©Isabelle Fabre
Adventure 7Magic hike

4-day walk in the Valley of Wonders

Ready to cut yourself off from the world? This four-day hike in the Vallée des Merveilles is a total immersion in the grandiose. The most beautiful spots in the Mercantour are yours to discover: mineral plains, brown rocks, peat bogs, multicolored lakes, ibex, chamois and, to top it all off, prehistoric engravings. 5,000 years ago, Neolithic shepherds passed through here and carved into the rock to honor the mountain’s divinities. Be careful where you step: it’s an open-air museum!

DurationStartLevelIdeal season
4 days + 4 nightsMesches LakeDifficultJune to September

Why do we love it?

A wilderness experience in the Mercantour Park

Incredible prehistoric rock engravings

The special, almost mystical atmosphere

Day 1

The Vallauria silver mine

The hike begins at Lac des Mesches, surrounded by larch trees. Follow the small wooded paths to reach the hamlet of La Minière. This authentic miners’ hamlet will be your base camp during your stay. Leave your belongings at the Gîte Neige et Merveilles and head off to see the Gias, prehistoric shelters hidden in the forest.

Distance covered: 3 to 8 km depending on your arrival time

Difference in altitude: D+ 200 to 500 m / D-60 to 300 m

Effective walking time: 1 to 4 hours, depending on your pace

Overnight accommodation Gîte Neige et Merveilles, La Minière.

Day 2

Fontanalba Valley or Valley of Wonders

Total immersion in the Mercantour National Park! Welcome to a paradise of flora and fauna. Here, the Saxifraga only blooms once in fifty years, the orchids are wild and the birds multicolored. From the Fontanalba refuge in the north to the Merveilles refuge in the south: a wilderness bath for everyone!

Distance covered: 8 km

Difference in altitude: D+ 800 m / D-400 m

Effective walking time: 4h30

Overnight stay: Refuge de Fontanalba or Refuge des Merveilles

Day 3

Protohistoric engravings at the Merveilles site

A day full of color and emotion. The vast expanses and mineral nature of Mont Bégo. The sacred path and its long slab of orange schist decorated with 284 engravings, the green lake and its wild rhododendrons, the Roche de l’Éclat, Christ, the tribal chief, the Sorcerer… to make sure you don’t miss anything and understand everything about these incredible prehistoric engravings, we strongly recommend you leave with a guide.

Distance covered: 8 km

Difference in altitude: D+ 400 m / D-900 m

Effective walking time: 4h00

Overnight: return to the Neige et Merveilles gîte via the mountain pastures.

Day 4

Tende and its Musée des Merveilles

Say goodbye to the mountain gods, the village of Tende awaits you. Pick up your car at Lac des Mesches and enjoy a well-earned break on the terrace. Finish in style at the Musée des Merveilles.

Distance covered: 15 km

Difference in altitude: D+ 500 m / D-1100 m

Effective walking time: 4h30

Small gestures and good reflexes

The Valley of Wonders lives up to its name and, like all wonders, it is fragile:

  • I bivouac in a dedicated area
  • I use a stick with a rubber tip
  • I stay on marked trails or take a guide

What if I don't like walking?

Looking for a thrill?

Try a via ferrata. The ones at Tende and La Brigue give you a bird’s eye view of the valley.

Saddle up, rider!

This tour can be done on horseback, with itineraries spanning several days. For more information, contact Horse and Ventures:

Who to contact

Orgaya Agency

Phone: 06 13 25 01 82

Mercantour Guides Office

Tel.: 04 93 04 67 88

Our good addresses

The Fontanalba refuge

Refuge de Fontanalbe, 06430 Tende

Tel: 04 93 04 89 19

Refuge formula: dormitory or rooms, shared bathroom

For hikers passing through: omelettes, salads, drinks…

Le Gîte Neige et Merveilles

Route de Castérino, Hameau de la Minière, 06430 Tende

Tel: 04 93 04 62 40

Gîte option: rooms for 2 to 4 people, private bathroom

Refuge option: dormitory with shared bathroom


By car, park at Lac des Mesches. Access to Lac des Mesches is subject to conditions: please contact the Tende Tourist Information Office on 04 83 93 98 82 before setting off.