Escapade : Le col de Tende
Access: From Nice, take the motorway to Ventimiglia and then the Roya Valley tunnel to the Col de Tende.
Take the track to the left just before the tunnel or the road on the left just outside the tunnel.
Le Col de Tende: an air of Mongolia
With mountains as far as the eye can see and abandoned forts that still impress, Le Col de Tende mountain pass is an unusual place. It boasts breath-taking views and a military history that captures the imagination.
Accessing the mountain pass
Located 1871m above sea level, Le Col de Tende came under French territory in 1947. It has 6 forts, and its tunnel serves as a link between the Valley of La Roya in the Alpes Maritimes and the Valley of Vermenagna in Italy. You can get to the pass and upper mountains via a path that winds through impressive natural surroundings, located to the left of the tunnel entrance. Alternatively, you can get to it by road via the resort of Limone and continuing as far as 'Le Marmotte’ Chalet, by taking a left turning just after the tunnel exit when arriving from the Italian side.
The best time to see the pass is in the morning when its beauty is at its peak, magnified by the silence, broken only by the sound of marmot calls.
6 forts to visit
The forts are all accessible on foot. Fort Central, Fort de la Marguerie, Fort Tabourde and Fort Pepin are also accessible on mountain-bike. They provide a great choice of mountain trek.
Fort Central is the easiest to get to, located just 15 minutes from the Chalet. It was built in 1881 by the military out of granite, limestone and shale, as all the forts were, but was little used. Its artillery battery was removed at the beginning of the First World War, and later completely destroyed. Nevertheless, the fort still manages to impress even today. There are many picnic areas nearby where you and your family can stop and relax.
However, don’t feel that you have to ration your enjoyment: all the forts are worth visiting. You really won’t regret making the effort to visit them.
Fort de la Marguerie’s battery was built in 1883. Situated on a rocky prominence downhill of a ridge line, it must have presented a tricky architectural challenge to build.
Fort Pernante, built in 1883 2100m above sea-level had a fully stocked battery that was disarmed during the First World War.
Fort de Giaura’s battery, built in 1883 2253m above sea-level, and overlooking the surrounding valleys, was the most costly to build.
Fort Tabourde’s retrenched camp also dates back to 1883. It was built to enable views of Fort Central and Fort Pepin.
Fort Pepin was built in 1883, the highest battery above sea-level (2275m). Its retrenched camp seems completely lost at the top of the mountain. It attracts walkers like a magnet. Getting as far as the fort is a must. From its heights it offers spectacular views!
the line is an indicative and approximate line