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At only a stone's throw from Nice and the Mediterranean coast, you can find a mountain range with the striking name Les Alpes Maritimes. In these mountains, you can find Mercantour National Park, one of the most beautiful national parks France has to offer. With peaks of over 3000m and valleys formed by ancient glacial streams, Mercantour provides the perfect backdrop for your next mountain adventure. It's in Mercantour where hikers of all ages and abilities will be able to find an unparalleled hiking experience. Are you ready to discover one of France's best-kept secrets? Allez!

Some of the options in Mercantour National Park even take you across the border to Italy. From other destinations that we like so much, like the Tour du Mont Blanc and the Alta Via 1 and 2, we know it's always great to do a little Italian escape. The food in an Italian Rifugio is always fantastic. Before we get carried away by Refuge cuisine, let's take a closer look at our possibilities when hiking in Mercantour. What does this area make special? What hiking options are there? What about accommodation in Mercantour? We'll answer all your questions!


Where is Mercantour National Park?


It's maybe a bit hard to imagine, but Mercantour National Park is part of the French Riviera. On a stone's throw from Nice on the world-famous Côte d’Azur, you can find one of the last proper wild spots of the Alps. While the Côte d’Azur sees more than 10 milion tourists on a yearly basis, only a fraction makes the 1-hour drive to this terresauvage.Mercantour is one of the 10 French national parks and is over 40 years old. Within the park, 20,000 inhabitants are living the life you might want for yourself. Here the century-old traditions of the montagnards continue forever. Shepherds, beekeepers, cheesemakers, cows, even wolves. Did we say that Mercantour is wild?

Because the park is so close to Nice, this is a logical starting or entry point for hikes in Mercantour. From here, people make their way to Saint Martin Vésubie. From there, you have easy access on the Mercantour parts of the GR52. Because yes, just like you can find Grand Randonnée routes in all of France, even in Corsica with the GR20, you can also find these in Mercantour National Park. For the GR52, which is more than 200 kilometers long, you need more time. Some of the highlights of this GR are however right in Mercantour and allow for a shorter hut-to-hut tour.

Is hiking in Mercantour for me?


Hiking in Mercantour is slightly less Alpine than for example the Walker's Haute Route or the Peter Habeler Runde in Austria. This, and the fact that the Alpes Maritimes have a rather mild climate, allows for a lower doorstep. If you are looking for a relatively mild but unspoiled hut-to-hut trekking experience, hiking Mercantour is definitely for you. In Mercantour you can find 1.700 kilometers worth of trail. The sections that we have focused our itineraries on are designed for people who have a healthy appetite for mountains but don't want to go too extreme.

The route has no technical difficulties and is suitable for anyone with a decent physical condition. This leaves time for long picnic breaks at the mountain lakes, fantastic views from the peaks, and a drink on the terrace of a mountain hut at the end of the day. Long story short? Yes, Mercantour is most likely for you!

Would you like to discuss your plans for Mercantour with one of our trekking experts? Get in touch today and turns your dreams into memories!

Mercantour Hiking Accommodation: Staying in Refuges


At Bookatrekking.com we like to do things properly and when it's about accommodation on our Alpine treks, this means, where possible, you should stay in refuges. Refuge is the French name for a hut where mountaineers can enjoy a bed, a meal, and, in most cases, even a fresh draught or good glass of wine. In some cases, refuges are owned by the Alpine Club, in France, this can be the Fédération Francais des Clubs Alpins et de Montagne (FFCAM). What all these mountain huts have in common is their unusual locations: In the most remote spots in the Alps you can check into these little safe havens.

Refuge Mercantour

Most huts offer a half-board package, which includes breakfast and dinner. We highly recommend choosing this option. Having a warm meal waiting for you at the hut is not only a great way to end a long day of hiking, but it will also make your luggage lighter. Carrying your own food during the trek will obviously mean extra weight on your back.

Availability in the mountain huts is limited during the season and securing your spots in Mercantour National Park is not easy. We at Bookatrekking.com maintain warm contacts with the hut keepers and are happy to take this burden off your shoulders. Find here all packages for Mercantour National Park and other options.

Hiking in Mercantour Map


There are plenty of maps and guidebooks that can help you get the most out of your time in Mercantour National Park. Below you can find a map with an overview of parts of GR58 in Mercantour, a perfect circuit for a 6-stage hut-to-hut trekking tour. Find a full description further below.

Mercantour Hiking Map

At Bookatrekking.com we don't only book your accommodation, we also send you on your way with a comprehensive hiking guide with the most important information for your trek, including interactive Komoot maps. Browse all our options here and turns your dreams into reality.

What Is the Best Season for Hiking in Mercantour NP?


The official season is from mid-June to mid-September, but when you hike Mercantour between mid-July and late August the chances for good weather and snow-free trails. It’s peak season, so make sure to book as much in advance as possible. If you decide to go trekking in September, you’re still in for a treat and it’s not as busy on the trail. But this could also mean that some accommodations might be closed for the season already. Also, the days are shorter, the weather is colder and, although you are close to the Med, there is a chance of snow on the trails.

