• At a glance
  • Locality & Walks
  • Accommodation & Meals
  • Travel options
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At a Glance

Your Holiday at a Glance

Independent Walking Holiday
  • Marvels of Mercantour

Dates for 2021
  • 5 nights - From £650/€715 in June, July, September & October, From £670/€745 in August
  • 6 nights - From £735/€810 in June, July, September & October, From £755/€840 in August
  • Loyalty scheme reduction applies for returning customers (see terms and conditions)
  • challenging walking in the Mercantour France
  • 5/6 nights, 5 days walking based at a ***Hotel at Casterino
  • Beautiful alpine landscapes in the Mercantour National Park in the Southern Alps.
  • A series of delightful day walks to discover the best of this part of the Mercantour region.
  • Beautiful panoramas, great diversity of scenery, beautiful lakes and rich wildlife
  • A unique pre-historic site in the Vallee des Merveilles with over 30,000 engravings which date from more than 5000 years ago
  • A very comfortable stay in the high mountains in a three star hotel built from wood in great surroundings
  • "Perfect location, staff really friendly & helpful. Great food & wine. Good size room and very comfortable."
  • A Dawes & D Laffoley
Accommodation and Meals
  • 5 or 6 nights in a 3 star hotel conveniently located for your walks. Full board accommodation
What's included
  1. 5 or 6 nights full board accommodation in 3 star hotel, depending on option chosen. Meals from dinner on first evening to lunch on day 6 or breakfast on day 7. Breakfasts and dinners at hotel, picnic lunch during walks
  2. Detailed walking notes for 5 walking days
  3. IGN Walking maps
What's not included
  1. Transport to Casterino in the Mercantour
  2. Small transfers to walks on days 4 & 5 - during July and August there are shuttle services. Outside of these months you'll need your own means of transport
  3. Drinks with meals
  4. Entrance to the site of the engravings (about 11 euros p/p)
  5. Travel insurance
  1. Other self-guided walking holidays in Alps: Tour of Queyras, Tour of Vanoise, Panoramic Vercors
  2. Return to full list of independent walking holidays

Mercantour & Walks

Discover the Mercantour National Park and the superb sites and scenery of the "Vallée des Merveilles" whilst staying in three star accommodation in a wonderful setting. During the course of your self guided walking holiday you'll accomplish five great walks to discover the best of this corner of the southern Alps.

The Mercantour is the last mountain range of the Alps before it plunges directly into the Mediterranean. Acclaimed for being one of the wildest and most unspoilt parts of the French Alps, Mercantour has a contrasting range of landscapes. The Mercantour National Park has 7 summits of 3000m, a rich and diverse wildlife, as well as over 100 high altitude lakes. In addition, the proximity of the Mercantour region to the south coast of France, gives these alpine mountains a Mediterranean touch with a large diversity of wildlife including ibex, marmots and a large number of wild flowers.

Your independent walking holiday is located in the south east of the Mercantour, close to Mont Bego and the Italian border. Here you're spoilt for choice in terms of great mountain scenery and interest. Beautiful lakes surrounded by rocky summits; medieval villages and the famous Vallee des Merveilles with its pre-historic engravings are all on the week's menu.

Walking Profile

Our self-guided walking holiday in the Mercantour includes 5 day walks amounting to an average of 5 - 6hrs walking (not including lunch stop) and 750m of ascent and descent. Maximum altitude gain in one day is 1000m. The walks take place on well maintained paths, although they are mountainous and rocky in nature. You should have a reasonable level of fitness and be comfortable with walking several days in a row on mountain paths. You should also be sure-footed on mountain paths.


location map mercantour in southern alps France on walking holiday

Day 1 Arrival

Welcome at your hotel in Casterino. Evening meal.

Day 2: Fontanalbe Circuit

5000 years ago the local shepherds left an indelible mark upon the territory, with a number of beautiful rock engravings. This impressive and vast landscape is peppered with glacial lakes and dominated by Mont Bego reaching almost 3000m in altitude. An exceptional day's walk. 5hrs, +/- 670m

Day 3: Panoramic border

Today you'll literally have one foot in France and the other in Italy. Starting from an ancient military route, lined with forts, and now covered in a carpet of edelweiss flowers, your walking route will take you past beautiful lakes and lead you to magnificent panoramic views over the Mercantour Park and its Italian neighbour, the Parco delle Alpi Marittime. 5hrs, +/- 550m.

