Mercantour National park with donkeys
This walking tour with a donkey is full of variety. Through the foot-hills and the fragrance of Provence and up to the alpine panoramas of Mercantour National Park. From the oak to the larch; from the wheat fields to the gentian lawns; from a man made landscape to a sweeping scenery of wilderness. The last 2 days are a grandiose conclusion of the trip – with a good general idea of high mountain conditions and Europe’s largest glacial lake. Marmots, chamois and golden eagles will be there to meet you!
Suitable for families with kids from 5 years.
Path conditions: very well signposted and marked with easily distinguishable yellow rectangles. They do, however, remain mountain paths.
Accommodation: Family rooms in auberge , gites, mountain refuge.
This summer you will have to bring your personal bag sheet, towels and also a sleeping bag. You will use the sleeping bag on the last two accommodations as mountain refuges in France are not anymore allowed to provide blankets due to the new COVID hygiene standards.
Duration: 8 days
Departure: june 1 - september 30
Price: 743,00 eur per person adults / 630,00 eur per person children 5-12 yrs
- The advice of a local English speaking guide
- Accommodation at mountain refuge, guest house or mongol yurt
- FB treatment – breakfasts, picnic lunches, dinners
- your own personal donkey to carry your bags
- a road book an IGN map of the paths a leafy booklet on the valley,leaflet published by the Mercantour National Park.
- Transfer from Estenc-Villeplane at the end of the trek
- arrival in Villeplane
- anything not mentioned under “the price includes”
Nica - Villeplane
Arrival in Villeplane in the afternoon. Dinner and night in ecolodge.
Collet de la Cime or les Gorges Rouges de Daluis
Option 1 – Collet de la Cime
This beautiful half day hike leads through a very quiet area. The Collet de la Cime, from which you have a wonderful panoramic view (360 °) on all the surrounding peaks, can be reached after a slight climb of 300 meters. A picnic in the shade of the larches near the Col de Devens and a a small stop at the stream, where you can refresh yourself in a water and take some relax.
Ascent: 300 m, descent: 300 m, duration: 2,5 hrs, distance: 6 km
Option 2 – les Gorges Rouges de Daluis
In the program: The Gorges de Daluis with their deep ravines of the wine-red rocks. All along the way there are explanatory panels on the animals, plants, minerals and other peculiarities of the area. This magnificent hike leads through a landscape that is unique in Europe; therefore, this exceptional area is protected as a European natural heritage and is included in various nature conservation programs.
Ascent: 350 m, descent: 350 m, duration: 4,5 hrs, distance: 9 km
Villeplane – Saint Martin d’Entraunes
This fairly long hike borrows an ancestral path connecting villages between them. It will impregnate you with thewilderness charm of our mountains and their 2500 meter sommets cutting through the blue of the sky, punctuated by small hamlets perched with their walls made of dry stones, shaded forests and amusing halts in the pools of refreshing torrents.
Saint Martin d’Entraunes – Val-Pelens
A short, peaceful connecting link to your next destination which will allow you to ‘tantalise’ the high mountain altitude at your own rhythm. You can then continue with the Extra option below. This way with its evocative name, recalls the time when the public service had to provide good pair of shoes to ensure mail delivery … Before beginning to climb, the trail follows an old irrigation channel, to supply water to land or crops and then crosses the rocky Bramus in a spectacular waterfall. Passing through St Martin d’ Entraunes, there is also the alternative to visit the small Roman church with its magnificent altarpiece of the fifteenth century.
Extra option (without donkey)
This is the perfect occasion to visit the most alpine area of the valley, the circle of the ‘Clot de l’Aï’ is rich in mineralogy and offers beautiful scenery; a mountain full of life, dominated by the ‘Aiguilles of Pelens’ whose conquest became a veritable epic. From the ‘auberge des Aiguilles’, you will head to the base of a ski slope, which you will walk up, veering round to the right at the top, and heading towards a large opening in the trees. Through a woody ascent which transforms into a mineral, rocky climb, you will reach a beautiful crest. Arriving at the summit which overhangs the circle of Äi, you’ll be amazed by the magnificent view.
Distance: 5 km, walking time: 4 hrs, ascent: 635 m, descent: 635 m
Val Pelens – Entraunes
Option 1 – by the Serre d’Au
A stunning trek, travelling through ancient country living sites. Now that nature has taken over, it is the attentive eye that can detect the traces. You will then be mesmerised by the power of the dense, vertical waterfalls waiting for you towards the end of your day. Leaving your auberge, you will cross over the brook of Chastelonette and walk through the homonym sheepfolds to reach the green woods. After crossing the stream of Rinières, you will follow a long woody path to the Belvédère (‘panoramic viewpoint’) of Serre d’Au. Descending through the woods and passing the barns of Bourguet, you will come to the village of Entraunes.
Option 2 – by the Col des Champs 2045m
A remarkable trek towards the vast alpine landscapes of the mountain pass of Champs, meeting marmots along your way and what is more, an open panorama over the hautes vallées. You will be stunned by the power of the dense, vertical waterfalls awaiting you towards the end of your day. From your auberge, the itinerary takes you over the Luna ravine and up through a shoulder to arrive at a large open space, from where you will take the old path, rimmed with stones. Here you have the chance of a return trip to an outstanding geographical mountain pass. Descend past a shepherd’s cabin to Entraunes by a magnificent path which in times past was the principal link between the high valleys of Var and Verdon.
Distance: 17 km, walking time: 7-8 hrs, ascent: 920 m, descent: 850 m
Entraunes / Estenc
Walking up through the village, you will follow a pretty path along the bed of the impressive Var river, between towering cliffs, and across the footbridges over the torrents of Garréton, Aiglière and the Var, with their impressive vertical falls! Passing the chapel of St. Sauveur, you will follow the path around a little lake to walk through Pra Long (long meadow) and arrive at your refuge.
Estenc – Col del la Cayolle
Option 1 : An ascent which progresses in altitude up a beautiful path through a centennial larch tree forest to the timberline (edge of inhospitable climate), where you emerge to
find high mountain pastures and the charming mountain range of Sanguinière with its wild scenery, typical of the contrast and diverse southern Alps.
Option 2 : Typically alpine, deep into the Mercantour park, this itinerary combines all the attractive elements of a high mountain environment: panoramic mountain passes, barren ravines, gnarled larch and prancing chamois.
Col de la Cayolle – Estenc – the breathtaking tour of the lakes
Option 1: Your weeks trek rounds off in a climax with an enchanted tour around the glacial lakes of Allos, Garrets and la petite Cayolle. You will lose yourself on this journey through nature, where the blue sky is reflected in the clear waters of the lakes and the endemic flora strewn with alpine pastures: Alonie bluebell, wooly Berardie, Koch gentians, acaulescent catchflies, vanilla orchids, pansies …
Option 2: if you are a keen mountain-goer, you will not be able to leave the region without climbing the Mont Pelat (3050m), the highest local summit. A mountaintop whose name is
etymologically transparent, it’s flanks of barren rockslides cut across the blue sky. The tradition is to reach the summit at the rising of the sun and, on a clear day, enjoy this majestic 360°
view: To the south, Corsica; a faint shadow on the liquid horizon, to the north, the distant Mont Blanc glistening white, and to the east, the Italian and Swiss Alps. You will be picked
up and driven back to Villeplane at 5pm.