From Tenda and La Brigue to the Alta Via del Sale - Alta Via del Sale

From Tenda and La Brigue to the Alta Via del Sale

THE ITINERARY

Departure from Tenda

Ascesa al Colle dei Signori
(difference in altitude: + 1.300m – about 6h)
From the Tenda station car park (altitude 827m), cross under the railway and take the small road to La Pia (IGN56 / palina 58), which climbs the Refrei torrent up to the IGN306 pole. Turn onto the path on the left that crosses a valley and continue straight (paln IGN322) to reach the Granges of La Pia (IGN318 palina). The trail rises sharply up to Castel Tournou (IGN317 pole). Go straight (IGN315 / 314) and then proceed northwards to reach the stables de Malabergue (IGN323 pole). Turn left to reach a ledge, then turn right to reach Colle dei Signori (2.111 m altitude, IGN327 pole) and below, on the Italian side, you can see the Don Barbera Refuge (altitude 2.079 m). To reach the Morgantini Refuge, turn left at the IGN324 pole, pass the upper Gias di Malbergue (IGN325 tag) and reach the main path for Colle della Boaira (altitude 2.102 m, IGN236 pole). Follow it on the right for about 1.5 km to meet the deviation (north) that leads to the Refuge.

Salita a Forte Centrale
(difference in height: + 1,200 m – about 5h)
From the Tenda train station car park (altitude 827 m), cross under the railway to take the Route de La Pia, cross the Pont Saint Jacques and deviate at the level of the IGN56 pole on the Grande Randonnée route n. GR52A. Follow the GR52A signs passing the IGN328 and IGN334 poles (Basse di Lagouna altitude 1,677 m), Cima de Tavan (altitude 1,912 m), Forte Tabourde (altitude 1,982 m, paln IGN335). Keep left on the GR52A up to the IGN338 pole to finally reach the Central Fort at the IGN339 pole.

Tenda – Casterino dalla Cappella Saint Sauveur e la Roccia della Maïma
(difference in altitude +1.400 m – about 5h) steep path
Opposite the town hall (altitude 825 m), go up the Capitaine Auber road up to the remains of the castle (palnum IGN66). Follow the path that rises above the cemetery to get to the IGN67 pole then to the IGN68 pole. From this, a bifurcation gives access to the Saint Sauveur Chapel that dominates the town of Tende, through a steep path equipped with a handrail. After the IGN sign, continue on the Saint Sauveur Rocks to the IGN349 (altitude 1,492 m). Take the bifurcation on the left passing the IGN350 pole, and then reach the Colla Megiana (IGN351 palina). Continue along the trail following the IGN353 (altitude 1.939 m), passing under the Cima del Prete (2,142 m altitude), Monte Agnellino (altitude 2,201 m), IGN354 / 355 pole. Get off at the Baisse d’Ourne (altitude 2,040 m , paln IGN356). Follow the fork on the left and go down towards the Vallone di Casterino (IGN366 pole), then follow the valley on the left bank to reach Casterino.

Casterino – Forte Central dal picco di Barsenzane
(difference in height: + 900 m – about 5h)
Cross the Peyrefique bridge (altitude 1,543 m, IGN367 pole) in front of the Chamois d’Or hotel towards the IGN368 pole. Follow the path towards the IGN369 pole. Continue on the path to the Bassa di Peyrefique (altitude 2,028 m) and take the fork on the left path to the IGN371 pole. Then go up to the Bassa di Barchenzane and turn right at the IGN372 pole. At the IGN377 sign, turn left to go up towards the top of Barchenzane. To the IGN378 pole (altitude 2.238 m) continue on the trail passing the IGN379 (2,120 m altitude) towards the Giaure Fort (2,254 m altitude, IGN380 pole). Follow the trail on the ridge towards Forte Pernante and the Central Fort.

