Parc national du Mercantour

With its tops of more than 3,000 m, the large number of glacial lakes and valleys of character, the national Park of Mercantour is an inspiring example of protected nature, just one hour from the sea.

At the border with the Italian Piedmont, the Mercantour massif is the lowest southern promontory of the Alps, before its chain dips sharply into the Mediterranean Sea: the top of Gelas, which stands 3143 meters above sea level, is the highest in the Mercantour and it is just 50 km in a line from the sea!

It is the particular situation between the sea and the mountain that gives this park a unique and original characters. Here, you will discover landscapes, plants and animals which are impossible to find anywhere else!

The exceptional nature of this site, however, has meant that in 1979, it was classified as a Parc National, a recognized name throughout the world as a guarantee of the highest level of quality and the protection of significant natural areas.

Therefore, the Mercantour, with the Vanoise, Port-Cros, Pyranees, Cevennes, Ecrins, Guadeloup, Amazonian Park and Reunion Island, together comprise 0.8% of French territory.

One Park, six Valleys

With 150km in length, the territory covers six valleys of the Southern Alps and two departments: the Maritimes Alps, about two-thirds the area, and the Haute Provence Alps. The crystalline massif of the Mercantour, from valley to valley, offers the flavours of the Mediterranean, Provence, Alps and Italy. Verdon, Var-Cians, Ubaye, Tinée, Vésubie and Roya-Bevera: every valley expresses a definite character!

Nature abounding

With large ungulates, small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects, the Mercantour fauna is very diverse. It is made up of several hundreds of species, some of which date back to the last glacial age; diversity that the most discret walkers can observe. The Mercantour also has an extraordinary wealth og vegetation. More than 2 000 plant species (half the species found in France), 220 considered very rare, and 400 cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

A remarkable heritage

Religions building, military relic, place names, local dialects, culinary traditions, everything here echo a long common history with Italy. Harvesting terraces, pastoral farming traditions, perched villages, remind that you are in the mountains and that man had to adapt to this environment. For easier management, the park is divided into seven sectors, which correspond to the main valleys of the massif, each of which has a team of technicians and guards providing surveillance, animation and scientific and technical operations at the local level. If you do meet them, they will be glad to tell you about the curiosities of nature, and even the stories of the unusual valleys!

A common asset to be protected

National Parks are common assets for us all because they contribute to our knowledge and to the conservation of biodiversity. A national Park also raises awareness of the need to respect the environnement and share the rarity of its natural and cultural heritage. As a result we are more inclined to encourage respectful discovery.

Like all French national parks, the Mercantour park is formed by a heart and an area of adherence. The Heart covers an area of 68.500 hectares. Here, the role of the park is mainly oriented to the knowledge and conservation of nature. Present fractions in this extension are, in fact, only seasonally occupied. Featuring an exceptional heritage, this space is subject to a conservation law which must be respected in order to participate in its preservation. The Adhesion area, which covers 900 km2, includes all of the territory of 21 municipalities in the park (outside of the “heart”). Here, the park fosters economic development, always respecting the harmony between the impact of human activities and environmental protection.

For more information :

Parco naturale Alpi Marittime - Piazza Regina Elena, 30 - 12010 Valdieri (CN) Italia. P.IVA: 01797320049 C.F.: 96009220045 | Privacy | Cookie