France: Outdoor activities in the Parc National du Mercantour

This extraordinary national park, whose unique characteristics are the result of the proximity of its mountains to the sea and a combination of Mediterranean, Alpine and continental weather influences, boasts a hugely diverse character which makes it truly unique.

Its wealth of flora and fauna, the varied splendour of its landscapes, renowned wild nature and its rich historical and cultural heritage all contributed to its designation as a national park in 1979.

From olive trees to mountain pastures and larch forests to snow-capped  peaks, the Mercantour is home to flora and fauna and landscapes of a rare diversity and variety, even on a global scale. The Massif du Mercantour is the only high mountain national park in France where you can find every stage of vegetation. With its summits in excess of 3,000m in height, its numerous glacial lakes and six valleys, each with their own distinct character, the Parc National du Mercantour is a unique jewel of pristine nature – and just one hour from the coast!

At the heart of the park you’ll come across the Vallée des Merveilles, an archaeological site with over 30,000 wall engravings which bear witness to the sacred rituals relating to agricultural and pastoral activities in protohistory dating back to 2500BC, and where shepherds would come to immortalise their pagan beliefs.

A few unmissable hikes are:

  • the Vallée de la Vésubie: Trecolpas circuit / a hike of average difficulty starting from Le Boréon – ascent/descent +500m/-500m – duration 4hr
  • Vallée de la Roya: the Vallée des Merveilles / a hike of average difficulty starting from Tende – ascent/descent +1,000m/-1,000m – duration 8hr
  • Vallée de la Tinée: Baisse du Druos / a hike of average difficulty starting from the ski resort of Isola 2000 – ascent/descent +600m/-600m – duration 4hr