Traditional mountain refuge at 2230m in the heart of the Mercantour National Park.
Two star accommodation in the village of Sospel
9 days walking/9 nights
Alternative Part 4 of a trek from Lake Geneva to the Med along the length of the French Alps
Alternative 4th stage of a trek along the full length of the French Alps from Lake Geneva to the Med
Famous Vallee des Merveilles with its pre-historic engravings
Diversity of wildlife including ibex, marmots and a large number of wild flowers
One of the wildest and most unspoilt parts of the French Alps with a contrasting range of landscapes
Finishing at the pretty Med resort of Menton
Arrive in St Etienne de Tinee. Night in small guest house.
Transfer to Roya. You'll cross alpine meadows to reach the mountain pass known as Col de Crousette (2480m). You'll then have a wonderful ridge walk with great views as you head towards Col de Moulines. Descend to reach the narrow valley of Roure and your accommodation.
Overnight: Roure, Walk: +1330m ; - 940 m; 7hrs
A gentle descent of the Roure Valley brings you to the pretty hamlet of Roure itself before moving on to discover the village of Saint Sauveur sur Tinee where you'll now be at only 450m in altitude. Climb back up hill to discover the historic perched villages of the region including Rougios, La Bolline and Rimplas.
Overnight: Saint Dalmas Valdeblore, Walk: +1070m ; - 1685 m; 7hr 15
A steady climb back north to head over Col du Barn at 2452m and then enter the Mercantour National Park. Great views from the border between Italy and France. After a rough initial descent, go through several forested valleys, crossing the Salese col before descending to your gite in the village of Boreon.
Overnight: Le Boreon, Walk: +1385m ; - 1145 m; 7hrs
The GR52 climbs through a forested valley to the pretty Lake Trecolpas. Before reaching the rugged Pas des Ladres. You can then ascend Cime de l’Agnelliere if you wish before deciding whether to go via Col de Fenstre on the Italian border before descending to the refuge at la Madonne de Fenestre.
Overnight: La Madone de Fenestre, Walk: +1000m ; - 600 m; 5hrs
The GR52 climbs without much in the way of rest to the steep and rocky slopes of Pas du Mont Colomb. The descent is equally challenging. Go past Lac de la Fous to reach Refuge de Nice. You can leave your bag at the hut and make a climb to the beautiful small lakes of Mont Clapier.
Overnight: Refuge de Nice, Walk: +715m ; - 410 m; 3hr 30
You could decide to continue to Refuge des Merveilles and combine days 6 and 7 (and therefore one less night). The short day is designed to allow you to have time to visit the pre-historic engravings on day 7.
This is a short day but it takes time because the ground is steep and rocky in wonderful high mountain scenery. Care is needed on the climb to Baisse du Basto. Then climb over Col Valmasque and descend past beautiful lakes to reach the Vallee Merveilles and its wonderful pre-historic treasures. You will have the time to book on a guided tour to visit the pre-historic rock carvings.
Overnight: Refuge des Merveilles, Walk: +625m ; - 725 m; 4hrs
Climb past further pretty lakes and reservoirs towards Pas du Diable. Just before the pass, it’s possible to make an ascent of Cime du Diable. From the pass and summit, you'll get your first views of the Mediterranean Sea. Following the main descent it's an easier trail that leads to Col de Raus, Pointe des Trois Communes, close to a fort and then onto Camp d’Argent
Overnight: Turini, Camp d'Argent, Walk: +580m ; -955 m; 5hrs
A great walk on the Ventabren ridgeline with stunning views. This is followed by a long and mostly forested descent which leads towards the historic town of Sospel. The vegetation changes as you descend and starts to become Mediterranean in appearance as you leave the larch and spruce behind and maritime pine and olive trees start to make their appearance.
Overnight: Sospel, Walk: +470m ; -1850 m; 6hrs 45
Your final day is a long and often wooded walk that goes from one col to another. There is the chance to climb to the summit of Gramondo for fantastic views of the Mediterranean. As you walk you'll brush lavender and thyme giving off a wonderful perfume. A long and steep descent leads to Menton and the Mediterranean Sea as the forests give way to white limestone and the blue Med. The mountains plunge directly into the sea. Take one last look back at the summits before taking a well-earned dip in the Med.
