Winter walking & snowshoeing, France

“Our only winter walking and snowshoeing in the exquisite Mercantour National Park, fully guided and full board, for eight days of mountain magnificence”

Highlights

Mercantour NP | Saint Martin Vésubie | Vésubie valley | La Madone de Fenestre | Baisse de Cinq Lacs | Lacs des Prals | Col de Salese | Lac Negre | Utelle | Vallon des Erps | GR5 walking trail over the Brec d’Utelle.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

Map

Check dates, prices & availability

Date
Price
Basis
20 Dec 2019
945
excluding flights
Full
 
29 Dec 2019
945
excluding flights
Full
 
25 Jan 2020
830
excluding flights
1 space left
Click here to enquire about or book the 25 Jan 2020 departure
08 Feb 2020
830
excluding flights
Full
 
Our top tip:
Bring your own snow poles, and pack layers.
Trip type:
Small group, centre based.
Activity level:
Moderate. Reasonable level of fitness required. Min. age 14.
Accomm:
Rural gîte or chambre d'hôte.
Included:
Accommodation, all meals, transport from Nice, transport to and from walks, fully qualified guide, snow shoe hire.
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome. Surcharge for own room.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Winter walking & snowshoeing, France

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

Food air miles are limited here as fresh organic produce, fruit and veg, milk, cheese and honey (and now from our own bees!!) are available within walking distance. Our water comes straight from the hill. We also grow our own vegetables, which we are happy to share with our guests.

Although we are 5km from the nearest town, we do try to encourage guests to use the €1 .50 Alpes-Maritimes bus, and limit our road miles as much as possible using our minibus.

We recycle as much as possible, already have a super "green"heat pump for hot water and central heating as well as being full of other development ideas.

Information is provided to our guests to enable them to enjoy the Park to the maximum while showing the utmost respect for the environment. We only use local, qualified guides who are passionate about the area that they live in. They are paid a living wage for their excellent services.

We are 100% focused on creating awareness of this magical corner of South East France. Your walking leader is a partner of the Mercantour National Park, which has a continual training program for its leaders, to keep them abreast of developments and issues, and to enrich their local knowledge. Visitors can enjoy an unspoilt mountain environment and appreciate a traditional rural way of life. As permanent residents we are fully integrated into the community in the Vésubie valley.

Our base
As we await permission to fulfill our vision for our centuries old farm house and land, we are keen to implement as many environmentally sympathetic measures as possible. We encourage the preservation of our pure water which comes straight off the mountain and use our splendid climate for laundry drying outside.

As much waste as possible is re-cycled, including pony manure which goes straight onto our vegetable patch. We aim to be as self sufficient as possible from your own garden. Guests are welcome to help themselves to fruit and vegetables.

When meals are provided they are prepared with local produce only, often solely from the Vésubie valley. Vegetarians are willingly catered for. Energy efficient bulbs are used throughout the house. We try to minimise the use of paper in our office. Guests are encouraged to shop locally and of course to respect the integrity of the National Park.

Working relationships
We only work with qualified guides for all activities. These passionate locals create a genuine and rich experience for our visitors. They are paid the appropriate rate for professional guides. Our local accommodation partners are chosen for their warm welcome and a willingness to share their love for the region.

Business development
In the longer term we will use abundant natural resources (wood and sunshine) for heat and light as well as providing alternative accommodation on our land. We work closely with other like minded partners here in the Mercantour, and can offer other eco accommodation, plus those adapted for the less mobile. We have have our own horses who are available for riding and taking out as a companion on day walks.

Community

We have lived here in the Mercantour for 14 years and are proud to be part of the community. The area, despite its proximity to the French Riviera, is quite poor, but inhabited by people who are passionate about the area, so we are delighted to be able to make an impact on the local economy. Our guests can take advantage of our local knowledge for walks and other activities, and recommendations for fun places to eat and drink. Therefore guests don't waste a Euro or a day being disappointed, and our local suppliers who merit support, get it.

