Between France and Italy above the Tende tunnel

Starting point at Chalet de Marmotte

The Tende mountain pass has been the simplest connection between the Mediterranean and Piemonte. It was first a mule track created in 1652, and in 1782 the road was completed. The road tunnel was completed in 1883 and the rail tunnel in 1898. Because of this, the ancient mountain pass was almost totally abandoned. The current border on the ridge was determined in 1947.
Fort Central

Today’s hike starts from the parking (1804 m) at Chalet de Marmotte above Limone 1400 ski resort on the Italian side of the border. The parking can be reached by following a good paved road Trois Amis just after the tunnel on the Italian side. Drive through Limone 1400; follow the road to the refuge.
Great views after Fort Central

Walk first along a good unpaved road to the geographical mountain pass of Tende (1871 m), signpost 340. From there, follow a dirt road east to the central fortress (Fort Central) to signpost 339.
Leaving GR52A at Fort Tabourde

Fort Tabourde

Continue along a good trail to the Tabourde fortress, signpost 335. Up to this point the trail is Grand Randonnée 52A marked with red and white. As far as to this signpost, the walk is easy with negligible ascent offering nevertheless great views in a calm alpine setting.
Crossing the Framoursoure valley
The new trail ended to this unnumbered signpost (about 2100 m)

From this point the trail continues to east now marked with yellow signs. After about 500 m or so it reaches the Framoursoure valley heading north. A sheep pen is on the right hand side. At this altitude, parts of the trail were still covered with snow. It seemed that the route had been recently modified, on the web site just a week ago whereas the latest printed version (2013) had it already updated. The previous longer trail would have turned southeast ascending to the Pépin fortress. Now the yellow signs took us to a new unnumbered signpost(the guidebook says it's 337A) at about 2100 m. This signpost also showed the way to the Pépin fortess.
Mercantour peaks barely visible because of gathering clouds

Following the border crest between France and Italy

We, however, turned left and started descending as the area was more and more enveloped by clouds and the wind was increasing. We suspected that this recent trail change might have been made because of sheep flocks. Sheepherders allegedly use the Pépin fortress as a shelter. There have been several bloody attacks by wolves in the region.
Rhododendrons starting to blossom

We made the hike in early July, and rhododendrons were just starting to blossom. The descent back to the starting point was straightforward. We could admire the great views and flowers –clouds permitting.
Map of the hike

Duration: 4 hours, vertical gain about 450 m. Map: IGN 3841OT Vallée de la Roya; Info in French: Les Guides Randoxygène: Haut Pays 
Map courtesy of Conseil Général des Alpes Maritimes


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