From the Mountains to the Sea along the GR5


This hiker’s dream journey brings you from mighty Mont Blanc to the palm-fringed beaches of the Côte d’Azur, where the Maritime Alps plunge into the blue Mediterranean. Setting off with sweeping panoramas of Mont Blanc, we hike in high alpine meadows where cowbells echo and blue gentian blooms, and through age-old villages that are a step back in time. Heading south, we follow the legendary GR5 trail across remote national parks of singular beauty, then enter brightly colored hill villages that announce the Mediterranean is near. Arriving on the coast, we kick off our hiking boots and head for a celebratory dip in the sea. This trip has been featured as one of Outside Magazine’s “Trips of a Lifetime,” and we agree that it is!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Megève / Mont Blanc Massif

Our hike begins amid the splendor of Mont Blanc and the French Alps. Hiking up to Mont Joly, we follow a spectacular ridge with breathtaking views of the icy Mont Blanc massif in all its glory, and our crossing of the Col de Bresson brings us impressive panoramas of the south-facing flanks of Mont Blanc and the monolith of Pierra Menta.

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Days 4-7
Vanoise National Park

Entering the Vanoise, we follow dramatic trails above treeline with views of the glaciated Pralognan Valley and the ice cap of the Dôme de la Vanoise. A ramble along an old Roman road leads us beneath the granite peaks of the Grande Casse to Col de la Vanoise (8,255'), with three gleaming alpine lakes along the way. One of our hikes brings us into the Vallée Etroite (“Narrow Valley”), a remote Italian-speaking valley used long ago as a passage into France from Italy. The pastoral hamlets in this region seem more Italian than French.

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Days 8-11
Queyras Regional Park / St. Martin-VÉsubie / Mercantour National Park

In Queyras, one of the most untouched areas of France, we hike across emerald meadows to the Col Cross, where Corsican mouflon sheep roam. A relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere comes to life in St. Martin-Vésubie, where men play pétanque in the square and sip Pastis. In Mercantour National Park, with its tiny perched villages and forests of holm oak and olive, we hike to the Col de Fenestre (8,115') on the border with Italy. Here we stand between two national parks, one in Italy and one in France, savoring fantastic views of vast glaciated mountains.

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Days 12-14
Menton / Nice

After exploring the Vallée des Merveilles, with its Bronze Age rock art, we follow a trail with views of the sea up to the Col de Razet, then head to the coast for a well-earned swim in the Mediterranean. Depart on Day 14 via Nice.

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Our unique route leads through a range of cultures and landscapes
Secluded mountain villages and less-traveled national parks
Small groups—maximum 7 people!


Length: 14 days
Cost From: $6895  
Arrive: Megève, France
Depart: Nice, France
Lodging: 13 nights rustic hotels and inns
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 1 dinner (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

12 hiking days on moderate to steep trails, 5-7 hours a day, altitudes between 6,000-9,200 feet, van support (for luggage or if you wish to skip a day’s hike). This is a strenuous hiking trip, read “What the Trip is Like” for more details.

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