Grades of Activity / Basics – minimum numbers, single supplements, what's included ... / FAQ
We are a small business and can be super flexible with our clients.
- Don't see the date you want?
- Like to do something else?
- Have walking club members looking for a venue?
If you are ready to book, we look forward to welcoming you here to our lovely part of the world.
How to book
- Contact us by e-mail or by phone to discuss your needs.
- After you have made the decision to join us for a break, we will send you a booking form by e-mail or post. Our terms and conditions are laid out on the back of the form.
- You fill in your details and either e-mail the form back to us or send it by post to our UK address at the base of the form.
- We require a deposit of 25% of the total cost with the booking, with the full balance payable six weeks before your arrival. This can be paid by cheque or by electronic/internet banking, and in Sterling or Euros. We do not take credit card payments.
- If you wish to pay by cheque and in Sterling, then simply post it with the completed form to the UK address.
- If you wish to pay by cheque and in Euros, simply post it with the completed form to the French address.
- Payment by electronic banking can be done by transferring funds into the UK or French bank accounts - details given at the base of the form.
- Once we receive your deposit, we will send you a booking confirmation.
- Six weeks before your arrival, we will send you a balance reminder and a dossier containing your trip notes.
- Once we receive your full balance, we will send you a final remittance note.
Year on year, we have had many returning guests, and to thank you all for your loyalty and your enthusiasm for when it comes to all things spacebetween - Mercantour. As from the start of 2017 we would like to offer you all a loyalty bonus.
Dead simple..... If you have booked one of our holiday packages with us in the past, and you repeat book one of our packages, we would like to offer you £50 off per person (or the equivalent in € at the prevailing exchange rate). If you bring new guests with you, we will increase your bonus with an extra £50 off (or the equivalent in € at the prevailing exchange rate). Point of detail though - if you bring with you new guests, as an individual then it would be an extra £50 off for you alone, if you bring with you new guests as a couple for example, then the £50 off would be shared by the couple.
Example 1 : Bob booked our Mercantour Reflections package in 2010, and then our Winter Walking and Snowshoeing package in 2012. He then re-books another package in the current year. He gets £50 off our current year prices.
Example 2 : Bob booked our Mercantour Reflections package in 2010. He then re-books another package in the current year, and introduces one or two or three.... of his mates, and one or all of them book for the first time. He gets £50 off our current year prices, and then he gets an extra £50 off for any of the subsequent new guest bookings - flat rate of £50, whether it's one or however many of the new guests.
Example 3 : Bob & Jill booked our Mercantour Reflections package in 2010, and then our Winter Walking and Snowshoeing package in 2012. They then re-book another package in the current year. They get £50 each off our current year prices.
Example 4 : Bob & Jill booked our Mercantour Reflections package in 2010, and our Winter Walking and Snowshoeing package in 2012. They then re-book another package in the current year, and then they introduce one or two or three.... of their mates, and one or all of then book for the first time. They get £50 off each our current year prices, and then they get an extra £50 off for any of the subsequent new guest bookings - flat rate of £50, whether it's one or however many of the new guests.
Please do note though, that the deal applies only to our walking/snowshoeing packages here in the Mercantour and staying at Berthemont, and not to our self catering accommodation stays in either of our gites, nor to our summer or winter activity packages.
Mercantour - Berthemont les Bains gîte accommodation
We are very pleased to offer holiday accommodation in our comfortable home in Berthemont les Bains.
The house offers two independent gites which may be used for accommodation only, or as a base for our self-guided, and guided, walking and activity holidays.
Details of the accommodation can be seen here. The gites can also be hired together. In the summer we also erect a family size tent for "glamping" on our land - complete with mattresses and duvets.
Accommodation as part of one of our packages - termed Gîte Based on our package pages
Each of the gites will eventually have two bedrooms, two bathrooms plus a living room and fully equipped kitchen. In the interim we ensure that all our gites are comfortable with the facilities that we have available. A single supplement of £125 will be applied for guests wishing to use the smaller gite for sole occupation.
Catering is on a full board basis. We supply goodies for guests to make their own breakfasts and then dash round the house with hot pastries. A picnic lunch is provided and mulled wine in the winter season. For dinners - we eat together two or three nights a week. For the other nights - ready to eat tasty food is delivered to your door. Dinners include nibbles, starter, main and dessert, and beer and wine.
