Tenda - La Brigue: cycle path of the Marguareis - Alta Via del Sale

Tenda – La Brigue: cycle path of the Marguareis

THE ITINERARY

From La Brigue (altitude 770 m) enter the Vallon de Galas where a series of hairpin bends face the ascent to the height where the wood becomes denser and where a larger road crosses. This point can also be achieved through two less demanding alternatives. One, further north, passes the beautiful sanctuary of Notre Dame de la Fontaine and climbs more gently towards the summit. The second, further south, runs along the Vallone del Rio Secco and bypasses the hairpin area reaching the intersection mentioned before. From here, through the Col du Loup, proceed towards the Colle di Sanson (altitude 1,685 m). At this point there is a fork which offers the possibility of continuing towards Realdo, losing altitude for about twelve kilometers and reaching the small village bordered by impressive cliffs. Alternatively, you can go to Colle Melosa and the top of Marta keeping up high. The main route, however, from the Basse di Sanson continues towards Passo di Collardente (altitude 1,600 m).
Here, from a further bifurcation it is possible to descend towards Triora or San Bernardo di Mendatica; if you continue on the main path you reach the Passo del Tanarello (altitude 2.042 m) and you come to a crossroad that gives the opportunity to climb towards the majestic Statue of the Redeemer, or continue towards Monesi di Triora and Upega entering the summit of the Tanaro Valley . You then enter the immense wood of the Navette, boundless and fascinating expanse of larch and other conifers and you reach the summit of the Valle d’Upega, near the Colle di Selle Vecchie (altitude 2,098 m.). From here you get to Colle dei Signori (altitude 2.112 m) near which you find the Don Barbera Refuge. Keeping the altitude you pass the Colle della Boaria (altitude 2.102 m.) Possible branch to the Certosa di Pesio, you touch the Colle della Perle (altitude 2.083 m) and you travel to the area of ​​the historic military fortifications traveling on the edge of the Italian border -francese by touching the Cima del Bec (altitude 2,300 m.), the Cima Pépin (altitude 2,344 m) and the Cima del Becco Rosso (altitude 2,214 m).
The Tabourde Fort appears in all its grandeur (altitude 1,982 m); from here it is possible to fall back to the north and reach the Central Fort. To reach this point it is possible a variant towards the Lake of the Pearl and the Campanino Hill. From the Central Fort (altitude 1.950 m) a branch of the military road that descends towards Limone Piemonte starts. Continuing in French territory you reach the Fort of Margheria (altitude 1,842 m) and the path continues until you reach the low of Peyrafique (altitude 2,028 m). Here there are two possibilities: take the branch towards Casterino or go towards the Bassa d’Ourne (altitude 2,040 m) in the direction of Tenda.
From Casterino, starting point for the unparalleled excursions in the Valley of Wonders to the discovery of prehistoric graffiti, the interesting Ring of Fontanalbe also starts: we start from Casterino to the IGN367 pole; from here you have to follow the asphalt road through the village until you reach the IGN395 (dairy) pole and then follow the path that passes next to the Lago des Grenouilles (IGN392 pole). Then continue along the path that makes a wide turn, up to the IGN390 pole and then descend again towards Casterino, crossing the forest of Mélèze up to the pole IGN391 where there is an area equipped for climbing trees.

POINTS OF INTEREST

  • 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.
  • The Redeemer
    Built at 2,164 meters above sea level, on the ancient Monte Saccarello, the large bronze statue of Christ the Redeemer is part of a group of sculptures placed in the early twentieth century on the highest mountains of each Italian region . In 1900, in fact, Pope Leo XIII, during the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s, declared he wanted to dedicate the twentieth century to the Redeemer. Many Italian regions, adhering to the initiative, undertook to set up statues, crosses or monuments that represented it on their highest peaks. The western Ligurian created this impressive sculpture that, with the means of the time and with the help of the French, was placed on that hill offering an incomparable view.
  • Colla Melosa
    It is a mountain resort of the Municipality of Pigna, at an altitude of 1,545 meters above sea level. Here is located the homonymous cross-country trail traced around Mount Corma, with rings from 1.5 Km – 3 Km – 4 Km – 5 Km.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • St. 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

It starts from La Brigue or from Tende, Saint Dalmas de Tende or Casterino. The area concerned is mainly French but involves a large portion of the cross-border territory, located on the border with Italy and passes through the Municipalities of Tenda, La Brigue, Limone Piemonte, Briga Alta, Triora, Mendatica, Chiusa Pesio.
The route offers a series of variations so as to adapt it to its capabilities and crosses a naturalistic landscape of remarkable beauty, touching the middle valley centers, touching the severe peaks of the rocky ridge, plunging into the woods of the Navette and passing through the evocative Valley of the Marvels, the cradle of an ancient prehistoric pastoral civilization. Noteworthy are also many inhabited centers that can be visited like Tenda and La Brigue, with their historical centers of sure charm as well as the alpine villages that cross each other during the journey.

Total length: 80 km with a total height difference of 2500 meters.

Difficulty and distance: The itinerary is passable with mountain bike or pedal assisted bicycle, mostly on a dirt road and in a small part asphalted. It presents numerous variations and, if you intend to cover it completely, it is suitable for trained cyclists. However, even for the less trained there is the possibility to size their route choosing among the many available variants.

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