Refuge built in 1962 following an avalanche. It is also a Vacherie for the herd and is run by the farmers. Night in dormitory
ALPINE ADVENTURE: BRIANCON TO NICE
12 days walking/12 nights
Parts 3 & 4 of a superb trek from Lake Geneva to Nice along the length of the French Alps
3rd & 4th legs of a trek along the full length of the French Alps from Lake Geneva to Nice
Discovering the beautiful Queyras Regional Park
Exploring the pretty and quiet Ubaye Valley
Breathtaking scenery of Mercantour National Park
Beautiful perched villages of Provence
Let 's discover the full itinerary!
Day 1: Arrival
Arrive at Briancon. Night in hotel
Day 2: Briancon (1200m) - Arvieux (1750m)
From the centre of Briancon you'll follow the beautiful Ayes Valley with its numerous traditional chalets originally built for use for summer pasture. After the first main col (Col des Ayes at 2477m) you'll enter the wonderful Queyras Regional Park, home to numerous wildflife and affording expansive views. A lovely descent into the dramatic Arvieux Valley. We have provided you with the chance to do an additional climb via the dramatic and more remote Col du Cros.
Overnight: Arvieux, + 1380m ; - 1000 m; 7hr 30
Day 3: Arvieux (1685m) - Ceillac (1640m)
Today, the main route takes you past a beautiful lake with a Canadian flavour and a small mountain hamlet. Descent into the Guil valley to reach Fort Queyras, a real bastion of the king's army under Louis XIV. Before arriving in the valley, keep an eye out for the endemic flower: the Astragale Queue de Renard (Fox's tail)! Then climb through larch forest, pretty flower filled clearings and the sound of cow bells will take you to the high pastures of Pres fromage (cheese field!). Pass by the bright white gypsum ravines at “Ruine Blanche” before climbing towards Col Fromage (2301m) passing striking limestone peaks on the way. After the col, you'll get great panoramic views towards the mighty peaks of Font Sancte (over 3300m) and the beautiful valley below where the village of Ceillac nestles. It is possible to take a dramatic traverse over the Crete de Chambrettes for stunning views.
Overnight: Ceillac, Walk: +1305m, -1335m, 7 hr 30
Day 4: Ceillac (1640m) - Maljasset (1900m)
From Ceillac you'll discover the amazing waterfall, Cascade de la Pisse and then higher up two beautiful lakes - Lac Miroir set in pasture with its green waters reflecting the surrounding limestone rock walls, and Lac Ste Anne with its deep turquoise waters set in a cirque at the base of Fonte Sancte (3385 m). A small climb brings you to Col Girardin (2699m) with wonderful views back towards the Queyras and ahead into the Ubaye Valley. A pretty descent brings you to the hamlet of Maljasset. Small transfer from Maljasset to Fouillouse.
Overnight: Maljasset, Walk: + 1100m ; - 835 m; 6hr 45
Day 5: Fouillouse (1900m) - Larche (1660m)
Walk to the Col du Vallonnet at 2524m, dominated by the summit of Brec de Chambeyron (3389m). A beautiful and wild valley leads you on to Col de Mallemort (2558m) where you start your descent to the village of Larche. You are now walking for the next couple of days in the Mercantour National Park.
Overnight: Larche, Walk: +840m ; - 1050 m; 6hr 15
Day 6: Larche (1660m) - Bousieyas (1883m)
A beautiful trail in the small valley of Ubayette to reach lake Lauzanier at 2285m before a steep climb to the mountain pass called Pas de la Cavale Beau at 2675m. A small descent through alpine meadows and pastures before a small climb to Col des Fourches (2262m). Afterwards, descend to Boussieyas in 45 minutes and your accommodation.
Overnight: Bousieyas, Walk: + 1200m ; - 980 m; 7hr 15
Day 7: Bousieyas (1883m) - St Etienne de Tinee (1490m)
Your walking trail crosses the alpine pastures of Col de la Colombiere with the possibility of going to the summit of Tete de Vinaigre (2394m) for great views. Then descend to the village of St Dalmas le Selvage before climbing to the next mountain pass called Col d'Anelle. You'll then descend to reach the village of St Etienne de Tinee.
Overnight: Saint Etienne de Tinee, Walk: +690m ; - 1400 m; 5hr 30
Day 8: Roya (1490m) - Roure ou St Sauveur de Tinee
A nice ridge crossing to the Col de Moulines. The Longon refuge is still under re-construction. Depending on your booking dates and the availability of the accommodation providers, there are several possible finishes: Arrival at Roubion (1350 m) or descent to Roure and then transfer by taxi to St Sauveur de Tinee.
Overnight: St Sauveur de Tinee, Walk: +1353m ; - 1460 m; 7hr 30 to 8hr 30
Day 9: Roubion (1883m) - Saint Dalmas Valdeblore (1050m)
You leave directly from your arrival point of the day before: Roubion or St Sauveur de Tinee. An easier day of transition around the perched villages of the Nice highlands such as Rougios or La Bolline and Rimplas, La Roche and Saint Dalmas, a picturesque village.