July and August are the best months for hut-to-hut tours in the Alps. Don't wait too long with making arrangements and check out our self-guided packages today!

6-Day Hut-to-Hut Hiking in Mercantour National Park


In Mercantour National Park you can do parts of the GR5 and the GR52. The GR5 will basically take you halfway across Europe, and although the GR52 is doable for most people with enough off days, it is best to craft your own itinerary together. Especially if you don't want to hike for longer than a week. We have designed you an itinerary that offers a great combination of nature, the most hospitable Mercantour refuges, and quaint little towns. On y va!

Day 1: St.-Martin-de-Vésubie - Refuge de la Madonna de Fenestre

The beautiful little town of St.-Martin-de-Vésubie is the start of your hike in Mercantour National Park. In this little town, you can do your last purchases for the trails, you can find an outdoor shop, some restaurants, and numerous little grocery shops. Your hike starts with a steep ascent, bringing you out of the valley onto the higher trails. At Collet Cotignol you will find views over the pine forests and surrounding mountains. The goal for today is the cozy Refuge de la Madonna de Fenestre at 1903 meters. Although this refuge is also accessible by road, you won't regret the hike.

Distance: 13,5 kilometers
Ascent: 1.430 meters
Descent: 500 meters
Time: 4:30 hours

Day 2: Refuge de la Madonna de Fenestre - Refuge de Nice

After a lovely breakfast, it's time to get back onto the trail. A steep but well-maintained trail will take you over the GR52-route to Pas du Mont Colomb, the highest point for today. It's strenuous, but you can take your time. Depending on what time you started this morning, you are likely to arrive early at the stunning Refuge de Nice. In proper Mercantour style, the caretakers only cook with local and farm produce.

Distance: 6 kilometers
Ascent: 710 meters
Descent: 370 meters
Time: 3 hours

Day 3: Refuge de Nice - Refuge de Valmasque

From Refuge de Nice at 2,232 meters you hike in about 3 to 4 hours via Baisse du Basto to Refuge de Valmasque. You will at some point leave the GR route as long as you follow the red-white markings, you will definitely find your way. On your left you will first see Lac du Basto, then Le Lac Noir, and lastly Le Lac Vert. Right on the shore of Le Lac Vert, you will find Refuge de la Valmasque. There is an alternative way between Refuge de Nice and Refuge de Valmasque, however this route completely leaves the GR52 route. If you're keen on that, you can find more information in Refuge de Nice.

Distance: 8.5 kilometers
Ascent: 420 meters
Descent: 420 meters
Time: 3 hours

hiking in mercantour

Day 4:Refuge de Valmasque - Refuge des Merveilles

From Refuge de Valmasque back to GR52 and then over the Baisse de Valmasque in 4 hours to the Refuge des Merveilles. This is the easiest stage. On the way, you pass beautiful mountain lakes and there are famous rock etchings to view. For daredevils without a fear of heights, the ascent of Mont Bégo (2,873 meters) via a hiking trail is a great takeaway. Refuge des Merveilles is something else. The refuge is located on the shores of a lake, in the heart of the Valley of Wonders. Between Mount Bego and Devil's Peak, you will witness history by going to the scene. There, tens of thousands of rock carvings are visible at an altitude of more than 2000m

Distance: 8.5 kilometers
Ascent: 290 meters
Descent 380 meters
Time: 4 hours

Day 5: Refuge des Merveilles - Belvédère

Today you are slowly descending back to civilization, but don't worry, it's not over yet. From the Refuge des Merveilles first via the GR 5, then via three low passes - Pas du Diable, Baisse Cavaline, and Col de Raus, in 5 to 6 hours down to the village of Belvedere (800 m). This fairytale-like town has been the backdrop of many events in history. You will either spend the night in Belvédère or in neighboring Roquebillière.

Distance: 19 kilometers
Ascent: 410 meters
Descent: 1,730 meters
Time: 5.5 hours

Day 6:Belvédère- St.-Martin-de-Vésubie

From Belvédère we ascend back to the GR52 route. This part is known as Le Sentier Panoramique du Mercantour and panoramic it surely is. After about 4 hours you will end where you had started a few days ago. Time for a good glass of wine or a local craft beer from Brasserie du Comté.

