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An Unforgettable Challenge: Trekking the French Maritime Alps

Program Number: 17990RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/6/2013 - 9/17/2013;
Duration: 11 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $3,433.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking Activity Level: n (see description)
Meals: 28; 10 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 9 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Fat    

The Alps beckon! Heed the call on an adventure in the heart of the Maritime Alps. Created in 1979 as one of the seven French national parks, Mercantour National Park features a diverse topography ranging from fertile plains to marshlands to high mountains. Experience this astounding landscape on a trek from Dalius Gorge to the mountains via tiny hamlets, thick woods and wildflower meadows, all while admiring magnificent geology, flora and fauna.




Highlights

• On a trail high above Dalius Gorge, use your camera to capture breathtaking images of the gorge’s famous red stone, the result of oxidation of iron in the atmosphere.
• Trek along the foot of Mount St. Honorat and imagine days long ago when the abandoned fields you pass were once the breadbasket of an entire region.
• Conquer the magnificent “Tête de Méric” peak and enjoy sweeping views as you picnic atop its 6,800-foot summit.



Activity Particulars

Good physical fitness, stamina, previous trekking experience. Hiking 4-12 miles, 4-6 hours per day over mountainous terrain, rugged trails, ridges, through forests. Elevations between 4,000-7,100 feet. Luggage will be transferred separately to each site.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Nice, 1 night; train and coach to Mercantour National Park, 9 nights; coach and train to Nice, 1 night; Departure



Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Nice
1 night
Train and coach to
Mercantour National Park
8 nights
Coach and train to Nice
1 night
Departure

Upon arrival in Nice, experience a walking field trip through the city with a local expert. Learn about the Maritime Alps and Mercantour National Park, site of your trekking adventure amid Mediterranean oaks, pines, larches and more than 2,000 flowering plants. Among the wildlife you encounter in the park are chamois, marmots, red deer, wild boar, ibex, sheep and eagles, to name a few. Visit seven of the 28 villages and hamlets in the park’s settled peripheral zone and hear trail-side lectures about past and present inhabitants, as well as about local flora and fauna and “Tête de Méric” peak, a highlight of your adventure.




France

The epicurious and the curious find much to admire in Western Europe’s largest nation, whose agricultural riches and terrain of beaches, mountains and fertile fields have drawn residents for thousands of years. The northern region hosts the nation’s Parisian capital, as well as unique Breton culture, while the sun-drenched Mediterranean coast sports the chic beach-goers and the terraced vineyards of the interior.



Accommodations
Nice: Centrally located hotel. Mercantour National Park: Mountain huts with dormitory-style sleeping quarters and shared baths.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Durante
  Nice, France 1 night
   Mountain Hut
  Maritime Alps - Mercantour Nationalpark, France 8 nights
   Hotel Durante
  Nice, France 1 night
 Hotel Durante
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: Charming hotel located in the center of Nice, few minutes from the train station; half-way between the famous Promenade Anglais (seaside-promenade) and the motorways; very quiet and peaceful surroundings.
  Contact info: 16 avenue Durante
Nice,  06000 France
phone: +04.93.88.84.40
web: www.hotel-durante.fr
  Room amenities: Private bath, AC, telephone.
  Facility amenities: Breakfast room, only 24 guest rooms, garden.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights prior: N/A Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. (800) 241-1404
  Additional nights after: N/A Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. (800) 241-1404

 Mountain Hut
Type: Other
  Description: These huts are very simple, shower and toilet on floor where the sleeping quarters are located, dormitory style sleeping with one single cot or bed for each person. Dining area and outdoor area.
  Contact info: Maritime Alps
Mercantour National Park,  00000 France
phone: +41792927193
  Room amenities: Dorm style sleeping quarters.
  Smoking allowed: No


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
11:00 AM arrival in Nice, France You will be staying at Hotel Durante that night.
  End of Program:
8:00 AM departure from Nice airport You will be staying at Hotel Durante the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Passport valid for a minimum of 6 months from the return date.
  Parking availability:
Hotel is located downtown.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Local transportation available to first site.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Nice
  Nearest airport:  Nice
  Transportation to site: Take a taxi from the airport in Nice to the Hotel Durante.
  From End of Program
  Location: Nice
  Transportation from site: Take a taxi from the Hotel Durante to the airport in Nice.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Elevation Note: Walking elevations range from 4000-7100 feet. Most hiking at an average of about 4600 feet.

Equipment Requirements: Ankle high hiking boots and backpack.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Overnight flight from the U.S.A. to Europe.
(Friday, September 6)
   
 In Transit: Overnight flight from the U.S.A. to Europe.

Day 2: Orientation walk through Nice - 1.5 hours.
(Saturday, September 7)
   
 Arrive To: Arrival in Nice. Upon arrival at the Nice Airport the Participants will be met and transferred by private coach to the hotel, check-in and depending on the time of arrival short orientation walk through the town.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served at the hotel or local establishment this evening.
 Evening: Welcome orientation reception.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Durante
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Dalius Gorge - trekking high above the gorge. Today's trekking time is approximately 4 hours.
(Sunday, September 8)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast will be served at the hotel.
 Morning: After breakfast transfer by local train and minibus to the starting point of today’s trek next to the impressive Dalius Gorge, famous for its red stone resulting from the oxidation of iron. Walk on a gentle trail high above the gorge to a vantage point which offers breathtaking views of the canyon hemmed in by sheer walls and the Var River.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch on the trail.
 Afternoon: Keep these unique shapes of nature in mind while continuing on through woods and meadows, to the first destination, “the hamlet of Villeplane” (4000 feet).
 Dinner: Dinner will be served at the mountain hut.
   
