Accommodation in the Mercantour, France

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Gite accommodation available year round (ideal base for both summer & winter activities).
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Accommodation in the Mercantour, France

Environment

Food air miles are limited here as fresh organic produce, fruit and veg, milk, cheese and honey (and now from our own bees!!) are available within walking distance. Our water comes straight from the hill. We also grow our own vegetables, which we are happy to share with our guests.

Although we are 5km from the nearest town, we do try to encourage guests to use the €1.50 Alpes-Maritimes bus, and limit our road miles as much as possible using our minibus.

We recycle as much as possible and have now have a super "green" heat pump to supply hot water and the central heating.

Information is provided to our guests to enable them to enjoy the Park to the maximum while showing the utmost respect for the environment. We only use local, qualified guides who are passionate about the area that they live in. They are paid a living wage for their excellent services.

We are 100% focused on creating awareness of this magical corner of South East France. Your walking leader is a partner of the Mercantour National Park, which has a continual training programme for its leaders, to keep them abreast of developments and issues, and to enrich their local knowledge. Visitors can enjoy an unspoilt mountain environment and appreciate a traditional rural way of life. As permanent residents we are fully integrated into the community in the Vésubie valley.

Our base
As we await permission to fulfill our vision for our centuries old farm house and land, we are keen to implement as many environmentally sympathetic measures as possible. We encourage the preservation of our pure water which comes straight off the mountain and use our splendid climate for laundry drying outside.

As much waste as possible is re-cycled, including pony manure which goes straight onto our vegetable patch. We aim to be as self sufficient as possible from your own garden. Guests are welcome to help themselves to fruit and vegetables.

When meals are provided they are prepared with local produce only, often solely from the Vésubie valley. Vegetarians are willingly catered for. Energy efficient bulbs are used throughout the house. We try to minimise the use of paper in our office. Guests are encouraged to shop locally and of course to respect the integrity of the National Park.

Working relationships
We only work with qualified guides for all activities. These passionate locals create a genuine and rich experience for our visitors. They are paid the appropriate rate for professional guides. Our local accommodation partners are chosen for their warm welcome and a willingness to share their love for the region.

Business development
In the longer term we will use abundant natural resources (wood and sunshine) for heat and light as well as providing alternative accommodation on our land. We work closely with other like minded partners here in the Mercantour, and can offer other eco accommodation, plus those adapted for the less mobile. We have have our own horse who is available for riding and taking out as a companion on day walks.

Community

We have lived here in the Mercantour for 12 years and are proud to be part of the community. The area, despite its proximity to the French Riviera, is quite poor, but inhabited by people who are passionate about the area, so we are delighted to be able to make an impact on the local economy. Our guests can take advantage of our local knowledge for walks and other activities, and recommendations for fun places to eat and drink. Therefore guests don't waste a Euro or a day being disappointed, and our local suppliers who merit support, get it.

We support the active community in Roquebilliere with its local weekly market, and buy as much as possible from local producers. We are also keen to contribute to cultural events which keep the "patrimoine" of the area buoyant - these include dancing in the village square in July and August, a summer programme of music and drama, an art gallery showcasing local talent, and a cost free system for bartering goods and services between inhabitants.

When using other accommodation we try to ensure that a night could be spent with a local farmer or craftsmen, providing valuable income to our hosts and also giving guests an appreciation of a typical rural life here.

Reviews of Accommodation in the Mercantour, France

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 30 May 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The walking in the beautiful mountains in the Mercantour with snow,sun,isolation and good companions.Why did I reach 67 before finding this most beautiful place?
We stayed with Tim and Liz in their ideally situated gite in Berthemont-Les-Bains and they were excellent hosts with the local knowledge to make our vacation very special.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Shop at the Carrefour down the road for the week and then you can spend all your time in exploration of these beautiful valleys. The walking is well waymarked, especially GR routes, so little danger of getting lost. go find your favourite places but don't miss Le Boreon or Madonna Les Fenestres for some beautiful starts for long or short walks.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We did shop locally after arrival rather than on the journey up and our hosts follow a very environmentally friendly lifestyle and their whole lives are lived in this way.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It is the best vacation we’ve had in France and that's from a perspective of over 40 years vacationing in France. Haute Savoie is hard to better but this has done it for us.

