GR52A - practicalities
(prices quoted are of June 2011, for a double room)

1. Days needed
We took 4½ days actual walking on the GR52A to Colmars-les-Alpes. However we travelled by train and bus, walked on for two more days to Méailles, and took a day off at Chateauneuf-d'Entraunes, totalling 10 days. If you flew to Nice, caught the evening bus from the airport, and took a taxi to the train back to Nice from Colmars it would make a good six days in total.

2. Getting there and away
From London: Eurostar & TGV to Nice. Nice is the closest airport.
Bus to start point: No 740 with Lignes d’Azur. Ticket costs €1! (Though you have to pay a bit more for your bags.) It goes from near the train station, but then calls in at the airport (both terminals).
Getting away: The little mountain train from Méailles to Nice Train des Pignes. It's a 2 hour ride; Senior ticket €8.35.

3. Map
Map number IGN 165 (1:100,000); there are 1:25,000 maps but we didn't bother with them.

For more detail on walking this entire area, the Topo Guide Réf. 507 covers Le Mercantour. It's in French, but as it consists of maps and descriptions of short sections, it could be useful even if you don't read French.

4. The route
I have listed walking times, as ascent and descent seemed more important than miles (it is about 54 miles altogether). The signage (red and white paint flashes) is generally good. Occasionally it was difficult to find the path leaving town. Anyone with vertigo might have moments of uncertainty (again, mentioned); but it's worth summoning up the courage, so you can enjoy the many beauties of this walk. Flies were rather bothersome this summer - we were told they were unusually bad.

Arrival: Nice: Hotel Kyriad Nice Port, Rue Emmanuel Philibert; (tel 0033 4935 5800, €65); kyriad.niceport@hoteliereuphare.fr, (convenient for the Old Town and the bus station).
Day 1: Bus to St Sauveur; one and a half hours ride. 2 hours walk uphill to Roure. accommodation in town; (room 64 euros; menu 27 euros; breakfast 7 euros). The couple were friendly; despite a rather cold room after the heat of Nice, the ambience was pleasant, and the views were wonderful. (www.aubergelerobur.fr tel 0493020357. €64)
Day 2: Roure to Beuil. A little under 6 hours walk. The col above above Falcon has unclear signage; you just go straight over.
Hotel Millou; Tel 0493 023003; 50 euros. www.hotelmilloubeuil.com). Le Tire Bouchon has nice, big pizzas, suitable for sharing between two people (14 euros).
Day 3: Beuil to Chateauneuf-d'Entraunes. 7 and a half hours walk. Gite; Tel 0493 055442; delavoix.mercantour@wanadoo.fr, €50.The Gite is a small one, and is run by a hospitable couple. She did a very good value, 4 course evening meal.
Day 4: Optional extra day: 3 hour circuit, including Gorge de Sauche Nègre. Stay again at the Gite.
Day 5: Chateauneuf-d'Entraunes to Entraunes. 6 and a half hours walk. The miniscule village of les Tourres (photo on the 'walks' page) has a chambres et tables d'hötes, called Les Vallieras (tel 0493055294).
The Auberge Roche Grande in Entraunes (demi-pension 45 euros; info@auberge-roche-grande.com) was our least favourite place of the week. There may be chambres d'hötes in the village, but no other restaurant.
Day 6: Entraunes to Colmars-les-Alpes. 6 hours walk. Hotel le France; Tel 0492 834293; kfelefrance@wanadoo.fr, www.hotel-lefrance-colmars.com; tel 0492 834293; demi pension 47 euros per person.
Day 7:Colmars-les-Alpes to Beauvezer. 4 hours walk; optional extra hour to Cascade de la Lance. Hotel le Bellevue; Tel 04928 35160; info@lebellevue.eu, €50. Our Gite (Le Montagn'Art) was a 10 minute walk from the centre (bonnel@lemontagn-art.com; demi-pension 54 euros; with a highly attentive hostess). Hotel Le Bellevue in the central square might have been more convenient; the lady spoke English.
Day 8:Beauvezer to La Colle Saint Michel. Just under 5 hours walk. Gite de la Colle Saint Michel; Tel 0492 833078; colsaintmichel@.fr, €33 demi pension per person; bring your own sheet sleeping bag.
Day 9: Colle St Michel to Méailles. 2 hours walk. Train Méailles to Nice: 2 hours ride.