself isn’t anything to write home about, you can see a Mimosa tunnel on the far side of the lake
The second lake of our hike with the Bonnet du Capelan in the background

Mimosas are not the only transplant from Australia. Along our walk/hike, we saw lots of Eucalyptus trees, providing a pleasant smell and creating a beautiful soundtrack as their leaves swayed in the wind.

Eucalyptus trees

Towards the end of our walk, we came across more and more mimosas, forming colorful, yellow tunnels for us to walk through.

Every year that I’m here in France, I learn more and more about the variety of natural beauty that can be found here. If we hadn’t visited this area in the late winter months, I would never have known about these beautiful mimosas. I hope that one day you’re able to see these yellow beauties for yourselves! 💛

Until next time,


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