Adventures in the Mercantour National Park – South France
We decided spend one longer weekend in the mountains so we took a picnic basket and set off for the mountains… to meet the WOLVES!!!
Leaving the Riviera’s famous city Nice, we drive north for more than an hour towards the Mercantour National Park (since 1979), one of 10 National Parks. We pass through the historical town of Saint-Martin Vésubie and rise up to a level of 1.500m above sea levels. There is an outstanding nature around us and we can also notice how much colder it gets here. The temperature drops down by 12 degrees, from initial 20°C to only 8°C within just half an hour drive!
DO YOU KNOW that – the wolves live in packs of approximately 5-11 individuals. Usually the pack is led by an “alpha” couple that lives in monogamy for their entire life and has 5-6 cubs every spring. They feed on deer, wild pigs, but doesn’t refuse a fox, badger or a snake… It usually needs about 1-2kg of meat a day. Except humans, they do not really have any predators in wild nature…
The ALPHA STATION that we visited was built in 1992. The wolf pack has their unique and natural conditions all present here… It is built in a sensible way, so that visitors can feel secure but can’t disturb them. We have arrived in the afternoon and therefore missed out on the feeding. Nonetheless, we can watch the “siesta” and the heating of the wolf pack under the pleasant October sun. At the entrance, we are getting informed about the daily program and about how we should behave in this area (there is a special kids program in the afternoon). On the educational track that takes around 2h, we learn all about a wolf’s life and their behavior… by the way, the station supplies “extra” wolves to other reserves.
On the picnic spot, families unpack their “baskets” while children play on the playground. Right next to it we find a “farm”, an original countryside construction where both children and adults can feed rabbits and sheep, possibly pick up the hens’ eggs. This entire place is really thought through in an entertaining way for children, this is why we can only see families around us. A fine place for a relaxing family TRIP!
Next day we discovered another fantastic place – ALLOS. From this lovely village (1425 m above sea level that is located on the edge of the Mercantour National Park and that is in winter very famous and popular ski-center) we enjoyed several full day and half day hiking tour. Our favorite one was to the ALLOS LAKE – 2.228m, which is the LARGEST NATURAL high altitude mountain LAKE in Europe! We were lucky because the weather was still so nice …and the flora was still rich and varied.
And in the end if you are still not tired?! I could recommend another trip from ALLOS – to the ROCHE GRANDE (2.409m), totally denuded of vegetation and you can overlooks the village and other top of mountains around you…endless, peaceful and refreshing for EVERYBODY!