Via Alpina: Castérino to Refuge des Merveilles

Day 3 of the Via Alpina Red hiking itinerary takes you into Mercantour National Park and through the famous Vallée des Merveilles.

Hiking Difficult

16 km
1.1 km
496 m
4-5 hrs
Low Point
1.6 km
High Point
2.5 km
Via Alpina: Castérino to Refuge des Merveilles Map

Today is definitely one of the best days of the week-long Via Alpina hiking itinerary. You’ll enter the Mercantour National Park and pass through the famous Vallée des Merveilles (Valley of Marvels).


After leaving your lodgings in Casterino, follow along the Valmasque stream around the base of the Mont Paracouerte to the entrance of the Mercantour National Park. After stopping at the Valmasque hut for refreshments, keep going southwards along the path, which will lead you past a trio of stunning alpine lakes: the Lac Vert, Lac Noir, and the Lac du Basto. Before you reach the Baisse de Valmasque Pass, turn onto the GR52, leaving the Via Alpina Red briefly to venture down the Valley of Marvels, where you will find over 1000 carved boulders and rocks dating back to the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Spend the night at the Refuge des Merveilles. For more information:




Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between March and October


  • Alpine
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area