This is the third instalment of our division of the Grande Traversée des Alpes (Great Traverse of the Alps): the Alpes Maritimes. Our choice of route invites you to explore stunning landscapes, and their beautiful and traditional villages and valleys. This last chapter of the ‘Compagnie de Guides’ version of the GTA explores the final Alpine villages filled with scents of Provence before finally plunging into the much longed-for great blue expanse of the sea.
“The gods took refuge in the heart of the mountainous regions, predisposing their peaks to become fascinating centres of the bizarre… Located between the azure blue of the sky and the hot rock, this rough southern assembly, partitioned by valleys, forms a unique, unknown, and mysterious cultural entity. The ‘Vallée de Merveilles’ retains thousands of carvings traced in its rocks by Bronze Age peoples, the memory and exciting adventure of the men of these highland areas.” Edmond Rossi.
Transfers, luggage and picnics are provided by our mountain leaders. You only carry what you need for the day, allowing you to make the most of your hike.
Day 1: Chamonix - Vens hut Elevation gain: 728m - Vertical loss 240m
We get an early start from Chamonix. A 4½ hour transfer takes us to the small village of Ferrière in the Stura valley. Our first stage sits astride the French and Italian border. The path follows the Rio Forneris and reaches the Col du Fer (mountain pass) and then the Collet de Tortisse (pass). The series of Vens lakes, huddled in their glorious verdant setting, is one of the highlights of this stage and of the ‘Grande Traversée’ of the Mercantour. We sleep in the Vens hut. No access to luggage.
Day 2: Saint-Etienne-de-Tinée Elevation gain: 300m - Vertical loss 1300m
A short climb leads us to the Babarottes ridge. The ‘chemin de l’énergie’ (‘energy path’ from an unfinished hydroelectric scheme) takes us to the Pétrus lake. The Malignes and Varicles lakes are our natural choice of rest spot for our picnic. Our descent takes us into the Tinée valley where we spend the night in a hotel in the village of Saint-Etienne-de-Tinée
Day 3: Boréon valley Elevation gain: 500m - Vertical loss 1 000m
A 20-minute transfer takes us to Isola 2000. We drop into the Vésubie valley via the Mercière and Salèse mountain passes. This long day is a beautiful blend of the arid landscape of the crumbling peaks with that of the pine forests with their scent of Provence that give way to Alpine heathland. We sleep in the village of Le Boréon.
Day 4: Madone de Fenèstre Elevation gain: 940m - Vertical loss 545m
We leave Le Boréon and the howling of the wolves. Our path climbs up through the small Cougourde valley, passing the extremely pretty Trécoplas lake. A little more effort and we now reach the Pas des Ladres. There are superb panoramic views from up here, dominated by the majestic Cime du Gélas (mountain). We descend to the Madone de Fenestre hut.
Day 5: Baisse de Prals Elevation gain: 600m - Vertical loss 990m
This stage takes us past the Baisse des Cinq Lacs. A decent climb beneath various peaks, known as ‘Caires’, now leads to the Pral lakes. From the climb beneath the Cime de la Valette we might be afforded a glimpse of the sea. A long descent leads to the small Gordolasque valley and we sleep at the Relais des Merveilles.
Day 6: Vallée des Merveilles – Sospel Elevation gain: 600m - Vertical loss 990m
A long day now awaits us. From the Le Countet bridge, the path climbs up and crosses the Pas de l’Arpette. We are now in the ‘Vallée des Merveilles’. We continue to the Pointe des Trois Communes, via the Pas du Diable and the Col de Raus. A transfer now takes us to the charming village of Sospel.
Day 7: Menton
This is the last day. We continue along the ridgeline with the Razet and St Bernard mountain passes forming the last difficult sections before our arrival in the village of Castellar. A transfer now takes us to Menton where we can enjoy the beach and we are finally at the sea!
For safety reasons, the guide may modify the trek itinerary due to terrain, weather or other conditions.
Download the trip description
2018 DATES : Sunday to saturday. July 1st to July 7th – July 29th to August 4th.
2018 PRICES : (6 people minimum)
- Light Pack version : 1120€ per person.
- Guiding service and organization
- Drinks and personal expenditure (souvenirs…)
- Half-board in mountain hut and inn
- Repatriation insurance (mandatory)
- Picnic lunches
- Luggage transportation
- Transportation throughout the trek
- Transfer from Chamonix and back
- ID or valid passport.
- Repatriation insurance (mandatory). Cancellation insurance is highly recommended.
We provide optional insurance contracts for repatriation and trip cancellation.
WHY CHOOSE COMPAGNIE DES GUIDES :
- New and original route
- Truly ‘all-inclusive’ package
- Small group of 8 people per mountain leader
- Picnics prepared by the team with local produce
- We have a minibus at our disposal, which gives us a degree of flexibility depending on our needs and preferences, as well as the weather conditions.
LEVEL : 3/5 - The Alps Maritimes is a hike of moderate difficulty. There is a minimum of 700m vertical ascent and an average of 5-7hrs walking per day. We follow what are generally well-maintained paths but we sometimes use easy routes off the marked paths. We strongly recommend that participants have a good level of fitness and are well prepared. Some hiking experience would also be of benefit.
ACCOMMODATION : 2 nights in mountain hut (dormitories), 4 nights in gite or hotel (twin room / double shared bedroom). Access to luggage every night (except 1st night in hut).
Important : no booking accepted in our scheduled groups for people under the age of 18 without a legal guardian.
MEETING PLACE : At 6:30am in front of the Compagnie des Guides in Chamonix. You are welcome to come and meet your guide the evening before at our office at 6pm.
EQUIPMENT : See attached list. In additionnal : cleaning towel, swimsuit, torch lamp.
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 Anaïs at the Compagnie des Guides for any further information.
You are a private group, you can ask for a customized trip, 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 Anaïs:
Tel : +33 4 50 53 00 88 or Email : firstname.lastname@example.org