What is a National Park?
It is a natural area where the landscapes, biodiversity, geology and cultural wealth are recognised as being exceptional.
This remarkable feature means it should be protected and managed in order to guarantee its sustainability for today and for future generations.
An exceptional area of territory, the Mercantour is one of France's 11 national parks. This special site has been protected since 1979.
One territory, two zones
The heart of the Park and the membership areas
The membership area (where there are no specific restrictions) includes the communes of Barcelonnette, Uvernet-Fours, Val d'Oronaye and Jausiers.
The heart of the National Park, however, is a protected area with specific regulations. For example, it is forbidden to walk with pets, to pick flowers, to camp... Compliance with the rules ensures the preservation of the wealth of this exceptional territory. The heart of the park is delimited by green hexagonal markings.
5 good reasons to discover the Park
1) Its incomparable wealth of wildlife and flora.
2) The picture postcard landscapes.
3) It is somewhere that young and old alike, sportspeople and those in search of a space for contemplation will all find a walk or hike that is perfect for them.
4) To develop your knowledge of nature through ecotourism.
5) Because it's free!
Mercantour National Park stretches for 1,801 km. There are more than 2,000 plant species and nearly 9,000 animal species.
The emblematic wildlife of the Mercantour National Park includes, among others, the Alpine ibex, the marmot, the bearded vulture, the golden eagle, the grey wolf, the black grouse, etc.
This level of biodiversity is down to the work the Park does in the heart of the park. Protection of the various species extends to the entire Ubaye Serre-Ponçon Valley, which makes sense since it allows the emblematic mountain wildlife to be discovered throughout the valley.
Walking in the Mercantour is a special experience. By taking your time, you can enjoy discovering the Park.
This where you can switch off and reconnect with a wild and preserved natural area in which animal and plant life abounds.
Hiding between forests, lakes and exceptional viewpoints, discover an incredible wealth of wildlife: ibexes, marmots, chamois, bearded vultures, and more.
Heading out from one of the communes in the Park's membership area, it's easy to set off on one of the many signposted day trip routes, which are suitable for all levels.
Good to know!
While you are hiking, you will traverse sensitive natural areas located in the heart of the Mercantour National Park. Please always ensure you follow the regulations, and play an active role in preserving these remarkable spaces.
Set in an exceptional natural area within the heart of the Mercantour National Park, come and discover marmots and herds of sheep.
As the Ubayette meanders, uncover some wildlife gems before coming across the majestic lake and admiring its turquoise waters.
In summer, take a free shuttle bus from Barcelonnette to the start point for the hike!
Be aware of your surroundings
The Mercantour National Park offers a window on wildlife and a wealth of animals that is unique within France.
Take your time. This is all about being present in the moment and enjoying it... and you never know when an animal will show up!
Don't forget to follow the park's rules: admire items rather than pick them, observe quietly without causing a disturbance.
With their knowledge of the mountain environment, the mountain guides will help you to view the wildlife without disturbing it. With them to help you, you will maximise your chances of being in the right place at the right time!
The "Grande Traversée du Mercantour"
Are you tempted by an itinerant hiking trip? Why not embark upon the GR®GTM long distance footpath? The Grande Traversée du Mercantour is a 17-day hike through some of the most beautiful Alpine and Mediterranean scenery. Set off from the mountain village of Barcelonnette and arrive at the waterfront in Menton! Embark upon a major journey and enjoy a unique adventure through exceptional landscapes
Mercantour national Park visitor center
A public information point to help you discover the Mercantour National Park: exhibition on biodiversity, information about mountains and contact information for "Esprit Park" certified
partners (guides, accommodation, local producers etc.), open access wildlife workshops held every Wednesday during school holidays.
International Dark Sky Reserve
Take time to look up and admire...one of the planet's most beautiful starry skies. The Ubaye alley is a designated "International Dark Sky Reserve," an area recognized for its exceptional quality of starry nights. It's the 14th IDSR site in the world and the 3rd in France. Six of the valley's villages have also been awarded the "Villes et Villages étoilés" (Starry Towns and Villages) label, in recognition of the measures they've taken towards improving the night sky quality and nocturnal environment.
"Esprit Parc national"
A brand inspired by nature
Esprit Parc National allows you to travel and consume differently by discovering accommodation, restaurants, leisure activities and local products imagined and created by locals who are committed to the preservation of this exceptional region and to the transmission of their knowledge.