Southern French Alps: Walking tour, treks and hikes in the French ALps

The Mercantour: The magic of the Alps Mediterranean or alpine climate?

The Mercantour: A complex mix of climatic influences contributes to the uniqueness and variety of landscapes, natural environments, and the Park’s flora and fauna.

The Mercantour is the last promontory of the Alpine range, just before it descends toward the Mediterranean Sea. Exploring the Mercantour is guaranteed to give you a permanent sense of wonder: at each bend in the path you are greeted by a new amazing spectacle. How can such a variety of impressions, sensations and landscapes be possible?

To find an answer, we would need to draw from quite a few sciences: geological formations of varied types were shaped by the Alpine upheaval, then hollowed out and eroded by water into deep, narrow gorges. Anticlinal valleys were formed by powerful glaciers, which in turn melted to form strings of sparkling lakes. Climate changes have left us with a large variety of species which have found refuge at high altitudes in environments similar to those they enjoyed in the ice age.

The legacy of several thousand years of human presence adds to the rich natural surroundings, and will continue to do so in the future. The area is seeing the inception of numerous forward-looking activities, a sign of its great vitality. The Park’s rich cultural heritage also receives a good deal of attention. It is our hope that we will be able to share this heritage with future generations. An abundance of wild fauna

The Mercantour: Chamois, ibex and mouflons live together in the craggy terrain of the mountainsides, while red deer, roe deer and wild boars roam in the forest envi­ronments at lower altitudes. Birds are also present in remarkable variety.

The Mercantour: One finds black grouse (also known as black­cock) or the grouse, also called snow partridge, the nutcracker, as well as large birds of prey such as the golden eagle; and now the bearded vulture has been gradually reintroduced with successive releases since 1993. Flora unique to Europe.  The many climatic, geological and geographical influences create a mosaic of diverse environments with altitudes rising from 100 m to over 3000 m and have endowed the Mer­cantour with an exceptionally rich plant life consisting of over 2000 plant species, from a total of 4,200 species known in France.

Among them, 220 are considered very rare and 40 are even classified as endemic, occurring nowhere else on Earth, such as the multi-blossomed Saxifraga florulenta. A place like no other!

A national Park is an area which has been recognised for its exceptional biodiversity, scenic wonder, and heritage. It is a designation which guarantees national and international recognition of its treasures and serves to ensure that the area is preserved to the highest degree possible, so that it can be passed on to future generations. A national Park is a territory that is defined by the communities of which it is made up (the Mercantour consists of 28 of them). Its mission is to understand and protect nature and landscapes, as well as to preserve the heritage which earned it its classifica­tion as a national Park. A national Park also has a responsibili­ty to “share its uniqueness” by making the public aware of the need to protect the environment. It does this by disse­minating knowledge and encouraging people to explore. The territories of France’s Parks are managed by public administrative bodies, under the aegis of the Ministry of Ecology

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