Lac de Vens Saint-Etienne de Tinée

A natural summer in the Vallée de la Tinée

  • 7 days

For a summer holiday far from the crowds but close to nature, go to the Tinée valley! Pastoralism, landscapes, rivers, high peaks, steep cliffs, heritage… are some of the components of your next stay.

You will appreciate particularly in this itinerary :

  • The perched villages
  • Encounters with wildlife
  • Flora, landscapes and mountain lakes
  • The valleys and gorges, suitable for water activities
  • Local products
  • Endless activities

You will discover the communes of Saint-Dalmas-Le-Selvage, Saint-Etienne-de-Tinée, Isola, Saint-Sauveur-sur-Tinée, Roure, Roubion, Valdeblore, La Colmiane, Rimplas, Marie, Ilonse, Bairols, Clans, La Tour-sur-Tinée, Tournefort

Attention, following the storm Alex in the valleys of the Nice hinterland, some activities or hiking trails may be inaccessible. Remember to ask our travel advisors in the tourist information offices before going out in the mountains.

Day 1

@OTM NCA

Walks and beautiful encounters

Stage of the GR5 and the Grande Traversée du Mercantour, at an altitude of 1,500m, the mountain village of Saint-Dalmas-Le-Selvage offers to lovers of wide open spaces numerous walks and hikes. We suggest you start this beautiful day with a visit to the Camps des Fourches which, at 2250 meters altitude, takes on the appearance of a deserted military village. With its 26 stone huts, it served as a base camp for alpine hunters long before the Great War of 14/18.

You will be able to walk inside the Camp and push the walk up to the Col des Fourches (15 min of very easy walking). From there, you will have a bird’s eye view of the Salso Moreno valley. Interpretation panels on the omnipresent marmots and on the military history of the site are placed right next to a bunker dating back to the construction of the Maginot Line which protected this territory against a hypothetical Italian invasion. This visit will certainly delight your children.

Nature is omnipresent in the vallée de la Tinée

Then start walking to the Col de Pouriac for a 5-hour walk. With marmots and chamois as your companions…

You will discover the panorama of black rocks characteristic of the Salso Moreno valley. To do so, go down into the valley until you reach a first shepherd’s hut, then the beacon 37. Continue straight ahead in the direction of the pass. The path climbs up into a mountain pasture, and you will discover curious round cavities dug around you. No bombs have fallen here, these holes are dolines, cavities that form naturally in the limestone rocks under the action of water.

Arrived at the pass, here you are on the border with Italy! D+ 580 m. The return journey is the same way.

Good tip: Information about this hike is available at the tourist information office in the village. Plan your picnic beforehand (possibility to get supplies in the village of Saint-Etienne-de-Tinée).

EIn summer, Saint-Dalmas-Le-Selvage also offers climbing enthusiasts 76 equipped routes, free of charge and of varying difficulty. “Le Rocher de Junic” overlooks the village from its grey limestone walls. To reach this site, you will have to walk only 20 minutes from the car park. Find out more

For dinner, you will find on the village square, the restaurants “Les 3 marmottes” and “Saveurs de montagne“. For more information

Day 2

Saint-Étienne de Tinée

Is it hot? No matter… The Saint-Etienne-de-Tinée lake offers a free swimming area and water activities for the whole family. You will have the possibility to rent a deckchair to relax in the sun or in a shady corner. The site also offers kayaks and buoys for rent. Tables soccer and ping-ping are also available on site. A refreshment bar and tables for your picnic will allow you to satisfy your appetite and quench your thirst! Part of the lake is also set up as a leisure and play park for children: “Le Petit Bois des Lutins” (5 € per day from 3 years old – free for children under 3 years old and over 60 years old).

10 minutes walk from the village, if your children want to challenge themselves, take them on the Via Corda du Rocher des Hirondelles route: 2 monkey bridges – 2 zip lines of 50 and 70m – 2 lianas 6 and 15m + 2 abseiling 15 and 50m.
From 10 years old – Tarif 30€/one person for 2h30 provided equipment, reservation and supervision required.

The Vertige d’Auron

Not far from there, in the resort of Auron, a whole range of activities are also on offer: mountain biking, climbing, trampoline, archery, climbing, petanque, golf, aquagym, swimming pool, pony riding, hiking, tennis, Boot Camp challenge… Relaxation, outdoor activities, sports activities supervised by instructors… your day will be far too short to test everything!

At the end of the afternoon, if you are a lover of stronger sensations or simply in love with beautiful landscapes, go to the Vertige d’Auron. Will you dare to walk a few meters (5 in fact…) on this metal footbridge and move towards the void? Auron’s Vertigo offers you an unprecedented 180° panorama of the Tinée valley, the village of Saint-Etienne-de-Tinée, the peaks of La Bonette and the highest peaks of the Mercantour. Free access all year round. The footbridge is located on the health trail of the resort of Auron.

Day 3

@Anthony Turpaud

Lakes of Vens

Today we suggest you a day hike to the lakes of Vens. In the heart of the Mercantour National Park, these 6 high altitude lakes in a row are the jewels of the Haute Tinée. Accompanied by a guide, you will discover, as you progress, landscapes of extreme photogenicity.

