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Alpine Marvels

Inside the Mercantour National Park
 
The perfect break for adventurous walkers: based at a rustic and welcoming mountain hotel, choose from a fine selection of routes in the Mercantour National Park with plentiful wildlife and ancient rock carvings. Then choose an optional excursion to the ‘Valley of Marvels’.
 

Holiday information

 

A short walking break in southern France

High above the French Riviera, yet just 30 kilometres from the sea, the pristine Alpine lakes of the Mercantour National Park sparkle amid towering peaks. Vibrantly coloured wildflowers carpet the pastures during summer, while the abundant wildlife – ibex, chamois and marmot – is outshone only by the astonishing human legacy of bygone ages – the 50,000 or more stone carvings which together comprise Europe’s largest open-air museum.
You explore all of this from the comfort of our cosy, chalet-style hotel, nestling in the tranquil and remote-feeling Castérino Valley, where hosts Angelo and Marina will ensure you eat heartily and are welcomed like family.
 
Gallery
 

Walking & more

The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on the day of your choice and, since there’s no fixed itinerary, you can take your pick of our suggested walking routes and cultural visits according to the weather and your mood.
  • The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.
    Average temperatures and rainfall
      Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    °C 2 3 7 9 13 17 21 21 17 12 7 3
    mm 53 46 80 146 158 132 124 112 103 103 107 54
  • An introduction
    Based in the remote mountain hamlet of Castérino, you are situated within the Mercantour National Park, which you can explore on foot by choosing from a variety of routes, all starting from the hotel door. While none are easy, and some present quite a challenge, the rewards are great in this timeless and unique corner of Europe.
  • Choice of routes: 10km to 21km

    Fontanalba Valley: 15km, 5.5hrs; 920m ascent/descent
    Follow a former military road up the Fontanalba Valley – a cobbled track leading you high above lush forests and into storybook Alpine pastures. Here, you reach the heart of the Mercantour National Park, with abundant flora and fauna, including ibex, chamois and marmot. Admire some of the remarkably well-preserved rock carvings near Lac Vert (some of which have been here for more than 6,000 years), as you puzzle over the mysteries of previous civilisations, who have – quite literally – carved their histories into stone. Return to your hotel via Lac des Grenouilles and the Castérino Valley.

    Cime de Gratin: 10km, 4.5hrs; 815m ascent/descent
    With extension to the Col de Sabion: 20.5km, 8hrs; 1,275m ascent/descent
    Ascending from the steeply enclosed valley, a peaceful evergreen forest gives way to sparse larch, before you pass above the treeline. Follow a forestry road atop the crest, through Alpine pastures and passing military bunkers: this highly strategic region passed from Italian to French hands in 1957, and has been closely protected for centuries. You reach a local summit with far-reaching views of the Mercantour valleys to the west, and the ridgelines of the natural Italian borders to the north and east. More ambitious walkers can extend their journey to the Col de Sabion, where there are sweeping views across the crystal-clear waters of Lago della Vacca, and can even take a step or two over the Italian border. You return to Castérino via a cobbled track that snakes back down into the valley.

    Lac de l’Agnel: 16km, 6hrs; 875m ascent/descent
    You first must reach the head of the Castérino Valley, where all roads end. Continue your ascent by heading west up the lush Valmasque Valley, under the shade of larch trees, then leave the river behind as you ascend a rocky path. A short but steep section takes you up to a plateau, where you reach one of the largest Mercantour lakes – Lac d’Agnel, where ibex and chamois are liable to be your only company against a backdrop of imposing peaks. You then retrace your path back to the hotel.

    Valmasque Valley & Alpine lakes: 20.5km, 8 hrs; 1240m ascent/descent
    For those fancying an even greater challenge, this stunningly beautiful walk (not advisable in poor weather) begins with a lengthy ascent – via a former military road, a cobbled track and then a stony path – to reach the Baisse de Fontanalba pass (2,568m). From here, you drop into the remote Valmasque Valley to enjoy the tranquility of three fairy-tale Alpine Lakes (Lac du Basto, Lac Noir and Lac Vert), before descending the valley via waterfalls and lush vegetation back to your hotel.
    Exploring the Fontanalba Valley
    Cime de Gratin route
  • Optional add-on: a full-day, 4WD excursion including 2hrs walking
    We strongly recommend adding an extra night so that you can gain privileged access to the Vallée des Merveilles itself, the most celebrated – and protected – part of the region. Spectacularly remote, and presided over by Mont Bégo, home of the ancient Ligurian gods, it is snowbound for much of the year, yet reveals a treasure trove of Neolithic and Bronze Age rock art each June. Pre-book your guided, four-wheel drive and walking excursion through us – pay locally (€90pp) – and you can look forward to an unforgettable treat. (Rocky terrain, so not for anyone with a bad back.)
    The Valley of Marvels
 