Departure from La Brigue

La Brigue – Balconata di Marta
(difference in height: + 1,500m – about 4h30)
Opposite the Town Hall (height 762 m), turn right in front of the Church of Saint Martin, take the Santa Maria Maddalena ascent (IGN44 palina). Follow the Grande Randonnée trail n. GR52A towards the Bassa di Arpèse (altitude 1,288 m paln IGN244), the Bassa di Peluna (altitude 1,279 m, palina IGN245), and the Bassa Gereon (altitude 1,254 m, palina IGN251). Then take the path on the right towards the IGN252 pole, then continue on the Rionard ridge to the IGN253 pole (altitude 1,998 m). Turn right towards the Balconata di Marta (altitude 2.122 m).

La Brigue – Passo di Collardente dal percorso di Frasches
(difference in height: +800 m – 3h30)
Follow the path of interpretation up to the Chapel Notre-Dame des Fontaines. Then take the path Frasches that climbs in front of the chapel (palina IGN266). Go past the IGN268 / 269 pole and reach the Collardente Pass at the IGN270 pole (altitude 1.599 m).

POINTS OF INTEREST

  • Il Saccarello Mount
    Saccarello Mount is the highest point of the Ligurian territory, located on the border with France. The majestic Statue of the Redeemer was erected on its antic.
  • Colle dei Signori
    Located on the watershed near the French border with the Roya valley, it is a striking place at 2,111 meters above sea level, the base for numerous treks in the karst area of Marguareis. Administratively, the crossing point is located between the Italian municipality of Briga Alta and the territory of the French municipality of La Brigue while from the hydrographic point of view separates the high valleys of the Tanaro and Roya. Not far from the hill, on the Po valley side, stands the Don Barbera Refuge.
  • Colle di Tenda
    Suggestive alpine pass placed at the altitude of 1,871 meters that separates the Ligurian Alps from the Maritime Alps. Its summit divides the Roya Valley to the south from that of the Vermenagna to the north, and is located between the regions of Piedmont and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. The origins of this pass are very old, for the transits between the plain and the sea: it was already identified as a point of delimitation between Gallia Cisalpina and Gallia Narbonense during the Roman Republic. The Colle di Tenda is mentioned for the first time in a document dated 1178 which indicates the stop points that a traveler could encounter along the paths that linked Ventimiglia to Borgo San Dalmazzo.
    Between 1881 and 1895 a massive fortified barrier consisting of six Forts was built here by the military genius to protect Piedmont from possible enemy assaults. In 1947 the Treaty of Paris gave France Briga, Tenda and most of the Hill, including the entire complex of Forts.
  • Casterino
    Fraction of the Municipality of Tenda, a tourist resort full of accommodation facilities and starting point for organizing visits to the Valley of Wonders, to the Valley of Fontanalba, to Valmasque, to the Fortress of the Abyss and to the forts of the Tenda hill. Here it is possible to organize excursions accompanied to the areas of the valley where there are the rock carvings (Meraviglie and Fontanalba). We also point out the amusement park that is located in the woods at the entrance of Casterino (crossings with aerial cables on the trees and other activities for all ages). Dogs are not permitted in the park and strict restrictive measures are in place for trips to places where graffiti is found.
  • Tenda
    Tenda is a discovery for every season: sumptuous mountain landscapes, picturesque places and a tormented past in which genders and styles of architecture are mixed, always in harmony with history. Routes of charm, unusual, reserved for the curious. Feelings and relaxation, fun for everyone, with family or friends.
    Alternatively Provencal, Savoyard, French, Italian, then again French, the Municipality of Tenda is the largest of the Maritime Alps with an area of 17,747 hectares. Bordering north with Passo Tende and the Italian border, it includes part of the Mercantour National Park, including the prestigious Valle delle Meraviglie, Fontanalba and Valmasque, the towns of Tenda and S.Dalmazzo and the hamlets of Viévola, Granile with its roofs of lose gray, which exposes its terraces in the middle of chestnut trees at over 1,000 m of altitude; Castérino, a Nordic ski center and gateway to the Valle delle Meraviglie and Canaresse. An important stop on the Alta Via del Sale, with Breil and Sospel, is one of the three largest Alpine villages in the Maritime Alps.
