Mercantour National Park
Valberg – At the gateway to Mercantour National Park
Mercantour is one of France's 10 National Parks. Famed for being among the country's most unspoiled natural wildernesses, it offers hugely varied landscapes full of startling contrasts. Mercantour's singular geographical location – only an hour from the Riviera – brings some unlikely Mediterranean touches to these Alpine mountain landscapes.
There are five 'Maisons' in the region providing information about Mercantour National Park and one of them is accommodated within Maison Valbergane in the resort centre (1 Rue St Jean). This Maison du Parc is open to the public all year, providing a treasure trove of information about the area (hikes, accommodation, restaurants, weather conditions, etc). You'll also find interesting educational events there relating to the region's natural and cultural heritage.
Find practical information here: www.valberg.com
Gorges de Daluis Regional Nature Reserve
Only half an hour from Valberg, the Gorges de Daluis Regional Nature Reserve is a spectacular area with canyons carved out of the clay-rich red rock – known as pelite – that form a stark contrast to a local flora and fauna that is both Mediterranean and Alpine.
This is the only nature reserve in the Alpes Maritimes, and it came into being in 2012 through a novel partnership between the Alpes d'Azur Communauté de Communes (a kind of local council) and the wider region's bird protection society LPO PACA (Provence - Alpes - Côte d'Azur's Ligue de Protection pour les Oiseaux). The reserve is particularly recognised for its very remarkable geology and mineralogy. Dating back over 250 million years, these rocks contain mineral treasures such as copper in its native state and also 9 new mineral species actually discovered here.
At the moment, the reserve does not have premises open to the public, but volunteer guides acting as 'ambassadors' for natural areas are on hand to give you information. Several mountain guides also offer outings to explore the exceptional beauty and fascinating facts about these gorges. All the information you need is available from the Tourist Office.
For more information, see ww.reserves-naturelles.org