Walk: +1090m ; -1410 m; 7hrs 15
Holiday ends after walk on day 10 or book extra night's accommodation in Menton.
If you wish to book part 3 of the GR5 trail at the same time, then please contact us to check availability and for a quote.
If booking part 4 separately you can choose between this version of the trek or the standard and shorter trek from Roya to Nice.
Time: 3hr 30 - 8hr per day
Ascent: 550-1450m per day
Gites, hotels and huts (private rooms on 5 nights)
This is an alternative final leg of our Alpine Adventure following the entire length of the French Alps. This walking holiday takes a longer trail via the GR52 (rather than the GR5) going via the heart of the Mercantour National Park before finishing in Menton. Discover beautiful lakes surrounded by rocky summits & the famous Vallee des Merveilles.
We have split the trek through the French Alps into several self-guided walking holidays, although it would be possible to combine them. 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. Our holidays include luggage transfers where possible (if you wish) so that you can enjoy the amazing scenery with only a light day pack.
This alternative ending is a must-do for those wishing to explore the majestic and wild Mercantour National Park. The Mercantour is the last high 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. You will also have the opportunity to have a guided visit to the Vallee des Merveilles to discover the stunning pre-historic engravings.
9 nights/10 days: 9 days independent walking moving between accommodation
Everyday (subject to availability) from 15 June to 30 September
(Only early morning buses from Nice to St Etienne de Tinee on Fridays during school time and on Sundays and bank holidays). Other days there is a morning service. This may impact on the day you wish to start.
9 days self-guided walking between accommodations. Walking per day amounts to an average of 5 - 8hrs walking, over 15-20km and 925m of ascent and descent. Maximum altitude gain: 1450m. The walk follows the GR52 for the most part. The walks take place on way-marked paths, although they are mountainous and rocky in nature with some more difficult rocky passages, which would be made more difficult in snow or ice. The 9-day walking holiday is a strenuous undertaking due to the sustained nature of the walking, especially over the first 4 days. There are also a couple of long days. You should have a reasonable 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.
You’ll be staying in private rooms for 2 in gites, simple hotels and mountain refuges, except 4 nights in dormitories. You’ll be served wholesome local cuisine. All evening meals are included in your holiday price
Our self-guided trek between Roya and Menton along the GR52 trail is available from 15 June to 30 September. The trek goes over several high passes above 2500m on the first half of the trek. You are already sufficiently far south that this is usually clear of snow by late June. However, depending on the spring weather conditions, there is a risk that several snowfields remain on the high passes making conditions more difficult. The risk diminishes as you go 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. It can also be hot at this time of year, especially on the last couple of days. Early in the season is best for the wonderful alpine flowers and meadows. September also has good weather, although there is a greater risk of storms and there is a small risk of encountering some cold conditions at night and even some early fresh snow from mid-September onwards.
The vast majority of this walking holiday follows the GR52 (Grande Randonnee) long distance trail which is well way-marked with red and white markings. There are also several signposts along the trail. The walking follows clear paths for its entire duration, although they are often rocky and difficult to approach the high passes. 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 guidebook.
On this walking holiday you can choose to have your main luggage transferred between accommodations 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. There are three nights in a row (nights 5 - 7) where you won't have access to your luggage so you'll need to carry extra overnight gear, as well as one additional night. 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 about 15kg.
WITH luggage transfers
WITHOUT luggage transfers
On this self-guided trekking holiday in the Alps You’ll be staying in a mixture of simple hotels, walkers gites and mountain refuges in private rooms for 2 (except 4 nights in shared dormitories). Traditional mountain food. All evening meals are included in your holiday price.
We can include one or more nights in Menton or Nice at the end of your walking holiday. We can book a hotel or guest house to suit your requirements.
Parts 3 and 4 of this alpine trekking holiday can be booked together. In addition, there are two versions of part 4, this one and a second one following a shorter and easier trail from Roya to Nice along the standard GR5 route. 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 these combined trips.
Please consult us for a price on any of the above options.
If you want to learn more about the region's culture through tailor-made activities and visits, check out these trips that include a few days in the area. Contact us to add them to your hike.
A journey starting in Paris to Lyon, Annecy, Avignon, Cannes and Monaco, filled with culture, nature's beauty, and a dash of pure indulgence!