Once you reach the lakes, a mountain refuge allows the brave hikers to rest. Plan a stop to taste the famous blueberry tart on the terrace facing the lake. A must and a great reward after this splendid ascent! This hike will occupy your entire day.

Possibility to sleep at the refuge (34 places). Reservation required
Cover photo of the article : @ H-265 Agence Media

Good to know

The Mercantour National Park is intensifying mediation and animation for mountain leisure users. These exchanges on encounters with herds and guard dogs take place in the context of tours on the most frequented trails.

Within the framework of the national “wolf” plan, the Mercantour National Park has been entrusted with several missions. One of them is to carry out pastoral mediation actions to raise awareness among the general public of the behaviour and gestures to adopt in the presence of shepherds and dogs protecting the herds. Agropastoralism and hiking are two practices that coexist in the Mercantour. From June 1 to September 30, 2020, a mediator will raise awareness among hikers in the field and shepherds. In the Mercantour and more generally in all the high pastures of the Alps, everyone is led to come across these dogs: they are mainly patous and shepherds from Anatolia.

To find out more about the right gestures to adopt in the presence of guard dogs: See the video

Day 4

Isola, here we are!

Do you know the winter resort of Isola 2000 by reputation? The resort is also very lively and very well equipped for the summer season.

Today, we offer you a mountain bike ride. Without effort, go down the one path that will take you from Isola 2000 to Isola Village, along the Chastillon and Guerche rivers (negative difference in altitude of 1200 m). A state qualified instructor will accompany you and your children, whatever your level of practice. Plan a little more than an hour of descent during which you will cross 17 kms, 14 kms of which will be through a forest of fir and larch trees to reach the village chestnut grove, which is the pride of the Isolians. Possibility to rent mountain bikes on the spot.

This summer, electric and enduro mountain bikes are also available for hire on Fridays for adults and children. You will be able to freely use the paths around the village according to your level.

Also this summer, you can enjoy free hikes departing from Isola Village, supervised by professionals from the guides bureau. Some of them can be half-day or full-day hikes, so they are suitable for all ages and levels.

“Ah la vache !”

Here’s another isolated activity that will please your whole family: the itinerant cowherd! Immerse yourself in the world of pastoralism, every Wednesday at 5:00 pm. You will attend the milking of the cows as well as the suckling of the calves (mobile milking machine in the mountain pastures, the cows no longer go back to the barn in the evening during the summer season). Free drink and cheese will be offered. Finally, you will be able to enjoy a discussion with the alpacist who will tell you about life in the mountains and how cheese is made. Registration is compulsory.

For all these activities, information and booking at the tourist information office in Isola!

And don’t forget, the ski lifts are free of charge all this summer in the Mercantour resorts… Getting up high and oxygenating has never been easier!

Day 5

The Arboretum in Roure

We invite you to take another look at the world around you by visiting the Marcel Kroenlein arboretum. Covering 17 hectares, this high altitude garden (between 1,200 and 1,700 m above sea level) is located in Roure, on the edge of the Mercantour National Park. An “arboretum” is a botanical garden with a collection of trees. The Roure arboretum brings together coniferous and deciduous trees from mountains all over the world and perfectly combines contemporary art and nature. 70 artists from the “No Made” collective and great names such as Sosno, Ernest Pignon-Ernest or Ben have created works of art on the spot and then entrusted them to nature and the seasons… New works are added to the collection every year. Today labeled Remarkable Garden, this arboretum has a scientific, educational, touristic and artistic vocation. Visits all year round, from 10am to 6pm.

Land’Art workshop at the Arboretum de Roure: Creative learning with the collection of natural materials and manual skills with our nature guide. To be booked all year round on +33(0)7 82 93 70 98. Prices: 10 € adults – 7 € children (entrance + workshop).

Snowshoe walk at the Arboretum of Roure: Accompanied by a nature guide, discover the mountain trees dressed in their snowy coats. Observe, listen, look, follow the tracks of the animals… A hot chocolate or tea will be waiting for you at the Chalet de l’arbre. Admission 10 € (snowshoes provided). Book with Clément at +33(07) 82 93 70 98.

Roubion

After lunch, direction the Via Ferrata of Roubion, ideal for a family initiation. After an hour and a half of effort, your youngest children will be proud to have climbed along these 300 meters on the rock face. Equipment for hire at the Tourist Information Office in Roubion.

Unless you prefer to enjoy the clear and fresh waters of the Vallon du Moulin canyon. Located about 2 kms below the village of Roubion, this canyon has all the ingredients to test your sporting and technical skills (attention, difficult level – minimum age: 16 years old). The basins are shallow and therefore not very suitable for swimming, but the cold shower is guaranteed by a magnificent 60-metre waterfall in the hollow of a natural arch. Canyoning to be practiced accompanied by professionals and with adapted equipment.

Finally, visit Roubion. Clinging to the cliff, this medieval village offers beautiful views. As you stroll through the steep streets, you will discover about twenty painted doors evoking trades or scenes of life of yesteryear. You will definitively want to photograph them!

