Our trip began in Megève, France, enjoying a nice dinner and jazz contest in town in celebration of Bastille Day. Then we set out in the Alps, getting our first views of Mont Blanc on the drive to Lac Roselend. As we hiked over the Col de Bresson on to Bourg-St.-Maurice, the wildflowers were in bloom all around us: wild geraniums, forget-me-nots, buttercups, and spring gentians. Truly magnificent. At Refuge de la Balme, near the Col de Bresson we stopped to refill our water bottles before making it to our hotel that evening. The next morning we started up towards Col de la Plagne in the Vanoise National Park, passing edelweiss and a marmot who was cooling himself on a snow patch on the Col du Plan Séry. Near Pralognan, we hiked up Petit Mont Blanc, where we had an incredible view of all the surrounding peaks, including Mont Blanc, and the valley below. Here we are setting out in Vanoise National Park, near Pralognan the next morning:
After lunch in a mountain refuge, we crossed a col strewn with slate where we added to the stone sculptures in memory of a friend:
After reaching Briançon, we had a day off, and we wandered the market where they sold artisanal beers, cheese, spices, and colorful pottery, and had lunch at cozy Le Valentin restaurant. On Day 9 we set out for the Col des Ayes in the remote Queyras:
While waiting for the sheep to finish crossing, we met a friendly goat:
We made it to the Col de la Bonnette and took in the view. We hiked to a Maginot Line fort up on the distant hill and afterward explored old stone barracks on the Routes des Grandes Alpes. That evening we sat down for a delicious dinner at Hotel Le Gelas in St. Martin-Vésubie of gnocchi, green beans and fresh tomatoes. The next morning we bought ingredients for the “lunch of our dreams” at the market in St. Martin-Vésubie from the colorful vegetables and fresh breads. After our baskets were filled, we headed out into Mercantour National Park, on the way up to Lac Trecolpas. We ascended the Col de Fenestre on the Italian border, passing chamois and more ibex en route:
We made it to Col de Turini, the high point on the Monte Carlo Rally, and on to Saorge, where part of “To Catch a Thief” was filmed. On our last morning, we again prepared the “lunch of our dreams” with the ingredients gathered by our guides, Annie and Stephan, at Hotel le Mirval. The hike to the Mediterranean Sea turned out to be surprisingly misty. Despite the mist, we had tantalizing views of the Mediterranean as we descended the col de Razaet above Menton, and when we reached the end of the trail, Annie and Stephan had the van waiting with a tailgate party, French Alps style: glasses of bubbly with cheese. Smiles all around for a beautiful trip!
-Text by 9 time WT adventurer Inge Knudson, Photos by Inge Knudson and 9 time WT adventurer Rob Comer, Mont Blanc to the Mediterranean