Trek the Alps along ancient trade routes from the mountains down to the Mediterranean Sea—a unique classic
The GR5 may have started out as a practical footpath over rocky terrain for soldiers and traders over the millennia, but there’s no doubt why it is considered one of the world’s premier hiking trails today. MTS is one of the few travel companies to offer this itinerary, and ours is the best value available! Beginning in the storied alpine heights of the Mont Blanc Massif, you’ll wind through remote valleys, cross sun-dappled meadows thick with wildflowers, and explore three pristine national parks of the French Alps where marmots, ibexes, and even wolves can be found. While these are strenuous hikes made for seasoned trekkers, there’s plenty of respite and reward! Comfortable, luxurious hotels throughout the trip are welcome after a long day of hiking. To boot, there’s a dazzling finish on the celebrated shores of the French Riviera, where the sparkling azure waters of the Mediterranean are an inviting finale to this epic trek. If you want to see the Alps in an entirely new light, then come out of the mountains and head down to the beach in this exquisite journey through some of France’s finest landscapes.
11 days strenuous hiking over varied terrain (max. elev. 9,566')
- Enjoy challenging alpine hiking along the famous GR5, from the snow-capped peaks of the Alps to the enticing, blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea with MTS—one of the few travel companies to trek along this ancient route!
- See the Alps in an entirely new light with fantastic views—the perfect quest for veterans of the Tour du Mont Blanc
- The best value for this itinerary available, with top guides and comfortable hotels in an area where MTS has specialized since 1970!
- Explore La Vanoise, Queyras, and Mercantour—the renowned national parks of the French Alps
Duration: 14 days Start Location: Geneva End Location: MentonDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Megève
Arrive in Geneva, Switzerland, and transfer to the French ski resort town of Megève.
Day 2 : Beaufortin
Hike through the grassy Beaufort region to the Col du Joly (6,525') with the Mont Blanc range looming in the distance. Overnight in Arêches.
Day 3 : Pierra Menta
From the lake at Roselend, hike toward the Col du Couvercle (7,680'), then down to the Tarentaise Valley with panoramic summit views all around.
Day 4 : Vanoise National Park
Hike in La Vanoise, France's first national park, with its herds of chamois and ibexes, and thick, rich meadows with fireworks of flowers. Head down to the Champagny Valley and overnight in Pralognan.
Day 5 : La Vanoise Range
A trek to the Col d'Aussois (9,566') the highest pass of the trip, offers spectacular vistas of the Dômes de la Vanoise. Overnight in Aussois.
Day 6 : La Vallée Etroite
Follow the GR5 into the larch-covered Vallé Etroite. Overnight in the 17th-century fortress town of Briançon.
Day 7 : Le Queyras
Hike above tree line in remote Queyras National Park, where culture and living traditions are untouched, then on to Saint-Veran, highest village in Europe at 6,677 feet.
Day 8 : Queyras – Saint Paul
Step into Italy briefly with an ascent to Col Blanchet (9,504'), then circumnavigate La Tête des Toillies (10,416') and return to France through the Col Longet (8,704'). Overnight in Barcelonnette.
Day 9 : Rest Day
Morning transfer to charming Saint Martin de Vésubie, with a stop at Col de la Bonette, the highest driving pass of Europe, en route. Afternoon free to visit Saint Martin.
Day 10 : Mercantour National Park
Hike in Mercantour National Park, with its deep valleys, glistening lakes, wild streams, and abundant fauna. While here you'll look for Neolithic petroglyphs on the granite walls.
Day 11 : Mercantour National Park
Hike from the valley of Gordolasque to the Cime du Diable (8,809'), via the Pas du Trem (8,156'). The trail then follows the winding ridge line between the Roya and Vésubie Valleys, eventually emerging at La Pointe des Trois Commune (6,824'), and finally leads us to Baisse de Tueis (6,197').
Day 12 : Down to Sospel
Descend to Sospel, a charming medieval town with a baroque cathedral.
Day 13 : Down to the Mediterranean
From Sospel, hike down ridges that plunge into the warm waters of the Mediterranean. End the trek by dipping your toes in the sea at Menton.
Day 14 : Departure
Transfer to Nice and depart.