Accommodation

Hotel le Chamois d’Or has a particularly welcoming atmosphere, thanks to your enthusiastic hosts, the larger-than-life Angelo and his wife Marina. Nothing is too much trouble, and you will almost feel like one of the family – or a valued houseguest – during your stay.
Hotel Le Chamois d’Or

Bedrooms

 

Extend your stay

 
Prices & travel options
All prices are in £ sterling (GBP). If you'd like to see what they equate to in your currency, use the converter. For general information on pricing, see the 'your holiday price explained' page.
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  • 3 nights: 12 June 2020 - 30 September 2020

    Start any day | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    12 - 29 Jun 2020 £545 £115
    30 Jun - 31 Aug 2020 £615 £135
    1 - 27 Sep 2020 £545 £115
    3rd & 4th person discount -£65
    Single traveller supplement £65

    Includes accommodation, meals and services integral to the holiday as described, plus walking notes and maps, but no travel from the UK, nor any connecting travel from the airport unless stated below.

    Please note: if adding an extra night in Castérino, pay locally for the Vallée des Merveilles excursion (€90pp, minimum 2 people).

    Book your flights through us and we'll find the best route and times to suit you. Please contact us to find out more about our flight booking service. We can also book connecting travel - see below.

  • Room upgrades (£ per person per night)

    Hotel Le Chamois d’Or, Castérino
    Balcony: 12 Jun - 30 Sep 2020 £12

    Extra nights (£ per person per night) in a double or single room

    Pay locally for Vallée des Merveilles excursion: €90pp
    Hotel Le Chamois d’Or, Castérino (B&B) Double room Single room
    12 Jun - 30 Jun 2020 £90 £122
    01 Jul - 31 Aug 2020 £108 £148
    01 Sep - 30 Sep 2020 £90 £122
  • RECOMMENDED AIRPORT(S):
    Nice

    Travelling from the UK

    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend flying via Nice. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    Outward route Airline
    Belfast Intl. - Nice easyJet,  jet2 
    Outward route Airline
    Birmingham - Nice (via Paris) Air France 
    Outward route Airline
    Bristol - Nice easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Durham Tees Valley - Nice (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Edinburgh - Nice easyJet 
    Edinburgh - Nice (via Paris) Air France 
    Edinburgh- Nice Flybe 
    Outward route Airline
    Glasgow - Nice (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Leeds Bradford - Nice Flybe,  jet2 
    Outward route Airline
    Liverpool - Nice easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    London City - Nice British Airways 
    Outward route Airline
    Gatwick - Nice British Airways,  easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Heathrow - Nice British Airways 
    Heathrow - Nice (via Paris) Air France 
    Outward route Airline
    Luton - Nice easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Stansted - Nice Ryanair 
    Stansted - Nice easyJet,  jet2 
    Outward route Airline
    Manchester - Nice British Airways,  easyJet,  jet2 
    Manchester - Nice (via Paris) Air France 
    Outward route Airline
    Newcastle - Nice easyJet 
    Newcastle - Nice (via Paris) Air France 
    Outward route Airline
    Southampton - Nice Flybe 
    Southampton - Nice (via Paris) Air France 
    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend flying via Nice. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    This list of flight options should be used as a guide only, and you should check each airline’s website for current routes, frequency and schedules. Not all flights operate daily, and may not run for the entire season. You should also heed the latest flight arrival time and earliest flight departure time stated in the connecting travel section, as it may not be possible to arrange connecting travel outside these times. Please do not book your flights until we have confirmed your accommodation to you. Alternatively, our expert reservations team will be happy to offer advice and to make flight bookings for you. We charge £35 per person for our flight booking service (£60 for India and Nepal). Your flights are then covered by our package-booking conditions, which give you greater protection in the event of delay or cancellation, as well as providing ATOL cover.

