Guidebook

Hike the Via Alpina: Italian Alps to the French Riviera

Spend 7 days hiking in the Alps from the French/Italian border all the way down to Monaco along the sustainably-minded long-distance trail: the wonderful Via Alpina!

Description

After a fantastically-scenic train journey through the Eastern Maritime Alps from Nice all the way across the border to Limone, Italy, the hiking starts off very gently as you climb through this remote French-Italian pocket of the Alps. Over the course of the week, the climbs get tougher and the scenery more spectacular as you pass by many mountain lakes and picturesque little mountain villages.

A large portion of the trail takes you through Mercantour National Park, where you’ll come across the wondrous Valley of Marvels, a high alpine valley scattered with over 1000 carved boulders and rocks dating back to the Neolithic and Bronze Age.

As well as ancient wonders, the Mercantour National Park has a plethora of natural delights, including 2,000 species of plants, a hundred or so animal species, and of course, magnificent landscapes including the Lac d’Allos, the biggest high mountain lake in Europe.

Onwards from the Mercantour National Park, you’ll descend through the Nice Foothills, enjoying magnificent views of the Mediterranean as you approach the trail’s endpoint: the elegant sovereign city-state of Monaco.

A Note on the Via Alpina:

The Via Alpina is a hiking network of epic proportions. Five interwoven trails totaling more than 5000km in length criss-cross all eight countries of the Alps: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland. The routes take you through everything from the ancient Walser villages of Piedmont, to the glistening Altaussee salt mines in Austria, connecting lush meadows on valley floors to craggy peaks in the sky. The trail has been designed to take hikers through all the major massifs, regions, geologies, and historical sights, and also to lesser-known attractions that deserve a place on the map.

Since 2014, the Via Alpina has been under the responsibility of the International Commission of the Protection of the Alps. An NGO committed to preserving Europe’s most magnificent mountain range, the Alps are under immense ecological pressure, in part from the 120 million visitors they see each year. The director of the project, Claire Simon, would like to “diversify the unlimited ski-tourism industry with respectful, low-impact alternatives.” And so the Via Alpina was created in 2002.

To find out more about the Via Alpina, check out our other guidebooks on this magnificent alpine hiking network:

https://fatmap.com/guidebooks/10521/3-epic-long-distance-hikes-along-the-via-alpina
https://fatmap.com/guidebooks/10239/lace-'em-up-for-a-3-day-hike-along-the-via-alpina
https://fatmap.com/guidebooks/8882/via-alpina:-ancient-paths-leading-to-a-greener-future

Sources:

https://www.tourism-alps-provence.com/mercantour-national-park/
https://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/05/travel/hiking-a-valley-of-marvels-in-france.html
http://www.via-alpina.org/en/hike/2

Via Alpina: Limone Piemonte to Limonetto
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Via Alpina: Limone Piemonte to Limonetto

1 - 2 hrs
4.0 km
303 m
16 m
The first stage of the Via Alpina 7 day itinerary from the mountain village of Limone Piemonte down to the Mediterranean.
Easy
Private
Via Alpina: Limonetto to Castérino
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Via Alpina: Limonetto to Castérino

Riserva Bianca – Limone Piemonte
4 - 5 hrs
16.1 km
849 m
596 m
Day 2 of the 7 day Via Alpina Red itinerary from the italian Alps down to Monaco.
Moderate
Private
Via Alpina: Castérino to Refuge des Merveilles
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Via Alpina: Castérino to Refuge des Merveilles

Nice
15.6 km
1,061 m
496 m
Day 3 of the Via Alpina Red hiking itinerary takes you into Mercantour National Park and through the famous Vallée des Merveilles.
Difficult
Private
Via Alpina: Refuge des Merveilles to Col de Turini
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Via Alpina: Refuge des Merveilles to Col de Turini

Nice
3 - 4 hrs
14.7 km
613 m
1,127 m
Day 4 of the Via Alpina Red itinerary from the Italian Alps to the Mediterranean.
Difficult
Private
Via Alpina: Col de Turini to Sospel
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Via Alpina: Col de Turini to Sospel

Nice
20.9 km
329 m
1,588 m
Day 5 of the Via Alpina 7 day itinerary from the Italian Alps to the Mediterranean.
Moderate
Private
Via Alpina: Sospel to Peillon
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Via Alpina: Sospel to Peillon

Nice
18.4 km
1,241 m
1,217 m
Day 6 of the Via Alpina 7 day itinerary from the italian Alps to the Mediterranean.
Moderate
Private
Via Alpina: Peillon to Monaco
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Via Alpina: Peillon to Monaco

Nice
11.3 km
480 m
804 m
The final day of the 7-day hike along the Via Alpina from the Italian Alps to Monaco.
Moderate
Private