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Préalpes d’Azur Regional Natural Park

Dizzying summits and hilltop villages clinging to rocky spurs, wild or relaxing escapades, and a plunge into the deepest countryside. The Parc Naturel Régional des Préalpes d’Azur is a genuine sanctuary of natural beauty and sensational scenery that is sure to rock your world!

Precious biodiversity

An open-air plant encyclopedia

A preamble to the soaring summits of the French Alps, the Préalpes d’Azur Regional Nature Reserve features a unique geography and relief. For instance, it is dotted with many ancient grottos where rare species such as the inoffensive Orsini’s Viper come to shelter. But you’ll have to get up early if you want to see one! On the vegetation front, this magnificent pearl of ecology features over 2,000 plant varieties – an impressive one-third of all French varieties – living in harmony within the reserve.  Moreover, there are exceptional gardens such as the Vallon du Brec in Coursegoules: a remarkable Natura 2000 site. On your way to the reserve, you’ll come across a host of local market gardeners, oil producers and beekeepers who have all fallen in love with this captivating area.

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L’Estéron: the wild and the free

A gorgeous natural river snaking into the wild

Your Instagram followers are sure to love this officially « wild river », a joyful and intrepid aquamarine jewel snaking its way through the valley. The Estéron carves out little gorges (locally known as clues) here and there, such as Aiglun and Ryolan, which are coveted by canyoning fans. Likewise, natural pools, waterfalls and slides are legion here, promising plenty of sporting fun in a truly magical decor. Lap up the picture-postcard vistas over the mountains from the banks of the river between two dips in pure, translucent waters. In addition, you can take to the heights with a cycling tour on the Route des Clues, featuring breathtaking views over hilltop villages and canyons.

Hilltop villages and underground galleries

Now you see it, now you don’t!

Keep an eye out for the many little grottos carved out by water erosion – water is plentiful here and is even channelled to the neighbouring Côte d’Azur coast during the dry summer months. Put on your potholing gear, switch on your head torch and venture into the Grotte de Baume Obscure or Via Souterrata, a voyage to the centre of the Earth you’ll be proud to boast about at your next dinner party! Back on the surface, head to the little hilltop villages built on rocky outcrops including sun-drenched Sigale and Gourdon, ranked among « France’s Most Beautiful Villages. » This elegant medieval village complete with castle and gardens designed by Le Nôtre is set overlooking the magnificent Gorges du Loup.

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