Walks and Treks in the Maritime Alps

The Mercantour and Alpi Marittime Parks

By Gillian Price

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

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.
9 Jun 2016
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
  • Overview

    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.

  • Contents

    The Maritime Alps
    Exploring the Maritime Alps
    Local information
    When to go
    Dos and don'ts
    What to take
    Using this guide
    The Walks
    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

  • Updates
    Receive updates by email
    Be notified by email when this book receives an update or correction
    April 2019
    p34 By Bus: the web site for bus info in France has been changed from www.cg06.fr to www.pacamobilite.fr
    Aug 2018
    There's been an increase in cases of TBE (tick-borne encephalitis) across Europe, Italy included. Walkers should be aware that they may pick up ticks while walking through grass and woodland up to approx 1500 metres altitude. Not all ticks carry the disease but better safe than sorry. Simple precautions and plenty of useful information is available on the website: https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/tick-borne-encephalitis. Vaccination is also an option.
    April 2018

    p29/ p112 / p164 - The Posto Tappa at Terme di Valdieri has been renovated as Casa Savoia sleeps 24, open beginning June to end Sept, tel 327 0116543 casasavoiaterme@gmail.com

    March 2018

    p113 and 179
    Rifugio Morelli-Buzzi Ph + 39 348 3399722 - email: pgiraudo@alice.it

    August 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

    p44 Maps
    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 2016

    p36 the web site for the UK branch of the Austrian Alpine Club should be www.aacuk.org.uk
    p138 Albergo Balma Meris web site has changed to www.locandabalmameris.com
  • Reviews
    The Cicerone guide to Walks and Treks in the Maritime Alps is a neat little guide to an area you really should visit if you are a keen hiker – what’s not to like!

    Gillian Price has produced a lovely guide to the best the region has to offer – and it seems it does have a lot to offer for hikers and trekkers. Firstly Gillian must be congratulated on the depth of information she is providing in the guide – there is a wealth of information on places to stay, amenities and travel in the area and as an enthusiast for public transport (to help minimise you impact) there is good information on travel.

    This together with the information she provides on wildlife, flowers and history the introduction makes an easy read and should get you in the mood for a great holiday in great surroundings.

    The guide has 18 day walks and 6 long distance treks to choose from with difficulties ranging from the easy and popular Fontanalba Rock engravings to the spectacular  7 day Alpi Martime circuit. So there is something for everybody. 

    So the Cicerone guide to Walks and Treks in the Maritime Alps is a neat little guide to an area you really should visit if you are a keen hiker – what’s not to like!

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Price Gillian

Gillian Price

Gillian Price has trekked throughout Asia and the Himalayas, but now lives in Venice and is exploring the mountains and flatter bits of Italy. Starting in the Italian Dolomites, Gillian has written outstanding Cicerone guides to walking all over Italy as well as Corsica and Corfu. An adamant promoter of public transport to minimise environmental impact, Gillian belongs to Mountain Wilderness and is an active member of the Venice branch of CAI, the Italian Alpine Club.

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