The first guests to book a walking holiday are sent a menu list, from which meals can be selected. The choices are eclectic and of course we are happy to cater for vegetarians and for other dietary requirements. All food is home made, and the ingredients are sourced locally and organically where possible. Later bookers may of course browse the menu and make their own comments. Often guests have chosen to eat together in the larger gite kitchen!!
We are delighted to work with friends and colleagues Luc and Christine at the Grand Chalet, a chambre d'hôte. Over the years, we've forged a great relationship, and we know that you'll always come away wishing you didn't have to go home!
Rooms are either double or twin bedded with bath or shower. There is also a family room with a single mezzanine bed, linked to a further double bedroom. Most rooms have access to a sunny terrace with tables and chairs. There's also a comfortable living room.
There's a buffet breakfast, a hearty baguette for lunch and a five course evening meal with an apero, table wine, and tea or coffee. Dinners (including the legendary cheese trolley) are enjoyed around a communal table when you will have plenty of opportunity to improve your French among jolly banter with other international guests.
Accommodation ex Mercantour
Away from our base in Berthemont les Bains - we use small family run welcoming hotels where you get good food and great views. More details can be seen on the individual holiday pages. For refuge nights out we are careful to choose the best option so that your stay will be a magic one.
Accommodation only guests
Hiring a car
Most of our guests arrive in Nice and hire a car at the airport or railway station. We naturally supply directions for the hour long trip to Berthemont. For any guests driving down from the UK or Northern Europe we are happy to offer route planning and special places to stay "en route".
We do have guests who do not wish to hire a car. Under these circumstances, it is possible to get the excellent value but infrequent bus service from Nice north - line 730, which takes about an hour and a half from the centre of Nice to Roquebillière. NOTE - TIMES MAY VARY, SO DO CHECK THE TIMETABLE. If necessary we can offer a pick up/drop off service from/to Plan du Var, using the 59 bus service which is more frequent. We would charge €30 (each way for this service). For short stays we are able to offer a pick up, shopping and local transport service for a reasonable charge. There are two bikes here plus two horses for self propelled transport!!
If you arrive at Nice airport and want to leave your luggage whilst you pay a visit to the city centre, there is a left luggage service at the airport - terminal two. It is somewhat expensive, and there are other options in Nice city centre should you want to spend some time there. We can advise on these services on a client by client basis.
Self guided walking holiday guests
Our guests take the bus option to Berthemont after which all transport is provided. If guests wish to stay in Nice at the start or finish of their break we can suggest good accommodation options according to budget. See the alternative arrangement above for the 59 bus to Plan du Var.
Guided walking holiday guests
All transfers to and from Nice airport, and all transport to and from venues are included in the price. Note : if you choose to arrive by train, we normally ask that you make your way to the airport for pick up. NORMAL LATEST PICK UP TIME IS 17:00 AT NICE AIRPORT, AND NORMAL DROP OFF TIME AT THE END OF THE HOLIDAY IS 10:00 NICE AIRPORT.
Low cost flights are available from:
Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester with British Airways.
Luton, Gatwick, Stansted, Liverpool, Bristol and Newcastle (Summer) with Easyjet.
East Midlands with BMI.
Eurostar is also available to Nice. Note that bargains are to be had if you book exactly three months before your date of departure.
The Mercantour may be 1000 miles south of the UK but the accommodation is based in the mountains so days and evenings can turn cool even in mid summer.
Year round clothing and equipment should therefore include at least -
- Day sack with plastic liner
- Lightweight water-proofs
- Walking pants and shorts
- Base layer and fleece
- Hat and gloves
- Walking boots and spare inner socks
- Flask for hot drink
- Sun block
In addition for Winter Walking/Snowshoeing :
- A slightly larger day sack - 30 litres is adequate
- Trekking poles, with snow baskets
- Three season boots
- In the event of a refuge stay, a two season sleeping bag
- Torch or Head torch
- Old training shoes
- Swimming costume
- T shirt
- All other equipment will be provided
Other activities :
The individual package pages will detail what we provide, and we will tell you in your dossier what you will need to bring for particular activities. Most technical gear is provided.