The good addresses


For lunch, dinner or even sleep, go to the Auberge Lo Robur in Roure. Gourmet cuisine and breathtaking views!

A few kilometres away, you also have the Auberge Quintessence in Roubion (1 star in the Michelin Guide 2019).

Day 6

@Ânes de Blore

Donkeys of Blore

In Valdeblore, light hiking thanks to the “Donkeys of Blore“!

Go for a half-day walk with a donkey. On shaded routes accessible to all, it is perfect for hot days. You will discover the various riches of the forest, from the wild strawberry beds in July to the raspberry bushes in August. Hiking with a donkey also encourages encounters and adds a playful and motivating dimension to family walks.

An endearing animal, the donkey will even accept the youngest children on its back. (Rental 35 € / donkey for half a day). Possibility of a discovery walk of 1h30 + 30 minutes break around the village. The donkey, equipped with a pack-saddle, can carry up to 40 kg of luggage. Several circuits in autonomy and in bivouac are also possible.

Colmiane Resort

To spend an unforgettable afternoon and get your adrenaline flowing, go to La Colmiane! The resort offers a wide range of fun and family activities: These will allow you to make the most of the nature of the Vallée de la Tinée:

  • Paragliding: first flight or course
  • Tyrolean traverse: the largest in France (2 663 m) – From 12 years old
  • Summer sledging: 1 670 m of sensations and 400 m of difference in altitude! From 3 years old
  • Colmiane Forest : accrobranche course of increasing difficulty (from 3 years old)
  • Via Ferrata du Baus de la Frema : with a panoramic view of the villages of Valdeblore – allow 5 hours for the course
  • Mountain biking: 2 downhill tracks (green and blue – mountain bikes not supplied) and circuits for all levels in the commune
  • Mercantour Equestrian Centre: Riding lessons, pony hire
  • Mini golf: 18 hole course
  • Pic detachable chairlift: panoramic view (Mercantour mountain range, Valdeblore and Vésubie valleys), access to the mountain restaurant
  • Sup’Air Tramp: 3 trampoline cages and bungee (acrobatics in complete safety thanks to elastic bands)
  • Visit to the farm and horse-drawn carriage ride: by appointment
  • Swimming pool: 25m x 10m sports pool, paddling pool and solarium

At La Colmiane, you are spoilt for choice!

Day 7

Pretty perched villages!

You can’t leave the Tinée valley without discovering some of its perched villages and their extraordinary heritage:  Rimplas, Clans, La Tour-sur-Tinée, Ilonse, Marie, Tournefort, Saint-Sauveur-Sur-Tinée et Bairols have some very nice surprises in store for you, as well as beautiful mountain panoramas. Visit them according to your desires. Here are some ideas and tips:

In Clans, don’t forget to visit the painted chapels (notably the chapels of Saint-Antoine L’Ermite and Saint-Jean, entirely decorated by the contemporary artist Patrick Moya) as well as the Collegiate Church and its medieval apse. Information from the tourist information office in the village.

But also…

Ruines à Tournefort@OTM NCA / JM

At Tournefort, go up to the old abandoned village (it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1887). The ruins invaded by vegetation and the panoramas will seduce you for sure. Push your stroll to the chapel of Saint-Antoine de Padoue and the orientation table. Little tip: bring a bottle of water. The ascent is in the sun.

In Rimplas you will have the opportunity, besides the village, to visit one of the most imposing military constructions of the Maginot Line: the fort of La Frassinea. You will discover how life was organised in the bunker with the discovery of the technical parts (functioning of the engine rooms, workshop, ammunition bunker…) and the barracks (dormitory, refectory, kitchen, sanitary facilities…). The volunteers of the association who take care of the fort will be pleased to welcome you every Saturday afternoon, from 2pm to 6pm, from the first weekend of May to the end of September. Admission is free. Duration of the visit: 45 minutes

Or even…

Although being a mountain village, La Tour-sur-Tinée has a more Provencal than alpine look. Its paved squares decorated with fountains, vegetation and welcoming benches will allow you to soak up the soul of the village. Don’t forget to visit the oldest oil mill in the department.

In Bairols, you can have lunch at the Auberge du Moulin. It is an old oil and grain mill transformed into an inn. All the machinery, the millstone and the presses have been preserved. The view is magnificent, whether from the terrace or from the interior room.

On a rainy day? Whatever!

@Aquavallée Isola

Aquavallée in Isola

In the mountains, the weather can change very quickly and a storm in summer is not impossible. Nevertheless, you can still spend an excellent day at the Aquavalléeaquatic centre in Isola.

Pools, slide, hammam, saunas, jacuzzi, squash room, aquabiking and wellness area with cardio room, snack bar… the promise to satisfy the whole family!

Our accommodation suggestions to enjoy a nature holiday in the Tinée valley

We hope that this itinerary, as close as possible to nature, will make you want to visit the green valley of the Tinée. Heritage, landscapes, villages, flora, various leisure activities for young and old… Everything is gathered here for a tailor-made stay, up to your expectations. Welcome to Nice Côte d’Azur!


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