Mercantour National park: a hike in an exceptional territory
THE MERCANTOUR NATIONAL PARK: Hiking in the "Vallee des merveilles"
Much of it bordering Italy, The Mercantour National Park is one of 10 national parks in France as is probably one of the most exceptional one: exquisite untouched flora, numerous animal species and exceptional mountainous landscapes! A hiker’s dreamland!
With a total territory of over 1700km2, the Mercantour National park is wonderful place: between mountains, valleys and the sea, the Mercantour is the perfect place to enjoy some of the most exhilarating hikes. As part of southern area of the Alps, the Mercantour enjoys mild winters and hot summers, with an average difference of +5c° compared to the rest of the Alps! As it is a very mountainous National Park and area of France, the highest point is the Cime du Gélas summit that culminates at an impressive 3143metres above sea level: a mountain hike is highly recommended!
The Mercantour national park was at the beginning a Hunting land for the King of Sardinia – and later First King of Italy – Vittorio-Emmanuel II, nicknamed “the Hunter King”. When he realised that fewer and fewer ibexes were present in his territory, he decided to protect the fauna and flora of this region by making it a “Royal Hunting reserve” making it inaccessible to hunters. After years of attempts, he finally managed to reintroduce Alpine Ibexes to this region where you can now admire them in this incredible habitat. Thanks to its diverse fauna, you can even listen to marmots whistling fiercely to warn each other of the presence of a golden eagle! There are in total 58 species of mammals (including wolves) and 153 bird species.
From Mediterranean oak to mountain pine, from aromatic herbs to Edelweiss, you can discover a great variety and number of plant species along some 800km of marked paths. The Mercantour national park is a thrilling place to hike as you will be able to see, smell and picture over 2000 different type of plants, with 200 ranked as “rare” and 30 as “endemic”: an aromatic walk!
An unique national park
Embark on a self-guided walk through the "Vallée des Merveilles", where the of 3500-year-old rock engravings offer clues to how prehistoric populations lived and survived in the area. Indeed, there are tens of thousands of rupestrian engravings located in that valley: truly a must-see!
Have a look at our walking tours in Mercantour area!