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My road book

Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau

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26 June 2020
At the gates of the Mercantour National Park, at the crossroads of the Vallée des Merveilles, the Boréon and the Gordolasque, Vésubie is a jewel for nature lovers with its flora and fauna . This valley awaits your visit and is only waiting to show you its wonders.

You will appreciate particularly in this itinerary :

  • Villages of character
  • Encounter with wildlife
  • The flora, landscapes and colours of summer
  • The valleys and gorges, suitable for white-water activities  
  • Infinite activities

You will discover the communes of Belvédère, Saint-Martin-Vésubie, Roquebillière, Valdeblore La Colmiane, La Bollène Vésubie, Lantosque, Venanson, Utelle, Levens, Duranus, etc.

Day 1

For your first day of your 100% nature vacation, opt for a horseback ride in the magnificent site of Le Boréon. From the charming village of Saint-Martin-Vésubie, known as "La Suisse niçoise", go for a two-hour ride on the cross-country ski trails, towards the cowherds, the lake and the river. You are now one with your horse... Perched on its back, observe in peace and quiet the ibex, chamois, mouflons, marmots and birds... A good start to your week in the Valley of Vesuvius, don't you think?

You are famished? Go to the restaurant l'Alpage or to the restaurant Le Boréon to taste authentic local products while enjoying an enchanting panorama.

Satisfied, you are now ready to meet an animal that has fed your children's fears: the wolf... To do so, head for Parc Alpha!

In 1992, the wolf returned to France in a natural and sustainable way. It happened here, in the Mercantour National Park. Parc Alpha was created to allow the public to discover this fascinating animal in the very heart of its natural territory. Wooden blinds make it easy for you to observe, in complete safety and discretion, three packs of wolves in semi-liberty, on fenced areas of natural vegetation. At the end of June 2020, Arctic white wolves also joined the packs in Alpha Park. The activities offered by the park's trainers and animators will help you learn more about the habits of this animal, which still provokes strong reactions. Don't miss the wolf feeding at 3.45 pm. From 4 July to 22 August 2020, two falconry shows (14:15 and 16:15) will feature other mythical species: birds of prey! Your "Little Red Riding Hoods" won't be bitten but they will certainly swallow a good snack! Go to the snack bar and the picnic area for a nice gourmet break... Once the batteries are recharged, your children will love to take on the adventure course in the trees (for children from 3 to 12 years old). In short, there's enough here to spend an excellent and rewarding afternoon with the family!

Finish your evening in the village of Saint-Martin-Vésubie, with a walk through its medieval streets and parish church. For dinner, you will find many restaurants such as La Bonne Auberge, La Treille or La Cave. Once again, you have a wide choice!

 

Did you know?

The Mercantour National Park covers 1,801 km² in the Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes de Haute-Provence. Its proximity to the coast adds a Mediterranean flavour to its magnificent landscapes, which are particularly wild and diverse.

Leaning against the border of Italian Piedmont, with which it shares nearly 33 km of ridges, the Mercantour massif is the last promontory of the Alpine arc to the south. At the summit of the Gélas, the highest peak of the Mercantour at 3,143 m, you are only 50 km from the sea as the crow flies!

The Mercantour National Park is renowned for its magnificent landscapes, mountains, lakes and green valleys but also for its unique biodiversity. Several hundred animal species are present: wolves, chamois, ibexes, mouflons, deer, roe deer, wild boar, marmots, ermines, hares, black grouse, heather roosters, snow partridges, golden eagles, bearded vultures, buzzards, not to mention the many insects, fish, amphibians, bats and reptiles. Keep a low profile and keep your eyes open!

Hikers will be able to enjoy the 600 kilometres of marked trails in the remarkable sites of the 6 valleys of the Park (Vallée de l'Ubaye, Vallée de la Tinée, Vallée de la Vésubie, Vallée du Haut-Var et du Cians, Vallée de la Roya Bévéra and Vallée du Haut-Verdon).

Day 2

Lac Nègre

Sleep well? Ready for another day in the great outdoors? Today we suggest two extraordinary walks to choose from. Either way, these hikes will allow you to spend a great day.

For the first option, put on your hiking boots, your backpack and set off to discover a Mercantour lake, the Lac Nègre, a magnificent 12-hectare lake. Well marked out and shaded, the course presents no notable difficulty.  At the car park of Salèse, in the Boréon, you can park your vehicle and fill your water bottle or gourd at the fountain. Then head towards the Col de Salèse and follow the signposts in the middle of the larch forest. After a 2-hour walk, much of which is along the river, you will see Lac Nègre in front of you at an altitude of some 2,500 metres. A well-marked path skirts it on the right and leads to the Pas du Préfouns (2,615 m), the border with Italy. This is a possible option to complete the hike and take pretty photographs of the lake and the Préfouns needles. You will take the same route for the return trip. You will cross many lakes, chamois, ibexes and a magnificent flora of the mountains...

