Mont Blanc to the Mediterranean

From the Mountains to the Sea along the GR5

Overview

This hiker’s dream journey brings us from mighty Mont Blanc, with its perpetual glaciers, 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 boots and head for a celebratory dip in the sea. Our unique French adventure has been featured as one of Outside Magazine’s “Trips of a Lifetime.”

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Megève / Mont Blanc Massif

Amid the splendor of the French Alps, we hike up to Mont Joly, then follow a spectacular ridge with views of Mont Blanc in all its glory. Our crossing of the Col de Bresson brings panoramas of the south-facing flanks of Mont Blanc and the monolith of Pierra Menta.

Hotel Au Vieux Moulin
Megève, France
Days 1 to 2 (2 nights)
Hotel Autantic
Bourg-Saint-Maurice, France
Day 3 (1 night)
Days 4-7
Vanoise National Park

Entering the Vanoise, we hike 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 alpine lakes along the way. One of our hikes is in the Vallée Etroite, 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.

Hotel de la Vanoise
Pralognan-la-Vanoise, France
Days 4 to 5 (2 nights)
La Clé des Champs
Val Cenis, France
Day 6 (1 night)
Relais des Deux Cols
Val Cenis, France
Day 6 (1 night)
Auberge de la Paix
Briancon, France
Days 7 to 8 (2 nights)
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 prevails in St. Martin-Vésubie, where men play pétanque in the square and sip Pastis. In Mercantour National Park, with its perched villages and forests of holm oak, we hike to the Col de Fenestre (8,115') on the Italian border.

Auberge de la Paix
Briancon, France
Days 7 to 8 (2 nights)
Villa Morelia
Jausier, France
Day 9 (1 night)
Hotel L'Ecureuil
Auron, France
Day 10 (1 night)
Hotel La Chataigneraie
Saint Martin en Vesubie, France
Day 11 (1 night)
Days 12-14
Vallée des Merveilles / Levens / Nice

After our hike up to the rocky Pas de l'Arpette, we head off the GR5 trail to explore the Vallée des Merveilles, an open-air museum of Bronze Age rock engravings, with an overnight in the medieval hill town of Levens. Our last day of walking is one to savor as we follow the GR5 over the last of the Alps, Mont Cima and Mont Chauve, before they drop into the sea, then arrive in the bustling Mediterranean city of Nice. Depart on Day 14 via Nice.

Highlights

Highlights

Hike our unique mountain route across a spectacular range of cultures and landscapes
Explore secluded mountain villages and less-traveled national parks
Enjoy a small group—maximum 12 people—and expert Trip Leaders

Details

Length: 14 days
Cost From: $7395  
Arrive: Megève, France
Depart: Nice, France
Lodging: 13 nights rustic hotels and inns
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 1 dinner as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

12 hiking days on moderate to steeptrails, 5-7 hours a day, altitudes between 6,000-9,400 feet, van support

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