Distance: 16 kilometers
Ascent: 860 meters
Descent: 720 meters
Time: 4.5 hours


Tips for Your Mercantour Hiking Packing List


Obviously, when you are only hiking with the family for only a few days, you won't need to dress for an expedition on Kilimanjaro. Having said that, it doesn't matter where you are going trekking or for how long: Carrying the right equipment with you is paramount. For a hiking trip in Mercantour National Park you will need, first and foremost, a good backpack. The size of your backpack will depend on how many days you will be spending on the mountain, the season, and the clothes you will be taking with you. We have prepared a packing list with some essential clothing that you should include and some extras that you may find useful:

Essentials

- Walking boots (worn in)
- Walking socks
- Base layer tops – ideally thermal
- Mid-layer tops (eg. fleece)
- Trekking Trousers
- Hat for warmth or shade
- Gloves
- Waterproof jacket
- Waterproof trousers
- Warm layer.
- Casual clothes & footwear for evenings.
- Nightwear and underwear
- Water bottle
- Sunglasses & sun cream
- Toiletries

Extras
- Small first aid kit
- Blister Plasters
- Insect repellent
- Electrical socket adapter
- Camera and charger
- Map and compass
- Whistle
- Reading book(s)
- Energy snacks
- Walking poles
- Buff

huttentocht mercantour

Enjoying the peace and quiet of nature is one of the pleasures of trekking in the mountains. However, sometimes we need an extra push to keep going. When you feel like giving up, having the right playlist on your phone can help you to get the motivation necessary to reach the top. Here are ourtop picks for your hiking adventure. Don't forget to bring a power bank to keep your phone charged!


What to Do in Case of an Emergency?


A situation is defined as an emergency whenever human life (yours or someone else's) is endangered and there is nothing you can do to resolve the matter. You should call for help if there has been an accident, if there is somebody trapped, if you got lost or in trouble and are unable to continue because of the time of day or weather conditions, or if you are trapped because of technical climbing challenges that exceed your capabilities.

Mountain Rescue Mercantour

The most important thing to do in an emergency is to stay calm and survey the situation. Do not panic or take useless risks if the people in trouble are difficult to reach. In an emergency, first and foremost, call for assistance. When calling for help, make sure to provide your location and the number of victims and type of injuries. Then, protect the victim from cold and other environmental threats and administer first aid, if you can.

Useful emergency phone numbers:

France General Emergencies: 112
PGHM Alpes Maritimes: +33 4 93 02 01 17


Getting To and From Mercantour National Park


The trick to getting to Mercantour National Park for your hut-to-hut tour is to get to Nice first. Nice, right? Jokes aside, it really is nice to be able to combine Mercantour with the French Riviera. You can visit epic beach towns like Cannes, Fréjus, and Saint-Tropez. Surf and turf all the way. From Nice, you have a direct line with St.-Martin-de-Vésubie, your base for any kind of adventure in Mercantour.

mercantour hiking nice

By plane:
Nice has its own airport under the name Nice Côte d'Azur Airport and airport code NCE. You could also fly to nearby Marseille or Genoa, on the Italian side. If you fly to Nice, you will arrive exactly at the right spot to catch a straight bus to St-Martin-de-Vésubie.

By bus:
From Grand Arénas, outside the airport of Nice, you catch line 90 towards La Bolline. The bus will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes and will cost you less than 2 euros for a ticket. You are in for a very scenic ride!

By car:
Assuming you come out of the direction of Paris or anywhere else in Western Europe, you will first want to get to the French coast. Then you can approach St-Martin-de-Vésubie from Cannes and with that Nice.


How Much Does Hiking in Mercantour Cost?


The prices for hut-to-hut tours in the Alps are quite varied. There are several variables to take into account when it comes to how much this trek costs: the type of accommodation, which can be in a shared dormitory or a private room in a hut, or also at a hotel in a town; How many days you will be spending on the mountain and whether you will be doing the full circuit or only a section; whether you will be doing it self-guided or with a guided group. The price of the trek will depend on your expectations for the tour.


A self-guided trek in Mercantour National Park doesn't have to break the bank or cost you an arm or a leg. But that leg to good use and find our offers for hiking in Mercantour here!


Where Can I Book my Hut-to-Hut Tour in Mercantour?


At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided treks in Mercantour Natoinal Park. We arrange the mountain huts and other accommodation for you and make sure you receive all relevant information well in advance. Find our offers here. If you have any questions about trekking in Alpes Maritimes, please contact our trekking experts. They'll be happy to help!

Is Mercantour not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic hut-to-hut adventures in the Alps? Check out one of our following blog posts:


Austria
Peter Habeler Runde
Salzburger Almenweg
Adlerweg

Switzerland
Via Alpina 1
Kesch Trek

Slovenia
Julian Alps with Triglav

Italy
Alta Via 1
Alta Via 2

France
Walker's Haute Route
Tour du Mont Blanc
Tour du Mont Thabor
GR20


About us

At Bookatrekking.com you'll find the treks that will make your life unforgettable. Whether you want to discover the Inca Trail or climb the Kilimanjaro, Bookatrekking.com offers a wide and varied range of services. Here, no false promises are made, prices are transparent and every booking is confirmed immediately. Find, compare, book and trek.

Contact our trekking expert

Our trekking experts are happy to help you out! Please submit your inquiry and we will get back to you as soon as possible!

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