This hiker’s dream journey brings you from mighty Mont Blanc, with its eternal glaciers and vast snowfields, to the palm-fringed beaches of the Cote d’Azur, where the Maritime Alps plunge into the blue Mediterranean. Setting off with sweeping panoramas of Mont Blanc, you’ll hike in high alpine meadows where cowbells echo and blue gentian blooms and through antique villages that are a step back in time. Heading south, you’ll follow glorious sections of 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 Cote d’Azur, we kick off our hiking boots and head for a celebratory dip in the sea!
This trip was a wonderful blend of beautiful alpine scenery, great outdoor exercise, charming towns, and interesting foods. Each day was a treat, and our guide worked in special stops on the days we had to drive longer distances (like for cappucino in Italy!).
— Inge K., Concord, MA
Megève / Vanoise National Park
A warm-up hike from Megève reveals the splendor of the French Alps and Mont Blanc (15,771'). In the Vanoise, where golden eagles soar amid a gorgeous setting of waterfalls, meadows, lakes, and glaciers, our dramatic hikes offer fabulous views of the glaciated Pralognan Valley and the immense ice cap of the Dome de la Vanoise. A ramble along an old Roman road leads beneath the towering Grande Casse (12,648') to Col de la Vanoise (8,255'), with beautiful reflections in three gleaming alpine lakes along the way.
Queyras Regional Park / St. Martin-Vésubie / Mercantour National Park
In Queyras, one of the most untouched areas of France, we hike across flower-filled meadows to the Col Cross, where mountain sheep roam. A relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere comes to life in St. Martin-Vésubie, where men play pétanque in the square and sip Pastis, the favorite drink of southern France. Mercantour National Park, with its tiny perched villages, steep peaks, and lush forests, is the setting for spectacular hikes with views of vast icy mountains.
Menton / Nice
After exploring the Vallée des Merveilles, with its thousands of Bronze Age rock engravings, we follow a trail with views of the sea up to the Col de Razet (3,385'). We then head to the coast for a well-earned swim in the Mediterranean. Depart on Day 14 via Nice.