DATES: Best time to go: June, August - September Departures: Jun 23, 2013 - Jul 6, 2013
Hotel Prince de Galles
Located immediately outside Monaco, the Best Western Prince de Galles is a hotel rich in history.
Since 1865, this former barracks for the carabiniere of the princes of Monaco has welcomed lovers of the French Riviera. Located a mere stone's throw from the Palais Carnolès, the former summer residence of Prince Antonio I of Monaco, this charming hotel is managed by the Laurenti family, who provides their guests with the warmest of welcomes. Here, service goes hand in hand with availability, quality and the highest of standards.
Hotel les Mottets
Hotel le Grand Becle Grand Bec, France
Mountain resort for skiing, rambling and Alpine sports, open in the winter and the summer.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
As a member of the Compagnie des Guides, Jean Marc began guiding for MTS several years ago. He is what the French call polyvalent (“able to do many things”). His talents range from being a licensed pyrotechnic specialist, snowboard manufacturer, journalist, musical group crew, and theater worker. If this weren’t enough, in addition to his passion for hiking, he also teaches children the skills of mountain biking, skiing, and snowshoeing. Jean-Marc has led over 60 trips to the Alps and proudly carried the Olympic torch to the 2008 Ticino winter games.
Laurent Langoisseur hails from Normandy, France, having grown up in Argentan (a small village that became famous in August 1944, “tournai sur dives”). At the age of 12, Laurent read La Grande Crevasse by Roger Frison-Roche, and became fascinated by the guiding and climbing descriptions of the Chamonix-Mont Blanc area. At 16, Laurent visited the area and was hooked. At 19, Laurent joined the French alpine troops, and after a year of service, moved to Chamonix. In 1991, he obtained his European Mountain Leader (certification), and in 1995 he was awarded the coveted patch of the Compagnie des Guides. An avid sports enthusiast and inexhaustible hiker, Laurent has hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc more close to 100 times. He is also an accomplished mountaineer, having summated Mont Blanc 3 times, as well as several other mountains over 13,000’. When he is not hiking and climbing, Laurent can be found running long distances for fun. Laurent recently completed a 48-mile race in 6 hours; and has also finished 48 miles in 9 hours with 10,000’ of ascent/descent. Laurent has been guiding for MTS since 1995, and is a Senior guide on our Tour du Mont Blanc, Mont Blanc Express, Mont Blanc to Matterhorn (Haute Route), GR5, Gran Paradiso, and French Riviera trips, as well as any other trip we can get him on! His knowledge of the culture, history, plants, birds, and the name of every single peak and glacier along the trail is a wonderful complement to his guiding skills. When he isn’t guiding for us, he teaches First Aid and Mountain Rescue to mountain and hiking guides; and during the winter, he’s a ski patrol monitor in the mountains above Chamonix.
Stéphane is a true man of the mountains, with a Savoyard father and Swiss mother. He grew up in Chamonix, then left the valley to follow his first love, architecture. But the call of the wild proved too strong: numerous travels in North Africa, Siberia, and the Himalaya opened a new door to him—the profession of hiking guide. Nowadays Stéphane lives in a chalet in Chamonix from where he escapes frequently to travel the mountain areas of the world. “Steph” has now been a member of the Compagnie des Guides for many years, with over 100 trips to the Alps under his belt.
A native of Chamonix, Florence is a descendant from two of the area’s oldest families. After growing up in the Chamonix Valley, “Flo” spent several years in the south of France, and then traveled abroad to South America and Asia. She returned to her ancestral home, where the mountains now form an integral part of her life. She has led nearly 50 trips to the Alps, not counting how many times she has done this trip for her own fun! In addition to being an accomplished hiking guide, Flo is a skier and climber. As a member of the Compagnie des Guides, she follows in the footsteps of her forefathers.
Beatrice is a native of Chamonix, France, and has been guiding professionally in the Alps since 1989. She comes from a family of mountain climbers. Her Grand father was also a professional mountain guide. Aside from being an expert hiking guide, Beatrice is also an avid climber and accomplished skier, and is a ski instructor during the winter months. She loves the mountains, and will share her enthusiasm and her great experience with you during your trip.