walking & adventure holidays
The Mercantour....but way out east, with Italy on the doorstep!
The Roya, which flashes rather enticingly between France and Italy, is the most easterly North/South valley in the Mercantour.
The quickest way to get to the valley (from us) is up and over the Col de Turini - famous for its rallies. At more than an hour and a half, for non-rally drivers, it's just been too far for us to make daily trips to.
We've been looking for somewhere epic to base ourselves for some time now - and have plumped for La Brigue, a medieval village with a long and complex history, that has seen the village being batted back and forth between Ventimiglia in its early days, the counts of Savoy and Sardinia, then Italy and then finally, France. Exciting, is the village's proximity to the Vallée des Merveilles, one of the world's most interesting archaelogical sites, brought to life by the contemporary museum in Tende which always has fresh exhibition ideas about cultural and pastoral life.
There is a huge amount of diversity in the valley. The Sentier Botanique between Sospel in France and Olivetta in Italy is a must for flora enthusiasts, who will also love the Alpine pastures in the Valmasque valley further north. Add on the Franco/Italian past, its strategic importance as the "salt route" between France and the Piedmont plain, the wealth of Baroque and its wartime Maginot line role. In combination with a comfy billet in the quaint main square - great walking and cooking ...foodies and foodie vegetarians most welcome!!
The itinerary below is geared for early spring and late autumn, but can be tailored for winter, with a few changes due to the amount of snow in the higher reaches - unless of course you fancy some snow shoe work!
Departures to date
Standard weekly package : £740 - Full board
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Our grades are explained in "essential info"
La Brigue is a dream location. It is a village where time has rather stood still, and workers gather for a demi-glass of red wine in the mornings in the local bar. Several young incomers seem determined to keep the pastoral side of life alive and kicking, as can be appreciated in the regular - and huge fun - festivals which take place here.
We are lucky enough to have happened upon two central (but oh so quiet!), cozy flats which are perfect as a base for your holiday.
After a day out on the hill, there are a couple of local bars just great for passing an hour or so watching the boules frenzy, before heading back for your dinner.
All meals are included in the price, with the catering done by Liz and Mel. All meals include apéritif and wine.
Activities : Five days guided walking in and around the lower Roya Valley. See detailed itinerary opposite.
Transport : All transfers to and from Nice airport, and all transport during the week. If you want to travel by train you can get to La Brigue itself!! Please note - all our trips are land only, flights are not included.
- Day 1 Arrive Nice airport and transfer to La Brigue in the heart of the Roya Valley. Settle in, and a chance to stroll around the village before dinner.
- Day 2 We start direct from the village on our first day, and follow the Sentier d'Interprétation along the river valley, and then up through the forest to Notre Dame des Fontaines. From here we climb a small footpath to col Linaire, before descending back to la Brigue. This is a gentle day, spent mainly in the mixed deciduous/coniferous forests that rise above the village, with various historical points of interest along the way in the river valley.
- Day 3 Today, we drive to the other side of the Roya valley, and then up to the small hamlet of Casterino. From there, we follow good footpaths that take us up into the area of the Fontanalba, where we can view rock carvings going back to the Bronze Age. The carvings form part of the protected Merveilles Valley area, where there are upwards of 35,000 of the rock carvings. The walk takes us up into the high mountains of the region, where we will be above the tree line with fantastic views of the Vallon de Casterino.
- Day 4 Drive up to the small medieval hamlet of Morignol, from where we climb up along good footpaths towards the Italian border ridge and Colla Rosa looking down into the Ligure. We return by another route to complete the circuit back down to Morignol.
- Day 5 An easy day to let your muscles recover. In the morning, we drive to Tende and visit the Merveilles Museum, and the village. You'll have time to stroll around the winding little streets above the main square, and take a coffee. Return to La Brigue for light lunch in house. The afternoon is yours to do as you want - siesta!
- Day 6 Drive back down the Roya valley and then over Col Brouis and down to the Bevera valley, where we start by following the Sentier Botanique, from where we continue along a circuit that takes in the medieval village of Piène Haute, and finishes along the delightful gorge in the Vallon de Bassera.
- Day 7 We go back to Casterino to explore the opposite side of the valley. We climb quite steeply following a forest path that takes us up the Baisse de Peirefique on the ridge looking directly over towards the Italian border. From here, we have a choice of returning back along a beautiful balcon walk overlooking the Casterino valley, or via a good track that takes further up the valley, before turning back to finish back at the village.
- Day 8 Return to Nice airport.
Your welfare & protection
As a small enterprise, it's very important to us that our guests are professionally looked after during their stay with us.
Your protection : our operational base is in France, and our company in France is registered as a tour operator (habilitation touristique) and holds business failure cover and public liability cover.
Your welfare : all our activities are led by fully qualifed local Mountain Guides and International Mountain Leaders (Accompagnateurs), thus ensuring that you receive not only top professional care, but that you will also benefit from their in-depth local knowledge of the regions that we operate in.