Col de Fenestre

Ibex (bouquetin) near Col de Fenestre

Col de Fenestre (2474 m), the mountain pass at the Italian border above Madone de Fenestre is ideal for spotting ibex(Bouquetin). These nearly became extinct and were reintroduced to Mercantour from Grand Paradiso on the Italian side. Every time we have visited Col de Fenestre we have seen ibexes that were half-tame and very easy to photograph.

Trails ascending from Madone de Fenestre (1903 m) are very popular. You are surrounded by the highest peaks in the region, including Cime du Gélas (3143 m). Driving time from Nice is about 1h 20/ 71 km, first to St-Martin-Vésubie from where the narrow paved road climbs to Madone de Fenestre.

Image of trail from Madone de Fenestre to Col de Fenestre

Col de Fenestre was already known by the Romans, and later became an important route between Savoy and Piemonte. Remains of military bunkers (all built by the Italians) from the early 20th century can be seen on both sides of the mountain pass. It is now at the border of the two countries. Before 1947, it belonged to Italy. It was one of the escape routes used by Jews escaping the Nazis from Nice in September 1943.

The trail from Madone de Fenestre ascends along the GR52 trail to signpost #368, then forks right and continues to Lac de Fenestre (2266 m) and further to signpost #369 just below the mountain pass. It is an easy ascent all the way. One can return along the same trail or take the trail from signpost #369 to Pas des Ladres (2448 m) to signpost # 428 then return along the GR52 trail back to the starting point.

Duration: 3 h (4 h via Pas des Ladres)
Vertical climb :    570 m (660 m via Pas des Ladres)
Map : IGN 3741 OT Vallée de la Vésubie
Info in French, via Pas des Ladres (Guide Randoxygéne)
Image of trail courtesy of Google Maps


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