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Hiking from the Mercantour Southern Alps to the French Riviera trails

Hiking from the Mercantour Southern Alps to the French Riviera trails


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Behind the French Riviera, the Alps rise dramatically.
Almost all tourists visit the tiny strip of land along the coast, but the backcountry is dotted with timeless villages that have escaped the glitz and glamour of the towns along the sea.
The centuries-old paths lead from one village to the next, with jawdropping panoramas of mountains and Mediterranean Sea. You reach the town of Menton, one of the prettiest villages of the coastline, where you can stroll along the beaches and enjoy an ambiance only the Côte d'Azur can offer...

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
  • Authentic villages nestled in deep wooded valleys, surrounded by high mountains
  • The cultural mesh of Italian and French influences
  • The lost village of La Brigue, on the Italian border
  • The magnificent perched village of Sainte Agnès
  • The coloured italian-style town of Menton on the Mediterranean Sea

Day 1

Nice & La Brigue

Nice La Brigue back country of the french riviera

  • Nice > La Brigue
  • You arrive on your own in the timeless village of La Brigue - by train -, nestled in the mountains near the Italian border, with its beautiful architecture and its centuries-old homes with colourful façades. The village traded its Italian flag for a French one in 1947, and much of this valley is bathed in a Franco-Italian fusion of language, food, and culture. Dinner included and night in La Brigue.
  • Market on Sunday morning in La Brigue
  • Access: Regular train lines from Nice > la Brigue. Check ahead the schedule on SNCF PACA

Day 2

    • Distance :
    • 12 km
    • Elevation :
    • + 550m
      - 550m

Panoramic views above Tende

tende sospel

  • La Brigue > La Brigue  (4h20 - 7.5 miles)
  • You climb from the town of La Brigue, up a tight valley laden with wild lavender, thyme, and winter savoury. Passing the ruins of stone dwellings, you reach the Boselia pass and begin a breathtaking and panoramic descent along the slope towards Tende, the very last town before the Italian border. Take a well-deserved pause in town, at a local café or restaurant. Though we have marked a walking route to return to La Brigue, the railway line links both villages, and so you can take the train to return. Dinner on your own and night in La Brigue.
  • Market on Sunday morning in La Brigue

Day 3

    • Distance :
    • 15 km
    • Elevation :
    • + 600m
      - 550m

Olive groves to Italy

olive groves of olivetta

  • Breil sur Roya > Olivetta > Sospel (3h30 - 6.5 miles)
  • A scenic and short bus/train/taxi transfer takes you to the town of Breil sur Roya, lower in the valley, nestled between the mountains and the Roya River. From Breil, a path leads you along centuries-old terraces through the olive groves. You reach the tiny village of Piène Haute, seemingly lost on its rocky perch, with a year-round population of only 30 souls.
    From here you descend a valley adorned with ancient olive trees, and arrive smack on the border between France and Italy. Embark on a small detour to the quaint Italian village of Olivetta for lunch before walking above a spectacular gorge to Sospel. Dinner on your own and night in Sospel.
  • Market on Tuesday & Saturday (small one) in Breil sur Roya

Day 4

    • Distance :
    • 10 km
    • Elevation :
    • + 500m
      - 500m

To the highest coastline village in Europe

hikers walking from sospel to sainte agnes

  • Sospel > Sainte Agnes (4h - 6.2 miles)
  • A short transfer takes you to the Col de Castillon pass, where you are teased with views of the shining blue Med Sea. You follow a path under the shade of an ash forest and zigzag upward towards the watchtower of Mont Ours before the true panorama is laid out: the entire Riviera and even the island of Corsica in clear weather. The medieval town of Sainte Agnes sits perched like an eagle's nest between you and the sea.  Sainte Agnès is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France, its narrow cobbled streets built over the centuries with massive granite blocks. Only 3km from the sea as the crow flies, and perched at 800m in altitude, Sainte Agnès is listed as Europe's highest coastline village. Dinner is included and night in Sainte Agnès.
  • Extra walk option: We recommend an extra night in Sainte Agnès to enjoy the extra walk to the nearby village of Gorbio out-and-back (3h45 - 10km - 6.2 miles - +450m/-450m). See the Extension section 
  • Market on Thursday & Sunday (small one) morning in Sospel

Day 5

    • Distance :
    • 14 km
    • Elevation :
    • + 250M
      - 950M

Down to the Mediterranean sea

sainte agnes menton

  • Sainte Agnès > Menton (4h30 - 8.7 miles)
  • Picnic included
  • You leave Sainte Agnès to descend into a lush valley, framing the hilltop Castellar. This sleepy village with quiet streets, sole grocery store, bar and two restaurants, is the last bastion of tranquility before arriving on the Riviera. From Castellar you find and old path winding down, and soon you've reached a set of ancient steps set directly above the old village of Menton. Spend time raoming along the colourful labyrinth of streets in the old town before a small stretch of boardwalk leading to your hotel. Dinner on your own and night in Menton.

