Mercantour hiking: Alpine lakes and rock carvings
    • France - French Riviera
    • 6 days
    • Walking
    • Self-guided
      • From June to September
    • 2 - 10 travellers
      • Charming
      • Trip code : B1110

About the Mercantour hiking: Alpine lakes and rock carvings trip

Your self guided walking holiday: Set high above the French Riviera, the Mercantour National Park sets the scene for dramatic hikes in an alpine setting: serrated peaks, sacred rock carvings, mountain lakes and refuges, abundant wildlife, alpine pastures carpeted with wildflowers, all from the comfort of a stunning chalet.

During this self-guided walking trip, you spend the first two nights in the authentic and picturesque village of La Brigue, nestled in the Roya valley and complete a warm-up hike in lower altitudes. You're then transferred to the hamlet of Castérino, at over 1500m, where you settle into a cozy chalet-style hotel. Gateway into Mercantour National park, Castérino is the perfect base from which to explore the stunning alpine landscapes of the Mercantour.

Though we've chosen well-trodden paths in and around the park, it's important to note:
* this is indeed a hikers' holiday, for seasoned hikers
* and set in an alpine environment, with considerable altitude gain -- up to 800m -- daily

Highlight of the tour 

  • The lakes, mountains, and rock carvings of the "Vallée des Merveilles"
  • A true Alpine experience 
  • The cozy "Chamois d'Or" hotel: an unforgettable experience
  • 2 dinners & 3 picnics included
  • Authentic villages nestled in deep, wooded valleys, surrounded by high mountains
  • The Mercantour National park and its wild fauna and flora
  • Walk on century old path in some outstandingly beautiful valleys 
  • Choose your type of accommodation,  extra walks/rides, an e-bike, etc .. Click on BOOK
From the blog

Mercantour hiking, Alpine lakes and rock carvings: Day by Day

Day 1 - Train to La Brigue, mountain village

  • La Briguela brigue
  • You arrive in the timeless village of La Brigue, nestled in the mountains near the Italian border, with its beautiful architecture and its centuries-old homes with colourful façades. The village traded its Italian flag for a French one in 1947, and much of this valley is bathed in a Franco-Italian fusion of language, food, and culture.
  • Dinner included and night in La Brigue
  • MEALS included: Breakfast

  • We recommend : arrive 1 day earlier and have an extra night in Nice to enjoy the Italian old quarter !

  • AccessRegular train lines from Nice. Schedule here 

Day 2 - Panoramic views above Tende

alpine flowers

  • Walk - Loop walk from La Brigue > Tende  
    4 hours - 12km / 7 miles - Ascent: +550 m / Descent: -550 m
  • The Mirval hotel can prepare a picnic upon request, or there is a small grocery store in town.
  • It's a hike in lower altitudes to warm up your legs. You climb from the town of La Brigue up a tight valley laden with wild lavender & thyme. Passing the ruins of stone dwellings you reach the Boselia pass and begin a breathtaking and panoramic descent to Tende, the very last town before the Italian border. Take a well-deserved pause in town at a local café or restaurant. Though we have marked a walking route to return to La Brigue, the railway line links both villages so you can take the train to return.
  • Night in La Brigue.
  • MEALS included: Breakfast

  • Market on Sunday morning in La Brigue

Day 3 - Hiking & alpine lakes

chamois mercantour wild goat

  • Walk - Loop walk from Casterino > Cime de Gratin 
    4 hours 30 - 10km / 6.5 miles - Ascent: +600 m / Descent: -600 m
  • Picnic included
  • In the morning you are transferred to the hamlet of Castérino to your cozy chalet-style hotel, your base for the next three nights. Nestled at the base of the lush and green valley, the hamlet of Castérino is sprinkled with mountain chalets and surrounded by forested slopes.
    Leaving your hotel on foot you climb upwards through the evergreen forest and soon the last of the larch trees give way to open pastures and bare rock. Atop the crest you'll enjoy panoramic views of the serrated peaks of the Mercantour National Park to the east. Atop a forestry track you'll encounter former bunkers, witnesses to a not so distant military past. A leisurely descent leads back to the hamlet of Castérino.
  • Dinner included & night in Casterino. 
  • MEALS included: Breakfast & Picnic & Dinner

Day 4 - Merveille Mountain refuge & rock carvings

eidelweiss wildflower mercantour

  • Walk - Loop walk from Castérino > Refuge des Merveilles  
    6 hours - 16km / 10 miles - Ascent: +650 m / Descent: -650 m
  • Picnic included
  • A short transfer (5 mn) takes you to the Lac des Mèches lake to begin your hike. Passing a former mining community and then up the Vallon de la Minière, you enter the Mercantour National Park boundaries. Under the watchful eyes of the chamois and ibex that grace the slopes and even the elusive wolves, you leave the forest behind and become surrounded by wildflowers. Amid a setting of crystal clear mountain lakes and denuded peaks, you reach the Refuge des Merveilles hut. You can enjoy a hearty lunch at the refuge and soak up the alpine ambiance. You walk back to the Lac des meches Lake, for a transfer back to Casterino.
  • Option : From the mountain refuge you can embark on a guided tour of the Vallée des Merveilles rock carvings, Europe's largest open-air museum, highly protected and only accessible with an accredited guide. Tours last about 2 hours and cost around 15€ per person.
  • Night in Casterino
  • MEALS included: Breakfast & Picnic

Day 5 - hiking to Fontanalba & the "green lake"

lac chalet mercantour

  • Walk - Loop walk from Castérino > Fontanalba 
    5 hours 30 - 16 km / 10 miles - Ascent: +750 m / Descent: -750 m
    . Longer walk option : Valmasque option
    7 hours - 20km / 12.5 miles - Ascent: +1150 m / Descent: -1150 m
  • Picnic included
  • Today,  you climb through the bucolic Fontanalba valley and once again enter the heart of the National Park. You reach the Lac Vert from where you can explore some of the 100 000 sacred stone carvings, some of which are 6000 years old. The site of Fontanalba regroups more carvings then elsewhere in the park and many are set beside the marked trails accessible to all hikers without an accredited guide. An optional route takes you to the pristine lakes of the Valmasque valley. Return to Castérino for your third and final night.
  • Optionnal : From the lac vert lake hut, you can have a guided visit to the carvings (supplement).
  • Night in Casterino
  • MEALS included: Breakfast & picnic

Day 6 - Bye Bye Mercantour ..

wildflowers mercantour lily

  • Transfer to La Brigue after breakfast. End of your trip in la Brigue. You can catch the train back to Nice
  • MEALS included: Breakfast.
  • We recommend: If you'd like to continue your hiking all the way to the Mediterranean, have a look at our second French riviera walking tour that continues from La Brigue !
  • Return: Regular train lines from La Brigue to Nice

Trip info

The rates are per person:

  • on a 2 pers. minimum reservation basis ( shared room),
  • and always remain subject to availability
  • If you travel SOLO : please contact us 

INCLUDED

  • 5 nights double occupancy with private facilities
  • 5 breakfasts
  • 2 dinners
  • 3 picnics
  • Day 3: transfer from La Brigue to Castérino
  • Day 4: transfer to and from the Lac des Mèches.
  • Day 6 : Transfer from casterino to La Brigue
  • Our Road Book with detailed walking itineraries, including highlighted maps
  • 1 hiking map of the region
  • 24/7 phone assistance

NOT INCLUDED

  • Transportation to and from La Brigue
  • All lunches & dinners not noted-included in your itinerary
  • Entrance fees into museums, insurance, drinks
  • Items of personal nature
  • SINGLE supplement : 220 €uros

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    • The lakes, mountains, and rock carvings of the "Vallée des Merveilles"
    • A true Alpine experience 
    • The cozy "Chamois d'Or" hotel: an unforgettable experience
    • 2 dinners & 3 picnics included
    • Authentic villages nestled in deep, wooded valleys, surrounded by high mountains
    • The Mercantour National park and its wild fauna and flora
    • Walk on century old path in some outstandingly beautiful valleys 
    • Choose your type of accommodation,  extra walks/rides, an e-bike, etc .. Click on BOOK
    Mercantour hiking: Alpine lakes and rock carvings
        • France - French Riviera
        • 2 adults (2x730€)
        • 0 children (0x730€)
      • 6 days
      • Charming
    Total 1460€
    Deposit 500€
    Book now !