Mercantour National Park is located on the southern ends of Alps, in France, at the borders with Italy. It covers an area of 685 square kilometres. Most of the territory lies at an altitude ranging from 1800 meters above sea level. The relief is rugged, with deep gorges and river valleys. There are more than 200 small glacial lakes, the largest one is the Lac d’Allos. The national park is connected to natural park Cima d’Argenteria on the Italian side. Highest peaks rise to a height over 3000 metres above sea level and are just on the border of both countries. Mercantour National Park has been established in 1979.
Photo licensed under the Creative Commons, created by Conor Lawless
Region is very rich in interesting flora and fauna. There are growing olive trees and oaks, rare saxifrage, gentian, rhododendron, pine, spruce, fir and larch. The park is home to chamois, mouflon, red deer, roe deer, boars, wolves, foxes, ermine, eagles, buzzards, rare butterflies and marmots. Geological composition but also appearance of this area is different from other parts of the Alps and rather resemble Carpathians in Central Europe.
Mercantour National Park welcomes yearly about 800,000 tourists who have the opportunity to wander the marked hiking trails in the total length of 600 kilometres. The trails pass through 28 villages with remarkable architecture. It is worth to see one of the most interesting attractions – Vallée des Merveilles (Valley of the Miracles) with its 40,000 prehistoric engravings from the period of about 3000 BC – 1500 BC, showing human figures, animals, weapons, and symbolic figures, that are still exploring.
The Mercantour national park is an ideal destination for hiking, alpinism or ski touring. It is one of the nine national parks of France.
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