Accommodations: Mountain Hut
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Trekking from Villeplane to Sauze (4500 feet). Approximate trekking time is 5 hours.
(Monday, September 9)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast will be served at the mountain hut.
 Morning: Today’s trek leads along the foot of Mt. St. Honorat with panoramic views of the Var Valley and the hills and mountains of the Haute Provence in the distance. Trek back in time while passing hamlets with abandoned fields, once the bread basket of a whole region.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch at the trail.
 Afternoon: End the day’s trek downhill through a forest ending at the village of Sauze, located on a high plateau with splendid views of the Var Valley and across to the mountain tops.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served at the hut.
   
Accommodations: Mountain Hut
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Trek from Sauze to Bouchanieres (4600 feet). Approximate trekking time is 6 hours.
(Tuesday, September 10)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast is served at the mountain hut.
 Morning: After breakfast start trekking through magnificent larch and oak woods to the valley floor and cross the bridge over the river Var before climbing on a barren ridge up to the century old hamlet of Chateauneuf, and only inhabited by 25 people all year round.
 Lunch: Picnic on the trail.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon follow a winding trail down to a mountain stream and up again to Bouchanière. Our gîte d’étape (mountain inn) is wonderfully located at the top of the tiny village with marvelous views of rounded hills of the Haute Provence.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served at the mountain hut.
   
Accommodations: Mountain Hut
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Circular trek to Col de Barels (6000 feet) back to Bouchanieres. Approximate trekking time is 5.5 hours.
(Wednesday, September 11)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast will be served at the hotel.
 Morning: Again today the trail leads through typical Mediterranean forest before gradually giving way to open terrain. Pass several hamlets with houses mostly in decay and finally reach the Col de Barels.
 Lunch: Today’s picnic is on a nearby peak with grand views of the Maritime Alps.
 Afternoon: Descend on a circular path high above a ravine back to Bouchanières. Should you feel too tired after yesterday’s long trek, take a day off or just go for a walk in the neighborhood.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served at the mountain hut.
   
Accommodations: Mountain Hut
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Trek from Bouchanieres to Peone (4000 feet). Approximate trekking time is 6 hours.
(Thursday, September 12)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast will be served at the mountain hut.
 Morning: Today’s goal and certainly one of the absolute highlights of this trek is the “Tête de Méric” (6800 feet). Steadily uphill, first through woods, later in open and rocky terrain, it takes approximately 3 hours to conquer this peak. Savor the extensive sweeping views while eating picnicking. Only 800 feet higher than yesterday, but the surrounding peaks seem to have doubled, as if risen from the Mediterranean Sea lover night.
 Lunch: Picnic on the trail.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon descend on a different trail to the charming village of Péone protected by “the ladies of Péone”, a group of rugged needle shaped Dolomite rock.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served at the mountain hut.
   
Accommodations: Mountain Hut
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Trek today from Peone to Estenc (6100 feet). Approximate trekking time is 4.5 hours.
(Friday, September 13)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast served at the mountain hut.
 Morning: This morning transfer by minibus to the village of Entraunes (4200 feet). A well-kept trail with nice switchbacks ascends to a balcony high above the Var Valley, then follow a gentle path with magnificent views of the surrounding mountains marking the limits of the Mercantour National Park. This is a remote area and is highly unlikely to meet any other trekkers during the day.
 Lunch: Picnic on the trail.
 Afternoon: Cross beautiful larch forests before descending on a winding trail to the hamlet of Estenc, tonight’s refuge is located in the upper Var Valley in the midst of lush meadows.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served at the mountain hut.
   
Accommodations: Mountain Hut
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Trek from Estenc to Col de la Cayolle (7500 feet). Approximate trekking time is 5 hours.
(Saturday, September 14)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast is served at the mountain hut.
 Morning: Today’s hike combines all the attractive elements of mountain environment, pine and larch forests, barren ravines, high plateaus scattered with huge rocks and mountain peaks. A well-kept trail leads steadily uphill to the Col de la Boucharde (8400 feet).
 Lunch: Picnic on the trail.
 Afternoon: Continue trekking down the eastern slope on a partly steep trail. The last hour is uphill again to the Refuge de la Cayolle, just below the pass of the same name.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served at the hut.
   
Accommodations: Mountain Hut
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Trekking from Col de la Cayolle to Estenc (6100 feet). Approximate trekking time is 5.5 hours.
(Sunday, September 15)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast will be served at the mountain hut.
 Morning: The best for last! Once more we trek in this geological battle ground, where the emerging Alps pushed back the sea some 60 million years ago. A winding path leads up to the Cayolle pass (7600 feet). Continue trekking on a high barren plateau past Lake Garrets and along a crest with spectacular views of the Maritime Alps including Mont Pelat, (10,000 feet) the highest of the region.
 Lunch: Picnic on the trail.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon descend from Col de Lausson to Estenc.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served at the mountain hut.
   
Accommodations: Mountain Hut
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Estenc to Nice (65 feet). Approximate trekking time is 2 hours.
(Monday, September 16)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast is served at the mountain hut.
 Morning: After breakfast follow an undemanding trail along the Var River between towering cliffs and gushing waterfalls to the village of Entraunes. Transfer by minibus and train back to Nice. Check-in at the hotel.
 Lunch: Picnic on the trail or at a local establishment in Entraunes.
 Afternoon: Independent time - group leader will be able to extend ideas for sightseeing.
 Dinner: Independent in the city of Nice.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Durante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 12: Departure day back to the U.S.A.
(Tuesday, September 17)
   
 Breakfast: Buffet breafkfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer by private coach to the Nice airport...program ends.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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