Overnight: Saint Dalmas Valdeblore, Walk: +1050m to +1350 ; - 265 m to -1350m; 4hrs 20 to 6hrs 30
Day 10: Saint Dalmas Valdebore (1050m) - Granges de la Brasque (1680m)
You'll need to start early on this long day. A beautiful climb brings you to Col de Caire Cros. Then a traverse will bring you to the summit of Mont Tournairet at 2086m for wonderful views. A short descent to Granges de la Brasque and your accommodation in a wooden chalet with shared toilet facilities.
Overnight: Granges de la Brasque, Walk: +1070m ; - 1685 m; 7hr 15
Day 11: Granges de la Brasque (1680m) - Utelle (850m)
Today it's a day with a small amount of climbing, but where you'll go over 6 passes! The trail runs along the ridge line overlooking the Vésubie valley for most of the way. Possible ascent of the Brec d'Utelle (1 604 m).
Overnight: Utelle, Walk: +308m, -1195m, 5 hr
Day 12: Utelle (850m) - Levens (550m)
Very nice crossing of the massif above the Vésubie valley. The variant of the GR towards the ridge (orientation table) and the Toasquet Valley is worth the diversions. Then a beautiful balcony over the Vésubie that you cross at Pont du Cros. Then a short climb to Levens, the endpoint of the day. Leave the GR to discover this beautiful perched village. Overnight at the communal gîte, single night formula. Inn in the village or grocery shop for your meals.
Overnight: Levens, Walk: +400m; -1000 m; 5hr30
Day 13: Levens (550m) - Nice (0m)
A forest trail brings you to a magnificent view point over the Maritime Alps at the summit of Mont Cima (878m). You'll then descend to the historic village of Aspremont with its alleyways forming concentric circles around its centre, before a small climb brings you to Mont Chauve. Here a longer variation is possible. A last descent brings you to Gairaud and the end of the official GR 5 trail and the end of your Alpine Adventure. A short bus ride will take you to Nice and the Mediterranean Sea for a well-earned rest.
Holiday ends after walk on day 13 or book extra night's accommodation in Nice. Walk: +550m ; -1000 m; 5hr 45
At a glance
15 June - 30 September
WITH LUGGAGE TRANSFER: FROM 1885€ per person (based on 2 sharing)
WITHOUT LUGGAGE TRANSFER: FROM 1480€ per person (based on 2 sharing)
12 nights / 12 days walking
Time: 4-7hr 30 per day
Ascent: 600-1380m per day
Gites, hotels and huts (private rooms except 2 nights)
Half-board except 2 evening meals
Other walking holidays along the GR5 in French Alps
GR 5 Trek
These are the 3rd and 4th stages of a mythical walk which follows the GR 5 long-distance trail from the shores of Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean coast at Nice, following the entire length of the French Alps. We have split the walk into several self-guided walking holidays, although it would be possible to combine them. Our holidays include luggage transfers (if you wish) so that you can enjoy the amazing scenery with only a light day pack.
From Briancon you’ll first traverse the beautiful Queyras regional park with its wonderful wild alpine flowers and great panoramic views, before moving onto the secret Alps of the Ubaye Valley. From there its onto the majestic and wild Mercantour National Park, with great wildlife before discovering the wonderful perched villages of the Provence in the Maritime Alps. You can do this 12-day section in one go or choose to split it into two parts with a 7-day walking holiday from Briancon to Roya and a 5-day walking break from Roya to Nice. The second of these two sections is easier than the first.
The traverse of the French Alps is a truly unforgettable experience as you head south passing by the majestic summits of the Mont Blanc range before passing through the Vanoise and Mercantour National Parks. Your wonderful trail passes through a variety of landscapes, wildlife habitats and historic sites including the green alpine pastures of the Savoy, rocky deserts in the Queyras, beautiful perched villages of the Roya, snowy peaks of the Mont Blanc and ibex in the Mercantour.
12 night/13 days: 12 days independent walking moving between accommodation
Everyday (subject to availability) from 15 June to 30 September
Walking Profile & Grade
12 days self-guided walking between accommodation. Walking per day amounts to an average of 5 - 8hrs walking and 1000m of ascent and descent. Maximum altitude gain: 1380m. The walk follows the GR5 for the most part. The walks take place on paths, although they are mountainous and rocky in nature. The 12-day walking holiday is a strenuous undertaking due to the sustained nature of the walking. There are also a couple of long days. You should have a good level of fitness and be experienced in walking on mountainous terrain with a good head for heights.
This walking holiday is graded strenuous. See more information about walking grades.
Accommodation & Meals
You’ll be staying in private rooms for 2 in gites, simple hotels and mountain refuges, with the exception of 2 nights in a dormitory. Mixture of private bathrooms and shared bathrooms. You’ll be served wholesome local cuisine. All evening meals are included in your holiday price with the exception of 2 nights.
Where is this trek?
