Parcs sans frontières !

Guided weekend trek in the Mercantour National Park

In a nutshell

  • Relish criss-crossing the great divide from the Mercantour into the Parco delle Alpi Marittime
  • Magnificent views of the Mercantour massif and down to the Med
  • Tuck into your just rewards – excellent home cooked food in France and Italy
  • Duration : 5 days, 4 nights

What's it all about?

Frontier hop in the Mercantour National Park in France and Italy.

Fly out one afternoon, spend your first night in Berthemont les Bains, and then spend three days crossing the high cols into Italy and back, staying in CAF or CAI affiliated mountain refuges, before returning to to St Martin Vésubie for a well deserved rest!

The route will take us from the Salèse valley via the Pas de Prefouns on the Italian border, to the refuge at La Questa, we then circle back on the old trail built by one of the Dukes of Turin specifically for hunting via the Baisse de Druos and the Lacs de Terre Rouge to the private refuge at Mollières, where we can enjoy Fred’s own brand of local cuisine.

From Mollières, we return via Valdeblore where we get picked up and transported back to Berthemont.

Itinerary

  • Day 1 Arrive Nice airport, transfer to Berthemont les Bains, about 1 hour. Settle in, and look forward to your first evening meal with Mel & Liz.
  • Day 2 Leave Berthemont early (by ~ 8 am), and drive about 3/4 of an hour to the Col de Salèse. From here we follow the footpath through larch forest that takes us up to the "Camp Soubrane", where we then take a little known track climbing up through gullies and up towards a high valley known as "les Bresses". Surrounded by rocky peaks, we continue up this little hidden valley to eventually summit Tête Sud Des Bresses at 2,824m. The peak sits on the Italian border, and we can see the valleys to the North falling down to the distant Piedmont plain. From the peak we contour around the head of the valley on the French side of the border, with Lac Nègre down to our south, to eventually attain the Pas de Préfouns at 2,625m, over looked by the towering pinnacles of the Cresta Savoia. Here we cross the border and follow the track down and North to the Questa refuge at 2,388m, sitting in an isolated hanging valley and overlooking the glacial "Lago Delle Portette". The refuge is tiny, and best described as cosy, but we'll be well looked after by Flavio and his team. Ascent - 900m, 9 to 10 hours trekking.
  • Day 3 Leave the Questa, and follow the old hunting track built by the Counts of Turin, past the Laghi di Valscura, to eventually climb back up to the the frontier at the Baisse du Druos at 2,628m, which overlooks the high valley containing the ski resort of Isola 2000. We then drop down past the Lacs de Terre Rouge, and then contour around the head of the valley to Col Mercière at 2,343m, where we then follow the track down through delightful forest to the gloriously isolated village of Mollières at 1,572m. This inaccessible village was deserted near the end of the WW2, and only recently have decendants started to return to claim back their family homes, where they spend their summers away from it all. The tiny church has been renovated, and the old church house was bought by Fred about 15 years ago, then gradually turned into his own little private refuge. Fred cooks for us, and if we're lucky will also give us a turn on the "joanna" - well he is a concert pianist after all. Ascent - 500m, 8 to 9 hours trekking.
  • Day 4 Return to Valdeblore via Col Ferrière at 2,484m, and Lacs des Millefonts. After breakfast, we climb the small valley directly opposite the village. The track climbs steeply though pine and larch forest and eventually out above the treeline and up to our final col. The area that we pass through is untouched wilderness, and we will have the oportunity to spot chamois, marmot, eagles... and quite possibly the evidence of wild wolves - due to its isolation, it's an area that is well frequented by these elusive predators. We then descend to Valdeblore, where we'll be picked up and transported back to Berthemont for that well earned shower and last evening meal. Ascent 900m, 8 to 9 hours trekking.
  • Day 5 Transfer back to Nice.

What's included

  • Accommodation : 2 nights in our gîte, 2 nights in mountain refuges
  • 3 day guided trek
  • All meals included, drinks at own cost
  • Transport to and from Nice airport, and all venues

Dates :

2014 : Aug 23; Sep 13

Grade :

Walking - Challenging - suitable for adults and children of age 16 or over

See our grades explained here

Pricing :

450 pp

Need to know more ?

The other side of the Mercantour