The Mercantour has just made winter activity holidays much easier for you!! The snow was late here in Southern France – you know, that department which has not only the fab French Riviera, but also a great National Park just behind it, but now it is the French half term holidays in PACA and things are a’swingin…….
Alpine, cross country skiing and ski mountaineering a’plenty plus snow shoeing, of course - but get here soon as the temperatures are un-seasonally warm.
Our cunning friends in Saint-Martin-Vésubie have just had an ice climbing structure raised, just next to the wolf park.
In the past your resident holiday team at spacebetween had to venture into the Tinée valley to have a stab at ice climbing as part of their winter activity holiday - see the pic! ( However now there is safe ice, with four different “walls” all within five minutes of your car, and a self congratulatory vin chaud afterwards. The wall can be used on your own, if you have the kit and the confidence for an amazing €8 for two hours, or hire a hunky mountain guide and benefit from some great instruction for just €40. It is also possible to get a season ticket, and group rates. More information here.
Local residents are justifiably excited about it as it is the most up to date system in France – the other one in Champigny-la-Vanoise further north, has been installed for some time.
It is an excellent way of finding out just how tough ice-climbing is (looks so easy from the comfort of your sofa!!), and doing it in a safe environment with no icy water pouring down on your head, nor falling rocks. It really does give you a full body work out, that is for sure, never mind the adrenaline involved!!! The O à la Bouche restaurant open all day too, has a fireplace and an interesting menu.
The system is at 1700m, and the tower mainly well shaded so climbing should be possible until Easter this year – well it is very early in 2012…..given the vagaries of the weather in Europe this year, check it out before you come on down with your ice axes, and wrap them carefully in your luggage.
However, and as always, there is lots going on, Mardi Gras, and the best Carnival in Europe, plus of course there is the Menton Lemon Festival and countless Mimosa festivals…..
Contact spacebetween walking and adventure holidays for more information for more details on how to make the best of all that is on offer in the South Eastern corner of France.