Alpes-Maritimes (06) Altitude: 1565 m
Casterino, in the commune of Tende, is 13 km west of St-Dalmas along the little D91 road. The road starts up past the beautiful old railway station in Saint-Dalmas, and winds into the hills 10 km to the Lac des Mesches. Parking at the lake, above the dam, is a popular site for starting walks and hikes in the woods.
Another 3 km on a slightly narrower road takes you to the cluster of auberges and hotels at Casterino, sitting in a magnificent valley along the swift little river. Our photo-1 (above) was taken at the terrace of one of the auberges, looking back towards the south.
Tende, St. Dalmas and Casterino are centers for excursions into the Mercantour. We took a four-hour loop hike into the mountains to the east, up to the Baisse de Peirefique (2030 m) where we found the old bunkers and a bovine family shown in photos 2 and 3. Our hike came south to Baisse d'Ourne (2040 m) and down through the forests to our starting point.
• GPS: 44.043711, 7.506243
IGN (1/25,000) #3841 OT "Vallée de la Roya"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #9 "Mercantour"
There's great hiking in the mountains surrounding Casterino. Trails go out, and up, in just about every direction, following the ridges and passing numerous little mountain lakes.