Day 4: Vallee de la Roya

A transfer will take you to the start of your walk lower down the Roya Valley. Shuttle buses are available in July and August, otherwise you'll need to use your own transport. During your picturesque walk within this pretty valley you'll be captivated by two superb alpine medieval villages loaded with history and charm. 5hrs 30, +/- 860m

Day 5: Vallee des Merveilles

A unique and amazing walking and cultural experience. Walk back in time and discover thousands of pre-historic rock engravings - figures and animals representing pagan gods - in a wonderful mountain landscape. Guided visit of the engravings everyday during July and August and from Friday to Monday during June and September. A short 5 minute transfer at the beginning of the day. 7hrs, +/- 1000m

Day 6: Vallee de la Valmasque

Tumbling streams, impressive waterfalls and three beautiful lakes are all present for your last day's walking in the heart of the Mercantour National Park. A majestic and sparse alpine landscape where tales and legends abound. 5hrs, +/-600m

Depart or extra night possible at the end of your walking on day 6.


mont bego walking in French alps self guided

vallee des merveilles engravings on France independent walking holiday

self guided walking in Mercantour in French Alps

independent walking in mountains in alps France

lake and mountain in south France independent walking trip

france walking in  french alps wildlife edelweiss flower

For useful advice about independent walking and preparing for your self guided holidays please take a look at the articles in our top-tips section.

Once you have booked on this independent walking or trekking holiday, further information about the walking, the region and what to bring, will be sent to you. We do have a web page dedicated to what clothes and equipment you should bring. In addition, our travel shop has direct access to all the top walking and travel retailers. Please contact us if you need any further information.


Accommodation & Meals

Our independent walking holiday in the Mercantour National Park in the French Alps is a single centre based holiday. You'll be staying in *** accommodation in the heart of the mountains. All meals are included in your holiday price, from dinner on day 1, until either lunch on day 6, or breakfast on day 7 (depending on which option you have chosen).

Name Type Details Rating  
Hotel Chamois d'Or Hotel A very comfortable stay in the high mountains in a three star hotel built from wood in great surroundings 3 star hotel in casterino Mercantour France
Travel Options

Travel Options

By Train

Eurostar, TGV and TER French trains allow access to St-Dalmas-de-Tende. From there, there is a shuttle bus to Casterino (July & August only)

From the UK, changes between the Eurostar and TGV are at Lille or Paris. TGV's run from Paris to Nice direct or via Lyon or Toulon. Change at Nice to take the line Nice-Cuneo and descend at St-Dalmas-de-Tende. Please use Rail Europe's train finder to organise your TGV tickets.

Please contact us before booking to check for practical times.

Flight Options

There are flights from French and UK airports to Nice Cote d'Azur airport. Operators from UK airports include Flybe, Easyjet and British Airways. Aéroport International Nice-Côte d'Azur is located 7km from the city centre. A taxi service runs from the airport to the city centre and takes approximately 20 minutes. Alternatively you can take a 10-15 minute bus journey from the airport to the town centre which runs every 30 minutes. The SNCF station is close to the town centre. Outside of July and August you'll need to have a car to make some small transfers to get to the start of two walks. The main car hire firms are present at Nice Airport.

Please visit our travel shop for links to useful sites for reserving airport parking or booking train tickets

Note: Please check concerning the availability of a holiday before booking any flights. If you need further information or would like to discuss any aspect of your travel arrangements, please contact us, we’re here to help you.

Self Drive from UK

Channel ferry crossings from Dover are provided by a number of operators including P&O Ferries & DFDS seaways. Crossings are also provided by train with Eurotunnel.

Once in France, the journey from Calais to Casterino takes about 12-13 hours (excluding long breaks). There is a car park at your hotel.  From Nice take the motorway towards Vintimille, then the RN204, Vallée de la Roya, direction Col de Tende. On the way you'll pass through Breil-sur-Roya, Fontan and Saint-Dalmas-de-Tende before reaching Castérino




walking holiday in Mercantour alpine self guided France
fontanable in Mercantour mountains in walks south France
walking trail in French Alps south France
mont bego in Mercantour independent walking holiday in France
Mecantour national park self guided walking holiday in french Alps
alpine ibex in southern alps independent walking holiday