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Accueil > The natural spaces of the Alpes-Maritimes > A wealth of fauna and flora

A wealth of fauna and flora

Observe, feel, listen…and discover the wealth of flora and fauna in the region.
Be watchful and discreet - you will almost definitely be lucky enough to cross the path of something. You will have more chance of being seen than seeing, but if you carefully observe nature, you will definitely find tracks left in mud or snow.

Wild and abundant fauna



Boar, deer, foxes, common hairs, are all often found in the foothills.

At a higher altitude, the Massif du Mercantour houses a diversity of fauna which is unusual in Europe: from so-called “prestigious” species (ibex, royal eagle, wolves, Gypaetus barbatus (a type of vulture...) to the secret world of insects. Several hundred species have already been counted (some have been present since the end of the ice age), including in particular 197 species of vertebrae in the territory, of which 53 are endangered.

Also, one of the unique features of Mercantour fauna is the cohabitation of animal species originally from the Great North (the Alpine Ptarmigan), the shores of the Mediterranean (the Green lizard) and even Asia (Marmots). We can also find “associations” unique on a global scale: it’s the only territory in which the Pallid Scops Owl rubs shoulders with the Tengmalm owl, from Siberia...

Did you know?

The 62 mammals living in the territory of the Mercantour national park are the richest group in terms of species of national fauna.
Among all the animal species:

  • 31 mammals (out of 62* present in mainland France),
  • 26 birds (out of 108*), 
  • 15 reptiles and 8 amphibians (that is to say all species represented in mainland France),
  • 1 fish (out of 12* species) and 248 species of insects recorded (almost all*)
    are protected at different levels.
Vegetation unique in Europe



The Alpes-Maritimes are the only point in Europe which is home to all vegetation stages, from an altitude of 0 to 2,700 m.

The Mediterranean stage, with green oak and olive trees below 700m; frogs, spruce and Scots Pines between 700 and 1,500 m; larch and cembro pines between 1,500 and 2,500 m; finally, rhododendron heaths, alpine pastures and lichen above 2,500m.

Of the 4,200 species of plants known in France, 2,500 can be spotted, including 200 rare specimens such as the Ligurian Gentian, the Potentilla Valderia or the Gymnadenia Corneliana. And if you are watchful, you will note that the forty so-called “indigenous” species that can be found in this region of the world. In this respect we should mention the Saxifraga florentula, which flowers only once.



Did you know?

The Argentera-Mercantour is the richest bio-geographic region in the country. It is home to between 2,400 and 2,600 species, or 40% of flowered plants and ferns known in France.

A hidden treasure: Marcel Kroenlein de Roure Arbortum

The arboretum of Roure, in the Tinée valley, is a mountain arboretum (home to plants that grow at an altitude between 1,000 and 1,700m) bringing together ferns and conifers from the world’s mountains, to which can be added collections of maple, ancient fruit trees, wild rose bushes, houseleeks, not to forget the Chalet de l'Arbre with the Herbarium (collection of Coniferous fruits), the Xylotheque (collection of wood used by carpenters). Nor should you miss the fish runs and the unique ornithological tour.
It should also be noted that it is the only arboretum linked to art, giving visitors a chance to discover the work of numerous artists in this unique site.

  Visual copyrights - Parc National du Mercantour
  Marmots: © Jacques BLANC
The butterfly: © Patrick ARSAN – PNM
The fawn: © Olivier LAURENT – PNM
The wolf: © Christian JOULOT – PNM
The bearded vulture (the bird): © François BRETON – PNM
Pink flowers: © Anthony TURPAUD - PNM
White flowers: © Anthony TURPAUD – PNM
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