Reviewed on 27 Oct 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


We were delighted with our accommodation and the beautiful location at La Zourciere, Berthemont-les-Bains. The Gite can be found on their website: space-between.co.uk We received a warm welcome from our hosts Liz and Mel and will recommend La Zouciere to our friends.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Just over an hour drive from Nice, La Zouciere is a good base to tour the Alpes-Maritimes or a hiking vacation.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Our accommodation was self-catering and we bought most of our food and meals in the local villages as well as the ones we drove through.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


The Alpes-Maritimes and Mercantour National Park is a fantastic area to visit and we would consider this to be one of our best vacations.

Reviewed on 06 Nov 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


We loved the autumn walking in the Parc du Mercantour, in fact our walk to the Lac de Negre was probably the prettiest walk we have ever done - brilliant reds and yellows in the bilberries, rowans and larches were framed against a brilliantly blue sky. Very few other walkers and a pleasant, sunny, 22 degrees made us feel hugely privileged.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Staying with Mel and Liz at Berthemont-les-Bains was great. They were great hosts, ever willing to give detailed tips on walks and other local attractions, and the position was very central. We were able to explore several lovely passes, many with views to Mont Blanc and Italy, with just a short drive to the start of the walk.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We patronised local shops, restaurants and the wolf sanctuary nearby, and tried to be as considerate and friendly with the local people as we could be. We also tried to minimise our impact on the environment in sticking to walking tracks, not littering and so on while we were out, and recycling as much rubbish as we could.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent.

Reviewed on 03 Nov 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Stunning scenery, walks and views, quiet location, no other English tourists! Warm welcome from Mel and Liz.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Although it's good to support local shops, they are quite limited and you might want to stock up on supplies on the way from Nice. Take advantage of Liz and Mel's extensive knowledge of the area.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Sort of as we shopped entirely in small local supermarkets and boulangeries etc. Traveling around by car is essential and whilst this is not great for the environment, we did only use half a tank of petrol in our week as we did not drive far.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent, a really relaxing break in this beautiful area of France.

Reviewed on 30 Jun 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Meeting such delightful people.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Don't expect riviera weather – changeable.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Certainly Liz and Mel seem to know everyone in the area and to be at the centre of very imaginative ventures.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Really good value.

Reviewed on 08 May 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


We stayed for three relaxing nights at the Gîte la Zourcière with Mel and Liz, and then two nights at la Madone D’Utelle. Some of the most memorable parts of our stay were: stunning views from our veranda over breakfast and dinner, looking down the valley; walks through the pine forest near Belvédère and (especially) the cool spruce forests around Le Boréon; panoramic views from la Madone D’Utelle, where we saw a Short-toed Eagle from our breakfast table; and, of course, simply wandering around the market at Roquebillière, and in Saint Martin Vésubie and Utelle.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


If you are looking to hire a car, make it a small one - not just to save on fuel costs and emissions, but also to help negotiate the narrow mountain roads and village streets. And if you don’t normally drive on the right, a smallish vehicle is also probably slightly easier to get used to.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, in as much as it injected a small amount of cash into the local economy, through accommodation costs and (more directly) through food shopping in the local markets, etc. Although we relied entirely on our hire car (a Fiat Panda) for getting around the Vésubie, we found that it was amazingly light on fuel
consumption.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent - we hadn't imagined that there would be such stunning scenery and good wildlife habitats within just an hour-or-so of Nice. Everything went smoothly, and the gîte provided a perfect, tranquil base.

Reviewed on 29 Jul 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Visiting La Madonne d'Utelle, with views over the Bay of Nice and Antibes (glistening THAT Mediterranean blue) to south and the high peaks on the border with Italy to the north-east, partly covered with snow. We walked down to the little town of Utelle (don't miss the Knights Templar church) and found 48 species of butterfly between there and the top of La Madonne. And the Gordolasque Valley. And the Folon chapel at St Paul's (+ the Picassos in the little museum there). And sheltering from the hail with wild chamois in the Boreon. And the weather - apart from the one bit of hail!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Allow a week - there's so much to do and so many places to see. And do a bit of fitness training first. It's worth it to get up them thar hills! Listen to everything Mel and Liz tell you about the place - they know a such a lot and really helped us make the most of our stay.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


We didn't feel a direct connection with the locals - maybe because we were staying with English people. Enjoyed buying the local food though and cooking it up on camping stove outside our gite. We drove around rather a lot (which wasn't great unless you really like bendy roads) but didn't arrive by plane.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Lovely. Mel (he's the mountain leader) and Liz (she's the hostess with the mostest - fantastic breakfasts) couldn't have been more kind and welcoming and the Mercantour is fantastic. Did rather feel we were in the best place (Vallee de La Vesubie) because it's very diverse and a bit more open than the rather claustrophobic Tinnee valley. And there's lots of good places to visit not far away.

