Vallée des Merveilles en hiver dans les Alpes
Valley of Wonders

Valley of Wonders

If the Valley of Wonders owes its name to the thousands of engravings dating back to Prehistory, the majestic beauty of its landscapes could just as well have justified this appellation. In the heart of the Mercantour Park, visit the “Vallée des Merveilles” (Valley of Wonders). Nature, culture, discoveries and outdoor sports activities await you.

A remarkable natural space

Located west of Mount Bego, the Valley of Wonders is located at an altitude of almost 2,000 meters. The influence of the Mediterranean Sea, located about 30 kilometers away, has contributed to create there a unique territory, between the Southern Alps, Haute-Provence and the French Riviera.

The natural landscapes are breathtaking with its lakes, alpine lawns and rocky steeps. Below, the access trail crosses coniferous and deciduous forests. On the way, there are also clearings where numerous flowers bloom. You can also observe in the sky birds of prey, including the famous golden eagle. The emblematic fauna of the Mercantour Park evolves safely in the valley of Wonders: marmots, ibexes, chamois, wolves

 

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Une publication partagée par Fabio Di Paola (@fdpdesign) le

Prehistoric rock engravings

The valley of Wonders and the valley of Fontanalba are home to tens of thousands of rock engravings. Stretching from 1,900 to 2,700 meters above sea level, they testify to the past of the people who used to live here from the end of the Neolithic period to modern times.

The archaeological area of the rock engravings on Mount Bego, which straddles the two valleys, is home to treasures unique in France and Europe: engravings with horns that might represent bulls, oxen or cows, weapons and tools, representations of human beings and non-representative engravings. Among the masterpieces, you can admire “le Chef de la Tribu” “(the Chief of Tribe), or “le motif du Sorcier” (the Sorcerer engravings). Some of the rock engravings are forbidden to the public and are only accessible with a guide.

You can also visit the “Musée des Merveilles de Tende” (Wonder Museum of Tende), in the Roya valley. The collections and the museographic tour help you better interpret the numerous engravings and archaeological remains of the region.

Hiking

The Valley of Wonders is great for hiking. Numerous marked trails criss-cross the Mercantour National Nature Park, including the GR® 52 long-distance hiking trail that crosses the Alpes-Maritimes from Saint-Dalmas-de-Valdeblore to Menton. You can go on an itinerary lasting a few hours, a day or several days, with an overnight stay in a halt, at the “Merveilles hut” or the “Fontanalba hut”.

You will reach the Vallée des Merveilles from the Lac des Mesches after a 2h30 walk and a difference in altitude of 700 meters on a clear path. You will then reach the entrance of the site and discover it for approximately 2h30. The hamlet of Casterino is the starting point to reach the rock engravings of the Fontanalba valley. It will take you 2 hours to get there. You can allow 2 more hours to walk around the site.

In this mountainous area, you must bring properly equipped: shoes, backpack, warm clothes, map, water and food. We advise you to check the weather forecast before your departure and to get back earlier than you planned if the weather is cloudy.

You can also rent the services of a tour guide. A walk with the donkeys is possible. Kids will love it and the animal can carry your luggage.

Summer activities

Hiking is not the only activity you can enjoy in summer near the Vallée des Merveilles. On the other side of the Roya valley, the via ferrata of La Ciappea allows you to challenge the void at La Brigue.

Canyoning and whitewater sports such as kayaking and rafting can be practiced in the Roya valley. You can also try paragliding in Casterino or at the Col de Tende.

The Mercantour Natural National Park is also a great playground for cycling, mountain biking and horse-riding enthusiasts.

Skiing and winter sports

The high valleys and peaks of the Mercantour National Park are covered with a thick blanket of snow in winter. The Valley of Wonders can then be explored on cross-country skis or snowshoes. Day itineraries or loops over several days with night(s) in a refuge allow you to experience intense emotions in the heart of breathtakingly beautiful landscapes.

The mountains in winter can be dangerous. We advise you to make sure of the weather conditions before your departure and to bring an adapted equipment. Depending on your level and the difficulty of the itinerary, you can contact the Wonders Guide or Mercantour Guide Offices.

Several mountain resorts are located in the Alpes-Maritimes. Isola 2000, Valberg and Auron are ski resorts renowned for their ski areas. You can also choose smaller resorts such as La Colmiane Valdeblore, for a skiing day in a family atmosphere.

Practical information

You want to discover the valley of Wonders? We can help you plan your stay.

  • Access from Nice (75 km): take the A8 freeway towards Ventimiglia, until exit 59, drive toward Sospel, Breuil-sur-Roya and then Tende.
  • Accommodation: numerous hotels, campsites and vacation rentals are available in Casterino, Saint-Dalmas-de-Tende and Tende.

Selection of natural spaces in Alpes-Maritimes :

 

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