When to Travel
Our self-guided walking tour along the second half of the GR5 trail is available from mid June to the end of September. The first part of the holiday passes over high passes above 2500m and so, depending on the spring weather conditions, there is a risk that several snow fields remain on the higher slopes. The risk of encountering winter snow reduces as you progress into July. The weather is fairly similar in July and August. For the most part it is stable and dry with the risk of afternoon storms, so setting off early is advisable. The busiest period in terms of fellow walkers is from mid July to mid August. Early in the season is best for the wonderful alpine flowers and meadows. Early September also has good weather. From mid September onwards you run the risk of encountering some cold conditions at night and even some early fresh snow.
Navigation, Walking Notes & Maps
The vast majority of this walking holiday follows the GR5 (Grande Randonnee) long distance trail which is well way-marked with red and white markings. There are also a number of signposts along the trail. The walking follows clear paths for its entire duration. Some small sections follow local or unmarked trails, to access accommodation for example, but these are easy to follow. Our walking notes are detailed (more information here) and include intermediate distances for sections of the trail. They also include information about the sites which can be explored along the route. We supply one walking guide per person on this holiday. As well as the detailed walking notes we supply walking maps. You'll be provided with a large scale map usually of 1:50,000 for the whole trail and more detailed 1:25,000 maps within your guide book.
On this walking holiday you can choose to have your main luggage transferred between accommodation so you only have to carry a day rucksack with picnic lunch (supplied by the guest houses and included in the holiday price), water and spare clothes, waterproofs, camera etc. On this holiday several local taxi companies are responsible for transporting your main luggage. The contact details for the taxis are included in your walking notes. Please limit the weight of your bags where possible to 15kg.
Eurostar and the TGV provide a relaxing journey from London to Lyon Part Dieu via Lille or direct. From Lyon you'll need to take a local train services to Briancon station, going via Grenoble or Valence. Some trains go direct to Briancon from Grenoble, whilst others require a further change. The section between Grenoble and Briancon takes a minimum of 3hrs. You can also take trains from Lyon to Valence and change at Valence going via Gap. There are also overnight TGV trains to Briancon from Austerlitz station in Paris. If flying to Marseille there are TER trains from Marseille to Briancon. Also TGV trains from Paris to Oulx in Italy and shuttle bus to Briancon.
At end of holiday shuttle bus to Nice. TGV trains from Nice to Lyon and Paris.
By Air and rail
Regular direct flights to Lyon St Exupery from the UK and then trains as above. Also possible to fly to Marseille and take TER trains from Marseille.
Please contact us for assistance in organising your travel arrangements
Further Information & Advice
For useful advice about independent walking trips and preparing for your self guided holiday please tak
12 nights / 12 days walking
- From1885€ with luggage transfers
- From 1480€ without luggage transfers
- Prices per person based on 2 sharing a room
- Price of luggage transfers reduces with number of party. Please contact us for a quote.
- Option of booking extra night at Nice at end of walk (not in above price)
What's included in the price
- 12 night’s half board accommodation in gites, simple hotels and refuges with private rooms (except for two nights in dormitories);
- 2 transfers during the walk to access accommodation;
- detailed walking notes and walking maps
- transport of luggage between accommodations if chosen (except for one night where you'll need to carry overnight gear).
What's not included in the price
- Travel to Briancon at start of walking holiday and from Nice at end of holiday;
- drinks with evening meals, lunches and 2 evening meals in Briancon and St Etienne de Tinee
- accommodation in Nice,
- travel insurance,
- anything else not listed above
- A deposit payment of 30% or at least £250 or 250€ per person must be made to confirm your booking. The balance of payments is due 8 weeks before the holiday date. If the holiday date is less than 8 weeks away at the time of booking, then the full price should be paid.
On this self-guided trekking holiday in the Alps you’ll be staying in private rooms for 2 in gites, simple hotels and mountain refuges, with the exception of 2 nights in a dormitory. Mixture of private and shared bathrooms . You’ll be served wholesome local cuisine. All evening meals are included in your holiday price with the exception of the first night in Briancon and in St Etienne de Tinee.
Accommodation in Nice is not included in the standard holiday price. We can include one or more nights in Nice as required and book the standard of hotel you wish.
We can also book an additional night in Briancon at the start if required to explore the town as well as booking an extra night during the trek to have a rest day. The largest village along the trek is St Etienne de Tinee and so it would make sense to have your rest day there.
Finishing in Nice means that you can easily combine this holiday with our Alps to Med Trail from Tende to Menton in the Maritime Alps.
Changing or Tailor-made holidays
Parts 3 and 4 of this alpine trekking holiday can be booked apart. There are two versions of part 4, one going from Roya to Nice, as per this holiday and the other following a longer and more difficult trail from Roya to Menton along the GR52. Although we do not have a separate webpage for combining part 3 and the alternative part 4 to Menton, it would be possible to book this combined alternative.
Please consult us for a price on any of the above options.
Tailor Made Trips
If you want to learn more about the region's culture through tailor-made activities and visits, check out this trip that includes a few days in the Alps. Contact us to add them to your hike.
Experience the winter traditions of France and Italy as you witness stunning scenery from Annecy to Briançon,Saint-Véran, Turin and Chamonix