The second option is to head towards Belvedere to visit the Vallée des Merveilles classified historic site, the largest rock engraving site in Europe! Accessible from the Gordolasque valley in 2h30 of walking, this valley takes its name from the 40 500 rock engravings dating from the Bronze Age that have been discovered there. A forest of century-old larch trees, lakes and steep peaks including the famous Mount Bego (which rises to 2,872 m) form a unique mineral landscape. It is advisable to book your visit with a state-qualified mountain guide. Visits are organized from June to September from the Refuge des Merveilles. Further information at the Tourist Information Office at Belvedere. Admire and photograph without touching the engravings and the rock in any way.

 

Finish your day by visiting the magnificent mountain village of Belvedere which, at an altitude of 830 m, has retained its charm of yesteryear. Afterwards, make a well-deserved "aperitif" stop at the Café des Tilleuls, on the main square.

Day 3

It is today at the resort of La Colmiane, in the commune of Valdeblore that we suggest you spend your 3rd day in Vésubie. This resort offers a whole range of activities for adults but also for children. Your day is bound to be very full.

To start, meet at 10 am at Colmiane Forest.  Tyrolean traverse, monkey bridge, jumping, climbing net... this accrobranche site invites you to take yourself for Tarzan... It offers four courses of increasing difficulty that will allow you to move from tree to tree, safely whatever your age and level (1 children's course and 3 courses reserved for people over 1m45). Enjoy the adventure and don't forget to enjoy the magnificent landscape!

Emotions make you hungry... To satisfy your stomach, the resort offers you its many restaurants. If you wish to go higher and enjoy a panoramic view of the Mercantour and the surrounding valleys, take the Pic chairlift which will take you to the high altitude restaurant Le Chalet du Pic.

Ready to experience more sensations this afternoon? In addition to its tree climbing, the resort of La Colmiane allows you to combine sports and fun experiences: giant zip line, summer toboggan, mini-golf, mountain bike descent, riding centre, paragliding, trampoline, hiking with pack donkeys, relaxation and well-being, visit to the farm, climbing and via ferrata... Which activity will you choose?

Find the testimony of Elodie who tested the summer toboggan.

 

Day 4

How green is my valley! Today's program: nature, sport (but not too much) and history!

Start the day with a nice electric bike ride on the Authion Massif, at an altitude of 2,080 metres. You will start from the mythical Col du Turini and pedal effortlessly, guided by an application on your phone. Magical, isn't it? You will be free to explore this historic site where the remains of the Second World War still exist today. Sérés de Rivière fortification, Maginot line... military interest mixes here with the grandiose landscapes of the high mountains. You will discover this exceptional itinerary on both natural and cultural levels; the loop of the Authion is largely located in the heart of the Mercantour National Park. Duration of the bike ride: 3 hours.

On Friday afternoons, during the summer season, guided tours are organized. The guide will retrace the thread of the various battles that took place on these high pastures. For several hours, you will relive history, while strolling between the forts and other military remains of the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to the historical discovery, if the weather lends itself to it, you will enjoy an extraordinary 360° panorama of the valleys and peaks of the Mercantour. Aren't we happy here?

Visit of Authion, on Fridays during the summer season (June to September) from 1.30 pm to 6 pm (depending on the weather). Information at the Tourist Information Office in Roquebillière : 00 334 93 03 51 60

You can plan a picnic for your lunch today. The site lends itself perfectly to it. And if you're feeling sleepy, why not lie down in the grass for a little nap in the green and fresh air?

The day is far from over and the region is full of resources. We invite you to come down to Roquebillière in the afternoon to, among other things, relax on the lawns and take a dip in the clear water of the biological pool. At the foot of the mountains, this natural body of water is a true oasis of freshness that offers an ideal compromise between river, pool and beachfront. The water is 24° and treated in a natural way. The site is open until 8pm in July and August and offers picnic tables, a fitness trail, a trout fishing lake (equipment provided) and three free tennis courts (keys are available at the Tourist Information Office in the village).

For dinner, go to the Auberge de Venanson, in the nearby village. There you will enjoy its mountain specialities and traditional slate brewery dishes concocted from fresh produce. Evenings are organized regularly and provide entertainment in the village.

Day 5

Water, cool temperatures (water between 13 and 16°C), breathtaking landscapes of beauty... the Canyon of the Riou de la Bollène-Vésubie (also called Les 3 Marmites de la Bollène) will give you strong sensations for the whole day: slides, jumps, watered abseils, abseiling, swimming... The site is spectacular and the activity is a bit sporty but suitable for everyone (from 12 years old). However, for your safety, we advise you to practice it under the supervision of professionals.

