« This is a story of torrents, forests, pastures and everything linked to them, that is to say, sawmills, breeding, sheepfolds, cheese making, long winter evenings, men who speak slowly, eagles, marmots, chamois […]. This is the story the mountain has to tell. » (Jean Giono)
Here the Alps are lucky enough to be southern, combining majestic peaks, glacial lakes and high valleys with a deep blue sky and a sun which floods still unspoiled valleys filled with history with its beneficial rays. High mountain resorts, village resorts and hiking trails combine the joys of snow and the pleasures of the mountain in the summer.
On their return from Mexico, the « Barcelonnettes » who had made their fortune had superb villas built in parks n Barcelonnette and Jausiers. The Musée de la Vallée in Barcelonnette is installed in one of them.
A frontier land for centuries, the Ubaye has many fortifications: Saint-Vincent-les-Forts, rehabbed by Vauban; Tournoux built in XIXth century; Saint-Ours, a Maginot structure. Up to 1713, Colmars-les-Alpes, a French fortified town, watched its neighbour, the town of Allos – Le Village which belonged to Savoie at the time.
At the end of XVIIth century, Vauban himself ordered the building of two extra forts in Colmars-les-Alpes. The rural churches and chapels are movingly sober. Notre-Dame-de-Valvert in Val d’Allos – Le Village is a lovely example of Alpine Romanesque architecture in XIIIth century.
The many abandoned villages and hamlets of the Vallée du Bès are charming sites which show the importance of the rural exodus in XIXth century in this region devoted to sheep breeding. The Blanche valley, up to the 1930s, exported the mules it produced as far away as Spain. Overlooked by a citadel reorganized by Vauban, Seyne-les-Alpes has an interesting religious heritage.
Outdoor leisure activities and sport
The Alpes-Mercantour is a high mountain area where mountaineers can climb impressive peaks up to 3000 metres such as the Brec du Chambeyron.
Discover with the family mountain wildlife near the high mountain lakes or follow the winding course of a stream on a mountain-bike, ride into the sunset or take a pack-donkey ride.
The Ubaye river is ideal for rafting, kayaking and its tributaries for canyoning. The lake of Serre-Ponçon is devoted to family bathing and water-sports: windsurfing, sailing, etc. Paragliding takes you over some exceptional sites.
The sites of Larche and Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye offer beautiful cross-country ski trails equiped for traditional technique and skating.
The Ubaye valley has two internationally known resorts : Pra Loup and Sauze.
The Val d’Allos has two international resports, the Val d’Allos – Le Seignus and the Val d’Allos – Le Seignus and the Val d’Allos – La Foux linked to Pra-Loup since 1977 by the « l’Espace Lumière » which is now one of the biggest ski areas in the Alpes du Sud.
The resorts of the Blanche valley are family resorts: Montclar, Chabanon-Selonnet and le Grand-Puy in an unspoiled natural environment.
The sites of Val d’Oronaye Larche and Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye offer beautiful cross-country ski trails equiped for traditional technique and skating.
The Colmars-Ratery ski site gives superb outings on trails through the larches.
As for La-Colle-Saint-Michel, it offers vast trails in a very Nordic atmosphere.
And lastly, the Col du Fanget area offers the possibility for cross-country skiers to admire a captivating panorama of the montagnes de la Blanche.
Mercantour national park
The Mercantour national park, a very special mountain area with peaks of over 3 000 m is a natural world open to you.
68 500 ha spread over the Alpes-Maritimes and the Alpes de Haute-Provence with the Hautes Vallées of the Ubaye and the Verdon, a territory almost uninhabited by man, 2 000 species of plants, around a hundred species of animals and magnificent landscapes such as the Lac d’Allos, the biggest high mountain lake in Europe.
On your own, or with the middle mountain guides of the Mercantour national park, discover the most delicate of flowers: Aquilegia Alpina or the Lady’s slipper Orchid, see chamois jumping nimbly from rock to rock or the marmot mounting the guard. But please be careful as these are all protected species!
Mercantour national park
Rules and Regulations :
- Camping, fires and mountain-bikes are forbidden.
- Dogs are forbidden, even on a leash or carried.
- Bivouacs (in a tent you cannot stand up in or a natural shelter) are authorized for one night from 7 pm to 9 am for one night only at over 1 hour’s walk from an access road or the limit of the park as well as on the sites set up for this. Bivouacking must not entail the moving of stones or earth.