Please read our terms and conditions on the reverse side of the booking form. Even if you're not partaking in any activities and just booking our gite for accommodation, we recommend that you take out adequate travel insurance that includes medical expenses, loss or damage of personal property, injury, death, repatriation, cancellation and curtailment.
You should be aware that medical and emergency services are financed and organised differently to those in the UK.
European citizens travelling within the EEA are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which simplifies the procedure when receiving medical assistance during their stay in a member state.
The EHIC entitles the holder to the same treatment at the same cost as a national of that country, and presentation of the EHIC guarantees reimbursement of the medical costs on the spot, or soon after returning home.
In the event of treatment being required, present the card at the earliest opportunity. The card is only valid for state provided services, not for private hospital and treatments.
The EHIC card replaces forms E111, E111B, E110 and E128.
Other services such as mountain rescue are not covered by the EHIC, and are not free. Therefore it is a pre-requisite of all our activity holidays that each guest takes out a travel insurance policy for the entire duration of the tour.
This must include at least medical expenses, loss or damage of personal property, rescue, injury, death, repatriation, cancellation and curtailment. You must ensure that there are no exclusion clauses which limit your cover for the type of activities included in your tour.
We can require you to show proof of this cover as part of the booking procedure and/or when you arrive, and reserve the right to limit some activities if we feel that your cover is inadequate.
The BMC offer a number of insurance products, which are tailored specifically for members partaking in outdoor activities. Visit their website at www.thebmc.co.uk.
As part of keeping our customers and other interested parties updated about the most recent developments here, we provide a regular newsletter by e-mail. It is our practice to provide this to all new potential first time clients. Following from this, we will only send you information that you have agreed to receive, and in order for us to be able to do so, we will only collect from you what is relevant and needed. You may decline to provide this information, and decline to receive further communication from us at any time, and should you do this, we will honour your request immediately.
Should you agree to subscribe to our newsletter, and therefore provide us with the information required, we will not sell or lease your details to any other party.
We will not track individual persons' activities.
Change of Policy
In the event that this policy is changed at any time in the future we will notify all members by e-mail, and provide you with an opportunity to opt out of subscription if you so wish.
Should you have any questions about this policy, please don't hesitate to contact us on and we will do our best to ensure that your queries are answered in full.
When you contact us to enquire about our products, and when you book
We use the information that you give us to ensure that we are able to provide you with all the details that you need to enable you to make a valued judgment about our services.
We will normally follow up this first contact. Should you wish no further contact after this, please tell us so by e-mailing us at email@example.com. We will honour your request with immediate effect, and remove your details from our files.
We will not sell or lease any of this information to a third party.
When and if you book with us, we will only ask you to provide us with what is necessary for us to be able to ensure that you have an enjoyable, safe and worry free holiday.
Walking & Activity Holidays
By their very nature, activity holidays possess an element of danger. The mountain environment can, at times, be unpredictable. We endeavour to take all reasonable precautions to ensure your safety and enjoyment in the mountains. However, no matter how professional or experienced we and our trusted guides may be, they cannot predict unavoidable events, which may present hitherto unforeseen elements of risk.
You should not partake in any of the activities that we offer if you feel at all uncomfortable.
For your enjoyment, we deliberately keep the groups small, with an experienced leader. Should you choose to leave the group at any time we will not be able to provide an alternative leader's services free of charge.
All of our holidays require a degree of fitness.
You may have medical conditions, which may not inhibit your activities in the hills, or indeed hamper your general level of aerobic fitness e.g. mild forms of diabetes. We require that we be made fully aware of such conditions upon booking. There is a section at the base of the first page of the booking form to cover this. The decision to partake in one of our trips must be yours alone. If you have any doubts please consult your doctor.
If you do have a condition that could inhibit your ability to partake fully in any of the days' activities, then for your own enjoyment and that of other guests, we do require that we be made fully aware of any such conditions prior to booking, so that we can discuss it with you. Our aim is not to preclude any potential guest from partaking, but to be able to assess, and therefore suggest the best options available. There may be times of course, where we advise that these kinds of holidays are simply not appropriate. Please see our booking conditions.
All information provided will be treated in strictest confidence.
