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      March 2011 > Valley of Marvels

Valley of Marvels

Back streets of La Brigue, southern FranceIn the rugged mountains of southern France, the unspoiled villages of the Alpes Maritimes are a far cry from the bustling French Riviera. Here, nestling in a deep wooded valley and sheltered by high peaks above which eagles soar, is the quiet village of La Brigue.

Brightly coloured houses lean precariously across narrow cobbled streets (left) that somehow all seem to lead to the same pretty flower-filled square, the hub of village life and the perfect place to sit and watch the sun go down over the hills.

It is from La Brigue that our walk from the Alps to the Mediterranean begins, with two nights at the Hotel Le Mirval (below), run by the welcoming M. and Mme. Dellepiane (pictured here) and their family.

We suggest two walks into the surroundings hills while you are here, one to see the astounding wall paintings in a highly decorated medieval chapel, the other over into the next deep valley to explore the lively market town of Tende.

While in La Brigue, you also have the opportunity to visit one of the true artistic wonders of France, by joining your host, M. Dellepiane, a qualified mountain guide, on a full day’s 4-wheel drive excursion* into a remote neighbouring valley.

Four-wheel drive into the Valley of Marvels, FranceThe remarkable ‘Valley of Marvels’ in the Mercantour National Park contains a staggering 30,000 rock engravings dating from 2,000BC which were ‘discovered’ in the 19th century by a Victorian clergyman. Many of the Bronze Age images in this valley are worthy of display in any contemporary art gallery.

The carvings, which can still be plainly seen covering the red-hued rocks, include oxen and hunters, ploughmen and horses, strange-looking beings called ‘the Sorcerer’, ‘the Chief’ and ‘the Dancer’ - vivid and vibrant and reflecting the real lives of the ancient people who once came here.

Depending on your interests, it’s always worth looking out for these optional extras that you can experience on one of our holidays, whether it’s prehistoric art in France (as here); spring flowers in the Algarve; camping (safely) amid the wildlife of Québec; or collecting wild mushrooms to form the basis of a gastronomic evening at the Old Mill in Andalucia.

*Please note that this excursion is weather-dependent for a minimum of 4 passengers; available mid-June to mid-September, and costs €85per person, pay locally, pre-book with Inntravel.

Hotel le Mirval, La Brigue, France


Posted: 29/03/2011 14:17:06 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: France, heritage, nature, walking

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