The best Via Ferrata routes in the South of France
Via ferrata gives you the exposure of rock climbing without the risk. It’s the perfect activity for adventurous families and groups as no previous experience is required. Climb to great heights on fixed rung systems that wind their way up rock faces in the mountains of Provence.
The south of France, with its vertical limestone slabs, has loads of excellent via ferrata routes. And many of those at lower altitudes are accessible year round. Routes are graded based on a combination of their difficulty and their length. While less physically demanding than rock climbing, you still get the buzz of being up high, and you’ll find completing a via ferrata a hugely rewarding experience.
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Where to do Via Ferrata in the South of France
Alpes-Maritimes via ferrata
The Alpes-Maritimes is one of France’s top destinations for Via Ferrata due to the region’s magnificently varied geography and huge fun-factor of the routes. Scale the high altitude peaks of Mercantour National Park, enjoy the beautiful shaded gorge of the Vésubie valley and experience an underground route in the Alpine foothills of Grasse.
Via Ferrata La Traditionnelle – Auron
Auron is a mountain resort 90 km inland from Nice. The via ferrata has relatively little vertical ascent, but it’s long and there’s lots of contact with the rock. There are some challenging sections including the ‘Pilier à Strates’ traverse.
Time required: 4h. Max altitude: 2274 m. Height gain: + 194 m.
Route length: 1800 m. Grade: Difficult/Very Difficult.
Season: April – October. Lat long: 44.205400, 6.888800
Via Ferrata La Ciappea – La Brigue
Located 59 km inland from Menton in the Roya valley, this via ferrata is quite technical and physically demanding. However, there are lots of fun sections including 8 rope bridges and a 120 m zip-line. Contact the tourist office in La Brigue for equipment and access.
Time required: 2.5h. Max altitude: 1000 m. Height gain: + 240 m.
Route length: 600 m. Grade: Difficult/Very Difficult.
Season: Year round. Lat long: 44.059000, 7.604200
Via Ferrata Le Baus de la Frema – La Colmiane
Located 80 km inland from Nice in Mercantour National Park, this via ferrata is a spectacular and challenging high mountain route. Exposed ladder sections, high ropes crossings and vertical slabs bring you to the summit. Busy in the summer, so arrive early to avoid bottle necks.
Time required: 4.5h. Max altitude: 2246 m. Height gain: + 501 m.
Route length: 1600 m. Grade: Difficult.
Season: May – October. Lat long: 44.056800, 7.193300
Via Ferrata Les Canyons de Lantosque – Lantosque
The setting of the Lantosque via ferrata in a canyon an hour inland from Nice is superb. The route gets progressively more difficult as you go, making it ideal for anyone new to the sport, with some moderately difficult final sections, including a heart thumping high ropes crossing.
Time required: 3h. Max altitude: 500 m. Height gain: + 100 m.
Route length: 950 m. Grade: Moderate.
Season: April – October. Lat long: 43.959600, 7.310300
Via Ferrata L’Escale – Peille
Just 30 minutes from Nice the Escale via ferrata is a physically demanding route with multiple exposed overhanging ladders and superb views over the village of Peille. Enjoyable cave section spits you out through a skylight. This is a challenging route and some climbing experience recommended.
Time required: 2.5h. Max altitude: 750 m. Height gain: + 230 m.
Route length: 800 m. Grade: Very Difficult.
Season: Year round. Lat long: 43.793200, 7.388900
Via Ferrata Les Demoiselles du Castagnet – Puget-Théniers
The Puget-Théniers via ferrata is located along the Var river 60 km inland from Nice. This route ticks all the boxes, the setting is spectacular, there are big vertical slabs, good exposure, a rope bridge, high ropes crossing and a zip-line to finish.
Time required: 3h. Max altitude: 777 m. Height gain: + 257 m.
Route length: 750 m. Grade: Difficult/Very Difficult.
Season: April – October. Lat long: 43.950000, 6.900000
Via Ferrata Balma Negra – Roubion
Roubion is 70 km north of Nice in the Mercantour National Park. A short and relatively strightforward via ferrata in a pleasant setting. Ideal for adventurous families or as an intro to the sport as there’s nothing too challenging besides a 20 m high ropes crossing at the end.
Time required: 1.5h. Max altitude: 1450 m. Height gain: + 50 m.
Route length: 300 m. Grade: Easy/Moderate.
Season: April – October. Lat long: 44.092500, 7.055300
Via Ferrata Les Hérétiques – Tende
Tende is 80 km from Nice, north of Breil-sur-Roya near the Italian border. The via ferrata’s setting overlooking Tende is spectacular and the route is both challenging and fun. Vertical ladders provide decent exposure, and the 120 m zip-line is a good buzz. Rent gear from Stella Alpina in Tende.
Time required: 3.5h. Max altitude: 1338 m. Height gain: + 330 m.
Route length: 1000 m. Grade: Difficult.
Season: April – October. Lat long: 44.089097, 7.593454
Via Souterrata – Caille
Located 60 km north of Cannes at the foot of Audibergue mountain, this underground route allows you to combine the thrill of via ferrata with cave exploration. It’s classic via ferrata with iron ladders and rope crossings, but you’ll also need a guide, protective overalls and a headlamp.
Time required: 1.5h. Max altitude: 1390 m. Altitude drop: – 40 m.
Route length: 380 m. Grade: Easy/Moderate.
Season: June – September. Lat long: 43.762747, 6.762298
Alpes de Haute-Provence via ferrata
Steep Alpine rivers have carved sheer walls through the limestone and sandstone of the Alpes de Haute-Provence. Alongside some of France’s legendary climbing venues, via ferrata routes allow mere mortals to experience the thrill of vertical ascent. From La Grande Fistoire adjacent to the Ubaye Valley to the Couloir Samson Via Cordata in Verdon and the Rocher de Neuf Heures in Dignes, experience big wall via ferrata at its best.
Via Ferrata de la Grande Fistoire – La Motte-du-Caire
La Grande Fistoire via ferrata is located in the village of Le Caire near the Lac de Serre-Ponçon, 20 minutes drive north of Sisteron. The 250 m high limestone cliff features a series of ladders, holds and bridges, but the highlight has to be the 3 successive zip-lines (150 m, 130 m et 220 m). The is without doubt one of the best routes in France. Contact Vertical Ubaye for guiding and equipment.
Time required: 2-4h. Max altitude: 1100 m. Height gain: + 250 m.
Route length: 930 m. Grade: Difficult/Very Difficult.
Season: Year round. Lat long: 44.377866, 6.068058
Via Ferrata du Rocher de Neuf Heures – Digne-les-Bains
In Digne-les-Bains, the Rocher de Neuf Heures via ferrata dominates the town offering a spectacular view over Haute-Provence and the Estrop mountain range. Experience the full-featured via ferrata with bridges 50 m over off the ground, beams and monkey bars for guaranteed high-rise thrills.
Time required: 2-2.5h. Max altitude: 1000 m. Height gain: + 300 m.
Route length: 500 m. Grade: Moderate/Difficult.
Season: Year round. Lat long: 44.093268, 6.239603