Face to face

One of the many grasshopers that have made Mercantour National Park (French Alps) their home. Other colorful specimens can be viewed here.

Location: Vignols, France

The marmots of the Mercantour

marmot spotted at Mercantour National Park (French Alps) near the hamlet of Roubion last fall. The first image below was published in the December 2014 issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine.

Location: Vignols, France

Perched on a mountain

A view of Roubion, a traditional alpine village high perched on the edge of a sheer cliff in the French Alps. Together with the remarkable nature surrounding it, this lovely hamlet situated on the buffer zone of the Mercantour National Park is a must-see. To learn more about this original travel destination, you can read:  A first-time exploration of the Mercantour from the town of Roubion.

Location: Roubion, France

Going up the old salt route to the Col de Fenestre

St-Martin-Vésubie, Mercantour National Park

The Mercantour (core and peripheral area). The area discussed in the present article is contained in the black square.

The numerous trails that criss-cross the Parc National du Mercantour (French Alps) are an open book into the human history of the area. No matter how wild the landscapes they traverse, all are impregnated with tales from the past, nowadays discretely guarded by nature.

Alpine trails connecting France to Italy through the passes, like the one leading up to the Col de Fenestre (2,474 m) from the sanctuary of the Madone de Fenestre (1,904 m), in the Vallée de la Vesubie, have a particularly rich heritage. In the Middle-Ages, merchants travelled this ancient salt trading route from Nice to the Italian Piedmont, and early on the site of the Madone de Fenestre became a religious sanctuary successively held by the Romans, the Black Monks (Order of Saint Benedict), the Templars and the abbey of Borgo San Dalmazzo (Italy). Today, a chapel still stands in the valley where local pilgrims gather every year.

Driving from St-Martin-Vésubie—a traditional alpine village situated 1,000 m above sea level along the outside border of the park’s buffer zone (see first map)—is the only way to reach the Madone de Fenestre, so having a car is preferable. Other options include Continue reading