The Parc National du Mercantour is a long, narrow band of mountains, near the Italian border, that runs for 75km from south of Barcelonnette to Sospel, 16km north of the Mediterreanean. A haven for wildlife, it holds colonies of chamois, mouflon, ibex and marmots, breeding pairs of golden eagles and other rare birds of prey, great spotted woodpeckers and hoopoes, blackcocks and ptarmigan. Grey wolves, which disappeared in the 1930s, have also started to venture in again from neighbouring Italy. The flora too is special, with unique species of lilies, orchids and Alpine plants, including the rare multi-flowering saxifrage.

Numerous paths cross the park, including the GR5 and GR52, with refuge huts providing basic food and bedding for hikers. The Maisons du Parc in Barcelonnette, St-Étienne-de-Tinée and St-Martin-Vésubie can provide maps and accommodation details as well as advice on footpaths and weather conditions; see also Camping, lighting fires, picking flowers, playing radios or disturbing the delicate environment is strictly outlawed.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Ebikes: are they worth the hype?

Ebikes: are they worth the hype?

Though they may be sniffed at by "real" cylists, e-bikes are opening up serious mountain routes to the more casual pedaller. Andy Turner dons some lycra to find…

27 Oct 2017 • Andy Turner local_activity Special feature
Cabaret is alive and kicking in Paris

Cabaret is alive and kicking in Paris

Forget about the sleazy tourist traps in Pigalle, there's only one place to see burlesque in Paris: the Crazy Horse, opened in 1951. Eleanor Aldridge spent the …

25 Jul 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge local_activity Special feature
Quiz: where should you go in France this summer?

Quiz: where should you go in France this summer?

France remains one of the most visited countries in the world – and it's easy to see why. From the bucolic charm of Provence to the metropolitan allure of Par…

14 Jul 2017 • Rough Guides Editors help Quiz
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook