Mercantour, French Alps

The Mercantour National Park in France is the most southerly mountain range in the French Alps. Find out more about the region below or choose a walking holiday.

INDEPENDENT WALKING HOLIDAYS

 

Marvels of Mercantour

walking holiday grade French Alps Mercantour

5/6 nights - From £610/€695 - 5 days centre-based walking

On this independent walking holiday discover the Mercantour National Park and the superb landscapes of the "Vallée des Merveilles" whilst staying in three star accommodation in a wonderful setting. Five great walks to discover the best of this wild corner of France in the southern Alps.

mercantour walking holiday in France

Alps to Med Trail

moderate challenging grade Cantal France independent walking holiday

7 Nights - £695/€775 - 6 days independent walking between guest houses

Varied self-guided walking through a changing landscape from the Mercantour National Park in the Alps to the Mediterranean coast through beautiful perched alpine villages, with a rich historic and cultural heritage.

Go to the full list of independent walking holidays

saorge mercantour alps France independent walking holiday

Mercantour

The Mercantour region is the last mountain range of the Alps before it plunges directly into the Mediterranean Sea. Acclaimed for being one of the wildest and most unspoilt parts of the French Alps, Mercantour has a contrasting range of landscapes. The Mercantour National Park has 7 summits of 3000m, a rich and diverse wildlife, as well as over 100 high altitude lakes. In addition, the proximity of the Mercantour region to the south coast of France, gives these alpine mountains a Mediterranean touch with a large diversity of wildlife including ibex, marmots and a large number of wild flowers. The Mercantour National Park is influenced both by the altitude of its high mountains and the heat and dryness of the Mediterranean. Indeed, it is the only French National Park which has all the different habitats from Mediterranean to alpine in character.

The Mercantour massif makes up the French part of the ancient hunting grounds of the Italian Kings, which occupied both sides of the current border up to 1861 when much of the French Alpine borders were redefined. In 1987 the Mercantour Park became twinned with the Italian park - Parco Naturale delle Alpi Marittime - with which they share a 33km common boundary. The wildlife is studied by the two parks as they pass between the two. The Alpine Ibex cross from Italy into Mercantour in summer, whilst the mouflons make the reverse journey.

The Mercantour park in France possesses 600km of maintained and waymarked walking trails including the GR 5, GR 52A, and the GR 56 which traverses the Mercantour mountains.

There is an estimated 3200 species of animals and plants in the Mercantour National Park. Thanks to the variety of terrain and the influence of both the Alps and the Mediterranean, there are over 2000 species of plants, 40 of which are only found in the Mercantour mountains, including types of Saxifrage and Orchid. Animals include deer, wild boar, chamois, mouflons and a population of over 1000 alpine ibex.

The mountains and valleys of the Mercantour have been shaped by the action of glaciers and rivers, and although there are no longer any glaciers today, they were present in the higher cirques of these mountains up to the beginning of the 20th century.

Perhaps the best known site of the Mercantour Alps is the Vallee des Merveilles. This valley in the heart of the park was discovered at the end of the 19th century. The exposed rocks in the valley left behind by the glaciers have been engraved by the local population of farmers during the Bronze age. There are more than 40,500 engravings throughout the valley, making this one of the most important pre-historic sites in France.

Your single centre based independent walking holiday, Marvels of Mercantour, is located in the south east of the Mercantour in France, close to Mont Bego and the Italian border. Here you're spoilt for choice in terms of great mountain scenery and interest. Beautiful lakes surrounded by rocky summits; medieval villages and the famous Vallee des Merveilles with its pre-historic engravings are all on the week's itinerary.

The trekking holiday Alps to the Med Trail follows an extraordinary route from the alpine mountains of the Mercantour National Park to the elegant Mediterranean town of Nice. Your trail passes through a number of delightful perched villages, full of charm with plenty of cultural and historical interest. They have a shared history with Italy which is evident in the architecture. Your holiday ends with two days walking along the Cote d'Azur or French Riviera.

Take a look at other destinations in France where we offer independent and guided walking tours.

vallee des merveilles mercantour alps independent walking holiday France

saint agnes in Mercantour close to mediterranean sea french walking holiday

mercantour alps french alpine walks

France independent walking holiday mountains of alps mont bego

edelweiss flower wildlife in Mercantour National Parks alpine walking

Mercantour glacial lakes

Mercantour Alps indepdendent walking holiday France