  • Prices below are based on 2 people travelling together. If you are travelling solo or as a party of 3 or more and our arrangements include a taxi, please contact us for prices; additional passengers often pay less.

    Unless otherwise stated, connecting travel by rail or bus tends to be from the city centre station, rather than from its airport, and connections between the two should be paid for locally.

    Connecting travel options - flying via Nice

    Outward route Price per person Latest flight
    arrival time
    rail Nice Ville to Breil-sur-Roya (1h25), taxi Breil-sur-Roya to hotel (0h45) included 1530
    direct taxi Nice airport to hotel (2h) £80 flexible
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest flight
    departure time
    taxi hotel to Breil-sur-Roya (0h45), rail Breil-sur-Roya to Nice Ville (1h25) included 1430
    direct taxi hotel to Nice airport (2h) £80 flexible
What is included
  • 3 nights
  • 3 dinners
    2 picnics
    3 breakfasts
  • route notes and maps
  • return rail & taxi from Nice
 
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FAQs

If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help. You might also find our General FAQs section helpful.
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from hotel to hotel, but also include practical information about places of interest and eateries along each route, plus cultural information about the area. If/when you are moving between hotels, you leave your luggage in reception as you leave, and it will be transferred ahead to your next accommodation, meaning that all you need to take with you are a camera, sun cream, drinks, food and waterproofs.

    For more detailed information, see our walking holidays in Europe page.
  • We can book a wide range of airlines and routes from the UK. As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. For Europe and Morocco, there’s a £35 booking fee per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). For India and Nepal, the booking fee is £60 per person. More information on flights >
  • We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
  • Since our holidays are self-guided, we recommend calling us for a chat about your plans before making a booking, especially if it’s the first time you’ve booked with us.
    The price panel shows the supplement for a single room and also the single traveller charge (this covers (luggage) transfers and other costs which are usually shared between two people).
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.

    More information about the booking process >
    Information about accommodation, general practicalities and more >
    Booking conditions >
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

    You don’t have to buy our travel insurance policy (if you live outside Europe you’ll definitely need to make your own arrangements, as the policy is only for UK and EU residents), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.

    We'll ask you for the details of your alternative policy (insurer, policy number and medical emergency phone number) so that we can help out if the worst happens while you are on holiday. It's up to you, though, to check that your policy covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs; we don't check alternative policies.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. If you’re a UK citizen, you need a full British passport to travel to France, but not a visa. If you are a citizen of another country, you’ll need to check requirements with the national embassy or your own consulate.

    Current information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice for UK citizens can be found through www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/before-you-travel and the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC). You must make sure you have adequate insurance cover for illness, accidents and repatriation (see the insurance question). UK citizens should also obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) by applying at a Post Office or at www.ehic.org.uk. The EHIC allows reciprocal health care but should not be seen as a substitute for travel insurance.
  • The official language is French. The currency is the Euro. French time is GMT/UTC + 1. It uses Daylight Saving Time, so in summer is on BST + 1.
  • At Inntravel we work in close partnership with our hoteliers, taxi drivers and other local suppliers to provide our self-guided holidays directly to you. We are entirely confident that you will continue to receive the usual warm welcome from them when the UK withdraws from the European Union (EU).

    It currently seems highly likely the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will take place on 31 January 2020, at which point the UK will enter a minimum 11-month transition period through to the end of December 2020. During this transition period there will be absolutely no changes to current arrangements for UK citizens travelling to an EU destination, so you can book your 2020 holiday certain that there will be no disruptions or complications caused by Brexit.
  • The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides up-to-date, country-by-country travel advice, as well as information on security, local laws, passports and visas for UK citizens.
    If you live outside the UK, see our essential travel information page for a list of relevant websites.
  • You are the best judge of your child’s/children’s capabilities. We are happy to take bookings for families of older children/teenagers if they walk regularly, love the outdoors and are comfortable with the distances and ascent/descent involved. Please note that the bedrooms at most of the accommodation we use will normally only sleep a maximum of 3 people, and sometimes only 2.
Last fetch time is : 1/20/2020 11:58:51 AM