Vens Lakes via Tortisse
Vens Lakes via Tortisse

Vens Lakes via Tortisse

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In the very heart of the National Park, discover an exceptional panorama with Alpine grasses, lakes, refuges and high transnational summits.
This itinerary takes place entirely in theheart of the Maercantour National Park and is much enhanced by the panoramic view of the Vens lakes. The omnipresent fauna and generous flora are in no way diminished by the sheep pastures.

3 points of interest

  • Architecture

    The fountain

    After a climb, often in the sunshine, a refreshing break at the fountain is very welcome.
    The water emerging from the ground is very cool and provides you with the chance to take a break before continuing your climb or to have a drink before returning into the heat of the valley.

  • History and historical trail

    Tortisse forest house and Tortisse stacks

    Property of the National Forest Office, the Tortisse forest house is not open to the public. These buildings went up after the Second World War as accommodation for the people working for the Mountain Terrain Restoration (RTM) unit. The Tortisse plateau has been occupied by humans throughout all the ages. The rocky ridges contain iron which has often been mined and then smelted on the Morgon plateau. The slopes around the Tortisse plateau are often occupied by chamois and mouflons. It you lean in, you will also be able to smell the sweet vanilla scent of Gymnadenia nigra corneliana, kind of orchid.
  • Refuge

    Lac de Vens and refuge

    The Vens refuge only has a warden during the summer months. In winter, only one room is open to allow hikers to shelter. The Vens refuge overlooks a series of lakes of the same name. These lakes are of glacial origin, they are the result of a long erosion process by glaciers. The lake below the refuge (the biggest) is 31 metres deep. Ibex, chamois, mouflons and golden eagles can often be seen at the site. Very close to the refuge, you can see the endemic plant which was for a long time the symbol of the Mercantour National Park: Saxifraga florulenta.

    Club Alpin Français: Capacity: 45 in summer and 30 in winter (no warden)

    Reservations only be e-mail in summer:

    No shower, meal included


From Le Pra (1700m, marker 32), which you can drive to, follow the zigzagging path which overlooks the road before reaching the peaceful Morgon plateau and its old metal footbridge. Head through the larch forest and then a narrow section, denoted by marker 33, which provides access to the Tortisse Valley and to the forest houses (2252m) via a long stony passage. At marker 34, with a view over the Aiguilles de Tortisse, branch off to the right and take a good-quality path, which is often in the shade, to a narrow section which has no name, overlooking the Vens Valley (2422m). An airy path, which goes via an intersection at marker 23, leads to another narrow section (2409m) overlooking the large lake of Vens Supérieur. The refuge of the same name (2380m) can be seen at the other end of the lake above the waterfall.
Follow the same route for the return journey. At marker 23, you can also, if the weather is not too hot, head down more quickly via the Vens valley and get back to the starting point of the itinerary.

  • Departure : Le Pra
  • Arrival : Vens refuge
  • Towns crossed : Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée

Altimetric profile


If you make an early start, there is the possibility of seeing chamois, mouflons (in springtime) or deer. Throughout the day, golden eagles, bearded vultures and marmots. Although they are very secretive, wolves are also present in this sector.
Is in the midst of the park
The national park is an unrestricted natural area but subjected to regulations which must be known by all visitors.

Information desks

Maison du Parc national du Mercantour - Saint Etienne de Tinée

Quartier de l’Ardon, 06660 Saint-Etienne de Tinée

http://www.mercantour-parcnational.frtinee@mercantour-parcnational.fr04 93 02 42 27

Du 01/06 au 01/07/2022, tous les mardis, mercredis, jeudis, vendredis et samedis de 10h à 19h.
De 10h à 12h et de 14h à 19h.

Du 02/07 au 31/08/2022, tous les mardis, mercredis, jeudis, vendredis, samedis et dimanches de 10h à 19h.
De 10h à 12h et de 14h à 19h.

Du 01/09 au 30/09/2022, tous les mardis, mercredis, jeudis, vendredis et samedis de 10h à 19h.
De 10h à 12h et de 14h à 19h.


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