    The Valle Delle Meraviglie and the Mercantour National Park; the history of Tende and the Roya valley is closely linked to Monte Bego. A sacred mountain since the Neolithic, it is at the center of the largest outdoor monument in France: the Valley of Wonders. On the rocks smoothed by glaciers, the agro pastoral populations have recorded tens of thousands of signs, evidence of beliefs that have disappeared today. It is an extraordinary natural and archaeological protected site that everyone can discover with their own rhythms.
    A wall of the old castle rises above the village. Tenda County was founded in the Middle Ages by the disintegration of Ventimiglia County. The marriage, in 1261, of William Peter, Count of Ventimiglia-Tenda with Eudossia Lascaris, daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Theodore II, assures the power of this family until 1581. The last descendant Lascaris, Henriette de Savoie -Villari, donates then his county to the Duke of Savoy. The Lascaris Counts consolidated their development and their autonomy thanks to the possession of the Col de Tende and the imposition of taxes, gabelles and rights of way.
    In the nineteenth century the ancient court and its appurtenances become the cemetery, which still houses the tomb of Clarence Bicknell, among the discoverers of the rock engravings.
    Many architraves carved with phrases or coats of arms can still be seen at Tenda. The one in Place du Traou, the seat of the former court, dates back to 1510 and refers to the marriage celebrated in 1501 between Anne Lascaris and René the Bastard of the House of Savoy.
    Further on, Piazza Ponte houses the old Renaissance palace of the Lascaris and beautiful Gothic houses. The Collegiate Church of Our Lady of the Assumption is the most emblematic building of the eclectic style.
    In the seventeenth century, with the development of the “Royal Road” under the Duke Carlo Emanuele di Savoia, the village extends out of the medieval walls.
    From the center of the square it is possible to see the Chapel of San Sauveur perched on the cliff (XIII century). The main building of the square, the “Villa Alpina”, built in 1893 by a Protestant pastor, has housed the Town Hall since the 1930s; the Church of Saint-Michel, built in 1635, has a large window.
    To visit are: the departmental museum of wonders, the Casa del Parco, the House of honey and bee, the Museum of the Alpine Vallo (fraction Viévola) and soon the mine of Vallauria (Borgo della Mine).
  • La Brigue
    La Brigue is a delightful village in Upper Val Roya, in the French territory.
    Stretched along a sloping wet by the torrents Levenza and Rio Secco, it is a town of about 700 inhabitants in the Department of the Maritime Alps in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, and boasts ancient and noble traditions. Crossroads of the brigasca land, a vast area from the language and traditions Municipalities extended between France and the provinces of Cuneo and Imperia, after the Treaty of Paris of 1947 that followed the conclusion of the second world war, Brigiga Marittima, at the time part of the Province of Cuneo, it was sold together with the Morignolo fraction from Italy to France. There are numerous monuments not to be missed, first of all the Sanctuary of Notre Dame des Fontaines which is just over 4 kilometers from La Brigue. A Christian chapel decorated with 15th century frescoes, built on the remains of a pagan temple. Dubbed the “Sistine Chapel of the Southern Alps”, the sanctuary houses 220 square meters of paintings. Classified as a historical monument in 1951, the chapel is to be visited in natural light, with beautiful weather.
    Just outside the town, in the direction of Morignole is Il Pont du Coq. This corner bridge is very curious, dating back to the fifteenth century and is listed as a historic monument since 1987.
    Chapel of San Michele; a building dating back to the 18th century and with evident influences from the Piedmontese Baroque style, it has an original octagonal structure, unique in the region. The Maison du Patrimoine et des Traditions Brigasques testifies to the life of the last century and the traditions of Brigades, a fun and authentic immersion. The top floor houses the Museum of Historical Organs and traces the wealth of the Churches of the Roya and Bévéra Valleys.
