Gazing out over the sea, the views from the summits of the Southern Alps are mesmerizing… Be smart and take your time – 10 days at least – to explore the parks and reserves of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in slow mode. And get set to recharge your batteries!
Endless mountain vistas in the Écrins
10 days in the heart of the mountains
Bathed in over 300 days of sunshine a year, the Southern Alps is the dream destination for a long, tranquil break… An uncut jewel of nature, Écrins National Park promises an endless variety of scenery: its 150 summits soaring to over 3,000 metres and thousands of acres of glaciers lend the area a uniquely-powerful character. Roam the snowy pine forests in winter, gaze in awe at the sheer mountain faces and tackle the 700 kilometres of hiking trails winding across meadows and mountain pastures.
A favourite playground for mountaineers from the world over, these spectacular landscapes are also a safe haven for chamois and ibex goats. Hiking in the mountains can be challenging, but the mountain peaks reflected in the still waters of high-altitude lakes promise a prize to remember when you reach the top…
Hiking in Queyras
A breath of fresh air in an Alpine paradise
The stunning Queyras Regional Nature Reserve is a genuine paradise on earth for nature, fresh air and tranquillity lovers. To reach the Queyras area, you can opt for the one available road in winter or drive over the iconic mountain passes in summer. Far from the hubbub of city life, the reserve rises to an altitude of over 3,000 metres. Set on the Italian border, its westerly orientation promises magnificent sunsets you will definitely want to capture… Linger longer and you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the black grouse found typically in the Alps while enjoying a rejuvenating stroll through larch forests adorned with red leaves in autumn. Explore the Queyras landscapes in slow mode: the reserve’s high mountains are dotted with little villages skimming the summits. Live for the moment as you immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of these singular mountains…
Mercantour: a balcony over the sea
Between wolves and sea views…
A genuine bridge between the Southern Alps and Côte d’Azur, Mercantour National Park rubs shoulders with the Italian border and offers sweeping vistas over the blue waters of the Med. Just 50 kilometres from the coast (as the bird flies), its highest point – the Gélas – boasts the most impressive sea views. Before heading out to conquer the local hiking trails, you can prep your adventure using the Geotrek website: a handy tool for concocting a memorable itinerary.
Time seems to stand still in these valleys and mountain passes, so take all the time you need to meet the wolves of Parc Alpha, explore the sumptuous and evocatively-named Vallée des Merveilles and immerse yourself in the area’s vast and beautiful mountainscapes.
The rebellious relief of the Prealps
A feast for the eyes, from top to bottom!
Tucked between the warm and gentle Côte d’Azur and high mountain summits of the Alps, the Préalpes d’Azur Regional Nature Reserve offers striking contrasts of Provencal and Alpine influences, making it a perfect holiday choice in every season. Perched on rocky outcrops, its hilltop villages are steeped in sunshine and boast 360° vistas over virgin landscapes. When you’ve finished admiring the view, head down into the local caves criss-crossed with hundreds of kilometres of underground galleries – a caver’s paradise! The reserve is also blessed with a rich biodiversity, including over 2,000 plant species together with such rare and astonishing fauna as Orsini’s Viper. Last but not least, when the summer sun gets too hot to handle, slip into one of the refreshing gorges carved out by the wild waters of the Esteron river…