The Mercantour National Park or Parc National du Mercantour, created in 1979, covers 685sq Km/264.5sq mi. It rises from 490m/1608ft to 3193m/10,476ft and runs in a north westerly direction along the Italian frontier from Sospel and Saorge to Meyronnes and Jausiers in the Hautes-Alpes. The Park is contained within the Arriére-Pays-Niçois.
See the location and an enlargeable map of the Park here.
With 800,000 visitors per year and 600km/275mi of footpaths the Park has proved to be very popular. Moreover, it boasts 2000 species of plants and 58 species of mammals including the wolf which, locals believe, has migrated to the Mercantour via the adjacent Parco Naturale delle Alpi Marittime in Italy.
The central protected zone is uninhabited and consists of seven valleys. These include the featured Roya and the Vésubie along with the Bévéra and the Tinée. Furthermore, this zone also includes the fascinating Vallée des Merveilles which contains many prehistoric rock carvings.
In addition, the peripheral zone which surrounds most of the park, contains 28 villages many of them perched like Belvédère at the entrance to the Gordolasque valley. These villages often contain surprises like Baroque churches (Utelle, La Bollène-Vésubie) and a stream running down the main street! (St-Martin-Vésubie)
Market days: For market days and other information in and around the Mercantour click here.