Hikers who are familiar with the GR5 trail across the Alps can’t forget the last section of the hike, when the alpine summits suddenly meet the Mediterranean Sea…
That’s right ! Behind peaks as high as Mt Gélas, (10 300ft), mountains and valleys come together, merging Mediterranean and continental cultures. The Mercantour range is the home of unusual wildlife combinations like rodhodendron and lavender, mountain goats and cicadas, and, the strangest of all, ibexes and Menton sardines !
This summer, we’ll take you hiking into the Mercantour National Park. Established in 1979, it covers more than 80 kms, from the Ubaye range in Alpes de Haute Provence (sounds familiar ?) to the Roya valley in Alpes Maritimes.
La Tinée, la Vésubie, le Gélas, the Valmasque hut, the Fenestre Madona, the Vallée des Merveilles… to name only a few, promise unforgettable hiking memories.
This destination is not scheduled for this summer, however :
If you're a group of friends, you can ask for a "private formula", and have your own guide !
Advantages : Exclusive guide - Choose your departure date - Flexibility all along the trip.
For any further information, please contact Déborah.
Day 1 : ISOLA 2000 - REFUGE E.QUESTA
Early in the morning, we leave Chamonix at 6 a.m and drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel and over the Lombarde mountain pass until Isola. We take our heavy back packs, say goodbye to our driver and start our hike. First, a steady uphill section leads to Baisse du Druos (8 630ft) and into Italy and the Alpes Maritimes wildlife sanctuary. A beautiful downhill trail leads to E. Questa mountain hut (7 750ft) and its nearby lakes. No access to our luggage.
Up : 2 060ft / Down : 1 300ft / Hiking time : 5 H 00
Day 2 : REFUGE E.QUESTA - HAMEAU DU BORÉON
We leave the hut for Boréon hamlet. We hike over Fermamorte pass (8 600ft) and into the Mercantour National Park. Then the trail passes by the Prémamorte lakes and continues towards Salèse pass (6 660ft). This section follows the GR 52 (part of the Great Hiking Trail network) to Boréon (4 800ft). Later in the afternoon, we take some time to visit of the Alpha Center, a research base dedicated to wolves, one of the greatest alpine predators. In this protected area, three packs totalizing 30 wolves are studied to understand the animals’ behavior and study the possibilities to reintroduce wolves into the entire Mercantour National Park, and eventually into the Alps.
Up : 1 800ft / Down : 3 600ft / Hiking time : 8 H 00
Day 3 : HAMEAU DU BORÉON - REFUGE DE LA MADONE DE FENESTRE
We can hear sounds of howling wolves as we hike up the gorgeous GR 52 trail through larch and pine forest until Pas des Ladres (8 040ft). It is hard to tell if there are wolves from the Alpha Center or wolves wandering freely into the Park! We continue hiking to Fenestre mountain pass (8 140ft) to enjoy an incredible panoramic view. After a long downhill section we arrive to the Madone de Fenestre hut (6 230ft).
Up : 3 300ft / Down : 2 000ft / Hiking time : 7 H 00
Day 4 : REFUGE DE LA MADONE DE FENESTRE - LA GORDOLASQUE
Today we hike up the Ponset alpine bowl to the Prals Lakes. The surrounding mountains offer an extraordinary view of Caire de la Madone and Mount Gélas. We continue uphill and reach the summit of Valette de Prals (8 200ft). A clear day offers a pure delight to the eyes, a view of the entire Mercantour range and the Mediterranean Sea. Later on we continue downhill into the Gordolasque alpine bowl and its little mountain hamlet, where a mountain inn welcomes us for the night.
Up : 2 000ft / Down : 3 000ft / Hiking time : 6 H 30
Day 5 : LA GORDOLASQUE - REFUGE DE LA VALMASQUE
Today is the memorable encounter with the Valley of Marvels! From Gordolasque we hike uphill to Pas de l’Arpette (8 200ft). One may lack of words to describe the breathtaking alpine surroundings! Then the trail continues downhill at first. Soon we hike by Aiguilles du Diable, Mont des Merveilles, ancient rock paintings, wizards, and all kinds of curiosities. They reveal some weird and wonderful secrets. We spend the night at the Merveilles hut (7 000ft), next to Lake Superior Long. No access to our luggage.
Up : 2 950ft / Down : 1300ft / Hiking time : 6 H 00
Day 6 : REFUGE DE LA VALMASQUE - HAMEAU DE CASTERINO
After a night haunted by wizards and other devils and daemons, we leave the Merveilles hut and the holy mountain, also known as the center of the world, “where the sky meets the earth”. Our path takes us to lake Mesches (4 600ft) in the large valley of La Roya, where we meet the minivan that will drive us back to Chamonix through Italy and over the Tende pass.
Down : 2 300ft / Hiking time : 3 H 00
For safety reasons, the guide may modify the trek itinerary due to terrain, weather or other conditions.
Download the trip description
LEVEL : The Mercantour National Park is a moderate trek. 5 to 7 hours of hiking daily, and 700 to 900m (2300 to 3000ft) of average vertical gain each day. Hiking on generally well-maintained mountain trails, sometimes including easy out-of-trail sections. For active people who don’t mind training to prepare for the hike. A great multiday hike for people with trekking experience.
ACCOMMODATION : 5 nights in basic hotel or mountain hut (dormitory). No access to your luggage on Day 1 and Day 5.
GUIDING : Maximum 12 people per guide. For maximum safety and quality guiding.
MEETING PLACE : At 6H00 am in front of the Compagnie des Guides in Chamonix on Day 1. You are welcome to come and meet your guide the evening before at our office at 6 pm.
You can meet your group directly in Isola 2000 at 10 am.
No scheduled date for this summer.
PRICE : Please contact Deborah at the Compagnie des Guides for a private departure.
Here's an example of our all-inclusive price per person :
The organization and supervision of each tour by State qualified trekking guide/s
Drinks and personal expenditure (souvenirs …)
Half-board accommodation in mountain hut, or basic hotel (dormitory)
|Repatriation insurance (mandatory)|
The picnic lunches
Transportation throughout the trek
Luggage transportation throughout the trek (except on 1st an 5th nights)
- ID or valid passport.
- Repatriation insurance (mandatory). Cancellation insurance is highly recommended.
We provide optional insurance contracts for repatriation and trip cancellation (see booking form).
EQUIPMENT :See attached list.
INSURANCE : Our mountain leaders are self-employed professionals, and therefore covered under a liability insurance via the French Mountain Leaders Association (SNAM). As a tour operator, the Compagnie des Guides is also covered under a tour operator liability insurance contract (MMA IARD).
Repatriation and cancellation insurance are available from our office. Repatriation insurance is mandatory. We strongly recommend the purchase of cancellation insurance.
TRAINING : Good physical condition will allow you to make the most of your holiday. A month before the hike at least, we suggest you walk upstairs, rather than use the elevator. During the weekends you can run, walk or ride your bike to train for the hike. Doing a medical check-up before signing for the trip is recommended. Your guide should be informed of any medical treatment.
CLIMATE : Alpine weather can change suddenly, involving wide temperature variations. Temperatures also drop with altitude, and snow falls in summer are not rare. A high pressure moving in can also bring in cool air. You should anyhow bring warm clothes and be prepared for cold or very hot weather, while minimizing additional weight gain.
Please, feel free to contact the Compagnie des Guides for any further information.
You are a private group, you can ask for a "private formula", and have your own guide !
- Exclusive guide
A more individualized relationship between your group and the professional.
- Choose your date of departure
You can choose your date of departure within the limit of the hut availabilities.
- Flexibility all along the trip
Depending on weather conditions, your level and your expectations, the guide can suggest you some different options of itinerary.
For any further information, please contact Déborah :
Tel : +33 450 53 00 88 or E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org