Les forts du Col de Tende
Limone Piemonte

Les forts du Col de Tende

Archeology and history
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A circular walk of medium length that winds along the crest on the border between Italy and France. It alternates pleasant stretches on old military mule tracks,
some steep climbs on paths and a couple of short, slightly rougher stretches.

Beautiful spring flowers, with panoramas that span the Maritime Alps, the Ligurian Alps and down to the sea. And then a plunge into history, with the imposing fortifications of the late nineteenth century, part of the entrenched camp of Tenda, built by the recently formed Kingdom of Italy to defend its borders.

2 points of interest

  • History and historical trail

    The Central Fort

    Fort Central (so renamed even if its original denomination was Forte Alto, which later became Forte Colle Alto), the fulcrum of the Colle di Tenda defensive system, was armed with 10 cannons, two mortars and 4 machine guns. Completed in 1880, Fort Colle Alto was flanked by an imposing defensive barracks capable of accommodating about 300 men. It also had stables, various logistic services (infirmary, warehouses, ammunition depots), and was connected to the valley floor with a cableway that went up from Panice sottotana, capable of supplying the fort even in case of snow on the roads.
  • History and historical trail

    The Entrenched Camp of the Colle di Tenda

    The Entrenched Camp of the Colle di Tenda - d045f31
    The forts belonging to the Colle di Tenda camp (Colle Alto, Margheria, Pepino, Taborda, Giaure and Pernante), built between 1877 and 1888, with great expenditure of energy and financial resources, became obsolete within a few years because of the progress of artillery and shells. Active until the beginning of the First World War, when they were disarmed to take artillery to the Austrian front, in the Second World War they were all relegated to stores and ammunition dumps, and sometimes to shelter troops; they were replaced by more modern concrete constructions forming part of the "Vallo Alpino" defensive system. This territory passed to the French following the peace treaty of 1947, and their original Italian denomination was changed.
    [Dario Gariglio and Mauro Minola - Le Fortificazioni delle Alpi del Mare - L'Arciere Ed., Pp.35-38]

    The Fort Central - d163f43
    Fort Central (thus renamed even though its original name was Forte Alto, which later became Forte Colle Alto), the fulcrum of the defensive system of Colle di Tenda, was armed with 10 cannons, two mortars and 4 machine-guns. Completed in 1880, the Forte Colle Alto was flanked by an impressive defensive barracks able to accommodate about 300 men. It also had stables, various logistic services (infirmary, stores, ammunition deposits), a cableway connected it to Panice sottana in the valley to supply the fort even in the roads were snow-bound .
    [Dario Gariglio and Mauro Minola - Le Fortificazioni delle Alpi del Mare - L'Arciere Ed., Pp.35-38]


From Colle di Tenda (1871 m) walk up to the nearby Fort Central (0:15 mins from Colle di Tenda).
On the far side of the fort, drop down to the dirt road that connects the Colle di Tenda with Monesi
and follow it to north-east on the flat, for over 500 meters, to Col de Cannelle (1874 m, 0:15 mins from Fort Central, not marked on Italian maps).
At the pass the road forks, between the two branches of the dirt road take the steep path that climbs along the ridge. After a long
climb, you pick up the old military mule track coming from Fort Tabourde and follow it to the left to the less evident pass of Col
de la Vallette (or Col Vallette, also not named on the Italian maps, 2187 m, 1:05 hours from Col de Cannelle).
At the pass, which is a small crossroads, continue along the path that rises to cutting the corners of the former military road to Fort Pepin.
The path crosses the road several times then, leaving a turn to the left that leads to Colle della Perla, continue right on the road that with a long traverse
brings you to Fort Pepin (2263 m, 0:35 mins from Col de la Vallette).
Walk around the moat of the fort to the north (caution!) Then cut across the slope on a narrow path to the north. Cross a large landslide of loose stone
(take care here!) and, once again on easy slopes, take the mule track to Colle della Perla. Follow it to the left, back to the Col de la Vallette (2187 m, 0:40 mins from Fort Pepin){To avoid the two rougher stretches, you can retrace your footsteps from Fort Pepin back to Col de la Vallette.}From the col retrace your steps for, but leave the path used for the ascent to the right and stay on the former military mule track. The mule track loses altitude with some hairpin bends then makes a long traverse to the south and finally meets the dirt road coming from Col Cannelle. Following the dirt road to the left you arrive at Fort Tabourde (1982 m, 0:45 mins from Col de la Vallette).Once you have retraced your steps, follow the access road to the fort to the end, and with another long traverse you reach Col de Cannelle (1874 m, 0:35 mins from Fort Tabourde).Here you rejoin the Colle di Tenda - Monesi road and go left. Return via the outward route and go up the ramp to the Fort Central on the left. At the first fork go to the right, you cross the Central defensive barracks and descend to Colle di Tenda (1871 m, 0:30 mins from Col de Cannelle).

  • Departure : Col de Tende (1871 m)
  • Arrival : Col de Tende (1871 m)
  • Towns crossed : Limone Piemonte and Tende

Altimetric profile

Access and parking

From Borgo San Dalmazzo travel up the Vermenagna Valley towards Limone Piemonte. Before reaching the Tenda tunnel, turn right to Limone 1400 (Panice soprana) and from here continue to Colle di

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