The Cote d’Azur is full of wonders. In this article you will find out more about one of them, the protected nature reserve of the Mercantour National Park.
Here is a brief introduction before we reveal the must-do activities!
Set in the countryside in the Nice hinterland, exactly one and a half hours from Nice itself, the Mercantour National Park is made up of varied landscapes. Almost 2,000 species of flower have so far been recorded within an impressive array of fauna. Made up of six valleys, the park runs along the Italian border. It is accessible on foot or by car via several passes open only in summer, for example the Lombarde Pass which reaches an altitude of 2500m (you can find this via the alpine ski resort Isola 2000.)
Hiking in the Mercantour park in Summer!
The Valley of Wonders makes for a spectacular excursion! Set off from the Gordolasque river for a four and a half hour hike. And why, you might ask, is it called the Valley of Wonders? The valley takes its name from the tens of thousands of prehistoric rock engravings made by the shepherds who lived there some 2,500 years ago. You can also take in the breath-taking glacial landscape and the remarkable violet, orange, green and red colours of the rock face. Get your hiking boots on and head for the Gordolasque river!
Discover the winter landscape in SNOWSHOES!
Again, setting off from the Gordolesque in the Valley of Wonders, join us on a gentle riverside winter hike in snowshoes. On this 2-3 hour hike through the fresh snow you will regularly spot mountain goats. It’s enough to give you a feeling of profound calm and indescribable serenity and a sense of being completely cut off from the rest of the world.
If you are a snowshoeing enthusiast please see here for more suggestions: Mercantour snowshoe hikes.
Visit Medieval Villages
Have you heard of the medieval village of Saint-Martin-Vésubie? Picturesque and historic, it is beautifully colourful and lively both in summer and in winter. The village has been nicknamed “the Switzerland of Nice” owing to its location at the heart of this mountain landscape. Its nickname also comes from the pleasant environment with hot springs and its climate far removed from the stifling heat of the coast.
Use this village as a base for hiking, canyoning, alpine skiing and wolf-watching.
It’s true that wolves have been extinct in France since the 19th century but they were reintroduced from Italy in 1992. Today, there are almost 40 wolf packs in the Alps region!
But how to see them? Don’t go looking for wolves, leave that to chance and if you do see any, the advice is to make as little noise and movement as possible to avoid them running away.
There is also another way to see them at Parc Alpha wildlife park, a few kilometres from Saint-Martin-Vésubie. There, you can see wolves and learn about their environment in a semi-captive setting. The keepers will tell you about the lives of the three packs including their behaviours and eating habits.
So, when is your next visit to the Cote d’Azur?