We support the active community in Roquebilliere with its local weekly market, and buy as much as possible from local producers. We are also keen to contribute to cultural events which keep the "patrimoine" of the area buoyant - these include dancing in the village square in July and August, a summer program of music and drama, an art gallery showcasing local talent, and a cost free system for bartering goods and services between inhabitants.

When using other accommodation we try to ensure that a night could be spent with a local farmer or craftsmen, providing valuable income to our hosts and also giving guests an appreciation of a typical rural life here.

14 Reviews of Winter walking & snowshoeing, France

3.5 out of 5 stars
SHOW
2
9
1
1
1

Reviewed on 17 Jan 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


We had fabulous weather to enjoy the scenery.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?




3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


To some extent, the holiday included all food, so we didn’t have the chance to eat or drink at other places.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was a lovely relaxing holiday. The food was plentiful and good, although with a strong vegetarian bias. The couple running the holiday were very sociable, it
was a good mix of evenings alone or eating together. Good variety of walks.
Leave 14 days

Reviewed on 05 Jan 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Wonderful scenery, great food, best company.

Reviewed on 25 Jan 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Having a great variety of walking experiences was wonderful - from full-on snowshoeing to walking over ice and snow with cleats/microspikes on our boots to gazing across from the mountain tops at the Med. and displaying golden eagles. Liz and Mel's hospitality was outstanding and they couldn't do enough to make our stay enjoyable and memorable.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Don't worry about having enough snow! Mel is expert at finding a variety of stunning locations to walk in all conditions and we saw many more signs of wildlife and varied plant life (our other main interest) as a result. We had enough private space as well and great times with our co-holiday makers too.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Our arrival time didn't suit the bus schedule so Mel picked us up from Nice but we would have used the bus otherwise. We also travelled by TRAIN all the way from Wales - it is possible and not expensive if you book months in advance - try www.seat61 for more info.
Mel and Liz source food as locally as possible and we used the local bars and village shops when we were 'off piste' so to speak; it was great to visit the local farm dairy and buy some local cheese from the maker!
Mel was knowledgeable about local wildlife and we enjoyed sharing with him.
Recycling and composting could be improved in these highly rural locations but we were encouraged to recycle what was feasible.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Wonderful - will def. return for a more extensive exploration of the Mercantour National Park, local alpine villages, food and culture. Would be great to see the area at other times of the year too - we had no idea that Mel and Liz run such a wide range of activities - including wolf watching!

Reviewed on 30 Dec 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


This holiday had so many wonderful moments that it is difficult to select one. With regard to the snowshoeing and walking, I think the day we made our first major ascent was the most thrilling. Mel was patient, knowledgeable, and careful with our safety, yet he was able to encourage us to maximize our potentials and reach incredible heights . . . literally.
With regard to our accommodations, each and every moment spent there was memorable. Christine and Luc were warm and welcoming. I am a vegetarian, and they accommodated me at every turn without the least discomfort.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I was quite happy that I had brought proper clothing. Weather was often a mix.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. The jams, honey, cheeses, and bread used were produced in the local villages. Our expeditions were conducted in environmentally conscientious fashion, and we consistently took efforts to make little impact.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent!!!!!

Reviewed on 03 Mar 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Apart from the excellent food and the warm reception from Liz and Mel the scenery and fresh mountain air was fantastic. Walking in the beautiful natural habitat with the chamois and finding out about the fauna and flora of the mountains was excellent.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


A decent level of fitness is recommended. Although the walks were chosen according to the group abilities and weather conditions some sections proved harder than others for me. Despite lagging behind on occasions Mel the walk leader was sympathetic and supportive to my abilities and encouraged me through it! Take hill walking appropriate clothing and layers!


3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Where possible local suppliers were used and care and understanding for the environment was an obvious concern.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The company was great, the days well structured and organised and Liz and Mel great hosts so that made the holiday one to remember. Great!

Reviewed on 26 Feb 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The amazing walks and views and great company.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be fit - snow-shoeing is a great workout.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


This holiday is run by a British couple who have lived in the Mercantour since 2003 and are now part of the local community. 'Overspill' guests who can't be accommodated in the owners' gite are offered accommodation in nearby hotels run by French hoteliers. Food was sourced locally. Walking and snowshoeing as activities have a relatively low impact on the environment compared to some other outdoor sports.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


An excellent holiday. Mel and Liz are great hosts and the itinerary was adapted according to the weather/snow conditions to ensure that the guests enjoyed a well-balanced programme of winter walking/snow-shoeing.