Our walking & trekking holidays are classed into three categories :
All of our holidays are designed for those who are no strangers to a bit of exertion from time to time. So, for your own enjoyment, and that of your group compatriots, you do need to have a level of fitnesss that entails a little more than a regular walk along the prom at Brighton! Even our "leisurely" category expects that you partake of brisk hilly walks on a regular basis, and that you are used to rough country pathways.
Don't risk being disappointed with your own holiday experience or possibly curtailing the enjoyment of others. If you cannot meet at least the criteria under "leisurely" below, then you should be considering a more appropriate holiday.
Also, if you are carrying an injury, or have an illness that curtails your ability, then you must inform us, so that we can discuss it with you. Any information that you provide us with will be treated in strictest confidence.
We do our very best to accommodate all our guests' abilities, but clients do need to bear in mind that if they fail to inform us of any problems that they may have, which may seriously curtail the enjoyment of others, then we do reserve the right to exclude those guests from the days out, without any recompense. Our contract with you details this also.
Ideal for those guests who enjoy a good summer's day out for example on some of the lower slopes of Britain and Ireland's hills.
Guests should be comfortable with walking in hilly country, on well maintained footpaths for up to 5 to 6 hours, with total ascents/descents of between 400 and 500 metres.
The above also translates to some of our winter walking and snowshoeing packages. So, if you see these billed as "Leisurely", then it means that we will have tailored the package to suit those guests that fit these criteria.
For guests comfortable in summer conditions on the higher tops of Britain and Ireland.
Guests should have a good level of fitness and be happy with spending 5 to 7 hrs a day walking, with ascents/descents of between 500 and 800 metres.
Walks will be mainly on well maintained footpaths, but there will be some parts of a day spent on narrower paths and on steep ground, and sometimes off path.
For guests who are comfortable in summer conditions on the higher tops of Britain and Ireland, but also comfortable in winter in the same environment, but mainly given good weather and little snow or ice.
For those wishing to push themselves a little further walking or trekking in an alpine environment, off the beaten track and often on rough and steep terrain, but without the need for any technical Alpine climbing.
Also excellent for those who have good competency in the British and Irish hills in all conditions, but simply haven't the time to plan and organise a trip to a more Alpine environment.
Guests should be happy with 6 to 8 hours walking, sometimes strenuous, sometimes off footpath, and sometimes involving some scrambling, with ascents/descents of between 700 and 1200 metres in one day.
Activity holiday means exactly that! We do not grade our activity packages, because all the activites are challenging in their own way.
Be it Via Ferrata, Canyoning, Rock Climbing, Alpinism, Ice Climbing, Mountain Biking, Trekking with Wild Camps, Trekking on Horseback, Winter Alpinism - all of which feature in our actvities, we stipulate just three characteristics :
- Willingness to try and enjoy
- Love of the outdoors
- Have a reasonable level of fitness
We take this stance because we know that if our guests can tick the above three boxes, then we have the professionalism to ensure that they will enjoy their experiences to the full in as safe an environment as possible.
Our ethos is very much small and personal - and our group size will be a maximum of eight people. We can accept a minimum of two people for holidays based in Berthemont, and four, if based in the Grand Chalet or other venues.
Prices quoted are based on two people sharing a room. Where guests are willing to share we will do our best to find another solo traveller. Where a single room is requested, then a single supplement of £125 (for a week's break and pro rata for shorter stays) will apply.
We will maintain good communications and should you have booked and paid your deposit, and we do not obtain the minimum number for the package, the terms and conditions on the back of your booking form explain the options that we can offer you.
The individual package page will stipulate what's included over and above the accommodation elements explained above.
Unless otherwise stated, all prices quoted are on a per person basis and for the duration explained in the individual package itinerary.
Where a package includes a mountain hut or gîte d'etape stay, then this will include evening meal, breakfast and packed lunch. This applies to all packages.
Arriving by air - see Transport section above
All of our packages are land based, and unless otherwise stipulated, our pick up point is at Nice airport, terminal 2. We can drop off at the end of your stay at both terminal 1 and 2.
Normal pick up time is 17:00, and we drop off at the end of the stay at 10:00. Therefore, we ask customers to arrange their flights accordingly.
However, there may be times when we have to change these, and we will send you final details of pick up and drop off times well in advance of your departure.
