|Mercantour National Park|
|Parc national du Mercantour|
Baisse des Cinq Lacs
|Location||Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France|
|Area||679 km2 (262 sq mi)|
|Established||18 August 1979|
|Governing body||Parcs nationaux de France|
Mercantour National Park (French : Parc national du Mercantour) a French national park located in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Alpes-Maritimes departments. Since it was created in 1979, the park has proven popular, with 800,000 visitors annually enjoying the 600 km (372 mi) of marked footpaths and visiting its villages.
The protected area covers some 679 km², consisting of a central uninhabited zone comprising seven valleys: Roya, Bévéra, Vésubie, Tinée, Haut Var and Cians (in Alpes-Maritimes) plus Verdon and Ubaye (in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), as well as a peripheral zone comprising 28 villages.
Many of them are perched villages, such as Belvédère at the entrance to the spectacular Gordolasque valley, concealing great architectural riches (numerous churches decorated with murals and altar pieces by primitive Niçois painters). More than 150 rural sites are located within the Park. Around Mont Bégo there are petroglyphs pecked out on schist and granite faces. They have been dated from the late Neolithic and Bronze Ages.
In the heart of this setting of vertiginous summits (including Cime du Gélas, the third highest mountain in the Maritime Alps at 3,143 m), lies a gem listed as a Historical Monument, the famous Vallée des Merveilles, the aptly named "valley of marvels". At the foot of Mont Bégo, climbers can admire some 37,000 petroglyphs dating back to the Bronze Age, representing weapons, cattle and human figures that are sometimes very mysterious. A less challenging destination is the Musée des Merveilles at Tende.
Several lakes can be visited, for example the lake of Allos, the lake of the Lauzanier, the lakes of Vens, the lakes of Morgon, and the lakes of the valley of marvels.
In addition to the holm oak, the Mediterranean olive tree, rhododendrons, firs, spruces, Swiss pines and above all larches, the Mercantour is also endowed with more than 2,000 species of flowering plants, 200 of which are very rare: edelweiss and martagon lily are the best known, but there is also saxifrage with multiple flowers, houseleek, moss campion and gentian offering a multi-coloured palette in the spring. The Mercantour is the site of a large-scale All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory and Monitoring programme to identify all its living species, organised by the European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy (EDIT).
Walkers may easily glimpse a chamois, several thousand of which live in the park and may often hear the whistling of marmots. The ermine is rarer (and more furtive), as is the ibex and the mouflon, although with a little luck you may be able to observe them during the coolest parts of the day in the summer. There is a tremendous variety of wildlife in the Mercantour: red deer and roe deer in the undergrowth, hares and wild boars, partridges, golden eagles and buzzards, numerous species of butterflies and even about 50 Italian wolves (which migrated there at the beginning of the 1990s). A Wolves Centre welcomes visitors in Saint-martin-Vésubie.
Barcelonnette is a commune of France and a subprefecture in the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. It is located in the southern French Alps, at the crossroads between Provence, Piedmont and the Dauphiné, and is the largest town in the Ubaye Valley. The town's inhabitants are known as Barcelonnettes.
The Maritime Alps are a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps. They form the border between the French region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and the Italian regions of Piedmont and Liguria. They are the southernmost part of the Alps.
Alpes-Maritimes is a department of France located in the extreme southeast corner of the country, on the border with Italy and on the Mediterranean coast. Part of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, it had a population of 1,083,310 in 2017.
Savoie is a department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of Southeastern France. Located in the French Alps, its prefecture is Chambéry. In 2017, Savoie had a population of 431,174.
Tourism in France directly contributed 79.8 billion euros to gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, 30% of which comes from international visitors and 70% from domestic tourism spending. The total contribution of travel and tourism represents 9.7% of GDP and supports 2.9 million jobs in the country. Tourism contributes significantly to the balance of payments.
Les Houches is a commune in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of Eastern France. In 2017, it had a population of 2,943.
Utelle is a commune about 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Nice in the Alpes-Maritimes department in southeastern France.
Maurienne is one of the provinces of Savoy, corresponding to the arrondissement of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in France. It is also the original name of the capital of the province, now Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.
Tende is a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes department in southeastern France.
Abondance is a commune in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France.
Mont-Tremblant National Park is a provincial park in Canada located north of the town of Mont-Tremblant, and the village of Saint-Donat and Saint-Côme, in the administrative regions of Laurentides and Lanaudière, in Quebec, in Canada.
Belvédère is a commune in the Vesubie valley north of Nice in the Alpes-Maritimes department in southeastern France. The village of Belvédère is an attractive village sitting at the entrance of the Gordolasque valley on the edge of the Mercantour National Park.
Mont Bégo is a mountain in the Mercantour massif of the Maritime Alps, in southern France, with an elevation of 2,872 metres (9,423 ft). It is included in the Vallée des Merveilles.
Musée des Merveilles in Tende, France is a museum that documents stone age and other historic artefacts from the Mercantour National Park. It opened in 1996. There is notably a large collection of real and reproduced petroglyphs from the surroundings of the nearby Bégo Mountain.
The Vallée des Merveilles, also known in Italian as the Valle delle Meraviglie, is a part of the Mercantour National Park in southern France. It holds the largest quantity of open-air Bronze Age petroglyphs in Europe, after Val Camonica in Italy, and is given special note for the area's inclusion for the European Diploma of Protected Areas.
The Vallée de la Clarée is a scenic valley in the French Alps near to Montgenèvre, Briançon and the French-Italian border. The Clarée river runs through the valley.
Merveille may refer to:
Mont Pelat (3,050m), is a mountain of the Maritime Alps located in the chain of mountains between the high valley of Verdon to the west, the high valley of Var to the east and the Bachelard valley in the North. Located in the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, it gives it name to the Pelat Massif. The summit is located in the central area of the Mercantour National Park. It is known as being one of the easiest of the 3,000m Alpine peaks to climb. It overlooks the magnificent glacial Allos Lake, the largest mountain lake in Europe which is 2,227 m (7,306 ft) above sea level.
The lakes Les Laussets are a group of three lakes in the Tinée valley, Alpes-Maritimes, Alps, France. They are located at an elevation of 2400 m, south-east to the Crête des Terres Rouges, and close to the Tête des Mourres.
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