VIA FERRATAS OR HOW TO SAFELY EXPLORE THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Entre randonnée et escalade! Between hiking and climbing!

Ever wanted to try outdoor climbing, but didn’t quite feel ready or brave enough to bite the bullet? Well, we might just have the perfect solution for you – Via Ferrata trails!

Italian by origin, the Via Ferrata trails were created to help infantry travel safely through the Dolomites. These “iron roads”, situated on rock faces, are equipped with cables, ladders, steps, grips and bridges, making them the ideal cross between footpath and vertical rock climb. All you will need is a helmet to protect yourself against falling rocks, a harness that clips into the cable safety system as you progress along the trail, as well as some gloves for a firm grip, and appropriate footwear for stability.

This assisted climbing activity is a great way to admire the valley from high above and to experience the wilds in complete safety, but nonetheless it does require hard work and not all the routes are for everyone. So, depending on whether you are a total novice or an experienced climber, here is a short list of the most popular Via Ferratas in the Alpes-Martimes, classified according to their level of difficulty.

Via Ferrata Balma Negra – Roubion (Easy/moderate)

Just 70 km north of Nice in the Mercantour National Park, this relatively short and straightforward Via Ferrata is ideal for beginners. Located on a 40 to 50 metre cliff, the route overlooks the Tinée valley and does not present any difficulties, aside from a 20 m high crossing towards the end.

Time required: 1.5 hours
Max altitude: 1,450 m
Height gain: + 50 m.
Route length: 300 m
Season: April – October

Via Ferrata Les Canyons de Lantosque – Lantosque (Moderate)

With its 5 monkey bridges, 5 suspension bridges, a 100 metre wall and a fun zip line to end the adventure, this Via Ferrata is an all-time favourite among climbers. Its popularity probably has a lot to do with the fact that the route is located in a beautiful canyon and gradually increases in difficulty.

 

Time required: 3 hours
Max altitude: 500 m
Height gain: + 100 m
Route length: 950 m
Season: April – October

Via Ferrata Le Baus de la Frema – La Colmiane (Difficult)

The oldest and most famous Via Ferrata in the Alpes-Maritimes is also one of the most difficult. The route, which leads to the summit of Baus de la Frema, is full of exposed ladder sections, high ropes crossings and vertical slabs, and takes nearly 5 hours to complete.

Time required: 4.5 hours
Max altitude: 2,246 m
Height gain: + 501 m
Route length: 1,600 m
Season: May – October

Via Ferrata L’Escale – Peille (Very difficult)

 

Just a few miles from Monaco and about 30 minutes from Nice, the Escale Via Ferrata is a challenging and physically demanding route that is divided into four sections, each lasting 45 minutes. It provides beautiful views over the village of Peille, but definitely requires some previous climbing experience.

Time required: 2.5 hours
Max altitude: 750 m
Height gain: + 230 m

Route length: 800 m
Season: Year round
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Via Ferrata Les Hérétiques – Tende (Very difficult)

Probably the most spectacular trail, this Via Ferrata offers a fun 120 m zip-line as well as a wonderful panorama over the Mercantour massif and the mediaeval castle of Chapelle St-Sauveur. This is the reward for overcoming this sporty 1km long route.

Time required: 3.5 hours
Max altitude: 1,338 m
Height gain: + 330 m

Route length: 1,000 m
Season: April – October