Reviewed on 22 Feb 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


There were many memorable parts to the holiday. We were made very welcome by Mel and Liz who are superb and generous hosts. The walks were all well planned with care and thought to be both challenging but varied each day. The group we were with for the week were like minded people who were both supportive and very good company. And last but not least the accommodation was good and a welcome retreat at the end of a physically demanding day.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go for it. Winter walking is such good fun and gives you a fantastic sense of achievement.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes. The mini bus held 9 people who travelled together so individuals did not need cars. The use of local transport was also encouraged. Local produce was used in the preparation of meals and the local economy supported through responsible tourism.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Some excellent experiences, good food and accommodation which represented very good value for money.

Reviewed on 18 Feb 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Spending a day walking in superb mountains in the snow with a like-minded small group, and then on the way back managing to spot five wolves (in a reserve, but it is huge so rare to see them!) and hearing them howl - which reverberated across the valley - spine-chilling and totally amazing!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go if you want to spend time in amazing nature with few other distractions and get away from it all. If you want to hang out in cafes, walk out to shops etc, it is probably not for you!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


We stayed with our hosts, and went to local cafes and bars, and obviously all our food came from the local area. I guess nature walking holidays are not very consumerist, so they probably do not add much to the local economy but then also leave little but footprints and happy customers!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very good experience. Good food, nice hosts, comfortable lodgings, knowledgeable and appropriately chatty guide, wonderful walks that were pretty energizing but well targeted at the group, amazing and little explored mountain area.

Reviewed on 04 Jan 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


It is a little difficult to say as there were so many 'wow' moments, but I guess the snow-shoe walking was the best, closely followed by the fabulously sunny winter walking, the great hosts, the fantastic accommodation, great locally sourced food, etc. etc. ......

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Just go for it! But seriously, make sure your fitness level is ok as if they do get snow (seriously lacking when I visited but the wall to wall sunshine and blue skies more than made up for it) then the snowshoe walking is hard work, but they don't rush you so no-one would feel left out.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes. They used a local Chambre Dhote as the overflow accommodation as well as a nearby gite thereby sharing the money around. Much of the delicious food was sourced locally. The small groups (maximum 8) also minimised any impact on the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was probably one of the best I have had - and I am already in the process of booking again for next year. The hosts were fantastic, the weather amazing, the food delicious and plentiful, and the whole experience was one that I will always treasure.

Reviewed on 30 Dec 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The food.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take plenty of very warm clothes.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Too much driving - not all guests in one place - then further miles for activity
each day.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Disappointing, apart from wonderful cooking. Gite was incredibly cold until lots
of extra heat used - heating went off early in evening - and too much time spent
in minibus rather than outdoors.

Read the operator's response here:


After several months of e mailing activity to ensure that the holiday was suitable for this particular client, it is disappointing to receive such a negative review.

The guest did in fact choose to leave the holiday early, to visit Australian friends in Nice – her departure was made without complaint and after our trying to address point one of the issues raised.

1) TOO MUCH DRIVING – we attempt to vary our walks to show the diversity of this lovely part of the world, as well as to gain height so that walk starts are out of the tree line and afford splendid views. This necessitates driving (through lovely countryside) for between 30 minutes and an hour each way, which still allows 5/6 hours on the hill, a length of day which our guest found to be excessive.

2) GUESTS IN DIFFERENT VENUES – we offer our guests the choice between catered gîte accommodation, and chambre d’hote. In a quiet rural location our partners (able to provide “wonderful food” also) are based 25 minutes from us in Berthemont. We do however take it upon ourselves to minimise the “to-ing and fro-ing”, taking the extra driving duties upon ourselves, ensuring that our guests are not inconvenienced.