The descent lasts 4 hours with a break in the middle to rest and eat. You will picnic on the spot in a beautiful wilderness setting.

Ask at the Tourist Information Office of Bollène-Vésubie about the possibilities of evening meals.

After the canyon, visit the charming village of La Bollène. There too, you will enjoy a superb panorama of the surrounding mountains.

 

La Bollène-Vésubie

Day 6

Plateau de la Madone d'Utelle

For this penultimate day in the Vesubia Valley, you will have been sent to do the Via Ferrata of the Lantosque Canyons, but unfortunately, this one is exceptionally closed for work all summer 2020. But schedule it if you have to come back next year. It is indeed the most beautiful of the region...

While waiting for its reopening, we invite you to go to Utelle, a charming perched village. You will be able to park there and go hiking to reach the site of La Madone d'Utelle. After a little more than an hour's climb, you will reach the sanctuary and enjoy a 360° panorama. You can also reach the site by car.

At an altitude of 1180 m, on a vast plateau overlooking the sea, the Var and Tinée valleys, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Miracles also known as "La Madone d'Utelle" watches over the surrounding villages and has been welcoming pilgrims since the year 850.

Legend has it that three Spanish sailors lost in the storm off the coast of Nice saw a supernatural light that directed them towards the coast. Grateful to the Virgin Mary, they set up an oratory on the top of the mountain of salvation, which was destroyed, then rebuilt in 1806 as a chapel and restored in the middle of the 20th century. During the processions (3 times a year), the Virgin would detach from her mantle a shower of stars on the eve of each pilgrimage: this is the traditional explanation for the presence of stone stars found on the ground. These stars would be fossilized segments of marine animals, the Crinoids, close relatives of sea urchins, which reminds us that about 140 million years ago, the sea covered this region.

For lunch, the sanctuary's restaurant will be an option, as well as a picnic or a restaurant in Utelle. The village offers several establishments such as Le Bellevue, the Ferme Auberge Mérinos or the Aubergerie del Campo.

Then make a stop in Levens. This pretty village offers you a whole range of outdoor activities: climbing site, hiking trails, mountain bike circuits, horse riding, white water sports and canyoning... Enough to end your stay in beauty! Ask the Tourist Information Office in Levens for more information.

Day 7

Last day in the Valley of Vesuvius, but not least! We invite you to return to the crystal clear waters because in the lower part of the valley, between Utelle, Duranus and St-Jean-La-Rivière, canyoning is king!

Whether you are a seasoned sportsman or a beginner, this activity is entirely feasible, provided you are in good physical condition. We advise you to be accompanied by professionals in possession of a state certificate or diploma issued by the Ministry of Sports and Youth. For more information, contact the tourist information offices.

• The Vallon de la Peïra Canyon offers canyoning enthusiasts incredible spots with verticalities and magnificent waterfalls, one of which is 65m high. This course is very technical and is aimed at those with canyoning experience.

 The Canyon de L'imberguet is also a must-see spot for white water sports enthusiasts, only 35 minutes from Nice. Very playful with its narrow gorges, its swimming lanes, its numerous slides and its jumps of up to 7 meters, it can however be dry in summer. Remember to inquire beforehand.

• The Canyon of the Vallon de Duranus also offers a variety of progressions: abseiling, jumping, swimming. 

 

On a rainy day? Don't panic!

If the weather turns bad, you can replace the program of one of the days suggested in this itinerary by the Vesubia Mountain Park, in Saint-Martin-Vésubie. In this huge sports complex of 3,000 m², you will be able to try out all the indoor mountain activities thanks to its different areas: climbing, fun climbing, caving, indoor canyoning and an acrobatic high altitude course... The site is unique in Europe! In addition, a 250m² indoor swimming pool, a fitness room and a wellness area will allow you to spend a day full of experiences, well sheltered from the rain!

 

 

We hope that this itinerary will give you a small glimpse of the jewels of this valley. Heritage, landscapes, fauna, flora, varied leisure activities: everything is here for a tailor-made stay, to meet your expectations. Welcome to Nice Côte d'Azur!

Our accommodation suggestions

 

- Le Moonlight Chalet, Saint-Martin-Vésubie

Le Relais des Merveilles, Belvédère

Cabanes perchées du Boréon, La Colmiane

Gite La Miellerie, Saint-Martin-Vésubie

Chalet Anduebis, Saint-Dalmas Valdeblore

 

This itinerary is brought to you by Joelle from the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau.

 

Photo Credits : OTM NCA / JM / Horse&ventures / Alpha @ Nicolas HEBERT / Léa Niçoise / Philippe Dubreuil / Isabelle Fabre / Bureau d'information de La Colmiane