Treks de France # 1: Discover the Grande Traversée du Mercantour

On the Franco-Italian border, nestled in the heart of the Alps, a natural treasure of the South of France awaits the most seasoned hikers… An unforgettable trek between sea and mountain, the Grande Traversée du Mercantour.

Victor de Cessole made the Mercantour known to the public during his conquest of the peaks of the Alpes-Maritimes. His early 20th century expeditions left a lasting impression. Since then, many athletes have walked the trails of Mercantour National Park, once used by shepherds and Italian or French soldiers. The Great Mercantour Crossing today offers more than 220 kilometers and 13 meters of vertical drop to be achieved in 000 stages. This trek is characterized by its multiple passes to cross, its lakes, its rugged terrain and its technicality. It reveals to walkers the extraordinary diversity of landscapes and contrasts. But it also provides unique sensations and emotions.

Between high alpine peaks and the Mediterranean Sea, this long-distance hiking trail passes through the heart of a fascinating natural setting. The 16 stages linking Estenc to Menton cross in turn the high valleys of Tinée, Vésubie, Roya and Bévéra. The arrival in Menton is made by a trail with perfumes of Provence. Throughout the journey, the shelters of Vens, Rabuons, Alexandris Foches, Sant'Anna di Vinadio, Allos, Questa, Nice or the refuge des Merveilles, allow hikers to find shelter and comfort, after long days of walking.

Allos Lake


The Mercantour massif has a very unique climate. Short periods of precipitation and strong winds alternate with long periods of good weather. It follows from this specificity, a particularly rich flora and fauna. 2000 plant species populate the environment. From the summits to the sea, the vegetation goes from mosses and lichens on the summits, to alpine lawns and coniferous forests. These then give way to mixed and deciduous forests. As for wildlife, the site's most “prestigious” species such as the ibex, the golden eagle, the wolf, the marmot or the bearded vulture, rub shoulders with the more discreet world of small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and insects. They abound in the park.

Ibex of Mercantour

Emblematic sites of the Grande Traversée du Mercantour

The lakes of Morgon are a series of three magnificent lakes enthroned at more than 2400 meters above sea level. Straddling the Mercantour National Park and the Italian Parco Naturale Alpi Maritime, the lakes of Framamorte tell a part of the military history of the place. A metal shelter typical of the Italian Alps allows walkers to find shelter for a few hours. The Valley of Wonders Its name takes its name from the thousands of prehistoric engravings made on colored stone slabs, the “ciappe”. These remains can be admired on reservation.

The more sporty venture on the GR 52 to cover it as a whole. But of numerous entry and exit points are accessible for day hikes or for a few days. The Departmental Plan for Walking and Hiking Routes maintains nearly 6500 kilometers of hiking routes.

Watch the video of the magnificent route of the Grande Traversée du Mercantour.

Many other sports facilities are available around the Grande Traversée du Mercantour. The Alpes-Maritimes enhance their exceptional territory through many outdoor alternatives. For example, the Vésùbia Mountain Park in Saint-Martin-Vésubie offers many high-quality infrastructures. The 13 trails of Saint-Martin-Vésubie alone offer nearly 270 kilometers of marked routes. In addition, there are cycle tourism routes, the longest zip line in France at Colmiane, or even ski resorts ... Hiking, mountain biking, via ferrata, horseback riding, canyoning and trail running await you very close to the Grande Traversée du Mercantour. . All information is available on Randoxygene.