3) COLD ACCOMMODATION – the gîte in question was thoroughly cleaned and aired before this guest’s arrival. It would have been around 10-15 degrees in the gîte, and warming again while our guests enjoyed their additional complimentary lunch, during which the guests could get to know each other. The accommodation is equipped with central heating – and four large radiators – the heating is on from 06.30 to 22.30 to 20 degrees. Realising that we had a guest who felt the cold, the use of an additional plug in electric heater was suggested. The client took to sleeping in a single bed with two thick duvets, and a blanket in a room which never falls below 12 degrees – even over night. Subsequently the offer of a further radiator was refused. Dining together was in a room with two large radiators and a roaring fire with an estimated temperature of 25 degrees – pleasant enough for wearing a single layer.

4) PLENTY OF WARM CLOTHES – we would suggest that a temperature of 20/25 degrees within the accommodation would be satisfactory for the majority of guests. Outside; of course we are in the South of France but up in the mountains; temperatures varied from 0 degrees in the early mornings to a balmy 15 degrees as we were enjoying a mild spell.

I am sure that browsers of the RT site reading this review will be able to take a balanced judgement. For this particular holiday our only previous poor review was made on the basis of inadequate truly vegetarian food at our chambre d’hote partners; this is a problem that is very prevalent in France as travellers here will know, and has now been improved. There has certainly been no subsequent complaint about the quality of our partner’s food. We are also pleased to offer most of the Mercantour holidays on RT, where other reviews may be seen.

It is very rare that we receive any negative feedback and we of course take any comments very seriously. We will be contacting the guest directly to address other matters raised during the course of our dialogue. Please note that other (returning RT) clients and a non RT guest, thoroughly enjoyed their time with us.

Reviewed on 26 Apr 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Stunning views from high up in the Parc National de Mercantour, well worth the effort of climbing 1000 metres. Also Liz's home cooking, delish!!!!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take a factor 40 sun cream, I’ve never burnt so badly!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Very much so, Liz and Mel have set up a home from home and I made a large donation to the local chemist after my sunburn.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Wonderful, would like do it all again and probably will before too long.

Reviewed on 02 Mar 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The hill walking was all great, but really the times to remember were just swapping stories with Liz and Mel, and the other guests Nick and Martha.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


If you are teaming up with other people you don’t know, you are going to need to be flexible. Maybe they are more, or less, athletic than you, or like different things. Liz and Mel do their best to make it work, but it's up to everyone. This is a beautiful place, ace accommodation and good food all at a reasonable price.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes I do - I travelled by train from UK which is pretty demanding and not cheap, but kind of fun - may not be so much fun with small children!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


An easy going and healthy week in the sun and the mountains, just what I needed in the middle of the UK winter.

Reviewed on 21 Feb 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The snowshoeing on the sunny days.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make full use of Mel's extensive knowledge of the area.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes. We rented a car and shopped in the area, and didn't drive around aimlessly while we were there.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The holiday was everything we expected and hoped it would be, except for the weather which was brilliant some days and not so good on others.

Reviewed on 29 Dec 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Snow shoeing in beautiful scenery and great weather.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


None.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Ok.

Read the operator's response here:

Sorry that we had to cut short the day due to several of the party not feeling able to complete a larger circuit. Glad that you understood that splitting a party in winter conditions is not admissible. Trust that the tea and aperos later made up for it. Hope that you managed to buy your snow shoes and winter gear the day after so you can get back out there.

Popular similar holidays

Nakasendo Trail winter tour, Japan

Nakasendo Trail winter tour, Japan

The tranquil magic of winter on the Nakasendo trail

From £2150 8 days excluding flights

Bosnia snowshoeing holiday

Bosnia snowshoeing holiday

Remote and spectacular winter scenery

From £1149 - £1329 8 days including UK flights

Austrian winter walking holiday

Austrian winter walking holiday

Explore an Austrian winter wonderland on foot

From €895 - €1095 7 days excluding flights

Sierra Nevada winter walking holiday in Spain

Sierra Nevada winter walking holiday in Spain

Alpujarra walking holiday: sun, snow, and mountain views

From €1295 - €1475 8 days excluding flights

Convert currencies