La Madone de Fenestre, in Mercantour, again accessible by car

This is good news for mountain lovers and those fleeing the heat wave. From Saint-Martin-Vésubie you can finally, after colossal work, reach the sanctuary of the Madonna. Storm Alex had washed out of the way in many places.

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It’s one of the great places in Mercantour. The Alex storm of 2 October 2020 had carried 5 km out of the 12 km from the village of Saint-Martin-Vésubie to La Madone. “Because of the river, there were 14 holes all the way, and therefore access to Madonna was impossible.” explains one of the leaders of the territorial leadership of Metropolis.

Work on this section started around March / April this year and allowed the road to be reopened since 8 July. But, only for light vehicles.

In fact, the road from the village to the barrier that gives access to the Madonna road, currently in front of St. Antoine Hospital. The departure along the classic route will be from 22 July. On that date, minibuses and other supply trucks will be able to access in turn. Their tonnage must not exceed 19 tonnes.

The work is not completely finished, but the road is available all summer until mid-September. From this date, it will be closed again to continue the reconstruction, especially the construction of 2 works of art.

The service in Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis must act quickly because the winter closure will traditionally be active from November to April due to snow and risks due to avalanche trails.

The inauguration of the reopening of the route de la Madone de Fenêtre was to take place on Friday 8 July. Marine Clarys’ death by accident has mourned over the valley. The 35-year-old young woman, a high mountain guide, died at La Cougourde during a race with a client.

The official inauguration of the reopening of the summer entrance to the Madone de Fenestre shrine will take place on Wednesday 13 July at 11.00 at the site access barrier. All the mayors and elected representatives of Métropole have already responded. The ceremony will be followed by a car procession to the Madonna for a moment of coziness.

“We must finally change what we traditionally did before the storm Alex and Covid,” says Father Fréderic Appiano, parish priest of the parishes of Vésubie and dean of the valleys of the Haut-Pays Niçois, happy. “It is a procession of Mary. the statue of the Virgin in polychrome Lebanese cedar from the 14th century.The latter stayed during the winter in the church of Saint-Martin-Vésubie, Notre Dame de l’Assomption.A prayer will be celebrated there at 7.30 on Friday, and the departure of the procession through the streets of the village begin at 7.40.

The locals and Piedmont have been waiting for 2 years for the resumption of this very old tradition. Over a hundred people are expected.

The many miracles attributed to the appearance of the Virgin Mary in these places explain the cult that the surrounding peoples dedicate to her during the annual processions.

“We stop at the hospital to pray with the residents,” explains Father Appiano, “because most of them have known this procession in their youth, and it is therefore particularly important.” Our walk is marked by recitation of the rosary and times of meditation. The idea is to go all the way and follow Mary. Regardless of our differences, our cultures, our characters, our peculiarities. And when we arrive around noon. 11.30, an aperitif will be offered by the association of the Friends of the Madonna and by the association of the Hôtel des Pèlerins. »

For those wishing to have lunch on site, reservations can be made at Marcel Perotti, at the Hôtel des Pèlerins on 06 60 45 35 63 until noon tomorrow. Or with Patrick Miraillet, the manager of the Madone de Fenestre refuge, on 06 09 17 89 58, until 14 July inclusive.

Madone de Fenestre, surrounded by mountains (the highest point in the Alpes-Maritimes is the Cime du Gelas at 3,143 m), is the starting point for many walks to high-lying lakes, as far as Italy (1 hour walk) or, beyond, towards Vallée des Merveilles.

It is a rectangular opening located on top of the northeast ridge of the Grand Cayre de la Madone, a large cliff (where the Virgin would have appeared) that dominates the sanctuary that gives it its name. Window.

Shortly before the year 1000 already testifies to the name Col de Fenestras. The latter culminates at 2,474 m and connects France with its Italian neighbor along a path that passes near the Lac de Fenestre (2,266 m).

Last minute information : the representation of the Madonna in Lebanon’s cedar is imitated. On Saturday, July 23, in the village of Saint-Martin-Vésubie, the Mon Liban d’Azur Association offers and plants an authentic Lebanese cedar tree. Just from the north of Beirut, from the village of Bcharré, it is reminiscent of the Franco-Lebanese friendship and offers a souvenir from the writings of the great poet Gibran Khalil Gibran.

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