Reviewed on 12 Jun 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Climbing the Mercantour park hills and enjoying the wonderful views.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take your walking boots.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, we left the car on numerous occasions and just walked. We ate locally and enjoyed all the local facilities.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Fantastic.

Reviewed on 22 Jan 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Beautiful location, spectacular scenery. The gite itself is very pretty, very nicely decorated and spacious. The gite was immaculately clean on arrival, with a complementary bottle of wine which was a very thoughtful touch.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Car rental is essential.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, bringing tourism and business to a quieter rural area.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Brilliant, I would definitely go back again. There are lots of activities to choose from and Nice is within easy striking distance - something for all tastes.

Reviewed on 28 Feb 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Seeing the mountains both below and above the snow line. For the children - the wolves!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


It was very straight forward to book this vacation as Liz and Mel are so informative and friendly. I would say definitely go along with what Liz and Mel recommend as they really do know the area and what there is on offer there.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


As we drove there rather than flew, yes. We didn't but local produce rather shopped in a large Carrefour in Nice...Next time it would be good to investigate local producers further. We used downhill ski slopes which I understand aren’t the most green but through this contributed to the local economy and tourist industry. We also visited the wolf park Alpha.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It was fantastic; we have already booked again for next year!

Reviewed on 27 Jun 2007 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The walks. Our first was up the valley from Pont de Countet in thunder and lightening that soon turned to snow. The next day we were down around Utelle in lovely heat where we did a walk partly on GR 5 and then looping back to Utelle. The third walk was the high point (in every sense), on the 1st of June 2007 from Madonne de Fenestre to the Italian border at Col de Fenestre, with lots of snow up to 1 metre deep in places.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


If walking be prepared for all types of weather and bring plenty of gear, including rain gear, gloves, fleece hats, etc., as well as the shorts, summer gear and sun tan lotion.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes to both. Local impact was in staying locally, buying provisions locally and eating in local restaurants in the evenings. Walking vacations generally make very little impact on the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent, made possible with a lot of assistance and recommendations from Liz and Mel at this placce in Berthemont. A return visit is on the agenda.

Reviewed on 19 Sep 2006 by

Firstly I would like to tell you how very impressed I was with the service from Responsible Travel, the person who answered the phone knew exactly where the Mercantour Park was and was confident in choosing the right people to help with my varied and somewhat eccentric itinerary. I had a response from the operator within the hour and was with them in France within 24 hours, this was a last minute impulse trip.

The trip was 5 star born again, Liz and Mel were fantastically welcoming, extremely well informed on all aspects of the area and able to provide a very relaxing environment.

I packed so much in it's hard to say what was the most memorable, Climbing the sacred Mont Bago with thunder and lightening on the surrounding horizons, being eye to eye with a wolf in the inspiring Alpha wolf park, sharing lunch with a chamoix or scaring myself silly in the via ferrata. The Valle de Merveilles was all I had hoped for and more, because as well as the fascinating ancient engravings the extraordinary rock colours and formations were art in their own right.

As a single traveler without transport I am sure I was not the ideal client but Mel and Liz went out of their way to accommodate me and they were great fun!

Finally I attended an event with Mel and Liz about sensitive development of the area which is for the moment unspoilt and feel that they are committed to retaining the integrity of this very special area.

Thanks to all involved.

Reviewed on 06 Aug 2006 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Hiking in the Mercantour. Important: the flexibility in the use of space which enabled us to have at the accommodation, various configurations of the family, from nuclear to extended.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


When hiking ask for Mel's advice. If you are numerous book the BB as well. - excellent breakfast if you order it but you can also abstain!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Certainly, the local economy relies very much on tourism. Good points: no air conditioning, sewage treatment on site, vegetable garden.

Reviewed on 03 Jan 2005 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The opportunity of visiting the Alpes Maritime for the first time and having lunch on Christmas Day in a local restaurant without any other Brits in sight!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Make sure you do some shopping in Nice, it's easy to reach by car and we had no problem with traffic or parking even though it was the week before Christmas. If you like ski-ing Isola 2000 is only 45 minutes drive. A hire car is a must.

3. Any areas for improvement?


Not really.

4. Any other comments?


Nice excepted, the area is very French and we found the locals very hospitable.

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