100% nature, 100% pedestrian and a 100% change of scenery… Our quality-certified Esprit Parc National tour of Vésubie Valley, in the heart of Mercantour National Park, keeps its promises! Welcome to a fabulous mountain adventure dotted with adorable animals and precious plants, and topped with a culinary eco-workshop.
Refuge de Nice
Vallon de la Gordolasque
Vallée des Merveilles
Cirque glaciaire de Prals et ses 5 lacs
Terres Rouges Plateau
You’re welcomed by your hosts Marion and Gabriel at Hôtel Le Grand Capelet (your base for the 5-day tour) at 10.30 a.m. Set overlooking Vallée de la Gordolasque, its privileged location is an ode to tranquillity and the departure point for numerous hikes. Strongly committed to environmental preservation, this charming hotel-restaurant is a proud holder of the Clef Verte label. Collect your picnic and head to the Terres Rouges Plateau. This first stretch in the shade of woods leads up to Serre de Clapeiruole at a higher altitude, where you can sit and gaze out at the peaks marking the border between Mercantour National Park and the Alpi Marittime in Italy. It’s time to prepare a meal: divided into two groups, you will enjoy a culinary workshop using freshly-picked wild plants. Fragrant, tasty and very original!
On the heights of the Nice Refuge
After a 10-minute transfer up Gordolasque Torrent, you will come to an untamed environment inhabited by waterfalls, chamois, ibex goats and cuddly little marmots… Breathe in the wafting fragrances that line the way and discover the many delicate plant varieties that flourish here. Mission accomplished: here you are perched at 2,232 at the Refuge de Nice, home to the park’s densest concentration of wildlife. This magnificent site gazes over Lac de la Fous and the highest peaks of the Mercantour, capped with eternal snow. After a 5-hour walk, sit back and relax on a terrace as you savour a craft beer made on site, served with blueberry tart and other succulent local specialities.
From Vallon de la Gordolasque to the Vallée des Merveilles
This 6-hour hike departs from the car park of Vallon de la Gordolasque and climbs 850 metres. On the way to the Vallée des Merveilles you’ll come to Pas de l’Arpette at 2,511 metres, offering sweeping views over the amphitheatre of mountains before you. Your guide will tell you all about the many mysterious cave paintings dotted around the valley that have earned it worldwide fame – some date back to prehistoric times. Now protected, the paintings retrace the story of people and traditions in days gone by. Various archaeological research has demonstrated the vital agropastoral role of this sanctuary and the commitment of the first farmers to preserving it. And after your exciting day out, how about a spot of relaxation in the sauna?!
Ascent to Baisse de Prals
The Prals glacial cirque is yet another marvel of Mercantour. This 4th day of your hike involves a 5-hour walk and climb of around 750 metres. Extremely rare plants bloom in this unique landscape in July and August, such as the endemic and very prestigious Saxifrage Florulenta, which thrives in the cracks of the high-altitude silica rock. It’s easy to spot thanks to its spiral leaves and pale pink flowers. Settle down comfortably for a picnic in the marvellous setting of the Prals glacial lakes – you might just glimpse a chamois capering in the distance!
From Belvédère to the Milk Museum
After breakfast at the hotel, your host Gabriel invites you to take part in a permaculture discovery workshop on the theme of Planting for the future. After an introduction to the concept and its aims, you’ll enjoy a tour of his permaculture garden to see the theory in action! Next, you’ll head to the village of Belvédère, set overlooking Vésubie valley. Time truly seems to have ground to a halt in its beautifully-preserved lanes, squares and gardens. Your adventure is coming to an end and it’s time to visit the Musée du Lait. This ancient milk cooperative is now a major repository of artisan heritage and harbours many traditional old objects used to produce milk.