Between sea and mountain, the territory of the Mercantour derives its strength from its character.
(Extract from the Charter of the national park of Mercantour)
The national park of Mercantour
A land of passage...
A playground of light and water...
An exceptional and particularly well conserved biodiversity
A deep and evolutionary human footprint...
Last link in the Southern Alpes, plunging into the Mediterranean Sea, Mercantour national park is one of the richest natural areas of France by its biodiversity.
This exceptional heritage is explained by the proximity of the mountains and the sea and the climatic influences both continental, Alpine and Mediterranean.
From olivetrees in meadows to mélèzeforests on the snowy peaks, in the Mercantour you'll find the most rich and rare fauna, flora and landscapes. The massif of Mercantour is the only french national park of the high mountains where one finds all layers of vegetation. With its peaks of over 3000 m altitude, its multiple glaciar lakes and its six valleys with a hight assertive character, the Mercantour national park is a unique jewel.
Big and small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects, the fauna of the Mercantour is very varied. It is composed of several hundred species, some legacy of the last ice age. A diversity that most subtle hikers will be able to observe. The Mercantour is also an particularly rich vegetation: more than 2 000 kinds of plants (thats about half of those known in France) of which 220 are considered to be very rare and 40 that exist nowhere else in the world.
Marked by a lot of different influences, the Mercantour park has a large historical heritage. As an intersection of economic and cultural exchanges between the Provence and the County of Nice and the Italy, the Mercantour and its communes, have architectural treasures of the Romanesque, medieval and Baroque era . You'll find spectacular painted chapels of the 15th and 16th century.
In addition to the numerous sites and classified monuments, also the amount of small traditional architecture like rural habitat, mills, ovens, calvaries, fountains..., contribue to the identity of the Argentera-Mercantour massif.
One park, six valleys
With a length of 150 km, the territory covers six valleys in the Southern Alps and two departments of France: Maritime Alps for about two-thirds of its surface, and the Provence. The crystalline massif of Mercantour offers over its valleys, scents of the Mediterranean Sea, the Provence, the Alps and Italy. Verdon, Cian-Var, Ubaye, Tinée, Vésubie and theRoya-bévéra: every valley has its well marked character!
A park without borders
At extreme western end of the Alps, the massif of the Argentera - Mercantour offers a collection of nearly 100 000 hectares of unspoilt nature. Spectaclular joint between the Alps and the Mediterranean, it is also a historic place of exchanges between nations and culture.
This massif is protected on its french side by the national park of Mercantour and at its Italian side by the Parco naturale Alpi Marittime. This resulted in 1995 in a fusion between the Parco naturale dell'Argentera and the Riserva del Bosco e dei Laghi di Palanfré.
The two of them contain a unique natural and cultural heritage in Europe. Also, for centuries, on both sides of the Southern Alps, human and economic exchanges were organized, where similar customs and traditions were affirmed. So has forged in the Argentera - Mercantour, a strong common identity reinforced by the use of Occitan dialects.
For more information on the national park of Mercantour, click here
For more information on the cross-border territory Alpi - Marritime Mercantour, click here