If customers are not able to meet the pick-up time, we will endeavour to make alternative arrangements, but we cannot guarantee the first night's evening meal.
For those arriving early, we recommend that you leave your luggage at the "left luggage" in terminal 1 or 2 of the airport, and take a bus into Nice, where you can take a look around this very pleasant city, and take in some lunch. Bus transfers to and from the airport are frequent. We will send you details well in advance of your departure.
Arriving by train - see Transport section above
There are also good links to Nice by train, and some of our clients do choose this option, normally Eurostar via Paris and Marseilles, which is very quick indeed. The link along the coast from Marseilles is not yet part of the TGV system, and is therefore slower.
Do please note that we do not offer pick up from Nice central station. This for purely practical reasons, and mainly due to the very difficult parking situation if we're picking up with a minibus.
So for guests choosing to arrive by train, we do ask that they then make their way by bus to either terminal at Nice airport for the pick up. Quite often, our guests arrive a day early and stay over in Nice - we can recommend good hotels - which makes the whole travel experience far less stressy than arriving by air, and of course if one books early, then there are some excellent train deals to be had.
If the Mercantour is so great - why haven't I heard of it?
The region appears to have missed out on mass tourism as tourists have flooded to the "honeypots" of the Riviera and to the more northerly Alpine massif - and if 800 square miles of unspoilt National Park - with peaks up to 3.3K metres appeals - you'll enjoy it here.
What maps should I buy before I come over?
I live in the Riviera already - what can you do for me?
You are welcome to enjoy our accommodation and holidays - just get in touch!
Where is the nearest airport?
Nice is just an hour away - and very accessible from UK airports.
How fit do I need to be?
The Mercantour area is Alpine terrain, and the strenuousness of the walking can vary. An indication of the average daily ascents and overall difficulty of the walking is given in the holiday details. Also, all of the activities require a degree of fitness. To enjoy your holiday we would recommend that you have a reasonable level of fitness and are used to regular exercise. Any concerns - just talk to us.
Which car rental company would you recommend?
Most of the big agencies are similarly priced. However with Europcar being Easyjet's partner - we have found that there are long queues for pick ups and returns in the summer. We would therefore recommend shopping around for deals, taking care that the excess is at a minimum.
How do we find you in the Vésubie valley?
Coming out of the airport, pick up the M202 to Digne/Grenoble. Travel up to Plan du Var using either the road on the right or the left hand bank road. After Plan du Var take a right into the Vésubie valley. Continue up the valley until Old Roquebillière - remaining on the right hand side of the river, carry on through Old Roquebillière, and turn right to Berthemont les Bains. Take four hairpin bends and after about another mile, La Zourcière is the second house on the left after a blue bottle bank.
How many people can you accommodate in the gîtes?
Depending on the mix in a group we can welcome up to nine people - plus another three or four in the summer, when we erect a tent with separate pods, with mattresses and duvets etc. Both have private, covered terraces with a BBQ, and 6 acres to camp/romp in.
What do we need to bring with us for the gîte?
Bedding, towels, CD player, TV are provided, and there is also WiFi. We suggest you bring some CDs. The kitchen has all the facilities you require, plus some basic foodstuffs.
Where can I get provisions?
As we are c 5 kilometres from the nearest shops, it is useful to stock up with French goodies at the Carrefour coming north up the M202. Also, there are a number of small supermarkets in Roquebilliere and St Martin Vesubie.
Are you able to hire out gear?
We have snowshoes for hire from La Zourcière - other items can be hired locally.
How's the weather?
We are blessed with about 320 days of sunshine. July and August can be hot, May, June, September and October are generally very good for all activities. During the winter we have snow cover for just two or three days, but above about 1200 metres snow lies from mid-December to mid-March. Winter days are generally clear and crisp.
Of course, being in the mountains - the weather can change very quickly.
I really fancy the Wolf week but it doesn't fit with my holiday dates - can you help?
We have found that a high percentage of guests have required tailor made holidays which we are more than happy to cater for. Please just contact us and we can propose an itinerary to suit you.
I'd love to come but my partner isn't very sporty?
We have had small groups where the men folk have come to the mountains and the ladies have stayed on the coast, or vice versa. There is SUCH a lot to do on the Riviera!