The French sound make you dream about noble origin of name. In this case, it is misleading and the etymology is more prosaic. “Clapier” means pile of stone and you can explain it either as big cair like pile on french italian border or just remeber the talus on the top part of mountain.
Getting There and Route
The CAF refuge Madonna de Fenêtre is one of the rare huts accessible actually by road. To drive there you will need to arrive to Saint Martin Vésubie from south and drive to parking around hut. Public transportation TAM runs buses from Nice to Saint Martin-Vesubie. There are also trains from Paris that stop in St Martin-Vesubie. (www.scnf.com), From Saint Martin-Vesubie small bus goes three times a day in summer, check web www.Cg06.com for all buses
The best place to start the hike is from Refuge Nice. To reach the hut you have several options. The shortest access to Refuge Nice is from Pont Countet (2:15hour). For hikers that enjoy beauty of alpine traverse called Grand Randonee GR52 will likely arrive from Madonne de Fenêtre and the hike over Pas de Ladres takes 3.5hour. From either direction, the brown sign will point you Refuge Nice as destination. The trails are well travelled and paint mark. From Refuge Nice, start on GR52, marked by red and white stripe. Continue just couple hundreds yards along the dammed lake Lac de Fous at 2230 m. After 5 minutes, leave the trail turning right just when it crosses creek de la Fous. The trail is noticeable looking from terrace of refuge. It winds up in grassy steep slope with rocks on side. Those rocks are the playground for many ibex and chamois that escape here from Refuge Nice traffic. The trail arrives to the Lake Clapier. From here look on right and some cairn lead to the gully of torrent, dry in later season. Follow the path of river and start aim to your right, farther from the stream. The cairns are showing the direction to the right up steep slope of Cime Asquascia. This represents the most difficult part of climb. Short stretch of face requires hands on scramble. Good route finding helps to find some ledges and rocky steps. Look for bull eyes and cairns. After this part it is possible to see toward the summit. The final climb is well carrying it’s name. Cairns indicate the easiest way up the talus slope and after last 300’ reach the summit. Views to Mont Gelas and beyond in Italy.
Within the borders of the Maritime Alps Natural Park dogs generally are not allowed, except on a few trails. Off road Mountain biking is allowed. No fees applies to enter National Park.
In Parc national du Mercantour, regulated bivouac is possible from 7pm to 9am. You should be more than one hour walk from the park boundaries or access road. People still use tent for bivouac.
No camping allowed to preserve the beauty of nature.
Special rules need to be followed in Vallée des Merveilles.
No camping there, no off trail hiking, even hiking poles are prohibited.
IGN (1/25000) #3741 OT "Vallée de la Vesubie"
IGN (1/25000) #3841 OT "Vallée de la Roya