    Also worth seeing are the other numerous chapels such as those of the white penitents: the Chapel of the Annunciation, which dates back to the first half of the eighteenth century, the Chapel of the Assumption built in the first half of the eighteenth century with the bell tower in “Italian” style and exhibition a sumptuous Baroque decoration.
    The Collegiate Church of St. Martin is a building in Romanesque-Gothic style (classified as a Historical Monument in 1949) whose plant reveals interventions carried out in different eras, The numerous pictorial works (a triptych of the Madonna della neve of the Fossanese Sebastiano Fuseri or the Nativity by Luigi Brea, both from the early 16th century) and some valuable wooden altars that enrich the building, belong to the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and are, on the whole, a collection of remarkable visual richness.
    Fief of the powerful Lascaris family of Ventimiglia who erected an imposing castle to protect the territory. Of the castle “Lascaris Da Briga” listed in the inventory of historical monuments in 1949, remain the remains in the historical site with the tower of the fortified manor of the second half of the fourteenth century. The historic center is full of numerous buildings and mansions from the 16th and 16th centuries, often adorned with artistic lintels, generally carved in black or green schist.
  • S. Dalmas de Tende
    It is a fraction of the Municipality of Tenda at an altitude of 696 meters. It took the name of San Dalmazzo because here was a Benedictine monastery dependent on the Abbey of Borgo San Dalmazzo. It flourished in the past thanks to the argentifera galena and to the blenda present in the Vallauria mine, active until 1929. In 1914 the Mesce hydroelectric plant was built and, near the hamlet, the Hydroelectric power plant of Confine. Until 1947 it was also a border post between Italy and France, both on the state road 20 and on the Cuneo-Ventimiglia railway. Annexed to France following the Treaty of Paris, today it is a holiday destination for Italians and French. To see: the church of Notre Dame de la Paix.
  • The Mercantour National Park
    The Mercantour National Park, one of the nine French national parks, is spread over two departments: that of the Maritime Alps and the Alpes de Haute Provence, touching seven different valleys: Roya, Bevera, Vesubia, Tinea, Cians, Varo, Ubaia and Verdon. Its highest point is represented by the Gelas with its 3,143 meters and its great extension is a true botanical paradise and ideal habitat for many animal species. The most notable places, as well as 600 km of marked trails, are the Valle delle Meraviglie with its 40,000 rock engravings and Lake Allos, which is the largest natural lake in Europe.
  • The Wonders Valley
    The Wonders Valley is located in the Municipality of Tenda. Until 1861 it was part of the Savoy County of Nice, then from 1861 to 1947 it was part of Italy and was included in the province of Cuneo; it passed to France with the 1947 Treaty of Paris.
    The Wonders Valley is part of the Mercantour massif; here more than thirty-five thousand prehistoric rock engravings have been discovered, including numerous figures of weapons, daggers and halberds, dating back to the Copper Age and to a lesser extent to the Ancient Bronze Age. In the Fontanalba area there are also older figures, in particular cross-linked and topographic compositions, datable to the Neolithic. The rock carvings, together with the findings found in the valley, are effectively represented in the Tende Museum of Wonders.

GEOGRAPHICAL AREA INTERESTED

The proposed itineraries are particularly interesting as they start from two very pleasant inhabited centers such as Tenda and La Brigue, touching very suggestive places and spreading mainly on the territories of the two French municipalities, in some cases up to the border with Italy towards the Colle di Tenda, the Colle dei Signori, along the Alta Via del Sale, which represents the junction point of the various routes.

Total length: These are six stages for which the duration of the journey in hours are indicated from time to time. The proposals alternate departures from Tenda or from La Brigue.

Difficulty and distance: Walking tours ranging from three and a half hours to six hours of walking on the trail. The assessment, depending on the ability of those who are about to travel, must be weighted above all through the indication of the total difference in height that varies between 800 and 1,500 meters.

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