Walks and Treks in the Maritime Alps
The Mercantour and Alpi Marittime Parks
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This guidebook describes 18 day walks and 6 long distance routes. The treks include a 5-day traverse of the French Mercantour National Park and a 7-day traverse of the Alpi Maritime Park, and the walks range from 6 to 20km in length. The routes are suitable for novices and experienced trekkers alike.
- mid-June to late September is guaranteed for snow-free paths and open huts; July and August spell wildflowers galore; October means crystal-clear visibility and having the whole place to yourself.
- France: Tende, Castérino, St-Martin-Vésubie, Le Boréon Italy: Terme di Valdieri, Entracque, Vernante
- from easy strolls along mountain streams on broad tracks, through to multi-day treks across arduous passes with elementary rock passages.
- Must See
- wildlife (magnficent ibex, chamois and marmots) and wildflowers; high-altitude lakes (Fremamorta, Lac Nègre); Argentera, Gelas and Clapier all over 3000m; prehistoric rock engravings are visitable from Castérino; old-style spa resort Terme di Valdieri with paved tracks dating back to the 19th-century royal game reserve; Col de Tende and Col de Fenestre.
Guidebook to walking and trekking in the Maritime Alps on the border of Italy and France, just north of Nice. It includes 18 graded day walks, on both the French and the Italian sides, ranging from 6km to 20km in length and suitable for a range of abilities. There are also 6 long treks, including a 5-day traverse of the Parc National du Mercantour and a 7-day traverse of the Parco Naturale delle Alpi Marittime.
Detailed route descriptions sit alongside colour maps, and there is full information about accommodation options down in the valleys and up in the mountains. Useful French-English and Italian-English glossaries of walking terminology are included, too.
Rising to over 3000m above the sun-drenched French Riviera, the Maritime Alps form the western edge of the mighty Alpine chain. Wildflower lovers will also appreciate the remarkable range of flowers, including many unique to the area. Worlds away from the hustle and bustle and crowds of the coast this is a marvellous area for novice walkers and seasoned long-distance trekkers alike.
The Maritime Alps
Exploring the Maritime Alps
When to go
Dos and don'ts
What to take
Using this guide
Walk 1 Fontanalba rock engravings circuit
Walk 2 Mont Bégo loop
Walk 3 Vallée de la Roya to Vallée de Vésubie
Walk 4 Upper Vallée de la Gordolasque
Walk 5 Lacs de Prals circuit
Walk 6 Ancient passes above Madone de Fenestre
Walk 7 Vallon du Haut Boréon circuit
Walk 8 Lacs Bessons
Walk 9 Around the Argentera
Walk 10 Lac des Adus loop
Walk 11 The Great Lakes tour
Walk 12 The Alpi Marittime trek
Walk 13 The Valasco tour
Walk 14 The Fremamorta loop
Walk 15 Rifugio Bozano
Walk 16 Rifugio Remondino and Lago di Nasta
Walk 17 Vallone di Lourousa
Walk 18 Traversing Colle di Fenestrelle
Walk 19 Rifugio Pagari loop
Walk 20 Vallon del Vei del Bouc
Walk 21 Gorge della Reina
Walk 22 Vallone degli Alberghi
Walk 23 Costa di Planard
Walk 24 The border forts
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Useful contacts
Appendix C French–English and Italian–English glossaries
Excellent maps are available for both sides of the Maritime Alps. They are widely available at local outlets, as well as leading map stores and outdoor suppliers in the UK.
The sections of the Mercantour Park in France covered in this guide need the 1:25,000 series by IGN (www.ign.fr), carte de randonnée sheets 3841OT Vallée de la Roya and 3741OT Vallée de la Vésubie. The only drawback is that where they stray even metres into Italian territory, the map converts to different graphics and paths all but disappear. The Mercantour uses a brilliant system whereby the numbers on marker poles at key junctions are found on the maps, so you always know exactly where you are. These are referred to in the walk descriptions and denoted by a ‘P’ and then two or three digits, eg ‘123’ (so ‘P123’).
For Italy a single map is sufficient – Cartoguida 1 Parco Naturale delle Alpi Marittime 1:25,000 by Blu Edizioni (www.bluedizioni.it), with a clear design that makes it especially easy to read. The sole exception is Walk 24, which needs the first French map.
A last but not least suggestion is to purchase the handy 1:50,000 maps Montagnes sans Frontière, published by L'Arciere, Cuneo, 1995. Designed to accompany the guidebook of the same name in Italian and French describing trans-frontier routes, they are also sold as a set for a reasonable €8. Not completely up to date, but worthwhile for an overview.
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Be notified by email when this book receives an update or correctionAugust 2017
p28 Valleys and Bases in Italy
The summer shuttle bus services linking Entracque, Trinità, San Giacomo, Lago della Rovina are on-demand services – see p34 for contact numbers.
p31 + p159 + p184 + 187 San Giacomo: the Park Foresteria aka Rifugio San Giacomo tel 0171 978704 www.bmgelas.com open April to October.
The Park Visitor Centre has closed
p37 Austrian Alpine Club in the UK web site www.aacuk.org.uk
Excellent 1:25000 and 1:50000 maps are published by Fraternali www.fraternalieditore.com
p138 Albergo Balma Meris www.locandabalmameris.com
p147 line 6: the fork L past ruined huts is now Grade 3. An easier alternative (30min longer) continues straight on in ascent before descending to be joined by the Col de Cerise path.
p163 Ponte Valasco: cross the bridge and continue uphill to the 1996m junction
p165 Access: cars are allowed as far as Pian della Casa del Re (1735m)
p167 2nd last line: the fork L past old huts is now Grade 3. An easier alternative (30min longer) continues straight on in ascent before descending to be joined by the Col de Cerise path.
p173 Access: it is now possible to drive as far as Pian della Casa del Re, and shorten the walk by 1hr.
p205 line 5: the best path now crosses to the L side of the stream and climbs past Costa Lausea, before dipping briefly to recross the stream near a huge boulder. In the shady corridor it's not far up to the signed junction (well before the 1750m fork) where you branch R for the climb to Gias Vilazzo.
June 2016p36 the web site for the UK branch of the Austrian Alpine Club should be www.aacuk.org.ukp138 Albergo Balma Meris web site has changed to www.locandabalmameris.com
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Gillian Price was born in England but has lived in Venice for many years. Gillian has steadily explored the mountain ranges of Italy, and Corsica, and brought them to life for visitors in a series of outstanding guides for Cicerone. She is an active member of the Italian Alpine Club (CAI) and Mountain Wilderness.View Articles and Books by Gillian Price
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