Immediately inland of Nice and the Cote d'Azur lie France's southernmost alps, where the Mercantour National Park is an outstanding example of a mountainous area with peaks exceeding 3000m. It is very popular, with over 800,000 visitors every year enjoying the 685km2 comprising of 7 valleys, 600km of marked footpaths, more than 100 lakes and a perpheral zone comprising 28 villages. The park has some spectacular scenery such as, Allos Lake, the largest high altitude lake in Europe, Col de la Bonnette, the highest pass in Europe (one of the stages of the Tour de France 2008).
The Mercantour is endowed with more than 2000 species of flowering plants, 200 of which are very rare: edelweiss and the martagon lily are the best known, but there is also saxifrage with multiple flowers, houseleek, moss campion and gentian offering a multi-coloured palette in the spring.
Observe the agile chamois, several thousand of which live in the park, and marmots are plentiful. The ermine is rarer as is the ibex and the mouflon. There is a tremendous variety of wildlife in the Mercantour; stags and roebucks, hares and wild boars, partridge, eagles and buzzards, numerous species of butterflies and even a few wolves.