Day 6


menton on the med sea

  • End of your trip after breakfast.
    Too much to see and do in Menton ..! And that's why we suggest an extra night here in Menton, probably the prettiest town on the Mediterranean, to explore the most happening place on the planet...
  • Lots of markets in Menton : Covered market every morning, on Tuesday morning on Carei Square, on Saturday morning fish market at the port
  • Return: Regular train lines from Menton > Nice
  • SELF GUIDED TOUR : The rates and supplements are per person 
  • GUIDED DAY - A fixed rate: the price is the same from 1 to 4 participants with one guide 
     The rate for the guided day remains the same no matter if you are 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 persons 
  • BOTH are subject to availability
  • Go to the TRIP INFO section below :
    - to check the minimum person BASIS of this trip
    - to check the single room ( 1 pers. ) supplement
    - if you're travelling SOLO: please contact us

Sup per period
    • Unavailable
    • High + 50€
    • Low

Choose your level of comfort according to your wish & budget !

> For a single room ( 1 pers. ) a single supplement will be charged
> See in our TRIP INFO section
> Keep in mind that your trip is always subject to availability

  • Hotel Le Mirval - La Brigue

    Located at the entrance of the medieval village of La Brigue, this charming hotel - fully renovated - is situated by the river, with a beautiful garden and a terrasse : an oasis of willow trees and lush vegetation.

    The panoramic restaurant offers a traditional cuisine - with nice & italian influences. 

    You will appreciate the quietness of this family-run hotel, along the friendly welcome of Mr et Mme DELLEPIANE.

  • Hotel Les Etrangers - Sospel

    Set in the heart of the village of Sospel, the hotel des Etrangers offers comfortable and modern rooms, excellent food, and a swimming pool set just above the river.

    The Domérégo family always welcome you with a very warm welcome.

  • Hotel Le Saint Yves - Ste Agnes

    Perched high above the Mediterranean - though there are no bells and whistles - the modest rooms have been modernized, and the fellow walkers' ambiance here is made extremely warm and friendly by Georges & Marie-Rose.

    At the restaurant, you'll find the same atmosphere, and be careful what you order: the portions are set for even the most famished walker!

  • Hotel Paris Rome - Menton

    The Castellana family has owned and run the hotel for more than 100 years; the matriarch of the family, now over 80, still works there.

    Elegance and modernity are harmoniously balanced in each one of the rooms, while the gastronomic restaurant - set in an oasis of subtropical vegetation - has one star in the Michelin guide.

    • Very closed to the "Menton Garavan" train station

The rates are per person, on a 2 pers. basis and subject to availability

  • Most prices are based on a 2-person booking ( with shared accommodation for a hotel)
  • You will be able to select the exact number of traveller(s) when completing your reservation form
  • If you're travelling SOLO : please contact us


  • Rates on a min. of 2 persons. reservation. 
    (for 1 person: contact us)
  • We recommend an extra night in Sainte Agnès to enjoy an extra walk to the nearby village of Gorbio (out-and-back). The perched little village of Gorbio - on its rocky spur - is worth a lengthy visit. Those who come to visit it often remark that it is one of the most authentic villages along the Riviera. The Renaissance castle at the edge of the village - converted into a museum - and the two chapels attest to the village’s rich medieval history.
  • The extension rate includes: a (shared) room BB with dinner at the St Yves hotel in Ste Agnes, and a roadbook with detailed note & map. Sup single room : 30€. 
  • Repatriation insurance : applicable for all clients visiting the Europe-Schengen region that includes France
  • Rate : for a maximum trip of 1 week = 7 days
    Supplement for a trip above 7 days
  • See the insurance contract here 

TRIP rates 

The rates are per person, on a 2 pers. minimum reservation basis ( shared room), and subject to availability


  • 5 nights double occupancy with private facilities
  • 5 breakfasts
  • 2 dinners
  • 1 picnic
  • Day 3: transfer to Breil sur Roya, start of your walk
  • Day 4: transfer to teh start of your walk
  • Luggage transfers days 3 to 6
  • Our Road Book with detailed walking itineraries, including highlighted maps
  • 1 road map of the region


  • All lunches not noted-included in your itinerary
  • Entrance fees into museums, insurance, drinks
  • Items of personal nature
  • SINGLE supplement
    Comfort accommodation : 145 €uros

NOTE - Accommodation

The Hotel St Yves in the village of Saint Agnes (day4) is rather a simple hotel, than a "standard" comfort one. : it offers modest rooms, with a family and fellow walkers' ambiance that is extremely warm and friendly.

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Pre tour information document to download: