From the Mountains to the Sea along the GR5


This hiker’s dream journey brings us 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 below the flanks of Europe’s highest peak, we hike through alpine meadows where cowbells echo, and to age-old villages that are a step back in time. Following the legendary GR5 trail across remote national parks, we enter brightly colored hill villages that announce the Mediterranean is near. Arriving on the coast, we head for a celebratory dip in the sea. Our adventure has been named one of Outside Magazine’s Trips of a Lifetime.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Megève / Mont Blanc Massif

We begin with a hike to Mont Joly (8,284') along a ridge with breathtaking views. Crossing the Col de Bresson, we enjoy panoramas of Mont Blanc’s south face and the striking monolith of Pierra Menta.

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Days 4-7
Vanoise National Park

With vistas of waterfalls, meadows, and glaciers, we enter Vanoise National Park, home to ibex and chamois. Our route brings us above treeline, with a descent to the beautiful hamlet of Champagny le Haut. A ramble leads us beneath granite peaks to Col de la Vanoise (8,274'), with gleaming alpine lakes along the way. We hike into the narrow Vallée étroite, once used as a passage into France from Italy, and cross Col des Thures (7,196') to the village of Névache.

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

In Queyras, one of France’s most untouched areas, we traverse flower-covered meadows to the Col du Cros, where we may see wild mountain sheep. In St. Martin-Vésubie men play pétanque in the village square and sip pastis. In Mercantour National Park, with its tiny perched villages, we hike to a pilgrimage site and onward to the Col de Fenestre (8,117') on the border with Italy, savoring views of vast glaciated mountains.

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Days 12-14
Menton / Nice

We explore Bronze Age rock art in the Vallée des Merveilles, follow a trail with views of the sea, 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 us through a range of cultures and landscapes
Secluded mountain villages and less-traveled national parks
Small groups—maximum seven people!


Length: 14 days
Cost From: $7195  
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 6,000-9,400 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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